Do you sometimes feel that something hard to define is stopping you from making progress in the language you’re learning? Do you feel that you’re putting in the effort but things are not working out as you would want them to? Perhaps you’re bothered by limiting beliefs.
Limiting beliefs are things that we make ourselves believe, and which constrain us in some way or stop us from achieving our true potential.
Let’s take a look at some limiting beliefs that many of us may sometimes hold. By naming them, you can take your first step on the way to getting rid of them!
1. “My past dictates my future”
Successful language learners don’t believe that because they struggled with something in the past, they will struggle again. They fail and make mistakes but they don’t let it stop them from tackling the problems they’re trying to solve again, and again, if necessary.
I used to think I could never learn German because I found noun cases extremely difficult when I was 17. That was when I was 17! Even if it was last year or last week, though, today is a new day and a new opportunity to make something difficult into something easy!
Never think that any of your past failures or mistakes will hold you back. You can be successful regardless of your language learning history.
2. “I don’t have the time”
Successful language learners don’t have more time that you do. They just make time (instead of making excuses). How much time have you spent scrolling down your Facebook feed without any specific purpose in the last week? How much time have you lost refreshing your inbox?
Successful language learners are aware of how they spend their time and where they can make efficiencies, and then make the time to learn their languages. If you need some inspiration, check out my post with some great productivity tips for language learners.
3. “It’s too difficult to achieve X”
Do you remember the time before you learned the first word in the language you’re learning? How ‘difficult’ would you find having a conversation in that language with a native speaker? Well, considering that you didn’t know a single word, probably quite difficult.
The more you learn and practise a skill, the less ‘difficult’ it becomes. Difficulty is in your head – it’s a perception rather than an absolute quality of something. Remember – nothing is difficult in language learning. There are just concepts, words and skills that you haven’t discovered or practised yet.
4. “Other people judge me”
Successful language learners don’t believe that other people judge them for their level of competence or fluency in the language they’re learning. If they did, they would be anxious about speaking, they would take fewer risks and, as a result, learn less and be less successful.
Don’t worry about what people will think about your level of fluency – they will most likely be impressed!
5. “I’m not naturally talented”
Do you have to be naturally talented to learn how to ride a bike? Probably not! Learning to ride a bike involves learning some basic principles and putting them into practice, and then practising a lot. Some people go on to become professional cyclists in the Tour de France and spend every waking hour training and getting fit. Just as some language learners go on to become polyglots.
Learning a language takes time and effort, and I really believe everyone can do it. Successful language learners don’t give up because they think they’re not talented. Instead, they identify the obstacles that are separating them from fluency and focus specifically on them.
6. “Other people find it easier to learn”
Everyone is different and everyone faces different challenges when learning a language. It’s true that what I’m finding difficult about Japanese is something you may find really easy. I’m sure, though, that I could find things I can grasp really quickly and you’ll take longer to understand.
It’s a massive generalisation to say that other people find it easier. Do you know what’s happening behind the scenes of their language learning journey? Maybe they’ve got methods or routines that you haven’t tried yet. Nobody becomes fluent overnight. It’s hard work – for everyone.
Are any of these beliefs something that you’ve ever thought about yourself? Share your experiences in the comments below!
P.S. You’re awesome and I believe in you!