Amber Wilson is an educator and a technical writer from Everett currently employed as a content strategist at ThesisHelpers. She believes that blogging is the new type of journalism. Feel free to contact her at G+

Learning Languages: Common Myths That Hold You Back

Have you always wanted to learn a foreign language but find yourself giving excuses for not doing so? Well, you are not alone. Just like students struggle to do homework, many people struggle to learn new languages.

Majority of the individuals that struggle to learn languages give myth-based excuses for their struggle. Although more than 50% of the global population speaks multiple languages, about 20% of native English speakers are yet to venture beyond mother tongue.

Nevertheless, learning a new language makes communicating openly across the world easier. But, to learn a new language, you need to debunk common myths that could be holding you back. Language learning myths make the process harder and longer. This article describes some of them.

1. English is Sufficient

Some people think that everybody in the world speaks English and if not, they are learning to speak it. This is a myth. Only about a quarter of the global population can speak English even if not fluently. That means about 5.4 billion individuals can’t speak English. Therefore, to interact with the human population that doesn’t speak English, you should learn their languages. 

2. French, German and Spanish are the Most Popular Languages after English

A significant percentage of college students in America study French, German or Spanish. These languages, as well as English, are natively spoken by a global population that does not exceed 13%.

Perhaps, to understand this, consider Bengali and Javanese. These two have more native speakers than French and German. However, American students study them scarcely. That means learning European languages only leaves a significant percentage of the human population out of the worldwide conversations.

3. English, Chinese and Hindi are spoken in America, China, and India Respectively

If you intend to relocate to China, don’t rush to learn the Mandarin Chinese. That’s because you might arrive there and realize that Cantonese is the language you should have learned. If you relocate to Paraguay, you might live in a region where Guarani is spoken more than Spanish. You can also find a state in India where more people speak Tamil instead of Hindi.

Basically, we don’t live in a two-dimensional world. Means of communication and cultural practices are not determined by state lines. Therefore, before you start learning a new language, conduct some research. Know the communities that you want to connect with as well as what will enhance communication.

4. Adults Can’t Learn a New Language

Many people think that a person can’t learn a new language after their sixteenth birthday. This is a language learning myth. Although learning a new language is not as natural for adults as it is for children, it is possible. In fact, you can even find language software that is built for college and adult learners. There are also contemporary gadgets that translate foreign languages. That means you can learn a new language at any age.

Adults can also learn languages

5. You Need a Special Talent to Learn a Language

Speaking multiple languages is not a natural ‘gift’. Unfortunately, there are individuals that think that for someone to speak multiple languages they must have something special in their DNA. This is a pure myth. To learn languages, you must be willing to learn and practice. If you struggle to learn a language, it’s because you are not practicing it or you’re taking a wrong approach. It’s that simple!

6. You Must Study Grammar

Grammar is learned organically via mimicry.  You just need an intuitive grammar sense and that will not come from your theoretical study. Actually, if you study grammar theory early, it will slow down the learning process. That’s because grammar will stoke perfectionism fire. And perfection hinders progress. So, rather than focus on connection, pay more attention to connection.

7. You will Never Use Some Languages

This is a pure myth. The world is globalizing at a very fast rate. Making your resume unique is becoming difficult by the day. There are times when something extraordinary is all you need to stand out. What’s more, you will find many people that speak underrepresented languages in most emerging markets. Thus, you will work or do better in emerging or up-and-coming economies if you learn languages that are underrepresented.

8. Learning a Foreign Language is Too Expensive

In the contemporary world, this is far from the truth. The internet is full of resources that make learning most foreign languages easier. There are also modern gadgets that can act as your translators. A simple search on Google will uncover many opportunities for individuals that want to learn languages online. Thus, the cost is not an excuse for not learning new languages.

9. There is no Need to Learn Languages without Translation Technologies

You have most probably been unable to connect with some cultural references. The English that is spoken in America requires a relatively minimal context to understand. However, this is not the case in other places. Language instructions come with cultural nuances. This enables the learner to build professional and personal relationships with people that practice an unfamiliar culture.

To develop the talents of tomorrow and prepare future generations to work with different communities across the world, you should learn more languages. And apart from understanding the value of learning languages, it’s also imperative to be conscious of the learned languages.

Generally, learning more languages broadens the global conversation. So, if these myths have been holding you back, this is the time to let go. Put more effort towards learning new languages. You will realize that when you love the idea of learning itself, you won’t struggle the way some students do.