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

God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board.

By his father he is English, by his mother he is American– to my mind the blend which makes the perfect man.

introducing Winston Churchill, New York City, December 12, 1900

We are chameleons, and our partialities and prejudices change place with an easy and blessed facility, and we are soon wonted to the change and happy in it.

Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anyone.

Notebook (1935)