A lot of students ask me what’s the best way to study English. I always tell them, in Korean, something that a musician friend named Hyo Sang once told me: “연습 많이 살길이다…” (roughly, “Yeonseop mani salkilida…”) which I’m told means something like “The way (literally “road”)of life demands a lot of practice”, or, “Practicing must become a way of life.” It’s exactly the right way of putting it, both in terms of music and in terms of language study.
Many people want to find a shortcut to mastering music, or mastering another language. The secret is that there is absolutely no shortcut. There are very definitely detours to be avoided: teachers that try to rush you, bad textbooks, sloppy study methods… these things will slow you down and sometimes will make such a mess of things that you need to go right back to the beginning and start all over again. But in general, if you are doing things right, there’s a certain pace of learning that is natural to you, and that’s what you will feel. I noticed this when I studied French and I am still noticing it now that I am studying Korean. It’s frustrating because for most of us, that natural pace feels so slow. However, what’s important is persistence and a little bit of courage to speak even when you know you’re going to make a mistake.
The keys for English study are really patience, persistence, a sense of humor, and a little courage.