We are an extraordinarily creative species, as is obvious by how we can find any excuse to keep us from doing something we don’t really want to do. It’s completely counterproductive, but it happens all the time. Excuses are what keep us from reaching our full potential.
You can come up with any excuse you like to justify not learning a language, or to justify your failure to learn it.
But in the end, they are nothing more than excuses.
When it comes to learning a language, when you justify not seeing it through, you are basically apologizing to yourself for failure without any real consequences to yourself.
If you really want to succeed, you need to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of believing excuses. Even the ones that seem legitimate. Joseph Conrad learned English in his 20s while working, and his stories (written in English) are still being used and reworked in Hollywood. He didn’t let excuses stop him. Nor should you.
I’m X Years Old. That’s Too Old to Learn a New Language
This is one of the most flawed excuses for anything. Dogs have repeatedly proven that yes, you can in fact teach an old dog new tricks. The old myth that you can only learn a new language when you are young is completely false as well.
I am nearly 40 and started learning Japanese a year ago, and I speak Japanese better than most of the high schoolers I know who have studied Spanish for three years or more speak Spanish. Learning a language has nothing to do with your age.
Older people also take things a lot more seriously. Your memory may not be as sharp as it once was, but you will be putting a lot more effort into learning a language, which means you are more likely to remember what you learn. Things like spaced repetition can help reinforce what you learn. You also have the added advantage of being more likely to find someone who natively speaks the language so you can start getting real practice instead of just class time.
I Have Too Much Trouble Learning a Language
Another way to say that is “I’m no good when it comes to languages.” A person’s talent plays a tiny role when it comes to learning. If you put the time into learning it, you may be surprised to find out that you can learn a language just as well as someone who learns languages fast.
More that 60% of the human population speaks more than one language. In some places, people will speak nearly half a dozen languages over the course of a day. Do you honestly believe that all of these people are skilled at languages? No. They put the necessary time and attention into learning languages outside their own.
I’m Way Too Busy
Between that and saying you don’t have time, you could excuse yourself from every doing anything.
It is the laziest and least true excuse.
Language learning can be worked around your schedule. You can listen in the car, read while you eat, and speak with a native speaker on your breaks.
Oh, you definitely have the time. Will you learn as fast as someone who puts an hour into it every day? Not a chance, but then you probably have that kind of time too.
Sit down and evaluate your day. How much time did you spend on social media? How long did you spend channel and Internet surfing? The answer is probably a lot more than an hour.
The problem is your priorities, not your time.
Make use of the time you have and actively put your focus into it. Turn off your phone notifications and eliminate your distractions. You will find that you not only have the time, you have everything you need if you just stop letting distractions prevent you from finding the time.
I Don’t Like Failure
Well, if that is true, you should already know that you can’t go into something with the mindset that you will fail. That’s pretty much a way to guarantee that you will fail.
Failure is what makes people who they are. There are, no doubt, instances in your life when you failed the first time at trying something new. Odds are that at least a couple of those things you continued to do any way. Failure is a lesson, not an absolute end – unless you let it be.
There are literally pages and pages of the names of people who failed long before they succeeded, and you know those people today because they didn’t let failure stop them from what they wanted to do.
You have to learn that failure does not destroy yourself confidence unless you let it. Keep trying even when you make mistakes or feel like you have failed. Learn from the process and you will eventually succeed.
I’m Not Comfortable Speaking the Language
This excuse is a tough one because it is very intimidating to speak in another language. You know you sound like a toddler, and that is very embarrassing.
No one expects you to come in speaking a language like an adult. Everyone who speaks the language went through this phase – they aren’t going to hold it against you. Most native speakers are just glad that you are putting forth an effort. Most of them have learned not to expect others to try, so you are already shattering their expectations by trying.
The best way through this one is to start speaking right from the beginning. You will make mistakes, and that is ok. You will learn from those mistakes and do better next time.
I Will Learn Someday, Just Not Here, Not Now
If you encounter this excuse, you need to immediately counter it with “When will be the right place or time?”
The best answer is the first time you thought about doing it. It is some time in the past.
Think about what you were doing a year ago? If you had started learning your language then, you would be a year ahead of where you are now. Since you can’t go back and start in the past, make the here and now your starting point.
You can wait forever for the perfect time and place, but then it will never happen.
You have all the necessary tools and materials at your fingertips. Literally. Your computer is all you need. Look up schools near you. Research apps that can help you get started. Look for discussion boards where native speakers are looking to partner up with an English speaker to practice English in exchange for learning their language. All of these tools are out there, making the here and now your best available time to start learning.