There’s a lot of well...nonsense, frankly...regarding learning a language. A number of pervasive and persistent myths seem to constantly circulate, and just won’t go away! Let's explore some of the most stubborn myths.
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Here are just a few myths we hear most often
- "I’m too old to start learning a new language!"
- Living in a country is the only way to reach fluency
- "I don't have the language learning gene"
We’re sure that during your exploration of a second or third language, you’ve come across at least one of these sayings, if not all of them.
👴 “I’m too old to start learning a new language”
We can't tell you how many times we've heard this one! People tend to think without hesitation that younger children are natural language learners, and the older you get the harder it becomes. You may be amazed to learn that the opposite is true.
Children do indeed have two key advantages over adults. They are:
a) Kids are like “blank slates” without any bad linguistic habits yet.
b) Kids are wholly unafraid of making idiots of themselves, (remember?).
Kids’ lack of bad habits means they quickly learn to mimic the local pronunciation, which is what first gives them their pitch-perfect pronunciation (sometimes even a local accent). This can create the illusion of fluency, but kids are actually still struggling with the language more than you know. Don’t forget that your kids will study their own native language for up to 13 years in school and possibly never master it to a pleasing degree. What makes you so sure they’re so fluent in a second?
Adults, on the other hand, are held back by their common fear of making themselves look silly through mistakes. None of us like to look a fool. It prevents us from progressing in a language, which makes it look as though we are slower at learning than younger children, who do not get held back in this way. If we can get over our fears, then our own better-developed senses of logic and discipline actually make us far superior learners.
🌏 Living in a country is the only way to reach fluency
Are you having online classes with a native speaker? Are you making use of great smartphone apps, social media and other resources? You might be thinking to yourself that you’ll learn enough to get by, but won’t ever become truly fluent until you can move to a country with your target language. Does that sound right?
If this sounds like you, we have news for you — obviously, this one's not true! While language learners in decades past did have to rely on immersion to gain fluency, we are luckier in 2020. Access to the internet and seemingly infinite free and affordable learning resources has made fluency achievable to literally any learner, wherever they are.
Regardless of your situation, you should always try to find opportunity for at least one hour per week of talking time with a native speaker. That single hour can help lock in so much of what you have learned prior to that during the week.
🧬 "I don't have the language learning gene"
To not have the so-called “language-learning gene” is to admit to beings something other than a human being! All of us are built with the innate ability to acquire and use language. How do you think you acquired your mother tongue? By accident?
Your language skills are no joke. You spent your formative years in infancy, childhood and adolescence in a constant receptive state. This has steadily increased your language ability in your mother tongue to the place that it’s in now. There’s absolutely nothing stopping you from doing that with a second language. Same biological hardware, new project!
🎉 Get started!
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