Busting Myths about Language Learning

“I can’t learn I’m too old.”

It may be easier for children because they are in a learning environment all day, where as most English language learners are trying to do it in an hour, once a week!  This isn’t nearly enough time to learn and so it’s not only age that might affect how much you learn but the time you devote to learning.

“I struggle to learn vocabulary.”

You’d have to live in a cave with no human contact and no contact to ideas- which is near impossible- in order not to pick up something from what you are engaged in. If nothing else your imagination would hijak you and give you random English words. You would begin thinking about something, and then having ideas and notions in English.  It’s not easy to remain without thought. Yogis are probably the best at it, but even they are not shutting thought out every second of the day. If you are listening to English songs, your mind will actively try to translate it automatically.  Therefore, yes,  we are capable of learning, however what is our expectation?

“I forget everything I learn.”

Why do we forget so much? We have to because we can only hold a certain amount in our short term memory and our long term memory is very selective.  We have to concentrate on what we want to remember, use it actively, remind ourselves of it with pictures, stories, and usage.  Then, you are always learning.  As a wise person has said, “It is not the destination, but the journey, you should enjoy.”

“I need to take a class and I have no time for that.”

The idea that language learning happens in a classroom is not entirely true. What happens in a classroom is kindling.  Think of a matchstick for what you need to know.  Stoking your curiosity by providing it information.  The most valuable lessons, however won’t take place in a classroom.  It’s when you need English to fill out a form. When you need English for small talk, or a presentation.  These words will be burned in your mind because you need them.  Unfortunately what the teacher tells you, you might keep 10% of that.  That 10% will help you, but you need to get yourself immersed in the language. Read a book in English, chat with someone on one of the many chat sites like Babbel. Make your environment your classroom.

“We use only 10% of the brain, so why bother. “

We use different parts of the brain for different jobs, but it has been proven this is a myth.  Depending on what we’re doing we are using more or less of the brain.  However, I believe in osmosis. That you can learn passively.  So why not have the radio on and listen to an English radio station and begin singing in English. Watch a soap opera or The Simpson’s in English.  Memory is unlimited  for complex mental processing when it happens in an authentic context.  A classroom is out of context and so rote learning happens and this is more difficult to retain.

“I have no motivation to learn.”

Motivation is a muscle that you have to train.  When we don’t exercise, we don’t have the strength to lift heavy weights, but if we train, we can make ourselves fit for the challenge.  You can turn your motivation on by starting. Try the Promodoro method. Set a timer and begin for five minutes and see how far you get. Usually, if you just get started, that will give you the momentum you need to continue.  Train your motivation by giving yourself a small reward after you have trained for ten minutes or just giving yourself a pat on the back.  Do whatever you have to, to make it easier for you to learn.  Turn on English T.V., buy audio books in English or when you’re waiting in line or the doctor’s office work through an English learning app.  Set yourself up for success.

Get started improving your  English! What are you waiting for?

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