When it comes to learning a new language people usually shy away from it claiming everything from lack of time and inability to denying the need to learn a new language at all. Let’s bust this last one right here – You don’t need to learn another language? Of course, you don’t have to – even the NEP 2020 has lifted the imposition of first, second, and third language in the formative years. Does this mean that it is enough to know only 1 language? You’ll find the answer here:
There are many benefits to learning more than one language. Unfortunately, many people realize this a bit too late and then they say things like “I don’t need to learn another language.” So here’s debunking some of the excuses that people give for not learning a new language.
FOURTEEN MYTHS OR EXCUSES FOR NOT LEARNING A LANGUAGE
Before we move forward, a word about learning a language online vs. offline. When you learn online, you’re likely flying solo. But when you learn offline, you will have a teacher who can correct your dialect and tone along with your grammar and sentence structure.
That said, there are many models for online learning that do offer one on one teaching. So if you can find such a course, you may have hit the pot of gold that offers you the best of both worlds.
With that background, here are the 14 myths we talked about:
You’re too old to learn
Indeed, language is easily acquired at younger ages. But it’s also true that it’s never too late to learn. For instance, it’s just as easy to learn at 60 as it is at 25 but it may be harder at 70 or above. A lot depends upon your circumstances attitude, and capability of course; but you should give it a shot nevertheless. Carmen Munoz suggests in Age-Related Differences in Second Language Learning Practice that while older learners find it hard to remember the meanings of words, they are more capable of sensing the grammar and deconstructing sentences. So yes, it’s possible to learn at any age – just not in the same way a child would learn – after all you have a wealth of experience to help you along.
With new technology it’s pointless
There are indeed many translation tools available and they are improving. That’s at the root of this myth. Online translation tools can help you get by if you are in a place where you don’t know the language. But will that help you blend? If you’re constantly – or even frequently – looking at your cell searching for words – or worse mispronouncing or using the wrong words, you’ll find yourself in an awkward position. Translation technology is not refined enough yet to give you the correct word in context let alone real-time interpretation.
So knowing the language is better don’t you think? Besides, it’ll look great on your resume and who knows it might be your ticket to that foreign job or deputation.
It requires too much time and effort
True enough. You’ll have to take the time to learn. But with the aid of technology and a little human assistance, you can learn on the go. Besides, are you really in that much of a hurry? If so, look at it as a welcome break from the routine. Besides, anything that you really want to learn is easy to learn. Yes, you’ll have to devote time and effort but that’s true of any upskilling so why the myth about language?
You can learn a new language in a snap if you have the books and app
Many apps teach you the language of your choice. And they’re not bad either. That is, if you use the app you can hear people speak – and try to imitate them.
So, if you have a friend who can help you practice, then using an app is a great idea. If not though you may need to join a tutor-led class where someone can correct your pronunciation, tone, structure, and so on.
You can only learn one language at a time
This of course depends a lot upon you. If you are trying to learn a new language alongside your full-time job, you might want to take it slow to avoid confusion and mess-ups. But if you are a student, you can probably manage both your course and study for TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and also study another language simultaneously. Again, some may find this helpful while others may consider it a hindrance. One workaround if you want to study multiple languages is to first learn one language other than your native tongue. This will give you a sense of the learning process and help you adapt. Then you can begin taking 2 or more language courses at a time.
You must have the knack to learn a language
While it is true that every individual has an inborn talent, this is not usually specific to any subject matter. Every individual has a special skill – such as photographic memory or logical ability – that helps them learn certain subjects faster. But these skills can be applied anywhere and that includes language. So the idea that you need a special skill to learn languages is definitely a myth. It is baseless – there’s no scientific provenance for this. Every human can learn a language – after all, every child does so from infancy!
You don’t need to learn another language
That’s outrageous! Ok, so you have one language and can get by using sign language. But think of a businessperson from south India who can only speak one of the local dialects. Will he be able to communicate effectively with north Indians? Let alone people from other countries? Of course not. Did you know that less than 25% of the world’s population speaks the global language fluently – or at least reasonably well? So, “it’s enough to know one language” is one of the worst excuses for not learning a new language.
You need a good memory to learn a language
Not at all! Memorizing is the worst way to learn anything – let alone a language. You’ll never imbibe it – only memorize it – and what you memorize you can forget. That’s a big difference. You never memorize how to swim or ride a cycle. You imbibe it. It becomes a part of you – never to be forgotten. So too, you imbibe your native language. It’s an inseparable part of you. That’s the way you learn languages and that’s why you need lots of practice – not lots of memory.
You have to learn to speak and write
That’s not true. There’s no compulsion. In any case, it’s always better to be able to speak before you learn to read and write. There are many languages like Hindi where you write just as you speak. You can however learn to read and write simultaneously. You can speak a language fluently without knowing how to read and write it. But it’s kind of hard to be able to read and write without knowing how to speak a language.
You can learn only if you master the grammar
Not true. Think again of your native language. The one you learnt as a child. Did you learn the grammar first? Language is not learnt by sentence analysis. It’s learnt by understanding. For instance, you don’t have to know that the word happiness is a noun to be able to use it. You just have to know how and when to use it. That said, you should know when to use happy and happiness – for instance saying I am happiness is incorrect as is saying there was no end to my happy.But these things can be learnt by practice. Besides, learning languages is an organic process that involves sound recognition. That’s why the same words said in two different ways can have two different meanings.
You have to be a native
No, you don’t. While it’s true that you will always tend to use your native language for thinking or processing information, it’s not true that you have to be a native to speak a language fluently. Just visit India or the USA. You’ll find many people who speak several languages flawlessly along with English and Hindi. So no, you don’t have to be a native to be able to speak a language – or even read and write it. All you need is practice – lots of it.
Learning a foreign language is a guarantee that you’ll go abroad
Just because you speak Japanese does not mean you’ll go to Japan. You’ll only go to Japan if you want to work there – or perhaps for a post-graduation specialization – or as a tourist. But when you do, your ability to speak Japanese fluently will help you settle and blend in. It might save you a pretty penny in bargaining too. But if you want to make a career using languages, you’ll not only need multiple languages but other skills too if you want to land a job. So while this one is not quite a myth, it’s not fully true either.
You can learn faster if you are intelligent
We believe everyone is intelligent – just in their own way. But being bilingual or trilingual is tongue-jugglery – which has a positive impact on your brain cells. People who can speak several languages are often problem-solving rational people who are capable of multitasking. Is that smart or intelligent? Perhaps both. So no high IQ does not equate better ability to learn languages nor does low IQ indicate an inability to do so.
You can learn through self-study
That’s partly true. As we said, there are several apps and books available for almost every language under the sun. If you want to give it a shot do so by all means.
But do remember that fluency is acquired only through practice. So while it’s ok to read or use an app – perhaps both – it’s only when you begin speaking the language that you’ll truly learn it.
Learning a language is only as difficult or easy as you make it. If you are determined to learn you can and you should. After all, no learning ever goes to waste. It will come in handy at some point – if only to convince your vendor to give you a discount – but use it you will. So happy learning. Meanwhile, BYN is here with an ear to the ground as usual. Don’t forget to sign up for your weekly update and join us on Facebook.