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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 September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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