The Worst Thought a Language Learner Can Have

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When learning a new language many negative thoughts can plague you.

But one stands out as probably the most destructive thought a language learner can have.

Think it enough, and it could be curtains for your language dreams.

What thought it is?

“This language is so complicated!”

If you’ve ever tried to learn a new language, you probably recognize the thought. It usually gives rise to a series of other negative thoughts, like:

  • I’ll never learn this language
  • I’m just not smart enough
  • Learning languages isn’t for me

Before you know it, you’re thinking about giving up on this language thing altogether.

The root of the problem is that we have this need to understand everything right now. And if not, then at least pretty damn soon, like in two minutes.

If that doesn’t happen, we feel like a failure.

Here come the thoughts…

Embrace “Not Understanding”

Here’s something I want you to know:

It’s okay to not understand!

(Especially when you’re just starting out.)

You won’t ever nail everything of a language at the first try.

Flat out impossible.

So delay your understanding. It’s okay to understand months from now. (Don’t tell Benny, though ;-))

Don’t get stuck on this one thing, whatever it is…

Maybe later you read another explanation or you see it another light and you’ll understand….happened to me many times, no matter how complicated it seemed at the time.

If you trust that you’ll understand it later along the way, even the worst thought a language learner can have becomes harmless.

The problem is not WHAT we think, the problem is taking those thoughts seriously.

They arise when we are doing something challenging, something worthwhile, something that’s going to cost us a little effort.

Those thoughts are just your reptilian brain looking for a way out. All it wants is that you stay lazy, that you don’t waste any effort on something that it considers unimportant for survival purposes.

If you know where they come from and why, you’ll no longer have to pay them much attention.

And they’ll no longer have the power to make you do things you’ll regret later on…

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Comments

  1. Thank you… It helps me

  2. It is true that I am sometimes frustrated about my foreigb language learning, I want to be able to master it quickly. But grammar is complicated and vocabularies I often forget their meaning. Also I am shy when I try speaking language with local people but they cannot understand what I say. In some circumstances I feel sorry that a group of local people have to switch to English instead of speaking their native language, so that I could understand the conversation. But all in all, it is very important for me to know local language, so I try to learn it a bit everyday with patience. Thanks for your sharing.

    • Noel van Vliet says:

      Thanks for sharing, Chau.

      Maybe sometimes people switching to English is because they want to practice English?

      Anyway, don’t give up, keep going, work on your weaknesses and you’ll get there.

  3. The first step is to speak to native speakers bravely while its the the most challenging thing we thought it would be, considering our oral mistakes a shame.Actually the native speaks are happy to see foreigners speak their language .once our mouth open,we will know what to do next.

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