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Guerrilla Language Learning Update: What Money Makes

When I was starting up my business, I learned a lot about marketing. And Guerrilla Marketing – which inspired this challenge – was a particularly strong inspiration. Among other things, it taught me a thing or two about money. Now, as a keen language learner, I’m using these lessons, and learning even more. Here’s how.

1. Deal or no deal? How I paid for my Welsh course

The offer seemed too good to be true (see photo). The kind of thing that lures customers riding on the New Year Resolution High into spending money.
I clicked through and played around with the demo courses. They were there – but didn’t blow me away. I saw better online language courses offered for free.
A few minutes later, I bought the deal anyway.
Here’s why.

2. One shot, many kills: how guerrilla marketing works

A big company may afford to spend several thousand dollars on several advertising campaigns. A few of them may not work, but if one or two of them is effective, the company still makes profit.
A small business doesn’t work with big budgets. So every penny counts, and when they’re out advertising, they want to make sure their investment is paying off.
The analogy works for language learning as well. You may decide to sign on for every language course there is – and buy every foreign language resource imaginable – in the hope that a few of them will make you speak your chosen language better. If you can afford this, who would forbid it?
But a guerrilla language learner – like a guerrilla marketer – would think twice before parting with money. Background checks, demo versions, references – all this is helpful. Equally important, though, is the “return on investment” – the effect your money will have.

3. You can’t buy these things (but money may make them happen)

Unlike my German and Spanish – where I had plenty of ideas for moving along, and a little help from my friends – Welsh was lagging behind. I knew roughly what I wanted to do, and how I was planning to go ahead. But as I was slowly progressing with my German and Spanish study – I noticed that Welsh hasn’t really taken off at all.
“It’s a tricky one,” I kept saying. “I’ll start with the languages I know something about, and come back to Cymraeg with the skills I’ll learn.” And I almost convinced myself.
This deal was staring me in the face. This was the kick I needed. It may not have been the best course there ever was – and certainly I knew enough to see right through the promises and marketing lingo. It was not perfect. But it was a start, a commitment, an investment.
The thrill of beginning something you’re uncomfortable about –
The rush of knowing that this might not work –
Inspiration to move, regardless of the imperfections of the material you’re given –
These were the things my deal bought me. Not the trite flashcard module. Not the video lessons. Not even the considerable savings.
A shaky first step. An imbalance, momentum – to move on. In a way, just what my Welsh needed.

4. These are about money – by not being about money

  • What am I paying for?
  • What is the biggest advantage of this product / course?
  • Has this helped anyone I know?
  • If I take away the gimmicks and the hype – am I still happy by what remains?
  • Can I try this out?
  • Have I compared the prices?

But also:

  • What else am I buying into?
  • How will I feel after paying for this?
  • How will my language study change? Am I OK with this change?
  • What will this enable me to do / to learn?
  • What am I now going to be able to reduce / give up ?
  • What will I be inspired to do next?

Marketing and language study – a lot of this is about needs, lacks and wants. Got any experiences / ideas about these? Let us know (commenting is easy!)


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