Whether you’re learning Arabic, Persian, Mandarin or Russian, all language training requires large amounts of repetition and practice. Language learning is like mastering a musical instrument or martial art and is truly a case of “if you don’t use it you lose it.” Accepting and recognizing this point is a hard pill to swallow, but also inspiring. Mastering a language is a battle of wills, and those who decide to commit to this path join a group of professionals whose numbers are much smaller than you would think.
It seems that everyone you meet in the think tank, defense, private sector or academic fields claims to speak a foreign language, but if you ask them to read a newspaper headline they instantly get that good ol’ fashioned deer in the headlights look. Many people embark upon the path of language learning in college, but as soon as they are out of school and there is no one there to force them to study, they quickly lose heart and their skills along with it. These people enter language learning without truly realizing that it’s a lifelong commitment. Languages require constant reinforcement and more importantly persistence.
This weekend I was trolling an internet forum analyzing The Karate Kid, the 1984 version, and somewhere in the various analyses that people offered on the movie I came across a piece on the true meaning of “Wax on Wax off” and I found it relevant to this discussion:
“The kid was enthusiastic about learning karate. He had a specific image of what being a karate master means and he was disappointed when he didn’t meet it. His enthusiasm decreased when the one who was supposed to be his karate teacher assigned him typical house chores instead of teaching him the extraordinary schemes and moves he was expecting. After the chores were completed and he finally got to the point of being taught, he discovered that the lessons were easier and that most of the moves he was being taught were actually the same moves he repeated during the chores.”
I think the moral of the quote is this: People can be enthusiastic about their future plans, but they should not start the path of their plans with preconceived ideas. They should first take some time off to notice their environment, surroundings and the elements around them. They should understand that there’s a lesson in every element. And most of all, they should understand that little things can build the path to success. They’re supposed to become more aware of the value and significance of details and understand that little and seemingly insignificant things are the bricks that build the wall of success, for there’s a lesson in every step.
Those of you who are new to Foreigncy or have gotten into the swing of things with us will no doubt recognize this pattern in our language learning method. We constantly reinforce repeated vocabulary in different contexts but try to make it a little more interesting than waxing an old man’s car by incorporating our language sets with breaking news from around the world. We all no doubt enjoy language learning or else we would not have stuck with it, but many of us also hope to use it in our respective careers.
Whether you’re a fairly new student to your language, or if you’ve fallen off the beaten path, we hope you use Foreigncy as a tool to help you maintain or improve your skills. After a few of our language sets it will begin to click for you and you will be well on your way to building or rebuilding your path to success.