Someone recently commented on one of my posts from 2014 about my studying 20 languages simultaneously. They are studying 2 languages, and are interested in learning from my experiences.
Their comment got me thinking about perhaps the one thing I’ve learned the most during all of my studies.
I would say the greatest thing I’ve learned is to find what works for you at any given point in time. Let’s look at that in more detail, and I’ll demonstrate with examples from my own journey.
The first part of what I learned is to find what works for you. That is, I had to realize and remember that I am a unique individual and, therefore, my learning style is different from anybody else’s. At the beginning, and for several years, I kept trying what others were doing – using a resource because they said it helped them a lot, trying a study schedule they were using.
Now, that is not a bad thing. In fact, if I don’t know what works for me, trying what someone else has tried could be quite beneficial. I can then get an idea of my needs. But, the probelm was I would then feel bad if what worked so well for someone else wouldn’t work for me. I forgot that trying out a suggestion is good insofar as to help me get an idea of my study style. And that means if a particular resource works well for 100 other people, but not for me, that’s ok. I just need to find what does work for me.
The second part of what I learned involves time. That is, even after I’ve found the resources and study schedule that is good for me, I need to remember this particular combination is good for the present moment. As I experience growth in my learning language(s), as other areas of my life change, as even my study habits and learning ability sharpens, I will need to change what worked for me. I will need to find a new combination.
Back in 2014, I attempted to study 20 languages simultaneously. That lasted for only about 2 months. At the time I started using a flashcard app and added vocabulary for 17 languages. After I found I couldn’t study that many languages, I became discouraged thinking I would never be able to juggle that many. I even listened to other language enthusiasts who said it was impossible. So I stopped using the app, and scaled down to a small handful of languages.
Fast forward to the beginning of this year, and I decided to take on many languages again. Fortunately I had saved my Anki deck from 2 years ago. I decided to focus on learning all the vocab in the deck, a little bit at a time. Today, 4.5 months later, I’ve almost gone through all the deck. I also have added another language and quite a few more new cards, but my goal remains the same.
So if you’re trying one or several languages, remember to find what works for you, and keep in mind that only works for that moment. Be flexible, be gentle and allow yourself time to find what works for you, even as your needs change.