When people find out that I speak four languages (this is unusual in Australia, although I know it may not be so in some other countries) they usually immediately conclude either that I’m exceptionally intelligent or some sort of language genius. This can be frustrating at times, since because language learning is a huge passion of mine that has positively influenced my life in profound ways, I’m often looking to encourage others who are curious about learning languages or who have just started to learn one. It’s frustrating because the problem with such conclusions is that it is extremely discouraging for potential learners, as they will reason that they just must not be smart or lucky enough to have the gift of learning languages and so won’t even try.
I firmly believe that I have no special language learning ability whatsoever. I don’t pick them up effortlessly, and only am able to learn them because I’ve developed my own method for learning languages that suits my learning style, and because I’ve realised that there are a number of common attributes shared by successful language learners. I learnt Italian in Primary School for 7 years, and never learnt much. I also did French all the way through High School, but only was able to learn it when I started researching the infamous internet polyglots Luca Lamparielloand Steve Kaufmann, whose videos and articles gave me the tools needed to go forth and learn French to fluency. Anyone who spent the same amount of time learning languages as I do using a similarly efficient method could learn them just as well as myself.
And so, without further ado, let me begin my personal analysis of what makes a successful language learner!