Ah, the plateau. It's that spot in your language learning adventure where you feel you've made some progress, and then you stop progressing. You feel stuck. This is the point where lots of people feel like they want to give up.
Learning that new language was fun for a while, but now you feel like your at the same level you were a few weeks ago, despite the fact you've put in lots of effort.
Been there. Done that. (I think most of us have.) Here's a few things I've learned about how to overcome those learning plateaus and how to reach new heights.
The other day my wife laughed at me. I had my phone in my pocket as I was getting ready for work in the morning. Blasting from my phone was a song from Genii, a pop music group from Laos. My wife that it was the funniest thing.
"Why are you laughing?" I asked her.
I hate New Years resolutions. Let's face it. I've already blown my resolution to write a blog post at least once a week. Here it is, February, and I'm finally getting around to my first post of the year.
I am a big fan, however, of evaluating where I'm currently at in my life and making a few reasonable goals to get to the next step.
Let me emphasize the words few and reasonable.
It's my opinion that working on too many goals prevents you from accomplishing anything well.
Lao is the toughest language I've ever tried to tackle. It has it's own unique alphabet. There are no spaces in between words. The number of cognates with English are pretty low. But the hardest thing for me has been learning the Lao tone rules.
I tried and tried to learn the tone rules, but it was like I had reached a brick wall in my Lao studies. I did eventually break through that wall. Here's how I did it.
His name was Elder Bruce. I only knew him for a couple of months. He was quiet, a little shy, and he spoke a language I've never heard of before.
You've probably never heard of it before, either. And who could blame you? According to Ethnologue there are over 7000 known languages spoken on this planet, and the one Elder Bruce spoke is only spoken by about 10,000 people.
The language? Bislama. It is one of over 100 languages spoken in the small Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. It is the main language of most of the urban residents of Vanuatu, and the second language of most of its rural residents.