Updated: Mar 31, 2020
"During this pandemic, millions and millions of people have had the perfect
opportunity to begin learning something new. There is almost no excuse to say,
I’m too busy."
Learning a Language
“Mi nombre es Rob y me gusta aprender español todos los días. Si quieres empezar a aprender algo nuevo como un idoma, una habilidad, un deporte, tocar un instrumento, hay que empezar ahora mismo! ”
For me, learning new things brings so much joy and I can easily relate the
act of learning to living a happier life. I began to learn Spanish almost three
years prior to writing this book, and it became an addiction. I trained myself
to study the language for nearly one hour every day. I successfully did this
for two straight years. Sure I may have missed a day or two here and there,
but I stuck to my plan and after two years I was speaking Spanish with native
Spanish speakers from all around the world. What a cool feeling!
Some days I practiced for three hours, while other days I managed to slip in
twenty minutes. All that mattered was that I put in the time in. It felt like a huge
accomplishment. I remember nearing the two and a half year mark and I was
watching a Spanish conversation online, (which is where I did 90% of my learning
by the way), and I would just smile as I would listen, knowing that I could understand
75% of what was going on. It does take a real long time before you can hear
every single word in a conversation, and it also depends on your learning time
and how much daily practice you decide to put in.
For me an hour a day after one year led to me speaking (slowly), in basic conversations. After year two, my vocabulary was much better, I was thinking faster in Spanish, and learning ten new words daily. Nearing the third year (now practising around thirty minutes a day) I was using new words in my conversations, new phrases, and writing short stories in Spanish so that native speakers could correct my errors.
Me at a language event that takes place in Toronto
every Thursday. The event is called Mundo Lingo,
and it is a worldwide event!
What an amazing feeling it was to be doing something that I learned myself just by taking a bit of time out of each day to practice it. I honestly feel that this led to a happier life. I love puzzles and I love figuring them out, and when I do figure them out, it increases my dopamine levels.
The first step is to balance out your work/life schedule so that you can find twenty or thirty minutes a day to practice. This shouldn’t be too difficult, and if it is then you really need to find a way to do so, because no matter what you need you time everyday. When the clock strikes you o’clock, is when you can pull out your computer, or book, and begin to learn! Deep down, there’s probably something you have always wanted to learn. I’ll bet you anything this is true! Here’s a list of things I can think of off the top of my head that might interest you:
Sign language, cooking gourmet meals, expert level in Sudoku (which
I accomplished and felt damn good doing it), crossword puzzles (because
for example), magic tricks, (this is so much fun to learn and to perform on
others), knitting, starting more genuine conversations, the art of acting,
the art of filmmaking, playing an instrument, painting, language learning,
a new sport…
The list is infinite. There is just so much to learn and explore. If you start
something and find that it doesn’t interest you, then move on to something
wanted learn coding. Although coding is still very, very interesting to me,
it wasn’t grabbing my attention like Spanish did. So rather than forcing it,
I just stopped and moved on.
You’ll find the thing that interests you like crazy, and you’ll want to know
everything there is to know about it.
I would say the next important step is to set a goal and create a plan.
Completing a sudoku puzzle in beginner mode is great, but what about
doing it in under ten minutes? Then what about completing a sudoku puzzle
in export mode, in under ten minutes?
Creating and completing new goals along the way not only keeps you in check with learning, but also brings more joy into your life. Without a goal and a plan, it can make the experience harder to continue on with. It’s like investing your hard earned money. You don’t really know where to put your money unless you’ve done your research...
At first it can be tricky to stick to something new day in and day out. Eventually, you’ll rewire those neurones in your brain and soon enough you may find it to be addicting. Learning Spanish was a huge goal, and at first it felt like a chore. In the beginning of language learning I would sometimes forget to study and at the end of day I would think to myself, “crap I forgot to study Spanish…”
Now that I think about it maybe I never forgot, rather, I decided to push it off…
of me really wanted to continue on with it. So I started to force myself to do my
studying in the mornings. My mind is most fresh at this point and I have so much
clarity that it makes the learning experience much easier. It became a habit, and now, I can't live without the language.
Learning Spanish eventually became a need rather than a chore. Months later,
I found myself studying in the morning, and then again at night, because I wanted to.
I became obsessed with the experience. My only goal was to become fluent.
Without a goal I might have stopped learning years ago…