Part I. Building enthusiasm
Poland, March 2000
I listen to two kinds of advice:
- advice that is given together with a proof of its advisability
- advice from someone who is successful in the realm in which he gives the advice
So, if somebody is successful that is reason enough for me to listen to their advice.
I am not going to prove anything. I am going to depict myself as a person who has mastered English and then I will describe how I did that and I will enumerate the mistakes that people make when learning English.
If you are an English learner who has not yet found a satisfying way to learn, you are doubtlessly going to benefit from reading this article.
I can read and understand any book in English. I can write articles in English so that everybody can have a good time reading them.
I can understand the lyrics of most English songs and I'm not any worse at it than the natives themselves. I can participate in any kind of English conversation, irrespective of the topic or the kind of person I'm talking with. I can fully express my personality in English and discuss even the most abstruse parts of philosophy. In fact, I could live my life fully using only English from now on.
You surely want to know what is the most important factor that determines a learner's success. First of all, you need to get a kick out of learning. You need to love the process of learning. You need to be a dedicated book-worm!
Many people are excited at the idea of already knowing English. They want to have learned English. They are passionate about the final state of unquestionable expertise. That is okay. It is very encouraging and empowering to have a compelling vision in mind. However, that is not enough. You also need to be excited at the idea of striving to reach that goal. You need to be drawn toward the process of learning.
If you are one of the persons who want to know English and who don't want to learn English, you are fated to be dissatisfied. You are going to be dissatisfied either because you will not know English or because you will suffer as you learn. After all, doing something you don't want to be doing is suffering, isn't it? And anyway, you will not learn much unless you are passionate about learning in itself.
I am a learning freak. I can spend hours leafing through dictionaries, looking up words and phrases, reading English and appending items to my SuperMemo collections.
So the first thing that you can get wrong is the lack of enthusiasm. This can get you down and prevent you from reaching the final state that you desire so. The only way to English mastery leads through years of enthusiastic learning.
Being crazy about doing something and doing it every day is not a bad idea and it can eventually land you in the state of English mastery. I'll help you build up your enthusiasm by presenting my beliefs and attitudes concerning English. The only thing you need to do is let some of my enthusiasm rub off onto you.
Knowing English makes me mentally richer. Knowing English enhances my expressibility. Knowing English adds to my overall mental capacity. There are so many neat words in English that I lack in my native language [Polish]. My mental lexicon is considerably enlarged through English. There are many cute grammar tricks and subtleties that I lack in my native language. My mental grammar
is enriched through English.
Now, with each day as you learn, you will feel your mental lexicon growing. You will be thrilled by the grammar that you learn. You will find that building English sentences is lots of fun. All the fun is yours for the taking. You can take some of it every day.
Another thing you can get wrong is the failure to see the beauty and the fun in English grammar and vocabulary. So many people complain about English instead of simply enjoying it to the fullest. English is fun, remember! Step on the right path and start deriving real pleasure from learning English!
Knowing English enables me to understand the songs I listen to. I listen to a lot of English music and I am delighted to be able to understand it. My perception of music is so much richer now that I know English. Listening to English music fills half of my time. And the simple fact that I enjoy the English music for what it is - English words and grammar sung melodiously - makes my days very pleasant to live. You can take it from me.
You can easily experience the satisfaction of knowing English words and grammar on a daily basis. Just listen to all the English music that's around you. You can take delight in singling out a word from a song. It can give you a kick to truly understand that a song is about love, rather than only guess that it is the case.
Knowing English gives me access to literature. Almost all of the world's greatest works have been translated into English. Not all of them have been translated into my native language. And of course knowing English gives me access to English literature, the reading of which I cherish so. I have read many exciting scientific books in English that have not been translated into my native language. That gave me an advantage over those people whose knowledge is confined to that which is expressed in Polish. Knowing English allows me to personally correspond with the world's leading scientists. Those who do not know English have little access to what's going on in the scientific world. They are severely limited in their ability to impact the world. Knowing English, I can write an article and it is readily available for many people around the world. If I was confined to my native language only, my scope of influence would be scarce. I can disseminate my ideas across the world due to my knowledge of English.
Now what about you? Are you interested in books? Or perhaps you are interested in science? Would you like to share some of your most precious ideas with all the people of the world? I tell you: English is the way to go. It can give you books, science and put you in touch with people.
I can understand most of what's on the Internet. I have a powerful feeling of freedom. I can roam the net and understand it. All the information and the fun that the Internet offers is mine, I can take it. Without English I would be illiterate, I would be blind.
Would you like to be an Internet maven? Roaming free, understanding everything, contributing to exciting discussions by writing your own stuff? Imagine that nobody needs to translate your thoughts. You just give them to the world as pure as they are in your mind!
(to be continued)