Language Myth #1: "I can't learn languages"

Dispelling common language fears

Virtually every time during my degree when I told people I was studying French and Spanish, I would get the same stereotypical response: "I can't learn languages" or "I just don't get them".

Whilst it is of course true that learning languages comes easier to some than others, that can be said of any skill different people have different natural aptitude and flair for different things.

In my opinion, success is down to two things natural aptitude and dedication. Let's translate this scenario to athletics for example take Jamaican teammates Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. Bolt clearly has natural ability for sprinting and reportedly hates training, whilst for Blake it is certainly his hard work, training and strategy which gets him closer to Bolt on the track. So when it comes to language learning, you have to be committed.

The other question I frequently encounter is "how long will it take me to be fluent?" To which I invariably reply, "How long is a piece of string?".  Firstly, what can we define as "fluency"?  Does it mean we need to know every word in the language?  Probably not; I'm sure I could throw a few English words at you that you haven't a clue about, yet as a native speaker you must consider yourself fluent.  As a teacher, the concept of fluency can be frustrating; it may have a different meaning for each person you meet. 

As with anything, the more effort you put in, the more you will get out. If you simply come to your weekly lesson and do nothing in between, you will still progress, but clearly not at the same rate as somebody who takes it upon themselves to study every day. This doesn't have to feel like a chore it need not be rote learning or grammar drills - I'll be publishing a blog soon on how to integrate fun language learning techniques into your everyday routine. 

One to one sessions with a private tutor will obviously also go a long way to helping you succeed... consider this... in a classroom of 30 people, each person would get to speak for just 2 minutes each in a 1 hour lesson. In a private lesson, the floor is yours and you are free to dictate the pace and topic of the lesson. Although you pay a premium price, these lessons will pay dividends in the end.