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When I tell people which languages I speak, which one I’m currently learning and which I want to learn, they tell me that I must be “good” at learning languages, as if some magician gifted a talent to me.
It still surprises me because until a year ago I thought that I was bad at learning languages, that my memory wasn’t good enough and that fluency was a pipe dream.
Something most people don’t know is that I studied Mandarin on and off for several years, and I still couldn’t speak it, so when I decided to learn Italian and I became fluent, I thought that some magical interference had taken place.
I know that you feel like being able to hold conversations in Italian is as good as it’s going to get.
I know that you’re frustrated by all of the words you learned that leak out of your memory.
I know that you didn’t realize learning a language on your own was going to be this difficult.
But these frustrations could be alleviated if you realized that you’re telling yourself lies.
Four lies you’ve been telling yourself – and how to start telling yourself the truth
I have a bad memory.
Jim Kwik, a world-renowned memory expert, says that people think their memory is bad because they don’t know how to use it. Furthermore, “memory” should be thought of as something you do instead of something you have.
When it comes to learning a language, there are a handful of memory techniques that you can use to enhance your memory, which we’ll talk about in the five-week Italian Language Studio. I’ll also give you one technique on the 21st that you can put to use right away.
I’m too old to learn a language.
You’re on the computer reading this, which means that you have the capacity to understand what’s going on and have taken moves toward learning Italian.
So no, you’re not too old.
In fact, focusing on learning a language at a later age gives your brain a chance to become better connected (and have a better memory as a result) and lets you utilize techniques that are too complicated for children.
I’m confused by [something from the language], so I can’t make progress until I figure it out.
If you don’t understand, just let it go.
That might seem counterintuitive to learning a language, but you should know that people don’t learn things until they’re ready to learn them.
If you’re letting three grammar concepts trip you up, you’re wasting time.
Trust me, they’ll come back around and you’ll be amazed that you were ever confused.
I’m bad at learning languages.
The question shouldn’t be “Am I good at learning languages?”
It should be “How can I become a smarter language learner?”
There is no reason why you can’t be a linguistic genius.
Kató Lomb, a Hungarian polyglot, used to tell herself that she was a linguistic genius from the simple fact that she was interested, spent time on learning her languages and hushed the negative voices in her head telling her to give up.
You want to become fluent? Start believing that you CAN become fluent. And if you know that you need become a smarter language learner, then close the gap between what you know now and what you need to know.
If you’re more of a DIY person, start reading books, watching videos and consuming content from language experts and polyglots who’ve come before you.
If time is short and you want to be guided, look out for the Italian Language Studio, which you’ll hear about in a week.
In the comments below, I want you to be honest about which lie you’ve been telling yourself.
Only after that can you make the steps in the right direction.