Even today, the ability to speak foreign languages is held in the highest regard. Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language that goes to his heart”. Today, being able to empathize, communicate and relate to people from drastically different cultures is more important than ever. China and the USA are bickering while the UK is wriggling free of Europe. The Arab proverb, “learn a language, and you’ll avoid a war” is as fitting as it is urgent. The key is Communication. Learning a foreign language, however, presents certain doubts to the learner. Confronting these doubts and confusion head-on can help manage expectations and provide the necessary tools to keep going when things get tough to learn any foreign language without fear.
That being said, here are the 5 most common fears of learning foreign languages (with ways to deal with them).
“My mind just doesn’t work that way.”
The world wouldn’t be as lively as it is if everybody enjoyed and was good at the same thing. Some have an extraordinary ability to memorize historical facts and figures, while others are more mathematically inclined.
No matter what kind of learner you are (visual, verbal, auditory, or kinesthetic), learning the elements of a foreign language must be embraced with an open mind and resilience!
Academic research says that a “good language learner” makes use of 3 ideal attributes:
In terms of language learning, motivated learner goes out of their way to practice their language skills wherever they get the chance.
Good language learners seek opportunities beyond the classroom, such as changing their Instagram language settings, watching foreign language Netflix series, or participating in foreign exchange summer schools, for instance.
Moreover, many transferable skills come with language learning that will be valuable in other subjects as you go on to study at a higher level. These skills include rote memorization ability, inferring linguistic rules, forms, and patterns, and a thorough understanding of grammar!
“It’s embarrassing when I goof up.”
We are social beings. Many of us can relate to feeling embarrassed when we make a mistake in front of a group of people (friends or strangers). It is completely natural.
To overcome the embarrassment sometimes associated with speaking a foreign language and learn any foreign language without fear, one can implement these methods:
- Look in the mirror and speak. You will see what shape your mouth is making when you speak the new language. Practicing this method will make you comfortable with the new noises coming from your mouth.
- Watch films/TV series and repeat certain words or phrases you think sound nice or might be useful.
- Educate your family and friends about your new language, whether telling them about a grammar structure, introducing them to a new word, or informing them about a historical event in the country where your new language is spoken. This will make you feel more comfortable with your new language.
“I am too old to be fluent.”
Learners start their foreign language journey at different points in their lives. Some attend extracurricular classes from a young age, some are brought up in multilingual homes, and some start in adulthood out of necessity. You are never (ever) too old to learn a foreign language.
Keep in mind that being fluent and being a native speaker are two different things. Your accent may never be 100% “perfect”, but then again, “being perfect” is subjective, isn’t it?
“It’s laborious and time-consuming.”
Yes, learning vocabulary and grammar can be laborious and time-consuming. There is a certain element of memorizing tenses, conjugations, and when to use the subjunctive.
A native English speaker, for instance, knows 40,000 words, out of which 20,000 are in active use. This can be overwhelming to a beginner. In reality, though, you only need about 500 words to qualify as a “functional beginner” and around 3,000 words to qualify as “conversational”.
It’s like mathematics, where the first few building blocks are essential. Once these are solidified, you build on top of one another, and progress can be exponential.
Moreover, in order to avoid the overwhelming feeling, the language needs to be taught in an embarrassment-free and entertaining way.
The journey to qualify as “conversational” shouldn’t take more than a few months.
“I’ll forget everything in no time.”
This final fear is quite rational. Ultimately, it’s up to you how much you maintain your knowledge once you have reached a certain level you are happy with. Keeping up to date with new films and music releases, literature, contemporary affairs, etc., in your foreign language can help keep the fire aflame.
Learning a foreign language truly opens your mind and heart to people from all around the world. Go grab that course and use the methods in this article to learn any foreign language without fear. You can start with the most commonly taught languages like German online language classes or French online classes and improve your language skills. Click here to know the effectiveness of Online German classes