What are the key frustrations when learning a new language?

Alison Wilson @ http://www.discourser.online

Noam Chomsky once said, ‘Language is the mirror of the mind’. However, he has stated in later interviews not to take this metaphor too seriously. Many of us have found ourselves in situations where we are unable to communicate our message or the way in which we speak and deliver our ideas are so much more limited than the way we express ourselves in our native tongue. 

This can be extremely disappointing and disheartening when learning a new language. Like, when we want to say what is on our minds or let someone know exactly how we feel but in reality our level is closer to an early years student. Sometimes, those gentle reminders of ‘little by little’ just don’t help.

Using a language in a sophisticated manner and communicating like a local are really the ultimate goals for any emerging student. But can we ease our frustrations and hasten our learning as adults. What are the factors and obstacles that prevent us from reaching our goal at a decent pace?

Is it Time, Cost, Ability, Attitude, Location or Accessibility?

Many people will tell you that you need to live in your chosen languages native home to truly master the language. I agree, to a large extent as you are constantly immersed in both the language and culture. Plus, you're speaking and learning the practical stuff. You will be speaking with new colleagues and friends and completing all of the essentials required when setting up a new base, finding a home, setting up a bank account, navigating around a new city/region.

How valuable really is proximity? Here are some pros and cons:

  • You move to an exciting country but just stay in you comfort zone, with other ex-pats who speak your language
  • Language classes can be expensive but often essential to nail perfect grammar. You may find yourself not moving at the rate you would like without receiving additional help via group classes or individual tuition
  • You may have a family or other needs that come before studying yourself, we all have different priorities which shift and change regularly. So, the benefits of remote and on-line learning can be felt anywhere
  • Inter-cambio - this is a great way to learn for free (or the price of a drink) socialise and make new friends. If you are shy and maybe need a relaxed social setting to get those neurons firing this may be a suitable option for you
  • Survival’ language skills, from a personal point of view this can be extremely challenging and frustrating but sometimes a ‘sink or swim’ type approach and attitude can help propel you along. My advice is to take control of a new situation where you may have to speak above your level and move with the discomfort.
  • Yes, it would be easier to take someone with you who speaks the language fluently. But, if you plan ahead for a proposed meeting as best you can, rehearse your questions and answers, you can always have your translator as back up or request a little help when needed. You will be surprised by how much you actually know and can achieve. Relying on others and staying on auto-pilot just won’t get you anywhere.

Learning a new language is a long, challenging, fluctuating, rewarding and sometimes both a hilarious and an embarrassing experience.

*This article is geared for those with English as a second + language, drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

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To be continued…


Courtesy CC AU

Courtesy CC AU