Comparing oneself to others is a frequent reason for dissatisfaction with one’s linguistic progress.
Suppose you notice on Facebook that your old acquaintance already knows four foreign languages. You have not managed to achieve this in recent years. You meet a foreigner who says that he mastered Norwegian in four months. You wonder if he has a great method you don’t know, or if he is more talented than you. You meet a colleague with whom you started learning the language and find out that he is now in a group with a higher level than you. It immediately comes to your mind that you were not hardworking enough.
Drawing ideas for effective learning methods or talking to people who are learning effectively can sometimes be valuable. It’s always worth looking for authorities.
However, if we talk about comparisons, they unfortunately do not lead to anything good. Usually it comes down to calculating how much time it took someone to study and who will be the first in this race.
When you hear that a friend has already “reworked” half of the book you are just starting, you are of course confirmed in the belief that it is better and will learn the language faster.
But such comparisons don’t make sense, because you don’t have all the information about learning the other person. You don’t know:
whether he does the exercises insightfully from the book,
whether he tries to remember as much material as possible and makes repetitions,
whether he performs additional tasks,
What is its linguistic goal or motivation (maybe it introduces the habit of everyday learning – and not for the first time),
how much time he actually spends on learning, nor how long he intends to persevere in it,
what previous experience he has with language learning and whether he has developed methods,
or at a time when this person was only learning, you were doing really important things in your life.
It’s hard to judge if the other person is really learning faster if we don’t know the whole story of this person. Usually you don’t know what their first language learning experiences were like. But you don’t have to know that either. You are completely different people.
The only thing we should focus on is ourselves. Try to be better than yourself a month ago. Enjoy the progress. Discover more and more pleasant ways to learn.
It gives you faster results than looking at others. Do consistently what you’ve been doing so far and learn to enjoy it.