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5 Challenges to Learning a New Language

You have been trying to learn a new language for a while. Download language app? Check. Watch local movies and series? Check. Listen to local songs. Check. But for some reason, you are still not progressing as much as you expect.

Now you are thinking: “Can I really do this?” “Do I not have the natural talent to learn?” “Am I just too busy?” “I’m too old for this!”

Don’t give up just yet! What you are facing is just a temporary obstacle and not an impossible block. In this article, we talk about possible reasons you are not learning a new language, and give solutions to overcome them.

You are not having fun

Learning a new language is supposed to be enjoyable! Many learners stop having fun when they start dealing with the more challenging parts of language learning - like memorizing new words or studying grammar. When language learning becomes more of a chore, learners tend to feel discouraged or lose interest altogether.

Solution: You can turn boring lessons into games! Nowadays, there are apps or websites especially created to make language learning entertaining. You can also find a study partner or a teacher to guide you through the difficult tasks. Teachers can use creative methods that make studying more motivating.

You are not using the right method

Not all language learners are the same. A learning method that works for one, may not necessarily help you. It is important to know what your learning style is. Do you learn more with pictures? Do you absorb more easily when you repeat sentences? Do you like discovering new words through songs?

Solution: At first, you can try learning with a mix of the different styles, and observe the pros and cons of each. When you already have a clear idea of which method works best for you, you can keep at it or devote more time using it.

You are not challenging yourself enough

Some learners experience what is called a “learning plateau”, or the part of the learning journey when progress seems to slow down or stop. Learners who have plateaued normally encounter problems expanding their vocabulary, speaking in the language or using more natural expressions and words.

Solution: Challenge yourself and dive into the next level! You can learn a new set words, consume more complex materials, watch shows without subtitles or enroll in higher-level language courses. You can also start talking with native speakers, advanced learners or your teachers so your knowledge naturally expands as you interact with them.

Your goals are not realistic

Many people start learning a new language with the goal of being fluent and proficient. Many start full of enthusiasm but easily give up once they reach the more challenging phases. Fluency and proficiency is developed over a period of time, through constant practice and exposure to the language in different situations. You cannot go from learning how to say “Hi” or “My name is” to understanding local movies and songs in a span of days.

Solution: Set short and long-term goals, and don’t forget to reward yourself for your achievements. Setting realistic goals will give direction to your learning. The good news is that some popular languages like Spanish (CEFR), French (CEFR), Korean (TOPIK) or Japanese (JLPT) have standard programs that detail lessons and competencies at each stage. Also, a professional teacher that follows the global programs could help you clearly map out your learning journey.

You are not using it enough

Languages are best learned when you use them!

Solution: Find creative ways of using the language you are learning. For example, you can keep a journal, find a speaking partner, sing songs or repeat lines from movies! You can also join classes and practice with your classmates and teachers. Even if the language you are learning is not spoken in your country, the possibilities of using it are many!

There’s no reason for you to give up learning! Difficulties are temporary but the rewards of acquiring a new language go a very long way!

Happy learning!