There is a mind-boggling array of options for learning a new language.
Books. Web sites. Music. Computer programs. CDs. Conversation groups. Movies with subtitles. Immersion schools. Online software programs. Tutors. College and/or adult education courses. Community forums.
Also, there are any number of people who like to think (or who would like you to think) that they have the best system for learning.
So how do we decide what path to follow?
Personally, I like the multi-prong attack, and at one time or another I have used (or continue to use) just about all of the options listed above.
However, since I still consider myself somewhere between beginner and intermediate at best, I can’t really tell anyone the best path to follow toward bilingualism.
Nonetheless, there is a little 4-step process that I have used for many years that enables me to keep moving forward in life, and helps me to avoid frustration along the way. And I’d like to share that with you now.
Step 1 – SET A GOAL. At some point you simply have to determine your objective, otherwise you may go anywhere, nowhere, or some place you don’t want to go.
Step 2 – MOVE TOWARD YOUR GOAL. Do something, anything to move toward your goal … and take baby steps if necessary. Standing still is not helpful, so pick up the phone and make that call, or do some research online, or ask a friend, or go to the bookstore, or do something that moves you toward your goal.
Step 3 – MONITOR YOUR RESULTS. Are you actions moving you toward your goal? Is the system you are using helpful? Are the people that are around you contributing to your progress? Are you at peace in your heart with the path you are on?
Step 4 – IF NECESSARY, CHANGE YOUR TRAJECTORY. If what you have been doing isn’t working as well as you had hoped, isn’t moving you toward your goal, try something different, something new. And even if you have spent months, years, following a path only to discover that it was a big waste of time, you don’t have to remain stuck there. If you still want to pursue that goal, take a different path … or if you want, set a new goal and start moving toward that new goal.
We had a fabulous time speaking Spanish at Mestizo Coffeehouse last night, and that included a first-time participant with a strong command of the language who had seen the group announcement on the blackboard at Mestizo. All are welcome, regardless of experience or proficiency.
One day at a time, even one moment at a time … and enjoy the process.
Vaya con Dios.