Little by Little

They call it incrementalism. Okay, let’s stick with little by little.

We like immediate results, or at least we like to move quickly in the right direction. Slowlylittle by little, and waiting don’t sound like progress words. When things happen slowly, we wonder what is going on. Could we be doing something wrong? Are we missing something?

When it comes to language learning just deal with the fact that you’re not going to get it overnight. Enjoy the word. Play with the phrase. Tackle some difficult part of the language and learn it. You may not be fluent in the language yet, but you are fluent in that one little difficult part. The joy is in the process.

Chuck Close is an artist that was once known for his photorealistic portrait paintings. In 1988 he suffered a spinal artery collapse that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. His paintings were no longer photorealistic. 

He adapted himself to his new situation and began painting incrementally; dabbing color in squares with a brush strapped to his hand, each a part of the greater whole, little by little.

At first, his paintings don’t look like much, but they begin to take shape and one detects his genius shining through. His progress is painstakingly slow, but eventually the portraits come alive, and you see what all the slow progress was accomplishing.

I watched a documentary about him. Every few minutes the camera entered from the back of his studio. I saw what he was working on, and it didn’t look like much at first. But as the film progressed every time the camera entered from the rear you could see that every increment led to a fantastic image.

You can watch the trailer here.

So, you’re over 35, and people say older people can’t learn a new language. Forget that! Just start and do a little here and there. Just begin to absorb the language. Do it because it’s fun, not because you’re trying to impress anyone. Before you know it, you’ll be impressed by your progress.