A Language Learner's Manifesto

A Language Learner’s Manifesto

Have you been studying a language for a while? Are you still afraid to speak ? Follow the Language Learner’s Manifesto and learn the language in no time and become FLUENT.

Repeat the following mantra daily:A Language Learner's Manifesto


First I must forget what I learned in school. I will make a fresh start. I will forget the rules of grammar. I will forget the quizzes and tests. I will forget all the times I made mistakes. I will forget what my teachers taught me. I will forget my native language. I will forget who I am. I am a new person. I will make a fresh start. I will have fun! I will focus on things that are fun and interesting. I will learn.


I will learn how to learn. I will listen a lot. I will let myself go. I will listen and let the new language enter my mind. I will listen often. Whatever I listen to, I will read, online or on my mobile device. Words and phrases that I don’t know, I will look up,  quickly, using an online dictionary.  I will save these words and phrases. I will listen every day. At first I will listen to the same content many times. Soon I will move on to meaningful content, subjects that interest me, things I love to listen to. I will listen to the meaning. I will listen to hear the words and phrases. I will listen early in the morning. I will listen late at night. Since I am reading as well as listening, I gradually understand more and more.


My first goal is to understand the language. I want to understand more and more of what I hear and read. Only if I can understand what I hear and read will I be able to speak and write. Until I can understand what I hear and read, I will not be able to speak and write well. But there is no hurry. I will work on understanding. I will read a lot and especially, listen a lot. I know that if I keep going, I will understand more and more.


Every day is a learning day. Every day the language is entering my brain. I enjoy reading and listening every day. I study with energy and enthusiasm. I study interesting things and enjoy the language. If I enjoy the language I will improve. Let the language enter my mind. There is no need to push myself. I am getting better every day.


I will never say that I am no good. When I read and listen I will tell myself “nice job”! I will learn naturally and easily. I will be nice to myself. I will not be nervous.  If I make a mistake I will say “never mind”. If I cannot understand something I will say “never mind.” If I forget a word I will say “never mind.” If I have trouble saying what I want to say , “no problem”. I will continue no matter what. I know that I can become fluent.


I will trust myself, trust the process, and trust that I will reach my goal. I will be confident. Confident learners improve because they treat themselves with respect. I will tell myself that I am doing well. I will tell myself that I just need to keep going, no matter what. The more I listen and read, the more I understand. The more words and phrases I save and learn, the more new words I can learn. The language will become clearer and clearer in my mind. When I start to speak and write,I will struggle at first. But then I will make giants steps forward because I will take it easy. I know that if I understand the language well, I just need to talk more to improve. I will trust myself and trust my ability to learn. In this way I will achieve my goal and become FLUENT.

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25 comments on “A Language Learner’s Manifesto


I agree with everything what is written under the letters L, U,E,N and T.
Under the letter “F” I would have written:

F = First you have to love the language you want to learn

Katerina Chaloupkova

Hi Steve,
Thank you for your heartfelt prayer!
Ráda bych Vám poslala nějakou hezkou knihu o české historii. Můžete mi prosím poslat Vaši adresu?
Děkuji a zdravím z Prahy.
Kateřina Chaloupková

    Hi Katerina,

    I love reading about Czech history but really can’t accept your kind offer. Perhaps some ebooks on Czech history. Sorry for the reply in English. Just easier for me. But I love reading in Czech.




LingQ is overrated, and should only be used after you have an Intermediate Language Knowledge. Additionally, many people learning a Foreign language these days are using methods which do not teach them to read and write as well as they speak. This is because many people are receiving pretty sub-par grammar education in schools. You can learn a language this way, but it’s not efficient and while the “grammar,” “book-based,” and classroom-based method is often frowned upon by people pushing other methods – it is more efficient.

FSI is able to churn out fluent speakers in a year or so on a regular basis largely because of their intensive class-based course. In order to make good, consistent, process in studying a foreign language, you need about 2 hours a day of intense study. This goes down after you learned your initial language because that initial experience will allow you to overcome some of the educational and physical (yes) limitations you may go into the process with.

If you want to learn a foreign language easier, the best way to do that is to preceed your foreign language studies with a refresher on English Grammar. I’m speaking from an American native’s perspective, obviously. More specifically, an Adult. In some areas of the country (Louisiana, where I’m from), parents can put their students into schools where they take french from Elementary through High School, completely with Foreign Exchange programs. I’m not sure what is done in other states, but there is rationale for Louisiana doing this due to the French-speaking population and from a purely heritage-based logic.

The big issue I noticed when I took French I/II is that the French teachers had to [almost] double up as English teachers. So many students simply hadn’t a clue of grammar, even for English (they just passively assimilated it due to be native speakers), that it made learning the Foreign language way harder than it could have been. It also made it hard to teach, because the instructor was explaining concepts to students as if it were the first time they had learned it in an English grammar class.

This could be incredibly hampering for i.e. Native US English speakers who try to learn German, because of how the language changes word order. Being able to separate statements into clauses, and clauses into parts while understanding what those classes/parts are and how they function is a huge advantage when studying a foreign language.

This is not true simply because you know what you’re looking at when told, but also because you can make associations to your Native language to anchor that understanding. This can lead to “instant assimilation” of many topics. This is one of the few innate advantages an Adult learner has – the fact that they could likely have learned many of the base concepts already, and can make instant connections that shortcut knowledge acquisition in equivalent topics in the foreign language. This is similar to learning loan words or cognates with same meaning for your foreign language vocabulary (i.e. resume in English = résumé in French).

When you can learn the structure (grammar) of a language efficiently, it accelerates other areas of learning. Vocabulary is easier as you can discern how things are used and you often having a greater sense of context due to grammatical comprehension (i.e. Tenses, Colloquial or Formal Speech Patterns, etc.). This also means vocabulary acquisition is aided.

For languages with things like Cases, you have more mental room and energy to tackle that because you don’t have to do “remedial grammar” “on the fly.”

It also makes assimilating the language easier because you don’t have to ask “What, When, Why, Where” so much. Only the How. This aids speaking, comprehending, and writing. It makes things more “reflexive”, as you don’t have to think “as much” about it when you hear, see, or want to [re]produce it (i.e. a component of thinking in a language).

For example, you know to use a certain (What) tense, in what situations (When), (Why) that is used, and (Where) certain elements of the statement are located when it’s used. As a result, the syntax is more “information” than “noise.”

You can make it that way, much, much earlier in the language learning process than many people do by familiarizing yourself with grammar in a general sense – often by refreshing yourself on English grammar (because you can understand everything written/said) – and actually understanding the [What, When, Why, and Where] of it.

Plus, it will “make your English better.”

By the way, did you ever wonder why so many people who took Foreign languages, even if they barely learned or retained anything, state that it made their English better? 😉

Also practice your pronunciation in English. Many of us have accents and have developed lazy habits. Develop better vowel sounds and better/crisper consonants. Having good pronunciation in English is going to help you learn a foreign language because lots of material relate pronunciation to English Vowels consonants. If your Vowel or Consonant sounds or distorted due to accent, habit, or laziness… Well, this is going to be a factor, right?

It can also help you, physically, in terms of producing sound in efficient places that can make learning foreign consonant clusters or how to move efficiently between sounds when producing speech.

I find people who have worst understanding/education on Grammar tend to prefer French, even though the pronunciation is a terror.

People who have had good education or really understand grammar tend to prefer German because they can more easily understand the grammar and thus are less “tripped up” by the movement of things in this language. Anyone can get there, but some people had better teachers/schools etc. than others so they don’t need remedial study on the matters.

Articles in German aren’t hard. They just are what they are. Even in french, you learn gender with the nouns.

If you understand Grammar, cases aren’t a big deal.

Also, spoken German is less ridiculous than literary German. Spoken language is generally easier/less complicated.

An aside:

People shouldn’t be using the FSI courses for self-study. They are designed for intensive classroom study. By that, I mean ~6 hours a day in a classroom setting, including about 2 hours of lab (listening to materials, repeating after the tape, being drilled) and 30+ minutes a day of oral conversation and drilling with a fluent instructor.

FSI is an intense, long term (6+ months) foreign language course. It is not designed for “teach yourself” self study and the materials really cannot be used as such. It requires an instructor. There are some sub components (pre-Basic course) that were designed with this in mind, but courses like French/German Basic I/II and French/German FAST were and are not.

FSI churns out fluent students in 1-2 year timespans consistently. The courses cost several thousands of dollars if taken in the real world.

I’ve read of people talking about how they’ve gone through FSI “in 3 weeks” and learned a lot.


You can barely hear the recordings, they’re so old and were ripped from decades’ old tape recordings (I’m sure they sounded great in the 70s, though).

Name *Maria Magdalena Marines C

It is basically a life journey when it comes to language learning. Along the road, it is those signals that rescue and praise our pathway. Blessed mistakes, it is because of them that we move each step further up in the pathway of language learning.

Name Troy

Steve said he listens to a new lesson sometimes up to 30 or 40 times. I know that varies from lesson to lesson, but I was wondering on the average how many times do you read a new lesson before moving on? I know the idea is to create a lot of new lingq’s everyday, but does that mean just do one lesson per day and then move on the next day to a new lesson? By the end of the week that can be a lot of lessons to be reviewing. I just need some kind of guidance on how long I should be staying on the same lesson.

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