Back in the days when I was a wandering bad boy type trying to bang girls from assorted countries  I used to quite deliberately avoid learning the local lingo. Part of this was sheer necessity: in any given year I might be in six different countries with six different languages, so which one should I start with? Often I had no idea when I’d next be in a country and a couple years could pass before I’d be back. Learning to speak a barbarian tongue is a longwinded process .
Then there was the pick-up reason: you want the girls in your frame. When you encounter a girl keen to learn English you have a more internationally-minded piece of skirt than the average, and she is communicating with you in a language you are the native and she’s the wannabe. That’s a nice frame advantage for you. Not speaking the lingo also bolsters the wandering playboy archetype you r-selectors are selling.
There was always one big drawback: you lose sets on the language barrier. Only a small minority of non-English speakers like you enough to suffer Google Translate dates. I started to encounter a second drawback with the higher quality K-girls: they expect you to have a bit more to you than booze, shagging, and skull rings. They are thinking how you’d fit into their life, and that means eventually introducing you to friends and family. Are you gonna show a bit of investment in her country and culture, or sit in the corner tweeting “in comms, maybe +1 tonight”? 
So, having turned over a new leaf in K-selection / attention span / fitness / anti-ageing and whatnot, I decided to try learning an aforementioned savage tongue. I’ve narrowed my wifey countries down to Serbia and Russia so that’s the two to learn.
Next question: how?
I always assumed I simply wasn’t good at languages. I don’t have that type of brain. My experience in Japanese seemed to confirm it took an awful lot of squeeze for precious little juice. Then I was chatting to my Canadian pal Juggernaught when he was a year into his residence in Bosnia. “Was weird in the cafe today, I could suddenly understand what everyone was saying,” he said.
“Brilliant! How long you been learning?”
“Over a year, but the first nine months were wasted. Everything accelerated since I started meeting my language tutor every day. I’ve been doing that twelve weeks now.”
He explained more about his method, including his false starts, and a few things became apparent to me:
- I shouldn’t take my Japanese experience to heart. It’s literally the hardest language in the world for a native English speaker to learn. Per the guideline language tables, it takes 2,200 hours to learn Jap. By contrast, Spanish takes only 550. So I wasn’t to assume all the ding-dongs learning Spanish in Mexico and Colombia were simply better at languages. Maybe I could do it.
2. Serbian and Russian are both slavic family languages so there is lots of crossover in vocab, sentence structure, and underlying mentality. It’s not like doing two 1,100-hour languages. More like one and a half.
3. Part of my problem was the classroom approach of my Japanese language school. I’d gotten too much bookish learning so that my reading and writing outdistanced my listening and speaking, which is the wrong way around. Taking turns in class and spending lots of time learning vocab lists and grammar exercises means your language skills never leave your frontal cortex. It never comes naturally.
4. There are some great apps around now that simply didn’t exist a few years ago.
5. The best way to learn is to simulate how kids learn. That means a focus on ‘comprehensible input’, meaning introducing simple language within a meaningful context. Think of how parents talk to young kids. Language schools focus too much on production (speaking/writing) and on studying books. Natural language acquisition is nearly all input, overwhelmingly listening. When you understand what people are saying to you, production is easy.
This video was a good intro for me on the style of learning I’d try.
My rule is to learn the language of whatever country I’m in (expecting it to be just Serbia and Russia). From mid-January until last week, that country was Serbia. I’ve hammered my apps for four months and tried a bit of light dialogue with taxi drivers, my PT, and ordering food and drink. I’m happy with my progress. Next time I’m in Serbia I’ll hire a language partner to begin the process of making all my learning accessible in real time. Now that I’m back in the UK, I’m starting on Russian.
The guidelines say it takes 1,100 hours to learn Serbian. I’m now 220 hours in, or 20%. It feels like about 20% of the way there. I’ve covered the A1 material and half of A2. I’m picking up things in conversation though I miss most of the meaning in longer or faster sentences. Early days.
The two apps I’m using most are Glossika and Ling. The former is ALL comprehensible input. It selects five sentences then gives you the English once and Serbian twice, randomised over 25 reps so you get 5 of each sentence. I’ve done 25,000 total reps, taking 150 hours. The best thing about Glossika is you can set it to review previously-studied sentences, turn the microphone function off, and then just set it away. I do that at bedtime with the light off so that I can study while observing my no-screen-time sleep protocol.
Ling is similar to Duo Lingo, being a more active app. You do small challenges such as translations and word matching. It also introduces language in a more didactic structured fashion, organised according to thematic topics. I’ve completed all 50 units, taking 70 hours.
Like I said, it’s early days. I remain hopeful that I’ll get functional Serbian and Russian eventually and with it, tall leggy hot birds with big tits and good cooking skills.
 An outside observer may conclude nothing much has changed
 As I found to my chagrin learning Japanese ages ago
 You big daft cunt