Here’s a key principle to learning something much faster – break it down into concepts, facts and procedures.
Any learning objective can be broken down into these three facets. Learning a language involves concepts such as grammatical rules and etymology. It also involves facts such as vocabulary and certain exceptions to grammatical rules. Its procedures include fluency, pronunciation, writing and listening.
Some learning goals are concept heavy, like a math course. Some are fact heavy, like law or language learning. Others are primarily procedural, like learning to cook or to ride a bicycle.
Breaking up your learning objective serves two purposes. Firstly, each facet can be tackled using a different approach. Concepts require you to understand theory. Facts can be memorized using recall and spaced repetition. Practice and visualization help you perfect procedures. Secondly, this break-up ensures that you don’t focus on one facet at the expense of the others. It prevents you from becoming someone who can understand a language well but struggles to speak it.