In theory, learning a language today should be much easier than it was in the past. Thanks to the internet, we have ready access to the languages of the world. We have websites and apps that translate and conjugate, and kindly souls who give free tutorials on YouTube. Furthermore, thanks to the growth of travel and migration, bookshops nowadays carry a better selection of language guides and aids than ever before. With all these facilities, we should all be really good at two or three languages by now. So why aren’t we? (Polyglots excepted, of course.) Well, one thing we don’t have more of is more time. Learning a language needs time, hard work and dedication. If anything, all these digital aids are not necessarily aiding us. People in academic circles are starting to argue that the abundance of digital media is hindering our development. We are being subjected to information overload.
So, if your language learning is not progressing as well as you would like, maybe it’s time to cut out the digital clutter and go back to basics. And this is where Bernardo’s Brilliant Language Learning Plan™ comes in! The good thing is, It’s cheap and simple, just like Bernardo himself.
Here’s the plan
- Write down neatly on A4 paper the language points (vocab, conjugations, whatever) that you want to learn. Use both sides of the paper to get as much helpful material in as you can, without making it too cluttered. Use colour to highlight any points that you want to stand out.
- Get the paper laminated. This is the only expenditure required under Bernardo’s Brilliant Language Learning Plan™, and the money doesn’t even go to Bernardo. It goes to laminators.
- Carry this laminated page with you wherever you go. It’s light, it won’t crumple, it won’t get dirty, you can spill coffee on it, you can even take it with you to the bath and shower. If you commute, take it with you on your way to work. Ten minutes a day perusing it adds up to 50 minutes in a five-day working week, or 43 hours a year. If you drive to work, keep it on the passenger seat – at red traffic lights or in traffic jams, you can revise something. The slower the traffic, the more you’ll learn. At work, put it somewhere where you can glance at it every now and then to have a short break from whatever it is you are doing.
- When you have mastered what is on both sides of the laminated sheet, make a new one with the next language points that you want to master.
- Keep the old laminated sheets in places where you will come across them regularly. Bernardo’s Portuguese irregular verbs, for example, are next to the kettle in his kitchen, so whenever he makes a tea or coffee, he can rattle off an irregular verb or two while the kettle is boiling. His Romanian numerals are in the biscuit tin so he can eloquently serve himself up to 99 biscuits, if need be (101 seems a bit greedy). His notes on the French dependent infinitive are in the freezer next to the French Fries, and his Spanish superlatives are in the pantry on top of the Spanish onions. His Italian seasonal greetings are in the drinks cabinet, balanced on all the bottles of Sambuca. Bernardo’s a great greeter!
The beauty of these laminated sheets is that they are easy to carry around and, unlike an electronic device, you don’t have to worry about losing them.
Bernardo does a lot of swimming in an outdoor pool and once he gets into a rhythm, his brain becomes unusually sharp. So he takes his laminated sheets to the pool and recites, chants and eventually memorises bits of a foreign language as he powers through the water. On windy days, his laminated sheets get blown away from the side of the big pool into the smaller, deeper pool nearby, where burly water polo players practise. This explains why Australian water polo players are so good at languages. 😀