At times, learning a new language can feel impossible. Do you find yourself comparing your progress to that perfectly fluent guy or girl at the office? Maybe you feel so overwhelmed that you’ve lost hope in yourself and your language learning potential. If you can relate, we have some good news: our team at TruFluency can help you identify why you’re failing at learning a new language, and give you the tools you need to succeed. Read this article to find out why you might not be meeting your full potential, and we’ll help you find a way to turn your language acquisition experience into a success story.
Why am I Failing at Learning a New Language?
An important part of any learning journey is honest self-reflection; before we can fix our problems, we have to identify them. Get out your journal and write about how you feel about your current listening, speaking, reading abilities. Think about each language encounter or after each lesson you have and record how you felt at the end of it. Make sure not to shy away from more difficult questions. Here are a few to get you started:
- Do you find that more immersive classes leave you feeling happier than lecture-based ones?
- After taking a look at your notes through the weeks, can you identify any behavioral or learning patterns that shed light on your current position?
- Do you feel welcome and encouraged in your learning environment?
By asking yourself these questions and thinking critically about your experience, you’ll greatly improve your chances of finding a solution to your problems. Below we’ve listed the top four common reasons why students fail at language acquisition; take a look and see if any of them apply to you.
Overwhelmed and Afraid of Failure? How to Stay Positive
1) You Feel Overwhelmed
Do you find yourself feeling anxious whenever you think of your language class or encounter native speakers at work? If so, you aren’t alone. Exploring an entirely new way of communicating is a huge undertaking that requires time, patience, and effort! Being nervous and perhaps a little anxious is normal. Take a deep breath, recognize that your feelings are a natural part of language acquisition, and focus on the little things you can do to reduce your stress levels:
- Tackle study materials in smaller chunks with more regularity, rather than huge amounts of work all at once. Many people deal with procrastination and hold off work if it seems too daunting. If you need to prepare for an upcoming test or have a presentation or client meeting in your 2nd language, make a plan that requires you to work on your task a little bit every day; our brains work better that way! The average person can only retain seven pieces of information in short-term memory at a time, so don’t feel bad if you need to break down your work. By ripping off the learning bandaid and addressing your work every day, it will start to become much less anxiety-inducing.
2) You’re Afraid To Make Mistakes
For many of us, failure doesn’t seem like a respectable option. Maybe you are afraid to speak up in class because you fear sounding unintelligent, and as a result, have been shying away from conversations. Don’t be your own worst enemy! Ironically, fearing failure will only lead to stagnation in your learning, and will eventually hurt you more than the actual mistakes you’ve made along the way. Changing your mindset is the first step towards solving this issue.
- Realize that making mistakes is an essential part of language acquisition. When you were a baby learning to speak, did your parents look down upon you for mispronouncing words and forming incomplete sentences? Of course not! When we take on a new language, we essentially revert to being a wide-eyed child, learning to speak for the first time; so treat yourself the way you would a kid learning to communicate. This means staying patient, practicing self-compassion, and laughing at your mishaps instead of defining yourself by them. Once you start embracing your mistakes, reflecting on them, and moving forward with confidence, you’ll be unstoppable.
Finding the Language Learning Method that Works for You
3) You Compare Yourself To Others
While we’ve been led to believe that comparisons to others and low-self esteem stop in middle school, that’s far from the truth. With the rise of social media, comparing ourselves to others has never been easier, and it can impact us at any age. While Mark Twain is quoted as saying “comparison is the death of joy,” it’s also the death of language learning! Research has found that comparing oneself to others results in feelings of jealousy, low-self confidence, and depression, all of which hinder our ability to learn and thrive in a language learning context.
- Focus on your progress and trust the language learning process. While it’s easy to fixate on how well your peers are doing, it will only distract you from your work and leave you feeling unhappy. To keep yourself focused on your journey, turn off social media and your phone when completing a task for your conversation lessons. This will rid you of distractions and keep you present.
- When you feel yourself becoming jealous, make a conscious effort to stop, take a breath, and see your coworkers as resources instead of rivals. If you envy someone else’s success, try asking them what some of their tips and tricks are! Who knows, maybe you both have a similar learning style and you’ll learn some useful tricks. If not, don’t sweat it; this is your language acquisition journey and nobody else’s.
4) The Teaching Method Isn’t Working For You
While placing blame on others is unproductive, it’s possible that your language learning class just isn’t right for you. Think about what kinds of methods your tutor has been using, and compare them to how you’ve learned successfully in the past. If there’s no hope of your tutor taking on a more compatible teaching style, it could be time to find someone new who suits your needs.
- Find a tutor at TruFluency. At TruFluency, we offer teacher-led, immersive online classes that encourage students to speak and use vocabulary that will help them in their everyday life. Practicing conversation leads to better conversations. Our enthusiastic tutors and conversation-focused courses are sure to suit your learning needs and help you succeed. Ready to find a tutor that’s right for you? Start reaching your language acquisition goals today.