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6 Obstacles You Will Face When Learning a New Language (And What To Do)

6 Obstacles You Will Face When Learning a New Language (And What To Do)

Like anything we want to achieve, language learning is a long journey to go through. Many surveys show that the reasoning why never reach fluency is not because of age, talent, or resources. It’s because they quit too early. While there have been several studies of the major benefits in acquiring a new language, such as improving your memory and delaying dementia, we’re all human after all.

For those of you learning a new language, you’ll go through several inevitable obstacles during your journey, and it’s better to be prepared to face them before they come.

Here are 7 major obstacles you will face and how to overcome them.

1. Frustration

Frustration is the first stage that you’ll experience in the learning stage, and it’s perfectly normal. This state of frustration just means you’re stretching your comfort zone and pushing yourself further than before. However, this is when so many of us quit because we don’t immediately “get it.”

Once we realize that upon getting past the frustration stage that the learning process becomes enjoyable and fun. Frustration is only a temporary state that we feel, and what separates the successful individuals versus the unsuccessful is the ability to get past this stage.

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The key is to take it step-by-step, instead of overwhelming yourself with a massive challenge. If your goal is to become a fluent Spanish speaker (and you have zero knowledge), then your first goal should be as small as memorizing 10 of the most common words. From there, give yourself a treat or celebrate your small wins, and this will trigger your brain to crave more of these progressions. Then learn 20 words, and so on…

2. Lack of interest or purpose

While most obstacles could be easily cured through simple solutions, the lack of purpose or interest can only come from within you. Without an internal desire to learn something, no amount of money, resources, and strategies can help you get to the next level.

You might want to try a free language course. For example, in this one they cover what is called the Ultimate Goal Setting strategy, by answering questions like:

  • What opportunities will become available by speaking fluently?
  • What would I do if I could speak this language fluently right now?
  • How will I feel after reaching fluency?

Perhaps you could have a deeper connection with your partner or family member who knows another language. You could get a raise at your current job or open yourself up to new and amazing career opportunities with your new language. You can finally move to Spain or travel around South America with ease and comfort, creating deep connections with new people you meet.

Whatever your goal may be, make sure it excites you!

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3. Cost

While money does not equal happiness, it is certainly a problem for many people when it comes to learning a language.

At the same time, with anything in life, you get what you pay for. This doesn’t mean that free solutions are ineffective, but if you’re looking to see serious and lasting results, then the fastest way to do this is through immersion with a native speaker (preferably a professional).

The best part is, this doesn’t mean purchasing a $1,000 ticket to fly to South America or Spain. With the advent of online technology, immersion learning can be brought to the comforts of your home — right to your screen. Online platforms like Rype, provide you with language coaching for as little as $1/day, while matchmaking you to a personal language coach that will work one-on-one with you to accelerate your learning speed.

4. Lack of time

Time is the most valuable commodity that we never seem to have enough of. Having more time to learn a new language is a struggle for many of us, with our normal jobs, social life, and family to take care of. And when we do manage to find those extra few hours in our day, the last thing we want to do is get in our cars and drive to go to language school or meet a private tutor, right?

Truthfully, we only need to carve out an extra 30 minutes per day (or less) to learn a language, and the simplest way to do this is to eliminate commuting. Most of us are still learning a language in-person, which requires anywhere from 45-60 minutes on average that is spent on solely commuting!

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Instead of taking a bus to the nearest Starbucks in your local city, why not look for a teacher online that will allow you to avoid the commute in the first place?

5. No growth

If we don’t grow, we become stagnant. This means we have to constantly be improving, consistently be getting better, and always growing our knowledge. Think about the last time you went on a long hike. While the final moments may seem like you’re walking in one place, the moment you look back, you realize how far you’ve gone.

This is what we need to do with language learning. Seeing how far we have come with our skill set will be the fastest way to motivate ourselves out of frustration, disappointment, or whatever state we’re in that leads to giving up too early.

If you’re working with a professional teacher or coach, ask for a monthly report of your progress, or even record yourself every month and watch how far you’ve come. Even noticing the improvement of your accent, or the confidence you have when speaking the foreign language can give you a boost of energy and excitement to sustain your growth over the long run.

6. No accountability

This applies to not just language learning, but everything from health and fitness, nutrition, business, and more. The top athletes and business leaders pay coaches millions of dollars per year, sometimes solely for the psychological edge it gives them, knowing that someone is there to keep them accountable.

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Think about how much more motivated we are when we go to the gym with a partner, rather than ourselves. It’s just how the human mind works. After surveying dozens of language learners, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s why free mobile apps like Duolingo don’t bring lasting results, because there’s no incentive or motive to continue.

Languages are meant to be learned and experienced with fellow humans, there’s no other reason to learn it in the first place. It’s also how we’re best kept accountable. Whether you’re just beginning your journey or at an intermediate level, find an accountability partner who is a friend, family member, or an online coach to help you achieve your end goal.

If you’re still looking for a language coach, head over to Rype and get started for free!

More by this author

Sean Kim

Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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