I’ll start with what you don’t need. It may surprise you, since this runs counter to the conventional wisdom.
You don’t need:
- Willpower. You shouldn't. Your amount of this is limited, and you’ll run out of it if you rely on willpower on a regular basis. What you do should be so arranged that you enjoy doing it.
- Gift. There are far fewer people with a gift for languages than you think. Conversely, almost everyone has the aptitude.
- Time. You don’t need great big chunks of time. Five minutes here and there will mount up. And short bursts are actually better.
- Analytical mind. You need to be interested in order to learn. But to break things up into ever smaller portions won’t help you use a language. You lose speed and fluency.
- Memory. Not short term memory. Long term memory is what you need. And that relies on ‘forgetting’ nonessentials or things you’re not quite ready for.
- A knowledge of grammar. Certainly not the technical terms and whatnot. But an internal feel for what sounds right is another matter.
- Teacher. No you don’t. You need to take charge of your own learning. And the sooner the better.
- Intelligence. What’s the lowest IQ that you need to be able to use your own language? Exactly!
- Materials. Language learning materials are produced to make someone a profit. Just make use of the materials that people of the language you’re interested in are interested in.
- Outgoing personality. No difference has been shown between introverts and extroverts. Not as far as learning a language goes
- Energy. You may choose to spend a lot of energy. But if you need to, then you’re doing it wrong. Energy, like willpower, is limited.
You do need:
- Desire. It helps a lot if there’s something that you have a passion for which requires knowing the language. That’s too wordy . . . You’ve gotta love something about it.
- Reason. The stronger your reason or need to know a language, the more likely you’ll learn it.
- Tenacity. It takes a long time. It isn’t difficult, but progress is slow. So it helps if you are dogged. If you have a history of going long projects.
- Independence. You need to be able to work on your own. You are the best judge about how you learn best. At least you should be.
- Imagination. Imagination will create something interesting out of something boring.
- Open mind. You need to be able to hold of prematurely judging. Every new idea is born drowning.
- Self-belief. If you believe that you won’t be able to do something, then you won’t. Guaranteed.
- Experience. If you can call on something in your history where you succeeded in learning another language, or with a long course of study, then that’s a big plus. Even if you failed, that will help you avoid future pitfalls.
- Self knowledge. The better you know yourself, your on-buttons and off-buttons the more likely you are to climb ladders and avoid snakes.
- Interest. You need to be alert to notice what’s going on in a language.
- Patience. It’s going to take time. You don’t need negative self-talk slowing you down even further. Realistically, you need patience.
- Laziness. Finding the easiest and most pleasant way to do things will conserve your resources.
- Pleasure. Enjoy what you do. Otherwise, what’s the point?
- Resourcefulness. Use whatever you have at hand well. Work to your strengths.