One of the skills most valued by native English speakers is the ability to speak a foreign language. Some may console themselves in the knowledge (or assumption) that “everyone” speaks English. Some would give it a try at some stage. Most who wish to learn a language do not get started or fail to persevere. The most common reason cited is “no time”.
This is particularly true of young professionals today, who lead very busy lives. Whilst it’s not my place to be telling clients how they should spend their time, I would like to point out some brutal truths. It’s not true that some people are particularly “gifted” and hence able to speak multiple languages. I grew up in Malaysia where almost everyone is at least bilingual, with many people being trilingual or quad-lingual. Including primary school dropouts. If you want something bad enough, you will do what it takes. Despite all the websites and CDs promising instant results, the truth is learning a language takes time and effort. But then so does everything worth having.
I recall reading somewhere that the average Kiwi spends over 10 hours a week watching TV.
Even half that amount of time invested weekly in language learning will bear rich fruits. After a few months you would develop greater confidence and more importantly, know whether language learning is the thing for you. There’s no loss. At the very least you will be able to greet people you meet in their native language. Anyone who has done this will understand how good it feels to be able to do so.
Instead of playing games and watching TV, spend the time going through materials covered in class. Download apps, watch youtube videos, listen to podcasts. Don’t come up with excuses. The only person you’re cheating is yourself. Much as I like our high-achieving teachers to be miracle workers, the truth is at most they contribute 20% towards your language learning goals. You make up the other 80%.
With some willpower, accountability, a systematic approach and some old fashioned hard work, anyone can achieve basic competence in a foreign language.
p/s: Check out Euroasia’s upcoming language courses