Secrets of learning a foreign language

Secrets of learning a foreign language


The four secrets of learning
foreign languages

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The four secrets of learning foreign languages

The key to becoming a confident and fluent speaker in a foregn language lies in mastering these four keys.

You are standing near the Trevi fountain in Rome. There’s a dense crowd of people. You can hardly catch a breath. You are trying to peek at the famous historical sight when your phone falls to the ground. Gosh! Now what? You are shouting: “Help, please help me find my phone!” but people do not seem to understand. They are just annoyed by you and keep ignoring you altogether.

Trevi fountain in Rome. Crowds of people taking pictures. Imagine losing your phone in a place like this.

Horrible vision, isn’t it? It would be so much simpler if you knew how to say the same thing in Italian. I’m sure that more people would sympathize with you and help you find your phone.

Yes, we live in a global village, but it seems that each villager has their own language. Clearly, using English helps in many situations. After all, it is the most widely used second language in the world.

A young woman is watching a presentation on Zoom. Is this how you could learn a foreign language?

But how to learn languages? Is there a magic secret or method? Lydia Machova has some really interesting ideas on the topic. Her TED talk has been seen more than 6 million times. She believes that there are four factors contributing to success in learning a foreign language:

  • Enjoyment
  • Method
  • System
  • Patience

It makes perfect sense. I have to admit, it is one of the best takes at figuring out what it really takes to learn another language.

It all starts with finding pleasure in the process of learning. Are there things you enjoy doing? Perhaps it is taking photos, doing yoga, or riding a bike. Think back to a moment when you felt quite happy doing it. Now copy this emotion and keep it in your emotional clipboard. When you sit down to learning a foreign language, just paste this emotion from the clipboard.

Do you know how to make a sandwich? Do you think there is just one way of accomplishing this culinary task? Clearly, there are more ways than one. Nevertheless, you still stick to your method. You know it works. Perhaps you even tried others, but eventually, you decided that there is one that renders the best, most delicious results for you.

A man is making a toast. As there is more than one way of making a sandwich, so there are more ways of learning a language.

The same applies to methods of learning a foreign language. We should try different methods, but eventually, we should arrive at a selection of methods that work for us.

The system component is quite tricky. It has to do with our lives. Learning a foreign language is hardly our top priority. We have our families, jobs, other pursuits. They all take precedence. This leaves little time for learning. We need to learn to weave learning into the fabric of our lives. Make the best use of the moments when our attention is not 100% occupied perhaps. Like listening to podcasts while driving a car.

Finally, there is patience. Let’s bring another culinary example. Do you know how to make roast chicken? Do you know how long it should stay in the oven? What should the temperature be? Most answers I got from my students range from 60-90 minutes at around 180-200 C. So, I have a question for you, can we expect a good result if we set the timer to six hours and the temperature to 30 C? Alternatively, can we get a crispy roast chicken when we set the oven to 30 minutes and 250C? Both answers are a clear and decisive “no”. You get the point, don’t you?

So, in the end, it is down to these four keys: enjoyment, method, system and patience. Once you learn how to incorporate them into your learning system, your success is guaranteed.

I have been helping learners of all ages and walks of life to learn English. Trust me to help you get on with this project and I assure you, we will not only have a great time learning English together, but you will also see yourself making rapid progress.

Mind-map. Secrets of learning a foreign language.



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Darmowa lekcja #1

Likes and dislikes

CEF B1 | darmowa lekcja | dislikes | expressing likes | learning English | practical English
Study the language for talking about likes and dislikes.
  • be in your element
    She’s really in her element at parties.
  • adore
    I adore chocolate. I could live on it.
  • have a passion for something
    From a very early stage, he had a passion for fast cars.

  • to be into something
    I know she’s really into sports, so I’d thought I’d ask her to come skiing with us.
  • something goes down well with somebody
    At present, military action would not go well with the public.
  • be fond of something
    He had always been fond of drinking at lunchtime, perhaps too fond.
  • be keen on something
    I’m quite keen on the idea of having a fancy dress party.
  • appeal to somebody
    I’m sure this delightful book will appeal to children of all ages.
  • have a soft spot for something
    She’s always had a soft spot for you.

  • not be somebody’s cup of tea
    Nolan’s films are not exactly my cup of tea
  • don’t think much of something
    The hotel was okay, though I didn’t think much of the food. 
  • not take kindly to
    Nancy doesn’t take kindly to being corrected. 
  • go off
    I used to drink tea all the time, but I’ve gone off it lately. 

  • can’t stand
    We used to be quite good friends but now I can’t stand her. 
  • loathe
    I really loathe it when people make promises and then don’t keep them. 
  • detest
    I detest any form of cruelty towards animals. 


Let's practise talking about likes and dislikes. Read the sentences below and decide if they talk about likes or dislikes.


He is in his element when he is sailing.


She adores drinking coffee with milk and honey.


Ever since I remember, I had a passion for riding a bike.


You can ask him for help. He is into computers so he should know how to fix yours.


The new model has gone down well with the customers. The orders are pouring in.


She's is not overly fond of cooking, that's why they often eat out.


My flatmates want to have a party, but I’m not keen on the idea.


The idea of working abroad really appeals to me.


It's her only child. No wonder she has a soft spot for him.


He doesn't take kindly to being interrupted when he speaks. You should have kept quiet.

Well done! You're almost there!


I don't eat meat much these days. It has gone off me lately.


She loathes it when people don't turn up on time for meetings.


She evidently detests her ex-husband after he left her and the children.


download a mind-map

Learning is more effective when you use mind-maps!
Use the language from this lesson to talk about your likes and dislikes.