We’ve posted some pieces about how best to learn languages and why learning languages is good for you. This week we turn our attention to some of the myths, weird advice and outright lies on the subject.
1. I speak ENGLISH, the international language. I don’t NEED to learn another one.
Actually, less than 25% of the global population can speak some English. That leaves a significant chunk of the world out of your communication arc. This attitude also cheerfully ignores the many other benefits of language learning like improving memory, changing your perspective and opening your mind.
2. Learning a language is a gift I just don’t have.
Many people seem to buy into the idea that people who can learn and speak two or more languages are somehow unique or gifted. Language is exactly the same as learning anything else new: you have to spend time learning the system and how to use it. You’re going to make mistakes and then, over time, you’re going to get better.
3. All I need is the hacks, or shortcuts, to learn a new language
Our addiction to instant gratification has led us to believe some bizarre things about our world. The ‘hacks’ that people who speak many languages have learned are: Committing to the learning process, practicing a lot, making mistakes, learning from their mistakes.
4. I didn’t learn another language as a child, so I can’t learn one now
This is based on the Critical Period Hypothesis and has been proved to be false. Language proficiency actually has way more to do with how much input you get rather than what time in your life you started learning.
5. I don’t have enough free time to learn a language
Learning a language shouldn’t mean giving up the things you love. It means committing to a process so that you can do more interesting fun things while you learn. Manage your time better and you WILL find the time to learn, you’ve just got to acknowledge that yes, you have some fears around learning a language and that’s understandable.
6. I am not outgoing enough to learn other languages.
You do NOT have to be an extrovert to master a new tongue. Yes, being confident to speak and make mistakes is a help in learning a language. But with all the online learning systems, books, apps and classes available to you today there are so many other ways to practise and improve, this is really just a bad excuse not to try.
7. I don’t need to learn language, I have Google translate!
Just think about the last time you mis-read an email in your native tongue and realise that, without context and an idea of culture, it is very hard to understand nuance and meaning from text. Language learning introduces you to the nuances of culture and language and enhances your ability to establish and maintain relationships and understanding.
TalenInstituut Free Tip:
You CAN learn a new language. You just need to COMMIT, FOCUS, PRACTICE and get up each time you fail and try again. It just a system. It can be learned. After all, when you had no knowledge, skills or training, you learned your mother tongue as a baby. Surely your adult self can do the same?
At TalenInstituut Nederland (The Dutch Language Institute) we understand the needs that companies face as well as the fears individual learners feel. This is why we offer flexible, fully customised Business English training to businesses and individuals. Through a process of interviews and meetings we establish the unique needs and competence of our clients and design each and every course around those. To find out more about our Business language courses, visit our website and ask us for a quote: www.taleninstituut.nl.
© TalenInstituut Nederland
Foto’s: Het beeld van Atlas met de wereldbol op zijn schouders op het Paleis op de Dam.
Fotograaf: Jeroen Docter