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The 80/20 Rule – Language Learning application

Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? It’s like the VIP section of learning – it’s where all the cool kids hang out. Basically, it means that 80% of your results come from just 20% of your efforts. Most of us can put in 100% effort and get back a measly 20% result. Talk about a ripoff, am I right?

But I’m about to give you some real-world examples of how to use the 80/20 rule to your advantage. Like, did you know that just by learning the 1000 most common words in a language, you can understand 80% of the language? That’s like learning the secret code to a whole new world, except it’s not so secret anymore because I just told you about it.

And now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – drumroll, please – I’m going to give you some simple steps to applying the 80/20 rule to your own language-learning journey. It’s like a recipe for success, but without all the cooking and stuff. So buckle up, buttercups, and get ready to take notes because this is some valuable stuff I’m about to drop on you.


Compare how much effort you put in and the results

Hey there, my hard-working friends. I’m here to ask you a question: do you feel like all those hours you’re putting into work are paying off equally? Like, do you put in one hour of work and get back one hour of results? If you do, then you’re probably some kind of magician or something, because, for the rest of us, that’s just not how it works.

The same goes for studying – do you feel like each hour of studying is improving your language skills by the same amount? I mean, if that were true, we’d all be speaking like Shakespeare by now. And let’s not forget about relationships – not every single person you meet is going to enrich your life equally. Some might even make it worse, let’s be honest.

So why is this the case? Well, let me introduce you to my friend, the Pareto Principle, aka the 80/20 Rule. Basically, it says that 80% of your results come from just 20% of your efforts. Your mind is blown, right?

And this rule isn’t just for work and study – it’s everywhere. Like, did you know that 80% of the world’s wealth is controlled by just 20% of the people? And in sales, 80% of the revenue comes from just 20% of the salespeople. I mean, if I were a sales manager, I’d be putting all my money on that dynamic 20%.

So, what’s the lesson here? It’s simple – focus on that 20%. Identify what really matters and give it all your energy. Don’t waste your time on the 80% that won’t make a difference. Because let’s face it, life’s too short to be working hard for no reason.

The 80/20 Rule: Language Learning application

So, when it comes to language learning, we gotta ask ourselves – what is that 20% for me? Is it learning the top 1000 words in a language? Is it immersing yourself in the culture and language as much as possible? Figuring out that 20% is key. Because if you don’t, you might be wasting a whole lot of time and effort on stuff that won’t make a difference. And let’s be real, we’ve all been there. Spending hours memorizing grammar rules only to forget them the next day. Or listening to language tapes on repeat until your brain turns to mush. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So, my language learners, take a moment to figure out your 20%. Maybe it’s learning through music or movies or conversations with native speakers. Whatever it is, find it and focus on it.

Finding you 20% is not easy!

Now, I know I’ve been preaching about that 20% that’ll get you 80% of the results, but I can hear you all now – “Okay, great. But how do we find that 20%?”

Believe me, I get it. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack or a vegetarian option at a steakhouse. Not easy. But don’t worry, I’ve got some tips for you.

Suggestions on how to find your 20%

First off, take a step back and evaluate what you’re doing. Are you spending hours memorizing verb conjugations but still struggling to speak? Maybe that’s not your 20%. Are you trying to learn through reading but finding yourself falling asleep after two pages? Again, maybe not your 20%.

Next, think about what’s worked for you in the past. Did you learn best through conversation? Or maybe you had success with flashcards? Did you have an awesome language teacher? Did you spend time chatting with locals? Whatever it is, take note of it.

And lastly, try out different methods. Yes, I know, it sounds like more work, but hear me out. You never know what’ll work for you until you try it. Maybe you’ll find that watching videos in the language is your jam, or that practicing with a language exchange partner is your secret sauce.

So, don’t get discouraged if you’re having trouble identifying that 20%. It’s like trying to find Waldo in a crowd – it takes time and a keen eye. But trust me, once you find it, it pays off.

This post can not end without suggesting a word frequency list. It’s like the greatest hits of the language. The top 100 or 200 words are the ones you’ll hear all the time, so why not learn them first?

And something you should also have is a goal. I mean, those sales guys have income targets, right? So, what’s your language learning target for the next month? Get it down on paper and figure out what steps will get you there.

Now, language learning can be a broad topic. And you need to educate yourself about it. Read blogs, watch videos, and get inspired by other passionate language learners.

And let’s not forget about your study habits. Are you neglecting one skill over another? Maybe you need to focus on that neglected skill for a while.

Now, here’s a tough one – what scares you? Is it reading that boring grammar book? Well, tackling your fears can bring you the greatest results.

But let’s be real folks. You need to be honest with yourself. If you’re not studying every day, then that’s not gonna get you very far. And sometimes, the answer is just common sense. Maybe the answer is right in front of you.

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  1. I want to focus on the essential aspects of language learning that yield the most significant results rather than spreading oneself too thin. Excessive effort without proper direction may leave us empty-handed. Thus, it is crucial to identify the 20% of the language aspects that will generate 80% of the results and work on mastering them. Thanks for helping us discover that 20%.

  2. Oh wow! I’m pretty sure I’ve seen something mention the 80/20 rule, but I never quite got the interest of searching it up, until now. It’s actually scary to think about how much effort you put into something and in return you won’t even get half of what you’ve put in the first place. Language learning takes time and determination to be something that you’re willing to do. I’ve given up so many times and just now I’m getting back into learning something new and amplifying my vocabulary and knowledge base. 

  3. Great thoughts on 80-20 Rule – Better known as the Pareto Principle. I love applying this in work and in everyday life. 

    Though applying that to learning language was really thought provoking. Off course, we all learnt 100% of the language with probably upto 20% of the words in the language – children learn it this way and there is no doubt that it will work for all.

    That takes of lot of stress out of learning a language – in fact any learning. A gargatuan task starts looking so simple.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.



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