by Rabbi Avigdor Miller
Q: If somebody is a failure in learning, what’s the way to get back in learning?
A: You must know the failure in learning never had any success. He never started right. And therefore he should begin all over again.
My advice is he should learn two parshos of Chumash and know every word. Every word. Then somebody should test him at random, skipping around.
If he knows every word in two parshos of Chumash then he should go on to Pirkei Avos and learn six chapters of Pirkei Avos, until he knows them so well that he can run through it without hesitation. How do you do that? Take a linear translation. Even the most stupid fellow can succeed with that. After you know that then take a mishnayos and read Pirkei Avos without nekudos (vowels).
When you can run through six chapters of mishnayos without nekudos, without hesitation, then take Bava Metzia, [chapter] Eilu Metzios. It’s translated in linear translation. Study it word for word and when you’re able to say Eilu Metzios with a plain pshat (simple meaning), the most simple translation, without hesitation, now you’re ready to start gemara.
If they would start with this system no boy would be a failure
The trouble is most of the boys in the yeshivos don’t know words of Chumash. You’ll be surprised. I once spoke to a 14-year-old, do you know what amad meant? He didn’t know what amad meant. Amad, he stood. He didn’t know that word. And he’s sitting in yeshiva, the rebbe says pilpulim (analyzing fine points). It’s the place where they murder boys, not where they are mechanech (educating) boys. They’re murdering Jewish neshamos (souls), when every day he sits there and becomes more and more discouraged.
When he comes out he’s an enemy of learning. He hates learning. If they would start with this system and gradually train him, no boy would be a failure. When he knows finally Eilu Metzios, the whole chapeer — he might not understand the Tosfos, even the Rashi, who cares? He knows how to translate a chapter of gemara! — this boy is happy. He’s confident. And now he’s ready to go ahead.
It’s very possible he can become a very big lamdan eventually... Nobody has to be a failure in learning. — Mitzvah of Happiness (#529)