People say that they want to learn something new – say, Spanish. And they want to learn it quickly, asking others online how they learned a second language and what the hacks and tricks are.
Replace Spanish with losing weight, learning to code, or starting your own private virtual practice. It’s all the same concept and the anxieties, fears, and excitement around the different topics have a lot in common.
Let’s talk a little about learning something new here. And to keep it relevant I’ll talk about learning Spanish.
Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the 411 of learning Spanish. But let me tell you a quick story. It all started in 2016 when I decided that after retiring early I wanted to move to Europe and learn a new language.
I decided on Spanish and started doing some Duolingo. By the time I moved to Spain – well, I couldn’t even order a cafe or ask where to sit in a restaurant. But, I eventually learned enough Spanish to make friends here and buy a house and renew my visa.
Everyone back home was very anxious about me learning Spanish. They asked what level I was, whether I could speak Spanish, what I was doing to learn, and why I wasn’t learning it faster.
Setting a Goal
When I took my data analytics course with Google my goal was to only finish the first section of the course and decide if I wanted to continue. I don’t think you can set a more slacker goal.
When I took that course the teachers were making it a big point to finish what you started and set goals and not give up when it gets hard.
My goal with Spanish was to learn something every day. That’s been my goal and I am not sure if I’ve met it every day but I would say that I have improved my Spanish quite a lot since I first started.
Learning Spanish Fast!
It’s 2022, GTFOH with those weak goals! I want to learn Spanish in 30 days! I want to be fluent in 3 months. I am kidding – that’s not at all what I have in mind for myself. But it’s the Youtube video headlines and blog posts you’ll come across.
But, honestly, let’s say you want to learn Spanish fast. What’s the hack? What’s the magic sauce? I know of physicians who have moved to Spain and learned Spanish in 3-4 months. I know doctors who learned English in 4-5 months.
Learning Spanish fast requires a strict schedule and hard work. We’re talking 4-6 hours per day and it’s not passive work. Your brain will feel fried – believe me.
Putting in the Work
When I do my career consulting sessions with physicians I spend the first hour figuring out how much energy and effort they are willing to put in.
It’s one thing to want to learn Python coding or a new language. It’s another to want to learn it in a condensed amount of time and to a particular level.
For me, the purpose of Spanish is so that I can communicate with friends here and live my day-to-day life in Spain. I don’t have any use for a C2 certificate.
Setting a Personal Goal
If I watch Youtube videos about people who learned the language in 90 days it’s usually presented romantically. Once you lean in and read the fine print they really worked hard and dedicated themselves to the learning process.
I wanted to learn data analytics in healthcare because I knew it would help me with my healthcare consulting work. I didn’t need to master it. I needed to know enough to decide how I could put it to work for me.
My initial goal with Spanish was to memorize a few phrases I would need to repeat daily. I also memorized about 500 of the most common words used.
I would rather be familiar with the verb stem than know how to conjugate each verb. With this method, I can understand most of what is said around me and probably piece together some Spanish and English to make myself understood.
A Hardcore Learning Schedule
If I wanted to learn Spanish I would set a 6-month schedule for myself which I would follow 6 days per week:
- 2 hours Spanish listening
- 1 hour grammar
- 2 hours vocabulary and phrase memorizing
- 1 hour free reading
I would listen to podcasts, audiobooks, and Youtube videos. Ideally listening over just watching because it’s much harder when you can’t see the person’s expressions or lips moving.
Grammar is something you have to learn. Perhaps you don’t have to brute memorize it but you have to learn basic rules. There are lots of great grammar books written in all Spanish.
There are lots of lists of the 500 most common words and phrases. There are lists of the 5,000 most common words and phrases. You can even download them in already-made notecards.
Free reading would be a newspaper or book where you don’t look up the words. It’s about practicing comprehension from context. It’s frustrating at first and really liberating once you get warmed up.
Starting a Telemedicin Practice
Okay, I’m jumping the gun here but listen, starting a telemedicine practice is no different from learning Spanish. Some want to be fluent in 3 months and others are okay learning as they go along.
You can pay a company $75,000 and they’ll help you throughout the entire process of starting your telemedicine practice. They’ll market for you, choose your telemedicine platform, start your website, and coach you.
With the power route, you’ll probably have your first patient in 2 months and have a steady flow within 6 months.
My method is slower. I want to have room to reiterate when necessary and make my own mistakes. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel but also don’t want to just copy someone else’s style.
I want to enjoy the process and as long as I get the basics down, I can keep working on my telemedicine practice slowly. It’s a matter of making mistakes and being comfortable not knowing what to do next.