The steps of one’s progress are distinctly marked. At the end of each lesson he knows he has acquired something, and he also knows what that something is, and likewise that it will stay with him. It is not like studying German, where you mull along, in a groping, uncertain way, for thirty years; and at last, just as you think you’ve got it, they spring the subjunctive on you, and there you are. No — and I see now, plainly enough, that the great pity about the German language is, that you can’t fall off it and hurt yourself. There is nothing like that feature to make you attend strictly to business. But I also see, by what I have learned of bicycling, that the right and only sure way to learn German is by the bicycling method. That is to say, take a grip on one villainy of it at a time, and learn it — not ease up and shirk to the next, leaving that one half learned.

Taming the Bicycle

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More from Mark Twain

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.

Taming the Bicycle

What ought to be done to the man who invented the celebrating of anniversaries? Mere killing would be too light.

If the man doesn’t believe as we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. I mean, it does nowadays, because now we can’t burn him.

When angry, count four; when very angry, swear.

Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar (1894).

No man should [do that] unless he is the King of England — or has a tapeworm.

on whether people in public life should refer to themselves in the third-person