Have you ever gotten so pumped up about learning a foreign language that you actually started a course?
At first it felt magical, right? “Hi, wie geht’s? tudo bem? ¿como estas?….”
But after a while the shine wears off and you feel you like you were tricked into running a marathon which you were convinced was going to be as easy as running a 5k and now you finally understand that it’s 26 freaking miles…and now you don’t want to any more.
You’ve probably just reached a plateau.
That’s when you spend the time, but you don’t seem to move forward.
It happened to me this morning.
I went out for my morning run and my legs didn’t want to move. But I made them move with considerable conscious effort.
Sometimes I have to do that for the first couple hundred feet.
But this morning was extreme. I was still telling each leg what do when I reached the half-mile point.
It looked hopeless, so I started to comtemplate where I should stop running and start walking.
But then I had to run across the street and start my way up this hill and I convinced myself that after that hill it would be all downhill and that I might as well at least wait till the top…
Of course when I reached the top, I didn’t need to quit since it really was down hill for a ways.
By the time the downhill section ended, I had regained my energy so I kept going.
In the end, I ran the full distance.
With languages you have to take the same approach.
When I first started French many years ago, I couldn’t even find the joints between the sounds to recognize any words. I was convinced that I would never understand the language.
But I loved the sound.
So I kept listening and looking up words here and there and almost magically, the sounds soon separated in my head and formed words.
Now I have no problem at all understanding normal spoken French.
Had I given up or never even started, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the language the way I can.
Realize that there are plateaus in everything we do, and that the lack of movement is only in our minds.
In reality you continue to move forward as long at you apply yourself.
The best part of going through a plateau is that a quantum leap awaits you on the other side.
I’ve had that happen in all the languages I’ve studied. After a perceived dead time, where I didn’t feel like I was learning anything new, I found myself suddenly knowing a lot more than I thought I did only a while earlier.
Funny thing is that both the “dead time” and the “quantum leap” are both just perceptions, tricks that your mind is playing on you.
If you can learn to trick your mind by making it think things are much better than they are, then soon your mind will go with the flow.
So stick with it. There is a pot of gold on the other side of every plateau.