It seems like the most important thing that should be said at the outset is that learning a new language is a lot like constructing a new building. A good foundation should be laid at the start. The “problem” is that it takes a certain amount of time to lay a good foundation, and there is no way to get around that.
You will hear many people talk about how you can learn a new language very quickly with “their method”. You can’t really. You can learn tricks and gimmicks, but you will be doing yourself a disservice in the end if you don’t lay a good foundation at the beginning, and by “laying a good foundation” I refer to the not too exciting task of learning how the language works; tenses, cases, gender, etc.
In a sense, learning a language is also a lot like learning math. A lot of people shy away from learning math because it is difficult at the beginning and it seems like you’re doing a lot of work, but not making any real progress.
At this point I go back to the analogy of constructing a new building. If you’ve ever passed by on a daily basis any site where a new building is being constructed, you will see a lot of activity in the beginning, but not too much evidence of progress. Then all of the sudden once the foundation is finished, it seems like the building goes up almost overnight. That’s why many people never get good at math, and also why many people never really become fluent in a second language; they don’t persevere through the admittedly slow and “on the surface” unrewarding process of laying the good foundation.
The classic story is that algebra will be easy for you if you have laid a good foundation in basic math, and calculus will be easy for you if you have laid a good foundation in algebra. Conversely, if you don’t put in the effort at the beginning to learn the basics, everything that follows will be more difficult for you and you will have done yourself a great disservice because you will have robbed yourself of the joy of learning “higher” math or language.
Guest Blog by David Williams