Updated: Dec 28, 2022
Learning a new language is a long process. Along the way, a person can become discouraged or frustrated with the development rate of their abilities. This is perfectly normal. During these difficult times, it's a good idea to take a step back, take a deep breath, and return to immersing ourselves in our target language when our batteries are recharged.
The purpose of this article is to help you with that recharging. If you are a language learner who feels down about your current abilities, or perhaps you just need a reminder of the language learning process, the five proverbs below are just for you.
1. Rome wasn't built in a day. Don't expect instant incredible results when you start learning a language. It takes time to build. It takes time to develop. It takes time to grow. You need to accept that learning a language well is a process. One that rewards consistent effort, practice, and resilience.
Don't rush, and don't expect to participate in complex discussions after two weeks of language practice. Don't believe advertisements that promise to teach you "any language" in 30 days. Immerse yourself in your target language on a regular basis, and you will develop your speaking skills and your confidence. Just remember that reaching your maximum potential will take time.
2. Actions speak louder than words. Do you always talk about wanting to learn a second language? Do the work that is necessary to make it happen. Don't just talk about it. Do it.
Many of us say we need to learn a language for school or work, but we don't take the necessary steps to start acquiring that language. We don't listen or read anything in our target language, and then we expect to be able to produce it when we have to. Worst of all, we become frustrated with the language instead of accepting the responsibility for our own lack of action.
Be kind to yourself, but also be honest with yourself: Are you doing everything you can do to improve your skills in your target language?
3. You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Mistakes will happen, and they're perfectly normal. You will make that delicious meal eventually, but you can't be afraid of breaking a few eggs to do it.
Perfection is many people's worst enemy. If you refuse to speak or write unless you can form perfect sentences, you will delay your progress and your skills will stay frozen. Overcome perfection paralysis, and know that the key to steady improvement is steady forward motion. Keep speaking. Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep listening. Learning a language is a dynamic activity, and we shouldn't expect every movement to be perfect. All we can do is acknowledge and accept that mistakes are part of the learning process.
4. If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. If you do something for me, I'll do something for you. Interact with others who are learning the same language. Teach them and learn from them at the same time. Help each other.
Yes, you can study a language alone, but in the end, what's your purpose? To communicate with others. Leave comments online and do not be offended if others correct you. Help those whom you see making the same mistakes that you once did. Language is a community activity, so find others who are doing the same thing, who can help you, and whom you can help in return.
5. Learn to walk before you learn to run. Start with the fundamentals. Take one step at a time. Do not try to use the past perfect continuous if you're still having problems talking about your daily routine. Your brain needs novelty and challenges to grow, but you should also be honest about your current limits.
Sometimes, your reason for learning a language will determine where you want to start. For instance, if you want to apply for a master's course in engineering, you should study the vocabulary relevant to your field, but make sure you don't neglect the basics at the same time.
As the saying goes, learn to walk before you learn to run. And you will run eventually...maybe even all the way to Rome!
Well, that's it. I hope you have found this article inspiring and motivating. I would love to read your thoughts on these proverbs and on the language learning process in general. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
Finally, if you enjoy reading and/or listening to these posts, please consider supporting my work by purchasing one of my books. They are particularly useful for intermediate and advanced English learners who want to grow not only their vocabulary, but their speaking confidence. Thank you for your support, and I wish you success in your studies.