Written By: Vanessa C.
Today is such a momentous milestone for my language learning journey. 100 days of Duolingo, the free gamified app that has its iconic Duo owl which encourages you to go learn everyday, think it's gimmicky, fake and ineffective?
Not for me. For the last 100 days, I have been working consistently on my Spanish learning as part of making 2020 a little more bearable and busy for me. The flame hit 100, much to my delight. These last 100 days, or to put into clearer perspective, 3 months and slightly more, has been some of the best and most emotionally challenging time of this year. For the unacquainted, Duolingo is a free language learning site offering 30+ languages for learning using its signature gamification technique, with levels to pass and shortcuts, the modules and lessons cleverly delivered in an aesthetically pleasing manner on the dashboard. With this, I have learned so much, and today, I will show three of the lessons which have impacted me the most.
Lesson #1: Consistency and Patience Wins The Game
Yes, this may seem obvious but learning Spanish for the last 100 days has truly taught me that consistent AND proper, quality practice makes all the difference between knowing and doing nothing to making real, concrete progress towards your goals, whatever they may be. It may seem incredibly insignificant in the moment, that small burst of 10-15 min of practice, but overtime, even in half the time of 100 days, 50, you will see changes that spur you on to practise harder, faster, better.
Application: To achieve your goals or maintain a good track record, make sure to be consistent in your practice. Whether you’re learning a new skill or revising one, be consistent. Set aside some time every single day to work on your new skill, it could be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes or an hour. You decide how long. Staying consistent helps you fill the time and build consistent habits.
Lesson #2: Passion Is Power
I learned Spanish for two primary reasons, I longed to go to Europe someday, and Spanish is one of the most common languages spoken there, and also one of the largest spoken languages in the world. The second reason I learned it was because it sounded really nice and good when native speakers spoke it, so I was determined to sound like that someday, even if it took 1000 more days. Passion guide me along on the days where practice seemed like a taxing task which I would never intend to do, and on the days where Spanish seemed like a distant dream, I knew that as a self-professed lifelong learner, I was determined to go and pursue this path, no matter how long it took me. If I've taken away anything, is that passion is the happier cousin of gritty practice, and it will be a valuable tool in your toolbox to conquer anything, whether it's learning a new language or learning to juggle.
Application: Be open to new ideas, the more you expose yourself to new ideas, the more likely is it that you would develop a passion for it. And remember, to have passion means that you are a little crazy about it, and that’s good! Invest your time in them!
Lesson #3: Be Open To Seeking Help
We often think of learning as this solitary, even lonely pursuit which will either be our own or none to achieve. The truth is, learning shouldn't be that way and there will be times when we're a little stuck. It's easy to think that our method is right, that there is simply no better way to learn and do than what you are now, the truth is, the wealth of resources available on the Internet is one of the best tools and resources we can use to guide us along on this journey of learning a new skill or acquiring new knowledge. For language learning, I have found Benny Lewis's Fluent in 3 Months, or shortened to (FI3M) which is a fantastic learning tool for learners of any language as well as Luca Lampariello's blog. For Spanish in particular, I recommend Ben and Marina's Notes In Spanish, a fantastic training site as well as SpanishPod101, mainly focusing on podcasting and video training to help improve people's Spanish. Through these resources and so, so much more, I have learned that with people who are on a learning journey with you makes the process so much better and that sometimes, it's perfectly fine to have someone guide you on the way. I encourage you to explore and understand these resources if you want to upscale your learning.
Application: When you’re stuck in your own life, be open to seeking help from someone. We often think that we have to be strong and not ask for help, but that would just leave you stumbling in the darkness. Getting help shows that you are strong enough to acknowledge that something is wrong. Get help fast, soon and more. Whether it’s a trusted adult, your older sibling, friend or parents, know that there will always be help when you need it.
*This doesn’t mean you don’t think for yourself first, try and fail. Ask for help after.
Lesson #4: Sharing Is The Best Way To Solidify and Gather Content
This makes use of the powerful technique known as active recall, where the brain is forced to churn out the most relevant and important information from the content we've gathered and allowing it to solidify in our minds. Sharing what you have learned is one of the best and most effective ways to make sure the content sticks in your brain after learning content-heavy material like a language. Sleep also helps to make it better, so the best time to do it is to share what you have learned with someone, be it a family member, your teddy bear or your roommate just before bedtime, you will notice drastic changes.
Application: Share often and share more. Whatever you’re learning or doing, make sure to share the experience with someone else. This can give you a chance to structure information to make it understandable for your listener while allowing you to share your own experience. A win-win!
All of these lessons are just from 100 Days of language learning.
And even if you’re not a language learner, you can use the lessons as your guiding principles, work hard in everything you do, be more mindful and conscious in noticing the important things about your learning process. Your own observations will shape how you choose to learn years down.