“If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead”.
James Clear Atomic Habits 2018
I believe there has been a recent, profound shift in the way that people approach getting better at something. This includes studying or learning a language but can also include improving any skill; cooking, public speaking, exercising, playing a musical instrument etc. To achieve real success and, yes reach a goal, the key is not to fixate on the objective but to develop a useful habit. The more something becomes habitual the less it seems like work – you will actually look forward to it and the process becomes automatic.
You may have heard of the 10,000 hour rule. The author Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers basically described it as the number of hours that extremely successful people worked at something before they achieved any success. He uses The Beatles and Bill Gates as examples. However if we are to do the math on this it equates to 3 hours a day over the course of 9 years!
I think that level of commitment is admirable but probably unsustainable. However, there is a middle ground when it comes to learning a language. Developing small, daily habits into your or your children’s routine is key. This includes things like reading, listening to music and (yes!) watching short series’ on Netflix, with or without subtitles depending on level.
Your habits define you. If you want to see progress then incorporating language learning into your daily routine along with, for example, eating well and exercising, then you will reach your goals, probably without even realising it.
Cambridge English Assessment Specialist
DOS and teacher at AAprendre idiomes