The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #2 March / April 2013
Letter From The Editor
Truth in Advertising
by Erik Zidowecki
March / April 2013 | 

When I was a child, I used to see advertisements in comic books for a pair of glasses. These wonderful items were said to be x-ray goggles, which would allow the wearer to look through items, including clothes and human flesh. There was even a drawing of someone wearing them and being able to see the bones in their hands! For years, I imagined what I could do with such a pair of these wonderful goggles. But alas, I was a just a child, and there was no way I could get the money to buy them, so I eventually gave up thinking about them.

As I grew older, I learned that I had actually been saved from a heartbreak, not to mention getting cheated out of my money. Of course, there are no such things as x-ray goggles, so whatever they were selling was some kind of trick. My father told me it would be an optical illusion, but of course, I didn't believe him at the time. After all, it said they are real x-rays, and you can't lie in advertising, right?

Well, perhaps "lie" is too strong a word. Most of us have probably been attracted to something we saw being sold and were hooked on it's promises of what we could have, do or become. Most of us then probably discovered that what we were promised wasn't quite true. The item didn't perform the way it was described or provide us with what they said it would, and we felt cheated. It's a very bitter lesson to learn.

This happens all the time in the language learning world as well. We've all see them: the books that promise to make us "fluent in just 30 days", the CDs that will make us "speak like a native in 10 lessons", the software that will "help us learn effortlessly". And how many of us have tried these products only to discover they didn't quite live up to the hype?

Language learning isn't easy. It won't come overnight. When I talk to people that have really gained some level of fluency, they don't talk about how long they have studied it in terms of hours, days or weeks. They talk about years. They don't tell me about this amazing product that made them learn everything with effort. They talk about studying hundreds of words a week. And while they might tell you a few methods that worked for them, they will always tell you of the ways that were complete wastes of time. And those are almost universally the "quick" and "easy" ways.

So when you are getting frustrated in your own language studies, remember the famous quote by Andrew Carnegie, "Anything in life worth having is worth working for." If that isn't enough for you and you still want to reach for the product that promises everything easy, then remember your Latin "Caveat Emptor" - let the buyer beware.

Erik Zidowecki

Letter From the Editor
Writer: Erik Zidowecki
Sarah G: Woman in X-ray goggles

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.


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