Language Learning is Boring
It’s cool to be the guy that can strike up a conversation with the strangers having a conversation in a foreign tongue — in their own language. That was one of the biggest motivating factors for me to learn Japanese. That and watching One Piece without subtitles.
The first day you spend studying everything is new. We’re in the novel world where we can talk about French baguettes and Italian spaghetti or Japanese apologies — staples to a language, things are exciting.
We learn the meaning of the cool words — expressions in popular culture, how to greet new friends and introduce ourselves. How to order a café in a café, how to go shopping at the trendiest stores — everything we could possibly need.
But then it happens — slowly, you start to notice what you’re going through. A slightly different way to ask for café? A third way to say shirt? Fingernails? Ankles? You have to have that same dialogue with your classmates roleplaying a purchase at a store? For the fifth time? Reading exercises where you have to look up every other word your reading? This isn’t fun anymore.
Language learning is boring.
After you get past the stuff everyone knows anyway, language learning is repetition. You study the same words every day. You forget the same words every day, until one day you remember, and then you switch to a new word to forget every day.
You repeat, and you repeat, and you repeat.
You say the same 10 sentences out loud, for half an hour, and you’re convinced everyone else is convinced that you’re crazy.
You do this month in, you do this month out. Soon a year passes, then two.
Suddenly, you don’t find yourself forgetting too much. You still have to look things up — but it’s only one or two things per page now. You have friends that can only speak your target language. You’re doing it.
You didn’t stop just because you had to learn the words for toilet paper and drawer, or backward and next to. You kept showing up even when you were doing almost exactly the same thing for two weeks straight.
That’s the difference between wanting to learn French and learning French.
You keep going when it loses novelty.