The endless search for the best method. The one that works so well that you can cut off months or years of required study time if you just keep up with it. But is this an illusion? How important actually is the method? If you chose another method, could/would you be as successful?
Your focus has probably been on the method. However, I’ve noticed 5 other factors to add to that. Some that you’ll be happy with because they are easier to work with. Others that can be mostly out of our control.
- What you are born with (natural talent)
- Discipline and skills you developed growing up, through your environment, people that influenced you, and your way of life
- Outside life obstacles now (family, job, money, illness, etc.)
- What you use to study (the method)
- How you study (time management, organization, planning, mental, emotional, etc.)
- Actual study time
This is highly subjective, but I like to think that things become more important as you go down that list.
- 1 and 2: focuses too much on the past and what you can’t control.
- 3: while relevant and something you must accept, can also breed excuses.
- 4: people obsess and worry to death about it
- 5 and 6: what actually will get you to fluency
By focusing on 4-6, you take control of how you study.
But people spend too much time on #4, the method. This is why I always try to remind people to pick your method, and then do it. You can always come back later and reassess. You first choice doesn’t have to be correct. It probably won’t be. But you need to make that choice. Don’t let the perfectionist inside of you waste your time in an eternal pursuit of efficiency.
Don’t be tempted to run to a study forum and ask:
Here’s my study plan. What do you think?
I completely understand the desire to have this answered. But it’s dangerous. Anyway who claims they have the perfect method is wrong. Because there is no perfect method. Even the one you choose. I always say take a method, and then make it yours. But even when you do, your “perfect method for you” is temporary. You grow with the method. You outgrow the method. You move on to a new one.
Would you become fluent anyway?
I sometimes wonder this. If I chose a different set of methods, would I still end up in the same place? How significant was it that I chose to study using X, Y & Z. This is something I’ll never know. The one thing I do know is that the actual amount of study time I did brought me to where I am today.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.