4 Things “Caine’s Arcade” Taught Me About Life and Language Learning

Watch This Video, You Won’t Regret it!

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It will inspire you, teach you a few things about life, and it will probably make you cry. Over 3,000,000 people saw this video in English in the first few weeks.

The 10:00 short film tells the story of a cute 9 year old American boy named Caine who spends his summer vacation building a huge, elaborate arcade in his dad’s used auto-part store, totally out of cardboard. The kid is a genius, a child visionary, and his arcade is AMAZING.

The only problem is that for several months he doesn’t have any customers.

But, everything suddenly changes thanks to the help of his first customer, the power of the Facebook, and a well-organized  “flash mob.”

Here are 4 life lessons I learned from “Caine’s Arcade,” and their application to language learning.

1. A Deep Sense of Purpose:

Caine is totally in love with what he’s doing. He’s not doing it just because he likes the idea of the final product, or because he wants some reward. HE HAS A PURPOSE, and this makes him love the process. He’s in love with the act of building his arcade. Step by step, his joy is for building his arcade is his passion, a process that gives as much love as the end result.

The Lesson:

The best language learners learn because they are connected to a deep and clear sense of purpose. They have a “why” that captivates them, an innate, personal relationship with the reason why they are learning, which is just as gratifying as the imagined result.

My Advice for Language Learners:

Really think about and clarify your personal WHY, your deepest purpose for learning the language, and use this to inspire and guide your learning process. Take 15 minutes, an hour, or an entire afternoon to fill a page or a few pages with ideas. Then write a paragraph summarizing it. Put it in your wallet and read it when you’re in line at the bank or stuck in traffic. If you are connected to a deep sense of purpose in your attitude and actions, the path to success is inevitable.

2. Diligence & Patience:

The kid demonstrates unwavering diligence working toward his goal, and he embraces the whole process with complete patience. He shows up every day, works hard, and he continues working at his arcade every weekend even after school starts again. With no customers, things get really difficult, but he doesn’t give up, nor does he get lazy. If you pay attention near the end of the film, before they got back to the arcade for the surprise “flash mob,” his dad says “hey Caine, I’m tired, let’s go home today.” What did Caine say? “NO. No can do.” Even with only 1 customer in the history of his arcade, he didn’t want to miss a day. Without diligence and patience, success is difficult to obtain.

The Lesson:

Without diligence and patience, learning a language is really hard. Diligence means that you make that language a daily practice, a ritual, something that you consistently do, and with a relaxed attitude. It then becomes automatic, something you’re committed to, and your lifestyle reflects that. Mastery is not possible without diligence. So, while diligence is the consistent, applied daily effort, patience is to calmly wait for results. With diligence and patience they will come!

My Advice for Language Learners:

Keep it simple. To achieve diligence with your language learning, focus on cultivating good daily habits that will accumulate over time. You don´t have to study it every day, but just like anything you are trying to master, you really do need to have contact with it every day. There are far more dynamic ways to have contact and learn than just studying from a book. If you have diligence, patience is a lot easier because learning is fun, and the results come quicker.

3. Caine Has Need for External Approval:

Caine spends months building his arcade without even a single customer. He doesn´t have a license or a certificate. He hasn’t even graduated from elementary school. He believed in his vision and that was enough for him. Not worrying about external approval frees him up to be creative and fully go through his learning process. In a world where most of us desperately need approval from others, or a piece of paper to show our worth, Caine is a true visionary.

The Lesson:

You don’t need to impress anybody in the moment of speaking a foreign language. You just need to try to communicate and be comfortable with who you are in your skin. No standardized test or study abroad program can do this for you.

My Advice for Language Learners:

Whatever stage you’re at in whatever language, just relax and be okay with your process. Recognize your mistakes and problems, but don’t obsess and let them affect your confidence. Feel free to take the TOEFL test, and care about what others think, but you don’t need those things to trust your own process.

4. The Power of Imagination:

This is probably what impressed me the most, not just with Caine, but with the film’s creator, Nirvan Mullick. First of all, with all the digital equipment and the internet that exist nowadays, and the millions of kids sitting around in front of the couch filling their brains with TV and videogames, it’s refreshing to see a 9 year old boy with such a free imagination.  Apart from Caine, filmmaker Nirvan Mullick, the first customer, not only did  a brilliant job presenting the story, but he had the imagination to recognize Caine’s ingenuity in the first place. In Nirvan´s shoes as Caine´s first customer, how many of us actually would have been open-minded enough to truly appreciate the boy´s amazing arcade?

The Lesson:

Like Caine and Nirvan, get in the habit of using your imagination in your daily life, and also apply it to what you love to do. If you’re passionate about learning a language, start to build your own little world in that language, just like Cane did with his passion.

My Advice for Language Learners:

With technology, the internet, and increasingly interconnected world of globalization, for the passionate learner, there is a bottomless fountain of opportunities to learn languages every day, wherever you are in the world. For the proactive, open-minded learner, the only problem is deciding where to start. Maybe this article can help: 7 Ways to Make English a Part of Your Daily Life

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