How do you stop changing your learning strategy?

My name is Colt. I have been pushing myself to learn Spanish for a good year and a half now. I am somewhat proud of my progress but I get frustrated a lot because of the fact that I am constantly changing my strategy. I feel like if I would stick to one method I would get a lot farther… but I do not. I go back and forth from one strategy to the next never really gaining enough momentum to get out of beginner level Spanish. I know it needs to be fun but for some reason I find a way to make the fun boring… thus switch to another learning strategy…
I have been following many polyglots on Youtube and finally decided to give lingQ a good try. Tried everything else. Please send advice and encouragement on my problem. On the bright side I do not quit and I have great motivation as I want to be a bilingual therapist for those with addictions and other problems - it is my passion. Thanks in advanced.

Hi usmcgordonce,

have you ever thought that if you keep on changing your learning strategy, it might be because you have not yet found one that you felt comfortable with or really enjoyed?

I struggled with speaking French literally for over 40 years before I hit upon a strategy that I have stuck with over a year now.

I could read and write French quite well, but I was hopeless at understanding spoken French, and couldn’t find the words on my tonuge when I needed to speak French.

What helped me was seeing a youtube video by Vera Birkenbihl (a German educator) on language learning, as well as Steve Kaufmann’s comments on the importance of listening. I started to do active and passive listening (passive is when you know the content of what is being spoken and playing it in the background while you are doing another task - not saying that works for everybody but it did wonders for me.)

Within six weeks of doing listening sessions (up to 4 hours a day, mostly passive of course) I had my first fluent French conversation ever! Man, that motivated me!!!

Keep trying, keep asking others, keep experimenting, and you will hit on the learning strategy that is best for you :slight_smile:

Language learning is a process of discovery; in that sense there are no shortcuts. BUT as you keep on searching you will find the success strategy for you. And as your success experiences increase, you will become more and more consistent at doing those things which bring you success.

Me gusta español mucho. Te deseo todo el éxito :slight_smile:

¡Hasta luego!


Good advice by @alamedmig.

There seems to be a huge difference for you between fun and passion. Is ‘fun’ to be taken less seriously than your passion? Do you really want to link the language to your passion or is that just a fancy? When you started on your way to becoming a therapist, if you have already started out on it, were there times when the going was tough and yet the goal inspired you? How did you cope with boredom then? How could you become passionate about Spanish - do you want to specialise or just experience general progress? How are you holding yourself back? Perhaps there’s more to it than just a grasshopper approach - is your belief in your goal strong enough?

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Could you give examples of the different “strategies” you’ve been trying? My first reaction is to advise you to forget about strategies and to stop following one or another “polyglot”. I like listening to people who learn languages but, at the end of the day, they just say what worked for them, you might be be quite different.
Forget about strategies, there are no shortcuts. Just set a schedule to do something interesting on a nearly daily basis in Spanish: read something you’re curious about (lingq will help you there), listen to something you like, talk with someone: whatever strikes your fancy. Don’t push yourself, just expose yourself to the language and you’ll improve at your own pace.

Sure, some examples: I tried doing nothing but memoring phrases en spanish. This was fun and helpful but it made me limited in how I could respond - felt like a parrot. So then I decided to focus on grammar but then I wanted to die so I look for another strategy. I started watching videos in Spanish with english and spanish subtitles. I loved this but then I made flash cards out of all the sentences I did not know in the videos. I think this was a way of making my fun boreing by putting too much pressure on myself with Anki flash cards rather then just having fun with understanding the videos. Then I decided to read articles in Spanish. This was great and the most helpful but again I tried to memorize every line I did not know with flashcards… All the while of trying to learn with these strategies I have been talking to native speakers (I am one of those rare types that do not mind making lots of mistakes in Spanish). I think the theme hear is that using flashcards destroys my motivation because they can be difficult to keep up with and they can be dry… Perhaps Anki is something I should give up. Good for some but for me no… What do you all think?
Anyway nothing is black and white and this is definetly a journey. I will not strive for perfection, after all I am sure there are many mistakes in my Native language here. Thanks

I appreciate your words here. I will check out that video. I responded below to another person on this thread and I think perhaps I have found some ways I like but using Anki flash cards kills the fun. Therefore my thoughts are to give up flash cards and to just expose myself… I think preasure is the problem here and flash cards do that for me.

Hmm… Interesting thoughts here. I will need to evaluate this. Perhaps it is just a fancy. I have always wanted to learn spanish and since working on my professional goal I decided to incorporate spanish with it. I feel like my goal with spanish is intrinsic as I love the Mexican culture and want to communicate with them like a native. I always find more motivation after a conversation…
When things got hard with my schooling I kept my eyes on the difference I could make and that kept me going…

Yes, definitely flashcards and grammar learning are not for you. I insist on what I said: do what you enjoy doing Read articles you like (uploading them to lingq may make your life easier), watch fun videos, talk with people you find interesting. Do it on a near-to-daily basis and only as much as you find enjoyable every time, mix up all of those and forget about what feels like a drag. You don’t need flashcards! They do work for some people but not for others. Don’t even review flashcards here at lingq… Motivation’s king. What you enjoy doing (reading, watching videos, talking) is more than enough to make you fluent if you just keep it up. Enjoy the journey and congratulations on your passion about the language.

I don’t like the flash cards but I like mass exposure. Means, I use not all the possibilities of LingQ but I found my way which gives me a lot of fun and success in language learning.
Changing learning strategy could allow you to be experienced to choose the better one which suits you.

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When it comes to following the latest internet polyglot flavour of the month, I guess I was lucky - in my target language, most of the popular internet polyglots were unsuccessful or underwhelming (Benny Lewis, Luca, Richard Simcott, Tim Doner etc) - so it made choosing a strategy quite easy → I just picked Julian Gaudfroy and Steve (both of whom have a similar approach and great results) - and just stuck with it.

Listening to, and reading, interesting content, to me, is never boring.

If you haven’t done so already, I’d recommending reading Steve’s Blog Book :

Memorising is a really low return on time investment, in my opinion.

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I know what you mean. I know I’d be further along if I’d actually finished one of the books or courses I bought. Even here at LingQ, I’d be further along if I focused on beginning content before worrying about more advanced content. I’ll get right back on that!

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Like others, I would perhaps stay away from flash cards and extensive grammar study.

Personally, by listening and reading to lots of content, I tend to just pick up words as I go. Some words, I see them once and they’re there in my mind. Other words require me to see them in many different contexts until they stick with me.

As for grammar, you tend to notice certain patterns after a while. If you keep seeing a pattern and think, “I keep seeing that! What does it actually mean?” Just google it or ask here on the forum.

This is just the way I’ve been studying, but I’m fairly new to language learning. Either way, the process has been painless, rewarding, and fun!

Good luck!

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“There are not shortcuts” :relaxed:

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I am starting to see this truth :slight_smile:

I appreciate your words and the wisdom here. So true - polyglot flavour of the month - haha. I will keep this journey simple and keep working hard.

Lets keep working hard

Gracias, great advice

I like using Anki for flashcards on top of huge exposure. At the moment, I am learning learning a lot of German by (among other things) reading a lot of books on my Kindle. After a reading session, I look at the list of words I looked up in the dictionary and program a bunch of them into my Anki deck. I find it very useful, but only because I am getting huge exposure on top of the flashcards. I don’t spend more than 15 minutes a day with flashcards.

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Perhaps my problem with flashcards is that I make them sentences. It is probably better to make them just single words…

I think it is up to you how you make them. Some people prefer them super compliated, with audio, pictures, and example sentences. I just make them single words. I don’t want to spend more than a few seconds making the flashcard and I don’t want to spend more than a second at a time reviewing it.