I am a firm disbeliever in terms of learning another language feeling that it’s easy, just for fun, or for brain exercising, or impressive if they can blurt out some foreign words in another country.
Why? because learning a language is similar to learn to play a musical instrument. It consumes an enormous amount of time on mechanical practicing and memorizing. And if you don’t use it, the memory quickly flees, all the previous efforts are thrown futile.
If I decide to devote that much precious time in my life to something, I have to think through if, in the rest of my life, I will be using and enjoying it.
Passively, semi-consciously to now full-forcefully, I have my mind made that English is and will be my daily communication vehicle, hence, it has to be my first language.
Being mindful is important in all aspects of life, including such common thing as to strike out a daily conversation. If I am oblivious of the way I speak that is different from how a native person speaks, No matter how hard I strive to learn, never will I achieve the goal truly.
To master a foreign language, say, English, I categorize the learning into three categories or stages:
Building up a large vocabulary – beyond mute
Choosing the right words – beyond foreign
Applying the technique of eloquence -beyond normal to a powerful speaker
Passing the first level is relatively easy and simple but requires active and avid listening, reading and copying diligently. You need to develop certain mechanical ways to jot down any words not to your known and keep memorizing them following the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve.
To reach the second level, at surface level, it seems easier as the usage of words is actually not that sophisticated but it requires a lot of “mindful” studying. You have to constantly pause and deliberate if an expression differs between your own habit and the native way. Movie or TVs serve as better tools than official speech or formal writings.
The third level is hard to achieve but not impossible. It will take years. It goes beyond language itself and requires mastery of all disciplines such as literature, philosophy, history, physics, math, logic…