Why Studying Language is Only One Piece of the Puzzle

by David · 7 comments

David Mansaray out in Madrid

When most people think about studying a language, they think about boring classes. We tend not to perform well when an an activity is boring, hence the reason a lot of people say they don’t have ’talent’ for language or that language isn’t their ‘thing’. But we all use language every day. We all need to communicate. Language is everyone’s ‘thing’.

So why do so many people fail to succeed at learning a foreign language?

The mistake most learners make is only focusing on one piece of the puzzle: studying. That’s because ‘studying’ is the traditional way of learning language in classrooms. But if that approach hasn’t worked for so many people, then it’s time to try something new, don’t you think?

I’m an average learner. I don’t have talent for language. It take me ages to remember a new word and even more time to master grammatical structures. And I don’t have the same passion for language described by some of the extreme language learners I know.

However, I do have something that helps me a lot: passion for exploring, learning and growing. Language to me is a means to and end. A tool. A vehicle that allows me to explore what the world has to offer. This works out great because my life is all about exploring and learning. Not language. Language is a means to an end.

So for me to make progress with language I have to have fun. I don’t know how to learn without having fun. Whenever I slip into a routine of more study and less fun I find myself getting bored and my motivation starts to diminish. I need people. I need culture. I need excitement.

Learning a language doesn’t have to be associated with really hard work and boring classes. If you’re like me and don’t have the sort of passion for language that allows you to study for hours, I encourage you to find something else you’re passionate about, combine it with language and watch your ability to learn language skyrocket.

It’s been said many times that passion is necessary for Mastery. However, few mention that it’s possible to use your passion in one field to drive you forward in another. I’m passionate about learning, exploring and communicating with people. How do I use my passions to drive me forward with Spanish?

These are just some of the things I do to improve my Spanish. I spend very little time studying because a lot of the time I find study boring. I like language, but it’s not my passion. So I play to my strengths and let my passions drive me forward. Studying language is only one piece of the puzzle. Language is a means to an end.

I’m just a guy passionate about learning and life. I’m not a language learning expert at all, but I do often have conversations about language learning with some language learning experts. You may want to check out some of the conversations I’ve had recently:

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  • Fabiano

    I totally agree with you. Even if you have a knack for languages I believe your enthusiasm fizzles out if you don´t have fun and a real purpose. I like to think I´ve learnt English because I wanted to communicate with other cultures and have access to a lot more things than I would if I was able to speak my mother tongue only. So like you put it ‘it is a means to an end’ The more opportunities I have the more enthusiastic I become and the more fluent I want to be.

    • http://www.davidmansaray.com/ David Mansaray

      I agree with everything you say and I couldn’t have said it better myself. By the way your English is great. You must have worked really hard. Keep it up! :)

  • http://twitter.com/RawLangs_Blog Alex Rawlings

    Completely agree with you David. Just because you start off learning languages in the classroom doesn’t mean you have to stay there. Keep up the positivity!

  • http://languagewanderer.com/ Mariola

    I agree with our outlook on learning languages :) they are tools that help to communicate. However, I also know people who genuinely like studying as such, so it all depends on a perspective. For me learning languages is a great journey that is a key to other things, such a traveling etc.

  • http://www.vocabularyinpicture.com/ Greg | Vocabulary in Picture

    Hi David, I really like the remark that passion in one field could be used to drive somebody forward in another. As you wrote, it’s common to hear that a learner has to have passion to the language to successfully master it. But what if one doesn’t? That’s the solution! Using a foreign language one’s learning as a stepping stone to gain a new level in the field one’s really interested in. We do not have to treat speaking in foreign language as a goal, we should rather treat it as means to the goal.

  • Mark Ainsworth

    Hello David I am just curious as to how you went about your 3 week stay that you done in Spain some time before. I am thinking about doing the same in France next year as I’m studying French! I understand you stayed with a family too, how did you go about organising the stay (what websites etc) as I too would be interested in staying with a family :) thanks

    • http://www.davidmansaray.com/ David Mansaray

      I met the family in London, we became friends and they invited me to stay. It wasn’t anything official. I was just nice to people and then doors opened up for me :)

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