To better understand successful language learning we can learn a lot by a better understanding of what successful people do in any area to be successful. Clearly, language learners don’t need to do what athletes do or what business people do to attain the heights in their respective areas. However, we can look at what they do and learn from that.
Not everyone is successful in what they do in a field. So we can also learn from unsuccessful people and avoid doing the things they do!
So what sorts of things do standout successful people do? Well, I have spent some time looking at that and here I will mention a key one. Every successful person is driven to be successful. They do extraordinary things that ordinary people don’t do because they are so driven to achieve their goal. They will travel around in their car for months, sleeping in it at night as they can’t afford the hotel bills, knocking on the door of agents trying to get a break ( Colonel Sanders, Jim Carey & Sylvester Stallone, to name a few, all fit into this category). Just read the stories of really successful people and you will be astounded what they did.
Now, of course, you don’t have to do all that, but what you can learn from their experience is that they were driven, passionate and determined to succeed. So how driven are you? How much will you go out of your comfort zone and for eg talk to people in the target language (face to face, on Skype etc)? What happens when you get setbacks or come against seemingly insurmountable problems?
That drivenness is also required if you are to get past the ineffective learning strategies that you may have picked up in school, classes or courses and find the language learning strategies that will bring you success. The fundamental truth is that all of us can be successful if we find the right path. The fact is that no matter how hard you might try, if you are on the wrong path, then success will be all but impossible to achieve.
Finding the inner resources to continue against difficult odds is one of the characteristics that successful learners have. If you don’t think you measure up to that, don’t despair. Probably all that means is that you have other priorities that are occupying your energy and time. Down the road, I will look at this issue more in depth, so if you want to find a way to turn this situation around, stay tuned.
Successful people also are prepared to make mistakes and learn from them. If one method does not work for them, they will try another. They don’t get stuck believing one way will work. Many language learners are not prepared to change what they do even though there is not much evidence to the fact that things are really improving. Many language learners will end up making excuses and saying that they are not talented. Successful people don’t make excuses. If they can’t find the circumstances for success, they will make the circumstances so that they can be successful. The classic book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill is a classic that talks about what Napoleon found after he interviewed hundreds of the most successful people of his times. Don’t be put off by the title if the $$$ theme is not your thing. There are LOTS of gems in there about mindset issues.
Successful language learning is something we all want to experience and we all did with our first language. The ones who experience it again in later life can certainly look as if they were born to it, as it were, but there are many who showed no signs of gift and developed it as they went along by developing the right mindset. You too can experience successful language learning one you find an approach and tools that work.
Read posts about how some successful language learners learn vocabulary, grammar or what they do to make their mistakes work for them, or possibly how they improve their pronunciation. Then you will get some better ideas on where you need to concentrate your efforts to improve your practices.
Once you have managed get more focussed on your language learning and get on the path to improving your approach and practices, you will start to see that success in learning a language is not beyond your means.