What I am about to talk about is something that people don’t tend to take into consideration when learning how to speak in a foreign language. And when I say people, I include myself into the equation. We all do it, we’re so focussed on what we have right in front of us, that we don’t notice the things we learn even when we are not paying attention.
If you are learning Spanish, learning English, learning French, any language, don’t underestimate the number of things you are taking in. Most of the time you are learning a lot more than you think, you just need to be patient, put our method to practice, and with time you’ll see what I am talking about.
For example, the other day, I was having a conversation with an English friend. We were talking for quite a while when suddenly, I said a completely new word. This caught my attention, as I was very aware that I hadn’t used that word before, but somehow I knew exactly how and when to use it. Sounds like magic right? Well, it is not, but it is still wonderful, and it is something we can all benefit from when learning how to speak or communicate in a foreign language. This is what we call “unconscious learning”.
When you are learning a new language, you are only able to consciously focus on so many things at once, whilst other things might be happening in the background. This is why a big part of our method includes things such as “watching tv in the language you are learning”, or “listening to the radio in that language whilst you’re doing the washing up”, etc. There is so much more that we can learn with little effort!
The reason behind me knowing how and when to use that word in the right context, was because I have probably heard it being used a few times in different scenarios. And unconsciously, without me having to go to a dictionary, or sit down and memorize this word, I have automatically added it to my vocabulary without me even taking notice.
This happens a lot when you are so immersed in the language. Isn’t that great!?!
For those out there who struggle learning languages sometimes, or who feel that they have been learning for far too long, don’t give up!! There is a huge amount of things you can still do or keep doing, which might actually be far more effective than you think.
My recommendation is not to look at the day to day progress, as that can be very discouraging. Simply assess how much you know every 3 to 4 months, and if you have put in the work, you will definitely see the difference.