If you search the language learning Subreddit or #langtwt on X (formerly Twitter), learners ask dozens of questions every day about how to improve their learning process. Examples of questions might include:
How do I memorize more words per day?
How do I fit more language learning hours into a busy schedule?
I’ve lost my motivation to learn, how do I get it back?
Is this particular textbook a good resource?
Does Duolingo or “such and such app” really work?
How do I start my journey as an absolute beginner?
How do I start immersion if I don’t understand anything?
These types of questions miss the most fundamental part of language learning
When these questions get asked, other learners will comment and oftentimes get into heated debates with each other. They argue about how often to use subtitles, does immersion work, what percentage of input needs to be comprehensible, and how many hours to study per day. The original poster gets overwhelmed with competing information and oftentimes is more lost than they were before. Underneath the processes and systems debate is something more that everyone is missing.
Focusing on efficiency is a guarantee you will quit
Having experimented with various processes, I found the most efficient one to be highly intensive learning. This involves watching the same 3-minute podcast clip 60+ times in a row with subtitles until I can understand 75% without subtitles. It takes me a day to get through one 3-minute clip 60+ times, but it pays huge dividends. Would I do this every day? Definitely not. I would have quit a long time ago if I used this hyper-efficient process all the time. It’s mind-numbingly tedious, despite it’s great benefits. Other learners might say the same thing about Anki, various flashcard and vocabulary apps, and textbooks. The learners who swear by their processes and systems are the same ones posting in online forums that they lost motivation.