Mastering a Language in 3 Simple Steps + 1 Important Key

Have you ever stood at a starting line, the head of a long trail, or beginning of a big project and felt intimidated? Not sure how you are going to reach your destination or goal? Maybe even scared to start and wonder how in the world you are going to finish? You are not alone!  

Goals that stretch us, like learning a language, running a marathon, or mastering a skill, can be intimidating. Not only is it difficult to see the end from the beginning, but, once you take the first step, that finish line may feel farther away than you first imagined.

I certainly do not have all the answers, but, like you, I have been through this experience many times and have learned a few simple lessons that have worked for me both professionally and personally.


3 Simple Steps

I have boiled these lessons down to three simple steps and one important key. Before I share what those are, however, I am going to assume that you already have some sort of a plan. The plan may not be perfect, but everyone knows that, in order to reach any goal, you have to start with some form of a plan.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin


With your plan in mind, let me share a few steps you can follow to get the most from your plan.

Step 1: Gauge First, Gauge Often

Before you can begin any journey, you must first measure and determine where you are starting. When learning a language, it is vitally important that you know your starting point so that you can determine how far you will need to go. This process of measurement or evaluation is not just important at the beginning of your journey, though. It is just as important to make this a regular part of your journey.

“The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.”

George Bernard Shaw

The more often you gauge, the more clearly you can see progress and know how far you have come. When you gauge your ability level often, you can experience success often—even in small increments. Frequent success helps to build the confidence and momentum you need to sustain growth over a long journey.


Step 2:  Adjust Your Guide

If there is anything I have learned in my life, it is that nothing ever goes exactly according to plan. The plan you so painstakingly make today will inevitably change tomorrow—and that is okay! 

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Charles Darwin

If you gauge often, you can adjust your guide often to make sure you stay on track and continue to move in the direction of your goal.

Step 3:  Grow in Increments

No language was ever mastered in one day. No marathon runner ever ran the first time running shoes were laced up. No great feat was ever accomplished on the first attempt or without error. Progress is made in increments. Mastery of a language comes one word and one grammatical rule at a time.

“The man who removes a mountain begins with carrying away small stones.”

Old Chinese Proverb

You work up to running a marathon by building one mile at a time. Focus on that next increment in your language-learning journey—what vocabulary word or phrase are you going to master this week? It is more manageable, and sets you up for many successes on your way to reaching your final goal of language mastery.


One Important Key

By now, you may have guessed the key to making these three steps successful in your own life, career, or language-learning journey. If you have not, then I will just come out and say it: the key to making these three steps successful is repetition.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”

Benjamin Franklin

Follow these three steps over, and over, and over again. You may not reach your goal in the timeframe you were hoping—that is okay! Gauge again, adjust your Guide, and Grow to that next increment. Gauge, Guide, Grow. Gauge, Guide, Grow. The key is to keep repeating until you master your goal!

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