Some people have some crazy ideas about learning a language. Some people think its the easiest thing in the world and they will be fluent in 10 weeks, others think that learning a language is impossible and they shouldn’t even try.
The truth lies between these two extremes – it takes around 500 hours to become a “good” speaker of a language. So all you have to do is show up for class, do your homework and practice when you can – and you will become one of those people who speak a second language well.
Some people do find language learning more difficult. Here’s how to avoid being one of those people:
DO NOT TRANSLATE INTO ENGLISH.
Foreign languages are different to English. Not only do they have different vocabulary, they also have different grammar and ways of forming thoughts and ideas. In many cases literally translating a sentence in a foreign language into English will give you nonsense. When you get nonsense you will think “this doesn’t make sense”, then when you try to make your own sentence in the language you’ll get stuck because “it doesn’t make sense (in English)”.
Here is an example:
This is how you say “I am hungry” in different languages:
German: Ich habe Hunger (lit: I have Hunger)
French: J’ai faim (lit: I have hungry)
Spanish: Tengo hambre (lit: Have hungry)
Chinese: 我饿了 Wǒ è le (lit: I hungry past-tense-marker)
Arabic: أنا جائع Ana ja’ia (lit: I hungry)
In all these cases, a literal translation doesn’t make sense in English (and this is a straight-forward example – just wait until you really get into your language learning!!)
The trick to mastering your language and making good progress is to avoid translation into English. Stick within the language you are learning, accept that your new language is not like English, and you will be in the majority of people who learn a language easily.
Insist on literal English translations at your own risk!