Top myths in language learning – part 2

There are a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to language learning, some more damaging than others. Therefore, today I am continuing with the second blog post in my series about top language learning myths.

 

I need someone to teach me the language

Whenever the topic of language learning comes up people usually ask my why I wanted to learn Cantonese. When I mention that my girlfriend is from Hong Kong a lot of people react in the same way.

"ohh, so your girlfriend is from Hong Kong, now it all makes sense. She must be a really good teacher"

The idea that your partner or your friend should teach you a language, let alone the idea that they are obligated to is something I always have a hard time wrapping my head around.

I mean really think about this for a second. Think how many new words there are to learn, how many hundreds if not thousands of hours of input you need to be able to get yourself up to a decent level. Now imagine if the only source you had for all of this is one single person.

This would take forever to learn the language, assuming you even learn anything at all. If you look at most successful polyglots out there today, they all have one thing in common. They say language learning is a auto-didactic process. This means that they don't rely on any one person to teach them, they themselves put in the time.

You don't need an expensive tutor or a girlfriend to help you learn a language, all you need to do is put in the time yourself. Listen and read basic material, and then ramp up the difficulty from there moving onto progressively more difficult and interesting topics.

When it comes time to speak, of course you need to find someone to practice with, but the bulk of the learning happens from input. This means as long as you have an internet connection, you can learn a lot more from your bedroom in most cases than you ever could by waiting for your partner or friend to teach you.

 

I just can't learn a second language

This is something I hear a lot from "I am too old to learn a language" or "I just don't have a language talent like you do".

This is by far one of the most damaging mindsets you can have. Defeating yourself before you have even started. Lucky for us, you don't need to be a rocket scientist, memory expert or child to learn a language. Anyone at any age can learn any language, it's just a matter of time and exposure. Sure, some people might be faster than others, but it doesn't really matter. The only thing that matters, is that if you stick with it for a long enough period of time, then you will learn. The only way for you to fail essentially is to give up!

 

I don't have time to learn a new language

Have you got kids or a family to look after? Full time job? Other commitments you need to look after? Just don't have the time to learn a language?

It is more about making time for yourself than having it. We all live busy lives in this day and age more then ever. We all have friends, families and jobs to take into consideration. The key here is being smart and about prioritisation.

If you have other things going on for you right now that you prioritise, then that´s absolutely fine. But assuming you do actually want to learn a language in this decade, then you need to make language learning a priority.

Once you do that, you will be surprised at how much time you can create for yourself. Between pockets of dead time throughout the day, making most of commute and travel time as well as carving out regular focused time each day to focus on your learning, the minutes soon add up to hours and before you know it you have already managed to scrape together enough time to be able to start having your first conversations. 

If you start small and easy, make sure you can commit every day and then once you are comfortable you can always keep adding more on top later. 

Personally for me, to make sure nothing gets in the way I like to do my focused learning first thing in the morning after I wake up. That way I am clear headed, fresh and completely free of distractions, and all I need to do in return is get out of bed a little bit earlier. 

 

Conclusion

 

These are just a few of the myths floating around when it comes to language learning. If you have any more that you want to share, or you disagree with any of the ones I have on this list then please leave me a comment and let me know.