Have you ever heard someone say: “I’m not that not good at languages?” Although the benefits of learning a language are immense (access to new cultures, people and places, better understanding of different regions and improved cognition, just to name a few), many people do not attempt to learn a new language. What are the reasons for this and how do we deal with them?
“Can I learn a language? I have never been very good at it…”
Very often, our first encounter with language learning (aside from our mother tongue) happens at school. For many, it may have meant that they were forced to learn at a time and place they did not want, in an uninspiring manner and among peers who were, perhaps, not motivated. If the timing, the method, or the environment were not conducive for optimal learning, that may have established some barriers early in their language acquisition journey.
Every human being has capacity for learning, and the fact that you are reading this already proves that you can command at least one language perfectly! Our own perceptions and self-beliefs do impact the speed with which we learn a new language. So, have confidence in your abilities and find the methods, the time and the place that inspire you to learn best.
“But…. I have been learning this language for so long now, and I have not improved.”
Language learning is not a linear process and we cannot learn everything at once. Some structures take us longer to acquire than others (in fact, according to one of the language learning theories – the Processability theory – we need to acquire certain basic pieces of information first to be able to move on to more advanced ones).
Of course, it is frustrating to make the same mistake again and again. This, however, does not mean that you have not improved or learned anything at all. If you feel like you do not improve, it is often because you compare the Chapter 15 of your language learning journey to someone else’s Chapter 172!
What can help in this situation is to focus on three small, specific things you have learned or want to learn today. It could be a new word, a new structure, or a saying in your mother tongue that you looked up just to be able to say it in a different language. Write them down in a notebook, and keep adding to it every day. This way not only will you motivate yourself but you will also develop a habit that helps you commit to the process and become a more effective learner.
“Am I up for the task?”
Imagine being able to go to your dream holiday destination and make friends with the locals, or solve somebody’s problems simply because you understand their language. Imagine having access to non-touristic places, just because of a conversation with the bus driver. Or being able to enjoy and understand your favorite books, movies and songs in their original language. There is so much you can achieve by learning a new language!
Nowadays, there are so many ways to learn a new language that time, money or location are not the issue any more: you can enroll into a course within your community, you can learn while commuting through online courses, language learning apps or videos, you can read a book in another language or Skype with native speaker and the list goes on.
So why not start now? Pick a method, time and place that will stimulate you, trust your abilities and commit to the process to see your language learning abilities exceed your own expectations!
Start your language learning journey today!