I’m not a natural acquirer of foreign languages but I greatly enjoy learning. My strategy when learning a new language is to do the up-front book work (basic vocab of around 1,500 words, basic grammar) and then talk to as many people as I can every day, in addition to immersing myself in the language with Netflix shows (no subtitles, neither in English nor the foreign language, in order to train my ear), news programs, news websites, etc. I’ve found I learn best by means of “applied humiliation” whereby native speakers correct my mistakes during our interactions. Somehow, for me personally, I remember far more readily my interlocutor’s correction than any amount of abstract learning.

What I’ve always been struck by is how willing most people are to help me acquire their language. The fact that I’m making the effort, that I laugh when my mistakes are pointed out, seems to please them. And slowly, slowly, it comes together until the day when you end up having an entire conversation for half an hour and at the end you realize you haven’t been corrected once.

I do hope this doesn’t just mean the native speakers have decided I’m a hopeless case upon whom further effort would be wasted…. :)

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.