The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Friday, June 25, 2010

Four Phases of Learning

The excerpt below is from Tae Kim's Blog and has specifically to do with learning the Japanese Language, I think the idea applies to pretty much anything challenging we might try to learn. To read the whole thing, click here.

I started learning Japanese as an adult (college sophomore) and became proficient in about 5 years (full story here). So I’d like to think I know the various phases you go through when learning a foreign language. There are different things to watch out in each phase so let’s look at the long journey and how to successfully reach the end of the rainbow to find the pot of gold. Unfortunately, in real life, a rainbow is completely round so there is actually no end so good luck with that. Ha ha.

There are roughly 4 stages of language acquisition: excitement, depression, laziness, and acceptance. The excited stage is when everything is new and you feel a tremendous amount of progress everyday as you learn words like “to do”. Following that is depression upon realizing that no matter how much you learn, it’s still not enough. After you reach a certain level, you then become lazy because you can get by most of the time with what you know. If you overcome the lazy stage, the final stage is acceptance as you become resigned to the fact that learning a language has no end. You try the best you can and keep learning for as long as you use the language.


Patrick Parker said...


Those 4 stages match the acquisition of a martial art as well as a language. Sort of a cool spin on the Shu-Ha-Ri cycle!

Rick said...

I agree. It's a very insightful article.

Zen said...

And sometimes you go through those phases twice or back and forth through a couple... or maybe that is still number 4

Rick said...

I agree!