Recently, I posted my experience of how to learn a foreign language to a conversational level while living in Brazil and Turkey.
I wasn’t as honest or open as I could have been.
For 6 years, I also lived in Hong Kong. But I didn’t learn Cantonese.
I studied for a while and learned some basics to the point of going into shops and asking things like, “How much for…?” and other niceties.
But I couldn’t converse.
Why? For 2 reasons:
- I was there specifically to train Wing Chun kung fu – all my training partners were native or fluent English speakers.
- I didn’t have a compelling reason.
On the other hand, in Brazil I was there, as part of immersing myself in the culture, specifically to learn the language.
Here in Turkey, my wife is a local and I knew we would be here for at least 15 years.
In Hong Kong, I was there to train, which I did for 6-8 hours a day.
When I wasn’t training I was resting at home or playing squash (where everyone spoke English too).
I covered this first reason in my first post about how to learn a foreign language.
The second reason – Is your reason ‘why’ strong enough? – applies to anything.
So, answering “Yes!” to the following hypotheticals will give you a strong enough reason to persist with learning a foreign language:
- Is your partner a local?
- Do you love the culture?
- Are you planning on living there indefinitely?
- Does your job or business require you to learn the language?
- Is conversing and interacting with others something you love?
- Are you a CIA agent?
There are plenty more.
All you have to do is find your reason.
Soon after, you will start to celebrate small wins.
If you don’t or cannot find a strong reason, you are framing yourself up NOT to learn the language.