Slow language learning


Slow language learning? You mean that it is possible to learn a language slowly?

Certain ideas spread through the internet like an epidemic.  In the language learning world, this particular idea is that it possible to learn a language fast and well over a period of weeks.

I don’t think it is helpful. If anything it is discouraging especially when you are starting.

The fundamental idea is that if you are confident enough to speak, and know a handful of words  you can overcome any other difficulties through context and using your few words imaginatively.

No-one seems to challenge this world view.

The biggest (and never spoken of ) issue with this is …


It takes time to understand native speakers talking at a normal rate. Spanish is often used as an example of an easy language. People claim to learn it in eight weeks or whatever.

Well, I didn’t.

Sure, you can learn to put basic sentences together, but you will not understand the replies.

Yes, you can guess a bit from context both from the conversation you are having and where you are. And yes, people are  often helpful and will try and explain and maybe slow down.

But comprehension takes time, which is maybe why it  is never mentioned in the ‘it is easy to learn’ scenario. It takes time and listening before you can understand normal speech. It is much easier to speak than understand.

Of course, it is possible to speak immediately (although not necessarily correctly). Learning to put basic sentences together in another language isn’t hard. (It may be complicated for some languages, but it isn’t difficult to say something).

I could say ‘dog over there’ instead of ‘the dog is over there’  and be understood.

But comprehension takes time once you move away from the simplest of interactions. 


there is another way!

Don’t rush. Accept that it takes time to become good at something. Enjoy the journey.


that if you are spending 30 minutes a day that your progress will be slow.



This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *