Process vs Product in Learning a Foreign Language

In learning foreign languages I have picked up many strategies and approaches in order to maximize my time and effectiveness. If I had to choose the most important idea I’ve learned it would be “Process vs Product.” The idea is simple, it means maximizing your result and minimizing your effort to achieve those results. Instead of getting things done “right” (i.e. perfectionism) it means achieving. It’s especially important because every strategy can be analyzed through the lens of Process vs Product.” It’s so intuitive it’s often overlooked, here are some examples…

1) making flashcards – Just make the cards! It doesn’t matter if they’re perfect what matters is that you have flashcards for the vocabulary you want. True, you are in a sense studying while you’re making them but the real benefit is actually using them. You’ll get far more effectiveness out of studying them then making them, so focus on that.

2) Writing notes – It’s important to remember that writing notes is not an end unto itself. The one with the best notes doesn’t get to speak with the locales in a foreign country, however, the one who has internalized those notes does. The focus shouldn’t be on having the most beautifully written notes or most organized. The focus should be on being able to use the information in speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

The list goes on and it’s different for each person depending on their approach to learning a foreign language. You can even think about this idea in relation to other areas of your life. Apply this more often and you’ll find more time than you ever imagined to master your target language.

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