⌄ Scroll down to continue ⌄

3 Common Myths about Learning a Foreign Language

⌄ Scroll down to continue ⌄
3 Common Myths about Learning a Foreign Language

Summer is almost over, Christmas is almost upon us and before you know it, we’ll be starting a brand new year! New Years: a time for celebrations, fresh ambition and New Year’s Resolutions. Did you know that one of the things more and more English-speakers are resolving to do is to learn a foreign language? And yet, so many potential polyglots (that’s someone who speaks a lot of languages) are holding back, scared to fail and preferring to make excuses.

I’ve taught languages for over a decade, and on three different continents, and here are some of the most common reasons that I’ve come across that stop people trying a new language on for size, and why they are all absolutely not true.

⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄

⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄

I’m not good at languages!

Anybody who is able to say this sentence is flat-out lying. Why? Because anybody with the ability to communicate in their mother tongue is already a successful language learner. Within the first few years of your life, you managed an incredible feat- making sense of, replicating and mastering the sound and melody of what you heard from your caregivers and the world around you, with hardly any structure at all. You learned to say “I went,” and not “I goed,”; “he is” and not “he are”; to make your voice go up at the end of a question and down at the end of the statement. Nobody taught you these things.

You and your incredibly complex brain did it all by yourself. The trouble is that we usually try to learn (and teach) language as if it were any other subject- by presenting it as information to be remembered rather than a habit and skill to be acquired. So you are good at languages- you’ve already excelled at the language learning once before. And guess what: your brain is more than capable of repeating the process.

⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄

⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄

I’m too old…

So, nobody is going to argue with the science of brain plasticity. Basically the brain is more malleable and ready to absorb new information when you are a child than when you are an adult. But the brain is a muscle, so-to-speak, and needs regular exercise in order to function at its best. So the more you use it for certain types of activities, the better it will perform. If you look at language learning as a test of memory- how many words or grammatical structures will you remember and be able to recite- then you will invariably “fail” at language learning.

But if you consider learning a language the same as any other skill-using it until it becomes second nature, you will find that age isn’t an obstacle. In fact, in my experience teaching adults of all ages, I have found that the biggest obstacle in older learners is letting go of the learning habits they formed at school (e.g. repeating, drilling, writing out long lists etc.) that can, at times, be counter-productive to language learning. If the older generation can work out Facebook, smart phones and automatic cars, there is no reason why an older brain can’t learn a new language.

⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄
⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄

I don’t have time…

You may not have time to go to classes four times a week. You may not have time to translate pieces of writing back and forth. You may not even have the time to work your way through a language activity book. But here’s some good news: language learning is not as time consuming as you may think! I like to think of language as something to be absorbed, rather than studied. Language classes, and by that I mean good, quality, communicative, language classes, are a great investment of both your time and your money, but if they are beyond your reach for the time being, there is plenty you can do to simulate immersion into the foreign language (immersion really is the best way to learn a language- this is why children and people living in foreign countries pick up the local lingo so quickly).

Everybody can set their technology to the language they are learning- TV, phone, laptop and anything else that you regularly use. Anybody can listen to music, the radio and watch films in a foreign language- with subtitles in the target language if your level of understanding permits. Everybody has “in-between time” in which they can peruse magazines or read storybooks in the target language, or even practice writing foreign letters in a notebook or on their phone. There are plenty more ways to absorb language without taking up too much time in your day.

⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄
⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄

Language is primarily a means of communication, so anybody who is able to communicate has the capacity to learn to do so in a foreign language. That being said, our brains are all wired in different ways so some people may be more adept at some aspects of language than others. For example some people have great pronunciation, but very poor grammar; some have wonderful fluency, but struggle with spelling. But with the right resources and, above all, the right attitude, anybody can become fluent in a foreign language!

Featured photo credit: www.brainscape.com via brainscape.com

⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄
⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄

More by this author

14 Weeks Pregnant Decision Guide: Should You Reveal The Sex Of Your Baby?
14 Weeks Pregnant Decision Guide: Should You Reveal The Sex Of Your Baby?
7 Ways to Wake Up Happy
7 Ways to Wake Up Happy
3 Common Myths about Learning a Foreign Language
3 Common Myths about Learning a Foreign Language
15 Things To Expect In Your Third Trimester
15 Things To Expect In Your Third Trimester
12 Sure-Fire Ways to Beat Jet Lag
12 Sure-Fire Ways to Beat Jet Lag

Trending in Communication

1 Hard To Make And Keep Friends As An Adult? You Should Know These Communication Tricks 2 There’re 3 Types Of People When It Comes To Making/Keeping Friends. Which One Are You? 3 Researchers Find That As We Age, Most Of Us Become Happier Because Of This Key Thing 4 Alone Time Is When I Distance Myself From The Voices Of The World So I Can Hear My Own 5 Love Is About Choosing To Accept Someone Even If You Can’t Fully Understand Them

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Explore the Full Life Framework

Advertising
Advertising