What would you consider your main hurdles to learning a new language? In the following we have identified a few obstacles that might sound familiar to you. We also give you some tips to tackle them.
I don’t have enough time to learn a language
You had a great deal of motivation when you started learning a new language, but now, it seems, there is never enough time to practice it. Seriously? Yeah right, you work full time, you have an active social life, you might have a family and then there are those projects like getting a present for auntie Daisy’s 50th birthday. But maybe all those things are not keeping you from learning. Maybe the time killers do? Have a look at your daily routine and find out what it is that is wasting your time. Do you spend a lot of time in queues? Do you watch a lot of TV, do you spend a good deal of time on Facebook or waiting for the bus? Or do you take the car to work? Now imagine yourself listening to a language CD or a podcast whenever you leave the house. Instead of watching (the repetition of) a series every night, watch them in your target language. When you brush your teeth or your hair, look at that list of verbs you blu-tacked on your bathroom mirror. Try to do everything you enjoy doing in your target language. Just ten minutes a day can make all the difference!
I don’t have a goal
Yes, there was a good reason to start learning a new language. But now procrastination kicks in. There won’t be an exam any time soon. I’m not going to Paris in three weeks. I don’t need it for my job. It’s definitely not a priority right now, so let’s postpone the lesson until next weekend! It is hard to keep up the motivation when you don’t have anything to strive for. So set realistic goals. It can be something like three little assignments a week or 15 minutes a day of learning. Maybe you want to tackle a specific grammatical rule within a set timeframe or make it a goal to learn 20 words of a particular subject (animals, business, cooking) each week. Language researchers have found out that listening is a very important tool especially when you start learning. Even listening to something for 10 minutes daily in your target language can be a goal. Another way is to get others to check on your progress. Peer pressure can be very helpful when you want to achieve something. Make learning a routine and stick to it! And make sure you reward yourself when you’ve achieved it.
It is too hard to stay committed to language learning
It was fun at the beginning, but now I feel like I’m getting nowhere. There are so many exceptions to the rules and I still make so many mistakes. Many students treat language like a scholastic subject. They think they just need to memorize some words and conjugate verbs in order to master it. But if you want to have a proper conversation you need a great deal of practice plus you need to stay positive even when you make a lot of mistakes. Embrace imperfection! Learning a new language takes commitment especially when you’re not surrounded by speakers of that language and when you can avoid speaking to others on a daily basis in need to survive. In an immersion class there will be a lot of uncertainty that frustrates students until they reach native-like fluency. In the meantime, they like to reach for their dictionaries rather than guessing the meaning from the context. Hang in there and your patience will pay off in the end!