I made just about every possible mistake when starting out in languages. I used terribly inefficient methods, slogged through boring materials I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, and almost gave up more than a few times. But this is good news for you: struggling so much in the beginning and later correcting course makes me a much better language coach. You never want to learn from a “natural” who picks up new skills easily. As Tim Ferriss points out in the The 4-Hour Chef: “The top 1% often succeed despite how they train, not because of it. Superior genetics, or a luxurious full-time schedule, make up for a lot. Career specialists can’t externalize what they’ve internalized. Second nature is hard to teach.”
One of the most common questions I receive is, “What do you mean by mastery?” First of all, “mastery” does not mean “perfection.” Such a thing doesn’t exist in languages. And even if it did, it would not be a “S.M.A.R.T. goal” and is therefore irrelevant to our purposes as language learners. So if “mastery” does not equal “perfection,” what does it mean? Read on to find out.