Good language learners are made, not born. Anyone can become a good language learner, or a better language learner. Our ability to learn a language is influenced by our attitude and the time we put in, but what separates good language learners from less successful ones is the way we notice different aspects of a new language.
Let’s start by reviewing the most affecting keys to language learning.
You have to be motivated, to like the language and to think you can succeed. Without a positive attitude towards the language, the process and your own ability to succeed, you probably won’t succeed. If you are positive, you are more likely to put in the time needed to succeed. You will also eagerly take in the language without resisting it.
You have to put in at least an hour a day. For me this consists mostly of listening to mp3 files when I have the time, while doing other tasks, so it is really quite easy to fit in. I also read and focus on words and phrases in my reading for another 30 minutes or so most days.
It can be done. No excuses. You also have to accept that it will take months and maybe years to become fluent, depending on how much time you put in every day. You have to be realistic. It is a long road, so settle in and be prepared to enjoy it.
To learn a language we need to notice what is happening in the language. We can’t learn what we don’t notice. However, to notice phenomena we need to experience them, over and over. What we don’t notice at first, we will eventually notice, under the right circumstances.
As the we saying goes, “you can only learn what you already know”. You need to experience a language through lots of exposure before you can hope to learn it. At one time I thought that noticing was a skill that needed to be developed. I no longer believe that. Noticing is something we do naturally, if we get enough exposure and if we want to notice.