Language Learning: Should You Study the Basics? - Steve Kaufmann

We acquire languages gradually through input. Some people think we need to master certain basic concepts or vocabulary first as soon as possible. In fact, we acquire the most common words and structures of the language slowly and mostly if we are exposed to them often enough in natural contexts.

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You should definitely study the basics, one after the other, and keep on going to the next point. You don’t need to master a basic concept before you move on. If you try, you will get bored with it and quit because you aren’t going anywhere. Go back and review from time to time, but just keep doing more and more and you will eventually catch on.

For example, don’t spend much time trying to remember all the names of rooms on a house. You will come across them as you go. They are very common. Bedroom, kitchen, roof, hallway… very common words in many stories and they are used in daily speech. Just read more and more and they will click eventually. Unless you are travelling to a country in two weeks and need a tourist crash course, it is a marathon, not a sprint.