#129 - The Universal Truths of Learning A Language

March 9, 2022

There are a bunch of different methods, tools, courses, YouTube channels, and podcasts that claim to have the secret to fluency or some revolutionary study method. But at the end of the day, there are some things about the learning process that will never change, and that’s what I’m here to talk about today.

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[00:00:01] (Let's) see if we can get this in one take. What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And in this episode, I'm going to talk about some universal truths of learning a language. There are a bunch of different methods, tools, courses, YouTube channels, and podcasts that claim to have the secret to fluency or some, you know, revolutionary study method. But at the end of the day, there are some things about the learning process that will never change, and that's what I'm here to talk about today. Let's do it.

[00:00:40] The Life in English podcast is designed to teach you the real American English that you won't learn in school, and it's made possible by the support of our growing community. As a member of the Life in English community, you'll get access to our private English conversation group, bonus podcast episodes with transcripts and vocabulary guides, and you'll be able to sleep at night knowing you're supporting your favorite English teacher. How about that? So for more information about how to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip.

[00:01:06] So the first truth I want to share with you is that there's no best way or one-size-fits-all approach to learning a language. Now, unfortunately, there are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there whose entire business is based on convincing you that they have the secret. Right? But the truth is, this secret simply doesn't exist. What works for you might not work for somebody else. Some people learn faster by reading and writing, others by watching and listening, and others by doing. So I recommend you take some time to figure out how you like to learn and then create the best plan for you. Anyone trying to sell you a shortcut or a hack is not someone to be trusted. You learned your first language with no problems for free. So why would you pay someone to show you how to do it again? Now, as I always say, teachers, courses, schools are extremely important. I actually think they're underrated in terms of the difference they make in our lives. But don't waste your time chasing some special key that's going to unlock all the doors for you because it doesn't exist.

[00:02:20] Now, the second truth I want to share with you is that you need to understand the culture that comes with the language you're trying to learn. And once you understand someone's culture, you can start communicating with them much more effectively. You can speak their language, as we say. I'm a firm believer in the idea that you cannot separate language from culture. A language without culture is just a set of words and rules to be followed. I consider the difference between American English and British English. It's the same language, and we understand each other for the most part, but the way we interact and communicate is completely different. That's culture. So if you want to reach a high level of fluency in the language and be able to communicate like a native speaker, you must not ignore the culture. So get curious, get interested, ask questions. The U.S. is a gigantic country with all kinds of coexisting people and cultures. We all have different ways of communicating. And understanding those differences will help you understand the way we express ourselves.

[00:03:26] So the third thing I want to share with you, the third universal truth of learning a language is that technology changes all the time. But the language learning process never changes. There are a bunch of different apps and websites you can use to improve your English. You know, and every week it seems like I get messages from different companies wanting me to promote their unique system or software that will help you become fluent faster. But the fact of the matter is, I just don't really believe in that type of stuff, which is why I never promoted. I've heard great things about different apps and websites for learning languages, but no matter how revolutionary the technology is, you still got to go through the fundamental stages of learning a new skill. So you can try different websites, apps, and study methods, but I think it's becoming more and more clear that all those things mean nothing unless you're doing the same thing you did when you learned your first language, which is talking to real people all the time. So don't get caught up in the idea that a new technology is going to help you learn this language in some revolutionary way. People were learning languages with no problems long before the internet ever existed. So what does that mean? To me, it means that technology has made things much easier for us, but it hasn't changed the fundamental process.

[00:04:47] So the fourth thing, the fourth universal truth I want to share with you is that quality will always be so much more important than quantity. Let me explain. One good language exchange partner is better than 50 mediocre ones. I managed to learn Portuguese by talking to just two people. And you might think that's not a lot of people. And it's really not. But they were high-quality partners. So that's all I needed. I talked to both of them almost every day about all kinds of things. Culture, hobbies, money, family, friends, relationships, sex, drugs, rock, and roll. All types of stuff. We were able to sustain such a productive relationship because we both or all of us had the same goals and intentions. Learning a language and making friends with real people.

[00:05:43] I think a lot of people overlook the fact that they're talking to a human being when they do a language exchange. A lot of people simply approach someone and say, "Hey, I'm learning your language. Help me." Or they start a conversation, but they, you know, they take absolutely no interest in the person they're talking to. Each person is a universe to be explored, so to speak. Although some are relatively more interesting than others, you should understand that you will never find a quality partner if you have no interest in meeting and understanding new people. You also never find a quality partner if you don't become a quality partner yourself. I'm definitely going to talk more about this in future episodes, but for now, just understand that it's not how many people you're talking to. It's how often you're talking to them and what you're talking about.

[00:06:36] The fifth universal truth I want to share with you is that this 'build it and they will come' strategy is a terrible mindset to have, a terrible strategy to employ. Now, a lot of experienced entrepreneurs and business people are probably familiar with this fallacy. It comes from the movie Field of Dreams in which this farmer who has fallen on hard times, has a vision of a baseball field, and he believes that building this field will be a great way to host baseball games and thus make money. He then heard this voice in his head that said, "If you build it, they will come". And his family and friends thought it was a horrible idea and they begged them not to do it, but he did it anyway. And slowly but surely, people start coming to his field and his family believes in his vision. He's making money and things like that. He convinces them.

[00:07:28] So the idea here is that you can work on a product, make it perfect and eventually release it to the world fully baked, totally polished. And somehow the world will then find your product, recognize the obvious need for it, and then beat the proverbial path to your door, begging you to take their money. That's a romantic story for a movie, but it's far from how things work in real life. You need to attract people. And simply saying, "Hey, everyone! I'm learning English" is not attractive at all. It's the same thing as walking down the street and telling a random group of people that you have a business. Imagine that for a second. You just walking down the street, minding your own business and a stranger comes up to you and says, "Hey, stranger! I've got a business". I'm sure some people might get curious and ask questions, but most people would be like, "Okay. So what?". Most people's natural reaction would be, why should I care? Right? If people don't have a reason to care, they won't be interested. So how do you attract people and get them interested? That's the question. And in my opinion, the answer is by saying and doing what they find attractive or interesting.

[00:08:46] Which brings me to the next universal truth. You should never tell people what you want. You should tell people what you have to offer. And let me explain. I see people make this mistake every day of the week on language exchange apps, in my community, in business and relationships, etc. A lot of people will go on a language exchange app and make a public post that says, "Hey, I'm learning English and I want someone to practice with. If you're serious, then send me a message". But the reality of life, business, and language exchanges is that nobody cares what you want. People care about what you have to offer them. So what part of that message communicates what you can offer me in a language exchange with you? I don't care if you're learning English. I don't care if you need a partner. And frankly, I'm put off by the arrogant tone of your message when you say, "If you're serious, then send me a message". So what reason would I have to send you a message? What part of that message makes me think I would enjoy spending time with you? And why do I have to come to you when you're the one who needs something?

[00:10:00] You've got to understand that you're in the business of solving problems. In life, in business, and in a language exchange. You're a problem solver or you should be. During a language exchange, your job is to help someone else improve their ability to communicate and their job is the same. Well, a common issue I see is that a lot of people think it's a 50/50 exchange. I give you 50% of my effort and you give me 50% of yours. Right? 50 plus 50 equals 100. Right? Wrong. If I give you 50 and you give me 50, then we both end up with the same fucking 50. Any healthy relationship, any productive relationship is 100/100. I give 100% of my effort and you give 100% of yours, and that way we both end up with 100%. Both of our problems get solved in this mutually beneficial relationship. Hopefully, you can understand the metaphor. So if you can't solve someone's problem, then they have no reason to deal with you. If the restaurant has no food, I'm going to go to another restaurant. There's nothing interesting to watch on YouTube, I'm going to get on TikTok. If you can't help me improve my English, I'm going to talk to someone else.

[00:11:15] So be a painkiller, not a vitamin. This is a brilliant concept that I got from a guy named Mike Morrison. He's the host of the Membership Guys podcast, and I've been listening to him a lot lately because I want to learn more about how to build and operate a great membership business. And his idea is that if you want to successfully run a thriving business, whatever your business offers has to be a painkiller and not a vitamin. Because vitamins are simply nice to have, they're not essential to our daily existence. Like, we know we should take them, but some of them are nasty. Some of them are too hard to swallow. Some of them are expensive and most of all, it's not something we ever feel that we need. Painkillers, on the other hand, are something you must have. When you've got a debilitating migraine or an excruciating toothache, the only thing on your mind is getting the pain to stop. In other words, the only thing on your mind is a painkiller. If the pain is bad enough, you don't even care how much the painkiller costs you'll do or pay whatever is necessary to stop the pain.

[00:12:21] So think about that in the context of looking for a language exchange partner. You have to understand the true pain points of looking for a quality language exchange partner. For example, having to deal with people who can't hold the conversation or people who have ulterior motives, most of the time sexual ulterior motives. Right? People who don't have time for you or are always inconsistent with you. Or having to waste time talking to person after person after person, but never having a real connection with any of them. These are the pain points of trying to find a language exchange partner, everyone experiences this. Right? So first, you've got to learn how to solve those problems for your partner. Then you've got to learn how to communicate the fact that you can solve those problems for your partner. Because it doesn't matter how great you are if no one knows you're great. Right? And I can't guarantee that this approach will eliminate all the difficulties of finding a language exchange partner, but I speak from experience when I say that taking this approach makes the process a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable.

[00:13:28] All right. The next universal truth I want to share with you is that trust is one of the most important things in any relationship. People do business with other people that they know, like and/or trust. Right? People get into relationships with people they know, they like and they trust. People spend time with people they know, they like and they trust. You see what I'm saying? So you have to be able to show somebody that you can be trusted and what I mean when I say that is don't say or do things that you wouldn't want somebody saying or doing to your boyfriend or your girlfriend or your mother or your grandmother or something like that. What I'm saying is show respect. Show somebody that you're serious about this interaction, about this language exchange, about learning and growing together. All right? Don't get on these apps asking people for new pictures or their phone number or like... Shit like that. You know, just why would you do that? Why would you do that? People on these apps and, you know, I'm generalizing, but especially girls get on these apps and like all day, every day, they get all kinds of messages from untrustworthy people who have ulterior motives and just want to waste their time. They're not serious about a language exchange. It happens to guys, too. Trust me, I know. But I'm generalizing here, just for my example.

[00:14:47] So in that case, if you already know one of the pain points is having to deal with untrustworthy people with ulterior motives who are just here to waste your time. You need to show that you are not one of those people, that you can be trustworthy, that you're here to be serious and show up consistently. And that you are a good listener. You're open-minded. You know, you're going to bring your own doubts and questions and subjects to the conversation. Right? You can be trusted. You're a serious language exchange partner that just wants to practice language and make friends. And you're going to give 100% and you expect the same thing in return. You can count on me. Right? You have to be able to show that and communicate that. I know it's easy for me to say that without maybe teaching you or giving you clear examples, but hopefully you get the idea.

[00:15:30] People do business with, get in relationships with, and communicate with people that they know, they like and they trust. Now, you're not going to know everyone. Not everyone is going to like you. And even if you're a saint, a trustworthy person, not everyone is going to trust you. That's fine. But I'm saying you increase your chances of becoming fluent, actually learning the language by finding a partner. And you increase your chances of finding a partner by showing your partner that you are quality partner, a trustworthy partner, a dedicated partner. You see what I'm saying? So, just something to think about.

[00:16:03] Now, the last universal truth I want to share with you in this episode is that a satisfied partner is a long-term partner. And what I mean when I say that is, if you're giving your partner everything they need in terms of support, you know, you're making conversation with them, you're correcting their mistakes, answering all their questions, you're consistently talking to them during the week and stuff like that. You're being a great partner, basically. Your partner is going to be satisfied more than likely, right? If you're helping them in every way you can and you're really helping them improve and understand things better, they're going to be satisfied. And when they are satisfied, they want to talk to you more. They want to keep talking to you. Because that's another problem that we all face. Right? We might find somebody, start a conversation with them, and even if we talk for a few days or a few weeks, a lot of times you just lose touch with people for whatever reason. You weren't helping them the way that they needed or they weren't helping you the way that you needed.

[00:17:01] But the point is, a lot of times people ghost you or just disappear, stop responding to your messages or phone calls because something about the interaction was not satisfying them. They weren't getting what they wanted or needed from that interaction. So if you can learn what your partner truly needs, how to satisfy those needs in the context of a language exchange, then I think you have a much higher chance of keeping that partner, which means you have a higher chance of consistently practicing your speaking and listening skills, which means you have a higher chance of becoming an advanced speaker or even a fluent speaker. So a satisfied partner is a long-term partner because this is a long-term game. We're not talking about 30 days to fluency or 90 days to fluency or something like that. Like, learning a language is a process that never ends. It never ends. Even my first language, I learn stuff about my first language all the time. Foreigners teach me stuff about my first language sometimes, or just make me think about things I never considered.

[00:18:01] You're always learning when it comes to language. It never stops. So if you can't maintain a relationship with, you know, multiple or even just one partner for more than a year, two years... I'm not saying that it's always going to be your fault if that's the case or you're doing something wrong. I'm just saying if you can't do that for whatever reason, you're just making it harder for yourself because now you have to go find another partner and start all over again. And we know how hard it is. Right? So I'm sure you get the idea. A happy partner is a satisfied partner. So, don't just focus on finding a great partner, but be a great partner that attracts great partners. I like to think about it that way. You know? I'd love to know what you think.

[00:18:45] So let me just recap really quickly these, I think, 8 universal truths about learning a language. Number one, there is no best way or one-size-fits-all way or only way to learn a language. What works for me, might not work for you. Right? Number two, you need to understand the culture that comes with the language you are trying to learn. You cannot separate language from culture, especially when you want to learn how to communicate like a native or truly understand what natives mean when they speak. Okay? Number three, technology changes all the time, but the language learning process does not. So this new revolutionary app or website or whatever is cool, it might make it easier for you. But understand, fundamentals are fundamentals. And at the end of the day, you're going to have to do some work. There's no new tech or app that's just going to do this shit for you. You see what I'm saying?

[00:19:38] Number four, quality over quantity. One good partner is better than 50 mediocre ones. So learn how to attract, keep and also be a quality language exchange partner. Number five, ‘build it and they will come’ is a terrible mindset and a terrible strategy. Simply saying, "Hey, I'm learning English" is not interesting or attractive to anyone, at least in my experience. Okay? Which takes me to the next point, which is don't tell people what you want, tell people what you have to offer. Okay? I can't guarantee results, but I'm almost positive you will see better results if you focus on what you have to offer and not just what you want from other people. All right? Next, is what? Damn, this is a lot right here.

[00:20:22] Next, trust is like currency. It's one of the most valuable things in any relationship. If somebody feels they can't trust you, you're probably not going to be interacting with that person for very long or it's not going to be a very positive interaction. So you need to be a person that can be trusted. You need to be trustworthy and also genuinely communicate that or show that through your actions, not just your words. You see what I'm saying?

[00:20:46] And finally, a satisfied partner is a long-term partner. Learning a language is like a marathon. Okay? It's a long-term process. Got to stay dedicated for long periods of time to really get to a high level and then stay there. You see what I'm saying? So by being a great partner, making sure that your partner gets everything that they need, you increase the chances that they do the same for you and you guys are helping each other effortlessly for years and years to come. And then it's not even about just language, you just have this great friend. Because that's what it's all about, man. You know what I'm saying?

[00:21:18] So we could go into much more depth about each of these truths, but hopefully, this episode has given you a few things to think about. And hopefully, you'll be able to apply some of this information and start to see better results in your process. But that's it for now. So if you're still with me at this point, I want to thank you for your time and your attention. I hope you enjoyed the episode. And this is Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And I will talk to you soon. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

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[00:00:01] (Let's) see if we can get this in one take. What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And in this episode, I'm going to talk about some universal truths of learning a language. There are a bunch of different methods, tools, courses, YouTube channels, and podcasts that claim to have the secret to fluency or some, you know, revolutionary study method. But at the end of the day, there are some things about the learning process that will never change, and that's what I'm here to talk about today. Let's do it.

[00:00:40] The Life in English podcast is designed to teach you the real American English that you won't learn in school, and it's made possible by the support of our growing community. As a member of the Life in English community, you'll get access to our private English conversation group, bonus podcast episodes with transcripts and vocabulary guides, and you'll be able to sleep at night knowing you're supporting your favorite English teacher. How about that? So for more information about how to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip.

[00:01:06] So the first truth I want to share with you is that there's no best way or one-size-fits-all approach to learning a language. Now, unfortunately, there are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there whose entire business is based on convincing you that they have the secret. Right? But the truth is, this secret simply doesn't exist. What works for you might not work for somebody else. Some people learn faster by reading and writing, others by watching and listening, and others by doing. So I recommend you take some time to figure out how you like to learn and then create the best plan for you. Anyone trying to sell you a shortcut or a hack is not someone to be trusted. You learned your first language with no problems for free. So why would you pay someone to show you how to do it again? Now, as I always say, teachers, courses, schools are extremely important. I actually think they're underrated in terms of the difference they make in our lives. But don't waste your time chasing some special key that's going to unlock all the doors for you because it doesn't exist.

[00:02:20] Now, the second truth I want to share with you is that you need to understand the culture that comes with the language you're trying to learn. And once you understand someone's culture, you can start communicating with them much more effectively. You can speak their language, as we say. I'm a firm believer in the idea that you cannot separate language from culture. A language without culture is just a set of words and rules to be followed. I consider the difference between American English and British English. It's the same language, and we understand each other for the most part, but the way we interact and communicate is completely different. That's culture. So if you want to reach a high level of fluency in the language and be able to communicate like a native speaker, you must not ignore the culture. So get curious, get interested, ask questions. The U.S. is a gigantic country with all kinds of coexisting people and cultures. We all have different ways of communicating. And understanding those differences will help you understand the way we express ourselves.

[00:03:26] So the third thing I want to share with you, the third universal truth of learning a language is that technology changes all the time. But the language learning process never changes. There are a bunch of different apps and websites you can use to improve your English. You know, and every week it seems like I get messages from different companies wanting me to promote their unique system or software that will help you become fluent faster. But the fact of the matter is, I just don't really believe in that type of stuff, which is why I never promoted. I've heard great things about different apps and websites for learning languages, but no matter how revolutionary the technology is, you still got to go through the fundamental stages of learning a new skill. So you can try different websites, apps, and study methods, but I think it's becoming more and more clear that all those things mean nothing unless you're doing the same thing you did when you learned your first language, which is talking to real people all the time. So don't get caught up in the idea that a new technology is going to help you learn this language in some revolutionary way. People were learning languages with no problems long before the internet ever existed. So what does that mean? To me, it means that technology has made things much easier for us, but it hasn't changed the fundamental process.

[00:04:47] So the fourth thing, the fourth universal truth I want to share with you is that quality will always be so much more important than quantity. Let me explain. One good language exchange partner is better than 50 mediocre ones. I managed to learn Portuguese by talking to just two people. And you might think that's not a lot of people. And it's really not. But they were high-quality partners. So that's all I needed. I talked to both of them almost every day about all kinds of things. Culture, hobbies, money, family, friends, relationships, sex, drugs, rock, and roll. All types of stuff. We were able to sustain such a productive relationship because we both or all of us had the same goals and intentions. Learning a language and making friends with real people.

[00:05:43] I think a lot of people overlook the fact that they're talking to a human being when they do a language exchange. A lot of people simply approach someone and say, "Hey, I'm learning your language. Help me." Or they start a conversation, but they, you know, they take absolutely no interest in the person they're talking to. Each person is a universe to be explored, so to speak. Although some are relatively more interesting than others, you should understand that you will never find a quality partner if you have no interest in meeting and understanding new people. You also never find a quality partner if you don't become a quality partner yourself. I'm definitely going to talk more about this in future episodes, but for now, just understand that it's not how many people you're talking to. It's how often you're talking to them and what you're talking about.

[00:06:36] The fifth universal truth I want to share with you is that this 'build it and they will come' strategy is a terrible mindset to have, a terrible strategy to employ. Now, a lot of experienced entrepreneurs and business people are probably familiar with this fallacy. It comes from the movie Field of Dreams in which this farmer who has fallen on hard times, has a vision of a baseball field, and he believes that building this field will be a great way to host baseball games and thus make money. He then heard this voice in his head that said, "If you build it, they will come". And his family and friends thought it was a horrible idea and they begged them not to do it, but he did it anyway. And slowly but surely, people start coming to his field and his family believes in his vision. He's making money and things like that. He convinces them.

[00:07:28] So the idea here is that you can work on a product, make it perfect and eventually release it to the world fully baked, totally polished. And somehow the world will then find your product, recognize the obvious need for it, and then beat the proverbial path to your door, begging you to take their money. That's a romantic story for a movie, but it's far from how things work in real life. You need to attract people. And simply saying, "Hey, everyone! I'm learning English" is not attractive at all. It's the same thing as walking down the street and telling a random group of people that you have a business. Imagine that for a second. You just walking down the street, minding your own business and a stranger comes up to you and says, "Hey, stranger! I've got a business". I'm sure some people might get curious and ask questions, but most people would be like, "Okay. So what?". Most people's natural reaction would be, why should I care? Right? If people don't have a reason to care, they won't be interested. So how do you attract people and get them interested? That's the question. And in my opinion, the answer is by saying and doing what they find attractive or interesting.

[00:08:46] Which brings me to the next universal truth. You should never tell people what you want. You should tell people what you have to offer. And let me explain. I see people make this mistake every day of the week on language exchange apps, in my community, in business and relationships, etc. A lot of people will go on a language exchange app and make a public post that says, "Hey, I'm learning English and I want someone to practice with. If you're serious, then send me a message". But the reality of life, business, and language exchanges is that nobody cares what you want. People care about what you have to offer them. So what part of that message communicates what you can offer me in a language exchange with you? I don't care if you're learning English. I don't care if you need a partner. And frankly, I'm put off by the arrogant tone of your message when you say, "If you're serious, then send me a message". So what reason would I have to send you a message? What part of that message makes me think I would enjoy spending time with you? And why do I have to come to you when you're the one who needs something?

[00:10:00] You've got to understand that you're in the business of solving problems. In life, in business, and in a language exchange. You're a problem solver or you should be. During a language exchange, your job is to help someone else improve their ability to communicate and their job is the same. Well, a common issue I see is that a lot of people think it's a 50/50 exchange. I give you 50% of my effort and you give me 50% of yours. Right? 50 plus 50 equals 100. Right? Wrong. If I give you 50 and you give me 50, then we both end up with the same fucking 50. Any healthy relationship, any productive relationship is 100/100. I give 100% of my effort and you give 100% of yours, and that way we both end up with 100%. Both of our problems get solved in this mutually beneficial relationship. Hopefully, you can understand the metaphor. So if you can't solve someone's problem, then they have no reason to deal with you. If the restaurant has no food, I'm going to go to another restaurant. There's nothing interesting to watch on YouTube, I'm going to get on TikTok. If you can't help me improve my English, I'm going to talk to someone else.

[00:11:15] So be a painkiller, not a vitamin. This is a brilliant concept that I got from a guy named Mike Morrison. He's the host of the Membership Guys podcast, and I've been listening to him a lot lately because I want to learn more about how to build and operate a great membership business. And his idea is that if you want to successfully run a thriving business, whatever your business offers has to be a painkiller and not a vitamin. Because vitamins are simply nice to have, they're not essential to our daily existence. Like, we know we should take them, but some of them are nasty. Some of them are too hard to swallow. Some of them are expensive and most of all, it's not something we ever feel that we need. Painkillers, on the other hand, are something you must have. When you've got a debilitating migraine or an excruciating toothache, the only thing on your mind is getting the pain to stop. In other words, the only thing on your mind is a painkiller. If the pain is bad enough, you don't even care how much the painkiller costs you'll do or pay whatever is necessary to stop the pain.

[00:12:21] So think about that in the context of looking for a language exchange partner. You have to understand the true pain points of looking for a quality language exchange partner. For example, having to deal with people who can't hold the conversation or people who have ulterior motives, most of the time sexual ulterior motives. Right? People who don't have time for you or are always inconsistent with you. Or having to waste time talking to person after person after person, but never having a real connection with any of them. These are the pain points of trying to find a language exchange partner, everyone experiences this. Right? So first, you've got to learn how to solve those problems for your partner. Then you've got to learn how to communicate the fact that you can solve those problems for your partner. Because it doesn't matter how great you are if no one knows you're great. Right? And I can't guarantee that this approach will eliminate all the difficulties of finding a language exchange partner, but I speak from experience when I say that taking this approach makes the process a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable.

[00:13:28] All right. The next universal truth I want to share with you is that trust is one of the most important things in any relationship. People do business with other people that they know, like and/or trust. Right? People get into relationships with people they know, they like and they trust. People spend time with people they know, they like and they trust. You see what I'm saying? So you have to be able to show somebody that you can be trusted and what I mean when I say that is don't say or do things that you wouldn't want somebody saying or doing to your boyfriend or your girlfriend or your mother or your grandmother or something like that. What I'm saying is show respect. Show somebody that you're serious about this interaction, about this language exchange, about learning and growing together. All right? Don't get on these apps asking people for new pictures or their phone number or like... Shit like that. You know, just why would you do that? Why would you do that? People on these apps and, you know, I'm generalizing, but especially girls get on these apps and like all day, every day, they get all kinds of messages from untrustworthy people who have ulterior motives and just want to waste their time. They're not serious about a language exchange. It happens to guys, too. Trust me, I know. But I'm generalizing here, just for my example.

[00:14:47] So in that case, if you already know one of the pain points is having to deal with untrustworthy people with ulterior motives who are just here to waste your time. You need to show that you are not one of those people, that you can be trustworthy, that you're here to be serious and show up consistently. And that you are a good listener. You're open-minded. You know, you're going to bring your own doubts and questions and subjects to the conversation. Right? You can be trusted. You're a serious language exchange partner that just wants to practice language and make friends. And you're going to give 100% and you expect the same thing in return. You can count on me. Right? You have to be able to show that and communicate that. I know it's easy for me to say that without maybe teaching you or giving you clear examples, but hopefully you get the idea.

[00:15:30] People do business with, get in relationships with, and communicate with people that they know, they like and they trust. Now, you're not going to know everyone. Not everyone is going to like you. And even if you're a saint, a trustworthy person, not everyone is going to trust you. That's fine. But I'm saying you increase your chances of becoming fluent, actually learning the language by finding a partner. And you increase your chances of finding a partner by showing your partner that you are quality partner, a trustworthy partner, a dedicated partner. You see what I'm saying? So, just something to think about.

[00:16:03] Now, the last universal truth I want to share with you in this episode is that a satisfied partner is a long-term partner. And what I mean when I say that is, if you're giving your partner everything they need in terms of support, you know, you're making conversation with them, you're correcting their mistakes, answering all their questions, you're consistently talking to them during the week and stuff like that. You're being a great partner, basically. Your partner is going to be satisfied more than likely, right? If you're helping them in every way you can and you're really helping them improve and understand things better, they're going to be satisfied. And when they are satisfied, they want to talk to you more. They want to keep talking to you. Because that's another problem that we all face. Right? We might find somebody, start a conversation with them, and even if we talk for a few days or a few weeks, a lot of times you just lose touch with people for whatever reason. You weren't helping them the way that they needed or they weren't helping you the way that you needed.

[00:17:01] But the point is, a lot of times people ghost you or just disappear, stop responding to your messages or phone calls because something about the interaction was not satisfying them. They weren't getting what they wanted or needed from that interaction. So if you can learn what your partner truly needs, how to satisfy those needs in the context of a language exchange, then I think you have a much higher chance of keeping that partner, which means you have a higher chance of consistently practicing your speaking and listening skills, which means you have a higher chance of becoming an advanced speaker or even a fluent speaker. So a satisfied partner is a long-term partner because this is a long-term game. We're not talking about 30 days to fluency or 90 days to fluency or something like that. Like, learning a language is a process that never ends. It never ends. Even my first language, I learn stuff about my first language all the time. Foreigners teach me stuff about my first language sometimes, or just make me think about things I never considered.

[00:18:01] You're always learning when it comes to language. It never stops. So if you can't maintain a relationship with, you know, multiple or even just one partner for more than a year, two years... I'm not saying that it's always going to be your fault if that's the case or you're doing something wrong. I'm just saying if you can't do that for whatever reason, you're just making it harder for yourself because now you have to go find another partner and start all over again. And we know how hard it is. Right? So I'm sure you get the idea. A happy partner is a satisfied partner. So, don't just focus on finding a great partner, but be a great partner that attracts great partners. I like to think about it that way. You know? I'd love to know what you think.

[00:18:45] So let me just recap really quickly these, I think, 8 universal truths about learning a language. Number one, there is no best way or one-size-fits-all way or only way to learn a language. What works for me, might not work for you. Right? Number two, you need to understand the culture that comes with the language you are trying to learn. You cannot separate language from culture, especially when you want to learn how to communicate like a native or truly understand what natives mean when they speak. Okay? Number three, technology changes all the time, but the language learning process does not. So this new revolutionary app or website or whatever is cool, it might make it easier for you. But understand, fundamentals are fundamentals. And at the end of the day, you're going to have to do some work. There's no new tech or app that's just going to do this shit for you. You see what I'm saying?

[00:19:38] Number four, quality over quantity. One good partner is better than 50 mediocre ones. So learn how to attract, keep and also be a quality language exchange partner. Number five, ‘build it and they will come’ is a terrible mindset and a terrible strategy. Simply saying, "Hey, I'm learning English" is not interesting or attractive to anyone, at least in my experience. Okay? Which takes me to the next point, which is don't tell people what you want, tell people what you have to offer. Okay? I can't guarantee results, but I'm almost positive you will see better results if you focus on what you have to offer and not just what you want from other people. All right? Next, is what? Damn, this is a lot right here.

[00:20:22] Next, trust is like currency. It's one of the most valuable things in any relationship. If somebody feels they can't trust you, you're probably not going to be interacting with that person for very long or it's not going to be a very positive interaction. So you need to be a person that can be trusted. You need to be trustworthy and also genuinely communicate that or show that through your actions, not just your words. You see what I'm saying?

[00:20:46] And finally, a satisfied partner is a long-term partner. Learning a language is like a marathon. Okay? It's a long-term process. Got to stay dedicated for long periods of time to really get to a high level and then stay there. You see what I'm saying? So by being a great partner, making sure that your partner gets everything that they need, you increase the chances that they do the same for you and you guys are helping each other effortlessly for years and years to come. And then it's not even about just language, you just have this great friend. Because that's what it's all about, man. You know what I'm saying?

[00:21:18] So we could go into much more depth about each of these truths, but hopefully, this episode has given you a few things to think about. And hopefully, you'll be able to apply some of this information and start to see better results in your process. But that's it for now. So if you're still with me at this point, I want to thank you for your time and your attention. I hope you enjoyed the episode. And this is Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And I will talk to you soon. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

Writing prompts

  • Do you disagree with anything that was said in this episode? If so, why?
  • What are some qualities every language exchange partner should have?
  • How do you prefer to learn? By reading, listening, watching, or doing? Why?
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Transcript

[00:00:01] (Let's) see if we can get this in one take. What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And in this episode, I'm going to talk about some universal truths of learning a language. There are a bunch of different methods, tools, courses, YouTube channels, and podcasts that claim to have the secret to fluency or some, you know, revolutionary study method. But at the end of the day, there are some things about the learning process that will never change, and that's what I'm here to talk about today. Let's do it.

[00:00:40] The Life in English podcast is designed to teach you the real American English that you won't learn in school, and it's made possible by the support of our growing community. As a member of the Life in English community, you'll get access to our private English conversation group, bonus podcast episodes with transcripts and vocabulary guides, and you'll be able to sleep at night knowing you're supporting your favorite English teacher. How about that? So for more information about how to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip.

[00:01:06] So the first truth I want to share with you is that there's no best way or one-size-fits-all approach to learning a language. Now, unfortunately, there are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there whose entire business is based on convincing you that they have the secret. Right? But the truth is, this secret simply doesn't exist. What works for you might not work for somebody else. Some people learn faster by reading and writing, others by watching and listening, and others by doing. So I recommend you take some time to figure out how you like to learn and then create the best plan for you. Anyone trying to sell you a shortcut or a hack is not someone to be trusted. You learned your first language with no problems for free. So why would you pay someone to show you how to do it again? Now, as I always say, teachers, courses, schools are extremely important. I actually think they're underrated in terms of the difference they make in our lives. But don't waste your time chasing some special key that's going to unlock all the doors for you because it doesn't exist.

[00:02:20] Now, the second truth I want to share with you is that you need to understand the culture that comes with the language you're trying to learn. And once you understand someone's culture, you can start communicating with them much more effectively. You can speak their language, as we say. I'm a firm believer in the idea that you cannot separate language from culture. A language without culture is just a set of words and rules to be followed. I consider the difference between American English and British English. It's the same language, and we understand each other for the most part, but the way we interact and communicate is completely different. That's culture. So if you want to reach a high level of fluency in the language and be able to communicate like a native speaker, you must not ignore the culture. So get curious, get interested, ask questions. The U.S. is a gigantic country with all kinds of coexisting people and cultures. We all have different ways of communicating. And understanding those differences will help you understand the way we express ourselves.

[00:03:26] So the third thing I want to share with you, the third universal truth of learning a language is that technology changes all the time. But the language learning process never changes. There are a bunch of different apps and websites you can use to improve your English. You know, and every week it seems like I get messages from different companies wanting me to promote their unique system or software that will help you become fluent faster. But the fact of the matter is, I just don't really believe in that type of stuff, which is why I never promoted. I've heard great things about different apps and websites for learning languages, but no matter how revolutionary the technology is, you still got to go through the fundamental stages of learning a new skill. So you can try different websites, apps, and study methods, but I think it's becoming more and more clear that all those things mean nothing unless you're doing the same thing you did when you learned your first language, which is talking to real people all the time. So don't get caught up in the idea that a new technology is going to help you learn this language in some revolutionary way. People were learning languages with no problems long before the internet ever existed. So what does that mean? To me, it means that technology has made things much easier for us, but it hasn't changed the fundamental process.

[00:04:47] So the fourth thing, the fourth universal truth I want to share with you is that quality will always be so much more important than quantity. Let me explain. One good language exchange partner is better than 50 mediocre ones. I managed to learn Portuguese by talking to just two people. And you might think that's not a lot of people. And it's really not. But they were high-quality partners. So that's all I needed. I talked to both of them almost every day about all kinds of things. Culture, hobbies, money, family, friends, relationships, sex, drugs, rock, and roll. All types of stuff. We were able to sustain such a productive relationship because we both or all of us had the same goals and intentions. Learning a language and making friends with real people.

[00:05:43] I think a lot of people overlook the fact that they're talking to a human being when they do a language exchange. A lot of people simply approach someone and say, "Hey, I'm learning your language. Help me." Or they start a conversation, but they, you know, they take absolutely no interest in the person they're talking to. Each person is a universe to be explored, so to speak. Although some are relatively more interesting than others, you should understand that you will never find a quality partner if you have no interest in meeting and understanding new people. You also never find a quality partner if you don't become a quality partner yourself. I'm definitely going to talk more about this in future episodes, but for now, just understand that it's not how many people you're talking to. It's how often you're talking to them and what you're talking about.

[00:06:36] The fifth universal truth I want to share with you is that this 'build it and they will come' strategy is a terrible mindset to have, a terrible strategy to employ. Now, a lot of experienced entrepreneurs and business people are probably familiar with this fallacy. It comes from the movie Field of Dreams in which this farmer who has fallen on hard times, has a vision of a baseball field, and he believes that building this field will be a great way to host baseball games and thus make money. He then heard this voice in his head that said, "If you build it, they will come". And his family and friends thought it was a horrible idea and they begged them not to do it, but he did it anyway. And slowly but surely, people start coming to his field and his family believes in his vision. He's making money and things like that. He convinces them.

[00:07:28] So the idea here is that you can work on a product, make it perfect and eventually release it to the world fully baked, totally polished. And somehow the world will then find your product, recognize the obvious need for it, and then beat the proverbial path to your door, begging you to take their money. That's a romantic story for a movie, but it's far from how things work in real life. You need to attract people. And simply saying, "Hey, everyone! I'm learning English" is not attractive at all. It's the same thing as walking down the street and telling a random group of people that you have a business. Imagine that for a second. You just walking down the street, minding your own business and a stranger comes up to you and says, "Hey, stranger! I've got a business". I'm sure some people might get curious and ask questions, but most people would be like, "Okay. So what?". Most people's natural reaction would be, why should I care? Right? If people don't have a reason to care, they won't be interested. So how do you attract people and get them interested? That's the question. And in my opinion, the answer is by saying and doing what they find attractive or interesting.

[00:08:46] Which brings me to the next universal truth. You should never tell people what you want. You should tell people what you have to offer. And let me explain. I see people make this mistake every day of the week on language exchange apps, in my community, in business and relationships, etc. A lot of people will go on a language exchange app and make a public post that says, "Hey, I'm learning English and I want someone to practice with. If you're serious, then send me a message". But the reality of life, business, and language exchanges is that nobody cares what you want. People care about what you have to offer them. So what part of that message communicates what you can offer me in a language exchange with you? I don't care if you're learning English. I don't care if you need a partner. And frankly, I'm put off by the arrogant tone of your message when you say, "If you're serious, then send me a message". So what reason would I have to send you a message? What part of that message makes me think I would enjoy spending time with you? And why do I have to come to you when you're the one who needs something?

[00:10:00] You've got to understand that you're in the business of solving problems. In life, in business, and in a language exchange. You're a problem solver or you should be. During a language exchange, your job is to help someone else improve their ability to communicate and their job is the same. Well, a common issue I see is that a lot of people think it's a 50/50 exchange. I give you 50% of my effort and you give me 50% of yours. Right? 50 plus 50 equals 100. Right? Wrong. If I give you 50 and you give me 50, then we both end up with the same fucking 50. Any healthy relationship, any productive relationship is 100/100. I give 100% of my effort and you give 100% of yours, and that way we both end up with 100%. Both of our problems get solved in this mutually beneficial relationship. Hopefully, you can understand the metaphor. So if you can't solve someone's problem, then they have no reason to deal with you. If the restaurant has no food, I'm going to go to another restaurant. There's nothing interesting to watch on YouTube, I'm going to get on TikTok. If you can't help me improve my English, I'm going to talk to someone else.

[00:11:15] So be a painkiller, not a vitamin. This is a brilliant concept that I got from a guy named Mike Morrison. He's the host of the Membership Guys podcast, and I've been listening to him a lot lately because I want to learn more about how to build and operate a great membership business. And his idea is that if you want to successfully run a thriving business, whatever your business offers has to be a painkiller and not a vitamin. Because vitamins are simply nice to have, they're not essential to our daily existence. Like, we know we should take them, but some of them are nasty. Some of them are too hard to swallow. Some of them are expensive and most of all, it's not something we ever feel that we need. Painkillers, on the other hand, are something you must have. When you've got a debilitating migraine or an excruciating toothache, the only thing on your mind is getting the pain to stop. In other words, the only thing on your mind is a painkiller. If the pain is bad enough, you don't even care how much the painkiller costs you'll do or pay whatever is necessary to stop the pain.

[00:12:21] So think about that in the context of looking for a language exchange partner. You have to understand the true pain points of looking for a quality language exchange partner. For example, having to deal with people who can't hold the conversation or people who have ulterior motives, most of the time sexual ulterior motives. Right? People who don't have time for you or are always inconsistent with you. Or having to waste time talking to person after person after person, but never having a real connection with any of them. These are the pain points of trying to find a language exchange partner, everyone experiences this. Right? So first, you've got to learn how to solve those problems for your partner. Then you've got to learn how to communicate the fact that you can solve those problems for your partner. Because it doesn't matter how great you are if no one knows you're great. Right? And I can't guarantee that this approach will eliminate all the difficulties of finding a language exchange partner, but I speak from experience when I say that taking this approach makes the process a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable.

[00:13:28] All right. The next universal truth I want to share with you is that trust is one of the most important things in any relationship. People do business with other people that they know, like and/or trust. Right? People get into relationships with people they know, they like and they trust. People spend time with people they know, they like and they trust. You see what I'm saying? So you have to be able to show somebody that you can be trusted and what I mean when I say that is don't say or do things that you wouldn't want somebody saying or doing to your boyfriend or your girlfriend or your mother or your grandmother or something like that. What I'm saying is show respect. Show somebody that you're serious about this interaction, about this language exchange, about learning and growing together. All right? Don't get on these apps asking people for new pictures or their phone number or like... Shit like that. You know, just why would you do that? Why would you do that? People on these apps and, you know, I'm generalizing, but especially girls get on these apps and like all day, every day, they get all kinds of messages from untrustworthy people who have ulterior motives and just want to waste their time. They're not serious about a language exchange. It happens to guys, too. Trust me, I know. But I'm generalizing here, just for my example.

[00:14:47] So in that case, if you already know one of the pain points is having to deal with untrustworthy people with ulterior motives who are just here to waste your time. You need to show that you are not one of those people, that you can be trustworthy, that you're here to be serious and show up consistently. And that you are a good listener. You're open-minded. You know, you're going to bring your own doubts and questions and subjects to the conversation. Right? You can be trusted. You're a serious language exchange partner that just wants to practice language and make friends. And you're going to give 100% and you expect the same thing in return. You can count on me. Right? You have to be able to show that and communicate that. I know it's easy for me to say that without maybe teaching you or giving you clear examples, but hopefully you get the idea.

[00:15:30] People do business with, get in relationships with, and communicate with people that they know, they like and they trust. Now, you're not going to know everyone. Not everyone is going to like you. And even if you're a saint, a trustworthy person, not everyone is going to trust you. That's fine. But I'm saying you increase your chances of becoming fluent, actually learning the language by finding a partner. And you increase your chances of finding a partner by showing your partner that you are quality partner, a trustworthy partner, a dedicated partner. You see what I'm saying? So, just something to think about.

[00:16:03] Now, the last universal truth I want to share with you in this episode is that a satisfied partner is a long-term partner. And what I mean when I say that is, if you're giving your partner everything they need in terms of support, you know, you're making conversation with them, you're correcting their mistakes, answering all their questions, you're consistently talking to them during the week and stuff like that. You're being a great partner, basically. Your partner is going to be satisfied more than likely, right? If you're helping them in every way you can and you're really helping them improve and understand things better, they're going to be satisfied. And when they are satisfied, they want to talk to you more. They want to keep talking to you. Because that's another problem that we all face. Right? We might find somebody, start a conversation with them, and even if we talk for a few days or a few weeks, a lot of times you just lose touch with people for whatever reason. You weren't helping them the way that they needed or they weren't helping you the way that you needed.

[00:17:01] But the point is, a lot of times people ghost you or just disappear, stop responding to your messages or phone calls because something about the interaction was not satisfying them. They weren't getting what they wanted or needed from that interaction. So if you can learn what your partner truly needs, how to satisfy those needs in the context of a language exchange, then I think you have a much higher chance of keeping that partner, which means you have a higher chance of consistently practicing your speaking and listening skills, which means you have a higher chance of becoming an advanced speaker or even a fluent speaker. So a satisfied partner is a long-term partner because this is a long-term game. We're not talking about 30 days to fluency or 90 days to fluency or something like that. Like, learning a language is a process that never ends. It never ends. Even my first language, I learn stuff about my first language all the time. Foreigners teach me stuff about my first language sometimes, or just make me think about things I never considered.

[00:18:01] You're always learning when it comes to language. It never stops. So if you can't maintain a relationship with, you know, multiple or even just one partner for more than a year, two years... I'm not saying that it's always going to be your fault if that's the case or you're doing something wrong. I'm just saying if you can't do that for whatever reason, you're just making it harder for yourself because now you have to go find another partner and start all over again. And we know how hard it is. Right? So I'm sure you get the idea. A happy partner is a satisfied partner. So, don't just focus on finding a great partner, but be a great partner that attracts great partners. I like to think about it that way. You know? I'd love to know what you think.

[00:18:45] So let me just recap really quickly these, I think, 8 universal truths about learning a language. Number one, there is no best way or one-size-fits-all way or only way to learn a language. What works for me, might not work for you. Right? Number two, you need to understand the culture that comes with the language you are trying to learn. You cannot separate language from culture, especially when you want to learn how to communicate like a native or truly understand what natives mean when they speak. Okay? Number three, technology changes all the time, but the language learning process does not. So this new revolutionary app or website or whatever is cool, it might make it easier for you. But understand, fundamentals are fundamentals. And at the end of the day, you're going to have to do some work. There's no new tech or app that's just going to do this shit for you. You see what I'm saying?

[00:19:38] Number four, quality over quantity. One good partner is better than 50 mediocre ones. So learn how to attract, keep and also be a quality language exchange partner. Number five, ‘build it and they will come’ is a terrible mindset and a terrible strategy. Simply saying, "Hey, I'm learning English" is not interesting or attractive to anyone, at least in my experience. Okay? Which takes me to the next point, which is don't tell people what you want, tell people what you have to offer. Okay? I can't guarantee results, but I'm almost positive you will see better results if you focus on what you have to offer and not just what you want from other people. All right? Next, is what? Damn, this is a lot right here.

[00:20:22] Next, trust is like currency. It's one of the most valuable things in any relationship. If somebody feels they can't trust you, you're probably not going to be interacting with that person for very long or it's not going to be a very positive interaction. So you need to be a person that can be trusted. You need to be trustworthy and also genuinely communicate that or show that through your actions, not just your words. You see what I'm saying?

[00:20:46] And finally, a satisfied partner is a long-term partner. Learning a language is like a marathon. Okay? It's a long-term process. Got to stay dedicated for long periods of time to really get to a high level and then stay there. You see what I'm saying? So by being a great partner, making sure that your partner gets everything that they need, you increase the chances that they do the same for you and you guys are helping each other effortlessly for years and years to come. And then it's not even about just language, you just have this great friend. Because that's what it's all about, man. You know what I'm saying?

[00:21:18] So we could go into much more depth about each of these truths, but hopefully, this episode has given you a few things to think about. And hopefully, you'll be able to apply some of this information and start to see better results in your process. But that's it for now. So if you're still with me at this point, I want to thank you for your time and your attention. I hope you enjoyed the episode. And this is Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And I will talk to you soon. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

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