posted on Jul, 13 2005 @ 09:56 AM
The most effective methods of learning vary from person to person. Most people are visual learners (learn best by seeing it), but others may be
auditory (hearing) or kinesthetic (doing) to name a couple of the more common alternatives.
In second language acquisition one of the most important factors is motivation. Learning a language is a long and sometimes frustrating affair, so
your desire to learn must overcome your natural inclination to walk away when something gets too hard.
Having someone with whom to practice is very helpful. You may want to contact your local university/college to see if there is a foreign language
club. These are usually open to non-students, and give you a good way to interact in your chosen language. If nothing else, since you've indicated
a desire for literacy more than conversation, they should be able to point you towards good resources.
One of the big topics in second language acquisition (at least it was in college 5 years ago) is "Tolerance of Ambiguity." Basically this has to do
with your comfort zone for not knowing things. When you start out learning a foreign language you're pretty limited in what you can say/understand,
often times you can't even "talk around" things. Unfortunately for you, general trends usually show a lower tolerance for ambiguity among those
good at maths and sciences. That's not a hard and fast rule, just a general trend. What it means to you, practically, is that you may have to ramp
up your patience while you're beginning.
 The threshold's different for everyone, and I'm using the generic English "you" because the French "on" doesn't exist, and Americans look
at you funny when you start using the British "one".