Category Archives: Psychology of learning

Image

The Number 1 Obstacle Preventing YOU From Learning A Foreign Language.

The Number 1 Obstacle Preventing YOU From Learning A Foreign Language.  (2 mins 30 secs)

What is this obstacle preventing you from learning a foreign language?

It is none other than the fear of being wrong. It is entirely rational to experience this fear, however, when it comes to learning anything, especially a foreign language. Being paralyzed by being wrong when trying to learn, and not taking action, can yield the exact opposite outcome, that is, not learning at all.

How can this be? You might ask yourself. Well, we can argue that being wrong is an essential part of learning. Being wrong allows us to get valuable input as the new information comes in conflict with the new one, out of this conflict emerges learning. As we replace the old information with the new one, we gain valuable insights regarding our thought and learning processes, which in turn could help us accelerate learning in the future. So without being wrong, there wouldn’t be a learning process at all.

When we run away from being wrong are thus unconsciously running away from learning itself. When we avoid being wrong we are sabotaging our learning process for the sake of preserving our egos. This begs the question, is protecting our egos more important than growing as human beings? The irony in all of this is that when we learn something our egos do get stroked. ( Doesn’t it feel nice when you have that ah-ha moment, and you finally get something?)

The fear of being wrong is nothing but perfection paralysis, don’t get me wrong ( hahaha), Perfection is a laudable thing. However hiding behind it and using it as an excuse for not putting in the tedious but necessary work day in and day out (while risking the possibility of it not working), is not.

Having said all of this, no one likes being wrong and looking like a fool in front of others, so it is only human to run away from that which makes us uncomfortable. For instance, this morning, when the alarm went off, you had to make an effort to get out of your hot and comfy sheets right? Just imagine what would have happened if you just gave in and stayed in bed: You wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do all of the wonderful things you were able to do and to meet the fabulous people you met and ran into today ( well, some more so than others). So that moment of going against your natural instinct of avoiding discomfort was necessary for having an overall positive outcome. Like Arnold said, “No pain, no gain.”

So, what does this have to do with learning a foreign language?
Well, when learning a foreign language there will be thousands of instances in which you will definitely be wrong, and perhaps look a bit foolish too in the process. ( What a way to encourage you to learn a foreign language? I know!)
New words, you will mispronounce them, use them out of context, mistake them for others and place them in a weird place in a sentence, however in order for you to learn a language you have to use it. When you are using a language, being wrong just comes with the territory, even more so when you are learning the said language. Nevertheless, you still have to go through this painful process, if learning a new language is what you want to do, especially if you are a shy person. ( See how I overcame this by ironically learning languages) The tipping point arrives when you decide that the risks of being wrong are worth the tremendous reward of learning something, in our case the magical moment you are able to communicate with others in their language.

(click the image to see the video)