We have all been there; one minute we are excited about the idea of learning a new language, and the next, we make all kinds of excuses and sabotage our own goals. No matter how motivated we feel or how fascinated we are by the beauty of a new language, it seems like there is always a critical period, usually at the beginning, where we encounter many excuses that deter us from even starting the process! This article aims to expose some of the most popular myths that we create in order to justify our procrastination when it comes to learning a new language.
- “I am too old for this; I will never learn.”
Granted, you are no longer a five-year-old kid with a super absorbent brain, but this does not mean that you are no longer capable of learning new things. While there are some studies that support the idea that children have an easier time learning a second language, there is nothing to suggest there’s an age at which learning abilities disappear for good. So, put this myth to rest and start learning that language that you have been meaning to study for years.
Also, here is an extra incentive: instead of feeling intimidated by the fact that your neurons may no longer be at their peak, think about the advantages that your age gives you. Kids may have the advantage of a fresh, new brain, but you have the advantage of practice, which, as you know, makes perfect. Take that, little kids! You have been speaking your native language for quite some time, and your innate knowledge of its grammar and sounds will be helpful when trying to learn a new language from scratch. So what are you waiting for? Go try it now (Actually, hang on, let’s finish this article first!).
- “I’m too busy; I don’t have time to waste.”
Let’s start by making it clear that time spent learning a new language is not time wasted. There are many advantages to learning a new language and once you reach your goal, you will not only be able to communicate with more people, but you will also have a whole new world of music, literature and culture open to you. It’s true that, as adults, we have a lot on our plates and often find it difficult to make time for learning. In this case, it helps if we change our perception of learning from being “a waste of time” to being “an investment” that will bring us personal, social and even economic benefits in the future.
Also, it is important to understand that learning does not only happen in the classroom, that learning a language can be fun, and that it does not need to be time-consuming. If you have time to listen to podcasts while walking to work, or when you’re working out, or you can squeeze in a mini-lesson while you wait for your doctor’s appointment, for your kid to get out of school or before your next business meeting, then that’s all you really need. You need to start with baby steps and not pressure yourself too much. Try to get your feet wet with some basic all-purpose expressions and then advance little by little. Remember to make it fun, and not see it as an obligation or as homework. The great thing about learning a language is that seeing your own progress is often all you need to keep you motivated and pushing forward.
- “Learning a new language is too expensive; I don’t have that kind of money.”
This excuse is probably the one that’s used most often, but it is also the easiest to refute. Just as learning a new language doesn’t have to be a boring burden, so it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Thanks to the Internet, we can now have access to many affordable, helpful resources. Make use of these and take advantage of the many sites and applications designed to make learning easier for you. Your dream of speaking a foreign language may be just a simple Google search away!
Look for communities or groups that aim to practice conversational skills or set up free language exchanges with people that are willing to learn your native language. You can also find helpful grammar lessons free of charge, or download some exercises to develop your writing skills. Last, but not least, hire a tutor (I’ve heard italki has a lot of awesome tutors!), and design your own learning experience today.
No matter what your excuse, you alone have the power to break free from all your fears. Think of all the positive things that will result from you learning a second language. Think of all the places you will be able to visit and all the people you will meet. Learning a foreign language is a very gratifying process, but you won’t be able to experience it if you keep making excuses!
Hero image by geralt (CC0 1.0)