The Twelve Stages to Learning a Foreign Language

1. Dream

Before you even get started, you imagine yourself speaking the language flawlessly with natives, impressing everyone around you.

1. dreaming and excited gif

2. Excitement

You’re super excited and decide to buy every book on the language you can get your hands on.

2. minions clapping and super excited gif

3. Procrastination

You endlessly read blog articles about learning the language, or about people talking about learning the language. Or you just read stuff like this post.

3. using computer intensively gif

4. Delusion

You tell yourself you’ll memorize something like 50 new words and study 5 hours every day.

4. delusion looking at computer and suddenly smiling gif

5. Return to Reality

You figure out that’s not going to happen.

5. baby very disappointed gif

6. Getting down to business

You actually start going through some of your glossy textbooks and programs that you had bought a few weeks ago.

6. study japanese highlight passage gif

7. Demotivation

After a couple of weeks, you say %$!# this.

7. fuck this angry guy gif

8. Pulling yourself together

You finally pull yourself together and restart learning the language. You’ve found your inner force back again.

8. i can do this supersayen gif

9. Perfectionist

You decide you’ll speak that language perfectly before ever opening your mouth with a native.

9. cat reading book gif

10. Return to Reality #2

You figure out that’s not going to happen.

10. disappointed yoda

11. Pride

You finally start getting a hang of the language. You’re really excited about yourself.

11, very happy about yourself dancing gif

12. Fluency

That’s it! You can speak the language! All these years of work really did pay off after all.

12. woah totally impressed gif

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Have you gone through many, if not most of these stages in your language studies? Let us know in the comments section below!

By Lingholic

Source of images: Giphy

  • Show Comments (21)

  • Will D

    Haha excellent post ! Je dois dire que le point 3 m’a bien fait sourire car la langue que je travaille étant l’anglais j’ai grand plaisir à justement lire les blogs et autres videos sur youtube de linguists car elles sont quasiment toutes en anglais !
    Very nice post ! I must admit that point 3 is not a problem as far as I am concerned since my target language is English and most of the blogs, articles or youtube videos related to learning a language are in English ! By the way thank you Sam for sharing all those tips always with a pinch of humour with us ! Keep up the good work !

    • Ah bien oui c’est vrai que procrastiner dans la langue qu’on essaie d’apprendre c’est pas mal 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words Will, glad you enjoy the tips here on Lingholic!

  • Ahmad Mohamadzadeh

    I think if someone learn to apply mnemotechnics in learning language, then he can go straight from stage 4 to stage 12 🙂

    • That sounds like a pretty strong claim to make. Have you personally been able to leverage the power of mnemonics to memorize 50 new words/day and study 5 hours/day?

      • Ewen

        actually, for my JLPT N4 exam, I only had one month to study over 1700 words, and I managed to study and recall all those words with mnemonics. I studied around 50-60 words per day for an entire month, and I aced the vocabulary section on the exam. as a side note, I used anki along with these mnemonics, so that probably helped as well.

        • That’s pretty impressive, congratulations! I’m wondering, though, do you still remember those words now that you’ve written the exam, and perhaps more importantly, can you actually use these words in day-to-day conversations?

          • Ewen

            hmmm good point. Honestly, I only remember around 60% of what I studied, but that could also be because I haven’t reviewed the vocabulary in over a year! I think that spaced repetition and mnemonics help immensely with memorizing vocabulary, but in order to have actually learned the words, I should be comfortably using them in everyday situations, just like you said.

  • James Lowrey

    there should be a load of stuff between 11 and 12
    たまにぺらぺら話せるけど、時々上手にならないと思う

    • fallen_woman

      I was thinking the same! 同じを思ったわよ!!
      There’s no step for going up to native speakers and telling them proudly you are learning their language only to watch them back away slowly with a “that’s…nice…” fake smile. And there is doing better in classes and acing tests and then completely fumbling conversations…

    • La Verne Hamilton

      Yup…like actually visiting a country that speaks the language, after years of studying, thinking you’ve now got it..and realizing…damn…this is nothing like what I was studying…lol!!!#

  • Delta

    COMPLETELY. AGREE.

    • Thanks 🙂 I’m guessing you’ve been through all 12 stages? hehe

  • soo Sinful

    ive gone through allthese rings

    • Congratulations 🙂 That means you’ve now reached fluency!

  • I´m at the dreaded plateau stage in my German learning curve. Currently on a hunt for new podcasts and have some sentence substitution drills set up for later. Good post.

  • Victoria

    It’s a bit reassuring that the “%$!# this” phase is a common thing. I thought that maybe it was just me.

    • Haha, yes it’s definitely a stage that most people go through I believe! The secret is to never forget why you started learning the language in the first place (hopefully it was for a good reason!).

  • Brett Blumenthal

    Stage 0: “Wow, that Italian girl is HOT.”

  • I’m at the 7th stage! ahahahahaaha

    Can I made a simple infographic for italian people? Your post is so good!

  • Laure B.

    11 and 12 are still the most difficult stages to get to… 😉

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