My roommates have never set foot inside a Japanese classroom, yet they each know about 100 Japanese words and use them productively (if ironically) in English conversation. The question every language learner should be asking is: How can I get me some of THAT?
Many American adults believe they must be linguistically challenged, since they took four (or six, or eight) years of Spanish yet can’t speak a word of it. However, this assumes that their mere presence in a classroom should have been enough for them to absorb the language through “osmosis”. Their conclusion—that something must be wrong with them—is misguided for this reason.
The missing ingredient is motivation. The saying goes that you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Learning, and especially language learning, is the same way. Motivation is a key factor that many people discount, but it often makes the difference between a fulfilling experience in the target language and several years of grudging