As a better language learner, you should probably create your own customized curriculum. If you control your learning, you will learn faster. In listening and reading, comprehension depends on context.
When listening to or reading material that you have chosen and where the background is familiar, your comprehension is higher than when you are struggling through uninteresting material. This is the natural way to build confidence and fluency in a non-stressful way.
Gradually your range of interests will take you into new areas, thus expanding your language ability. But the decision of what to study should be yours. Furthermore, if you accept the responsibility to seek out your own content, you will take a major step towards cultivating the self-reliant attitude needed for success in language learning
Fred Genesee of McGill University, a leading researcher on language learning and the brain, explains what happens when we learn a new language:
“When learning occurs, neuro-chemical communication between neurons is facilitated, in other words a neural network is gradually established. Exposure to unfamiliar speech sounds is initially registered by the brain as undifferentiated neural activity. As exposure continues, the listener (and the brain) learns to differentiate among different sounds and even among short sequences of sounds that correspond to words or parts of words… Students’ vocabulary acquisition can be enhanced when it is embedded in real-world complex contexts that are familiar to them.”
Through intensive and repetitive exposure to enjoyable language material you will bathe your mind in the new language. This process is sometimes referred to as an “input flood” which trains your mind and prepares it for the more difficult task of expressing yourself in the new language. The linguist accepts the new language without resistance, confident that with enough exposure the difficulties of the language will gradually be overcome.
Language learning is not primarily an intellectual activity. It requires enthusiasm and repeated and concentrated exposure to language contexts that become familiar over time. It has been observed that foreign professional athletes are good language learners, often more successful than foreign university professors.
Hockey or basketball players are able to deliver fluent interviews on television, whereas the more intellectual professors are likely to have very strong accents and speak in a more stilted and unnatural manner. The reason is that athletes have constant informal verbal interaction with teammates. They need to fit into the team or they will not perform well. They learn quickly, immersed in the comfortable and familiar environment of their sport.
Unlike the athlete on a team, most language learners are not exposed to constant and familiar language contexts. That is why it is so important to create your own curriculum based on learning contexts which cater to your interests and needs.
Following your interests is the natural way to learn. The greater your range of interests, the more curious you are about the world around you, the better you will learn.