Learning a language is like planting a seed
We live in a society where almost everything comes ready made so that we can get results without too much effort. Thus, we expect seeing results even in language learning immediately after we have put some effort into it. But when we don't see the results immediately, we start to get discouraged and frustrated.
Learning a language is a bit like planting seeds. We must place them in the ground at first and water them every day. But we don’t see sprouts coming out that signal the growth we have been waiting for. Thus, eventually we begin to wonder if all this effort was in vane. Maybe the teachers were bad, maybe they taught too much grammar or didn't teach it enough, maybe they didn't’t speak enough Estonian or didn't’t explain enough in English. Perhaps the Estonian language is just too hard to learn. These are the kind of thoughts that go through our minds as we try and don’t see immediately results.
And often instead of things coming better, they get worse. We feel that we have more problems now when trying to communicate in Estonian than we had before, when we spoke just English. Problems seem to increase in every area. You feel discouraged and want to give up by saying “I just don’t have time for that!” However, language acquisition is like growing a plant. At first the seed germinates and begins to sprout under the ground. The root comes out and starts to grow. And one day, quite suddenly, you notice the plant stems bursting through the surface of the earth and showing themselves.
It is easy to see this comparison when observing children's language acquisition, however, we forget that our own second or foreign language acquisition takes place exactly in the similar way. At first we are just babbling and people don’t understand us and then we get angry and frustrated because we are not children any more. We don’t know that all it needs is just patience and daily practice and effort to use it in different situations over and over again. There’s a surefire, entertaining, easy, cheap, miraculous way of improving your Estonian language skills: all you have to do is watching these language learning videos we'll send you every week. And keep doing it for the whole year.
Often we don’t notice the results but then suddenly other people begin to ask: „How did you learn to talk so well?“ And we usually don’t know it, we were just using it on a daily bases until it happened and we were suddenly fluent. It was developing all along. We just couldn't see it. But now that it has shown itself, we notice all the growth that was taking place during those days. Therefore my advise is to just relax, learn and practice your language on a daily bases a little bit and enjoy the developing process. People who are relaxed and self-confident get always better and quicker results.
Ülle Rannut, PhD
Integration Research Institute
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