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Craze-based Language Learning: Using Your Passion to Learn

"I can name every muscle in their legs - in English AND Spanish!"

I remember hating geography in school.

I hated every minute of it. I hated my teacher. I kept failing tests. I never did homework. I got worse and worse.

And then, one day, my dad said: “You know, you’re not going to be a good sailor without geography.” I loved sailing, and I still do.

Guess what happened? I started paying attention. I started seeing the use of geography. And ended up – well, not liking it, but tolerating it enough to learn it.

With languages, this kind of connection – linking what you learn to what you love – is even easier, and even more essential. Read on to find out why – and how to achieve it.

The Hobbies Of The Voice In Your Head

Coffee addicts can be the world’s most boring conversation partners. They are capable of spoiling your morning cappuccino by a lengthy lecture about the benefits of this or that particular variety, and the importance of using the right kind of milk, yada yada. In fact, any aficionado, freak and enthusiast can become a difficult person to talk to.

The reason? Their addictions, passions and hobbies fill out a pretty big and intense part of their lives. They know a lot, they want to learn a lot, and they want to share all of it – passionately and unreservedly. You know the type. You’ve been in conversations like that.

The thing is, these people are like superheroes when it comes to learning. Their obsession becomes their superpower. Just think about it: you would never be able to learn so much, and so quickly, about ancient history – so how come you’re able to give me a two-hour talk about the origins of World of Warcraft? You have never been an ace in religion or theology – but you know all about the Jedi?

Your kink: What would you do for it?

You’re capable of remarkable things when you truly care.

You will stay up all night reading that novel.

You will camp outside the store for days waiting for that game.

You will write, listen, share and discuss alternative stories in a fantasy world of your choice.

You will learn to draw, and sing, and program computers.

And sure as hell:

You will learn another language.


Caring is Sharing: The Inevitability Of Social Learning

It really doesn’t matter what you’re into: it just feels better when you’re able to share it with someone. And with internet, you’re no longer limited to your neighbourhood.

Sooner or later, you begin to realize this: the only border between you and countless other fans of that thing you like – is language. And once this sinks in, there’s really no turning back.

That thing you like wants to grow and get better. It wants to make you a happier person, surrounded by like-minded happy people. It wants to become more varied and polished, more amazing and beautiful. And sooner or later, it will not be content with just the guys in your milongas, with just the surfers from your county, with just the Trekkies from your state – with just the English-speaking Bieber fans.

That thing you like wants you to learn a language, and will do wonders if you start.


Craze-based Language Learning – How to Set It Up

This will not go down well with every school and teacher. The most important thing is to try to find a tutor who will understand the force of your craze and be willing to go with it. Generally, there are several key issues to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure that your tutor is aware of what you’re into, and how you’re going to use it to learn a language.
  2. It works even better if your tutor doesn’t share your passion: you’ll have lots of explaining to do, won’t you?
  3. Involve all skills. You can read about fishing and prepare reports about it; you can talk about tango and listen to interviews with dancers.
  4. Guess and deduce. You’re on your turf here. Even if the language is a problem, you probably already know what the texts are about.
  5. Take stock and reflect. Go through your lessons, revise, write down word lists.
  6. Take a break. Not every lesson needs to be about your hobby – make sure your tutor knows that, and appreciate those just as well.
  7. Proceed with the end in mind. Your goal is to share your passion with other people. There is no stronger motivation than that. Know that, and failure will be unlikely.


How have you used your passion to help you learn? Let us know in the comments!

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