Это русский – Can you read it?

Things are often easier than you might think.

If not, you easily could! Starting to learn a language is not as hard as most people think, given the right approach. It can be very rewarding too; since you will begin with no knowledge, progress is fast and exciting.

Recently, I began learning Russian and, within two weeks, knew 500 words. I think that the approach taken is key to making progress. Classically, we imagine learning various tense and case endings, allowing us to simply learn vocabulary and so to competently use the language. However, I think that a better way is to learn phrases. You will have heard testimony to the fact that one can pick up a language simply by being in a country – the natural way of doing it. Avoiding deliberate study of endings tables and so allowing you to actively pick up the details yourself, it is much more engaging, leading to more effective memorisation. This technique is replicated online by duolingo, from which I have been learning. It is amazing how effectively you can pick up complicated endings just through noticing them, and impressive how quickly progress can be made. After all, duolingo suggests that you can learn using just 10 minutes per day – a similar idea to my post about spare time.

Think what adventures you could create with a new language. Then, if you feel motivated to do so, start learning one and reap the rewards. However far you take it, I doubt that you will regret doing so.


That extra half hour

Use your free time for self-development.

It is surprising how much can be accomplished in a short amount of time. Especially if you have a free 30 minutes regularly, every day, you probably underestimate the benefit that this time could have. There are various pursuits in which you can make major progress on a small investment of spare time.

Personally, almost every week day throughout my 7 years at secondary school, I spent 20-30 minutes before the start of the day practising the piano. This long-term project, during time I would not otherwise have put to use, has given me a large repertoire of major piano works by composers including Chopin, Beethoven and Schubert alongside many others. I even performed the Grieg Piano Concerto – a huge challenge, especially on such little practice – after over a year of focused work during my A Levels at the age of 17.

This goes to show that it is certainly possible to achieve big things without the need to sacrifice anything else. I think that this principle can be applied to any hobby/ interest, so why not pick something that you’d like to learn and give it a go – especially if you don’t believe that it’s possible.

Attitude makes the difference

Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.

In order to allow yourself the widest possible choice in your activities, and so give yourself a better chance of finding something rewarding, you must surely discard any pre-defined ideas about what is ‘fun’, or what you ‘should’ be doing.  What makes someone adventurous is the ability to overcome these barriers, leading to an open mind and allowing the creativity to produce ideas.

For anything which you have decided you don’t like or isn’t interesting, there is a different way of thinking about it. This opposite perspective can turn what you might see as an ordeal into an adventure. Last year, I ran 30 km after not having been on a run for over 2 months. Why? Because I felt like an adventure and decided it would be fun. Although running for 3 hours is very tiring, it was satisfying to cover such a distance, and rewarding to find that my instinct was correct- I could run that far. What would be seen by many as an ordeal had been a great afternoon for me.

So, let go your fixed ideas and, when considering whether or not to do something, listen to the people for whom it is an adventure, because they are in the position to show you its true merits.