Time to stop the negative self-talk when learning a foreign language!

“No matter how well prepared I am, I cannot utter a single word when the time comes for me to speak in English”

“I am sick and tired of people who are less competent than me to appear greater, even show-off at a business presentation just because their foreign language skills permit them to do so”

“Every time someone starts speaking English, I am sure I will stop understanding after the first five minutes. This is what always happens.”

“Every time I have ever tried to learn this language, something happens and I stop. So, this is going to happen once again.”

“ It is too late for me to start over and learn things correctly from the scratch. I am always going to have no basis on this language.”

“ None of the teachers I have ever met, actually understands my problems in this language, so they cannot help me. Almost all of the times, the material has nothing to do with my needs so I find no reason to engage.”

“None of the people around me understand how difficult this is for me.”

“ I am great at everything else, so I guess that one will be the thing that I will be bad at.”

“ I will never make it”

And the list goes on… Most of the adult students I have ever met are deeply tormented by these drowning thoughts. No matter their initial enthusiasm and determination to make it right this time, their hesitation and self-doubt don’t take long to appear during the very first lesson. Understandable. However, have you ever really thought that besides the potential actual setbacks that may have existed in your language-learning process, this level of negativity you feed yourselves with is probably one of the biggest obstacles impeding your progress?

  1. The Catastrophic Predictions.

Just because you want to feel prepared, driven also by your considerable stress in this, more often than not, you try to “stage” a real-life conversation in the foreign language in which you will have to listen, understand and then (God forbid!) answer. So, instead of preparing some useful expressions, the moment you design this in your mind you start forecasting all the innumerable accidents that may occur. All the potential negative outcomes. But not even a positive one. You are thinking that you are not going to understand what they are telling you, that you will understand but you won’t be able to answer or that the gaps between your answering will make the foreign people upset, leading them to stop the talk. 

What if, for only one second, you actually believe that, by this small mental preparation, you are going to be ready? You will understand. And if not everything, you will understand enough so that you can answer. You will answer. Correctly. Or at least with negligible mistakes. But you are going to be up to the challenge.

It is high time you reversed the negativity and believe in the best possible outcome of future situations.

2. The Mind Reading.

All right, this is a hiding one. It happens when you, under stress, feel that you know what is going on, on another person’s mind. And it is always something bad.

You feel that with any slight mistake, misunderstanding or hesitation on your part, the other people will immediately judge you, make fun of you or degrade their appreciation of you. This worry is normal up to a point. But not to the point that it is going to stop you from trying.

After all, why should you actually care what anyone thinks of your language skills? Unless it is your teacher (who is actually never going to judge anyway!). Always keep in mind that You Are Trying! That you are the ones going through the effort of speaking a different language so as to promote communication with someone who is foreign. Any sane person would never criticise this attempt. You shouldn’t care about the others.

Making mistakes, forgetting vocabulary, stopping and then restarting are all natural steps on the way to accomplishing a full conversation on another language. Trust the process and trust yourselves that one day you will get there. But it cannot happen by skipping these uncomfortable parts.

3. Guilt.

Guilt is when you feel bad regarding every mistake you did in your past regarding your foreign language learning process. How many times you quit, how many times you didn’t study hard enough, how many times you stepped back from sitting a great exam for a certificate and so on. You may spend the rest of your years thinking what you did wrong throughout this process. Or you can just stop. The past belongs to the past. Forgive yourselves that didn’t make it, stop searching for the reasons and move on.

This is a new attempt. You have learned from the past and you are able now not to repeat the same things. Trust your new mindset and think positive that this time it is only in your hands to succeed.

Stick to those tips to make your new attempt successful this time:

  1. Be realistic.

Know how much time during the week you will dedicate to that, acknowledge every small achievement and leave some room for unexpected inconsistency.

2. Be kind to yourself.

Be careful of your thoughts. Encourage yourself the same way you would encourage your favourite person.

3. Stop expecting perfection.

It doesn’t accompany learning. Aim for it but do not demand it.

4. Surround yourself with positivity.

During the learning process, always stay next to the people who respect your effort and encourage you continuously. 

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Comments
  1. Georgios Kosmas says:

    👏👏👏 dear Dora unfortunately I agree with your opinion! I’m thinking I have checked myself so many times with so much negativity of my self and this is probably one of my biggest obstacles in my progress/improvement… From now on I choose I’ll try to change!!! 😉

    1. Dora says:

      Then, I guess that this article has been written just for you! Acknowledging your negative perspective towards learning is the first step to solving the problem!Always remember that your mind will follow the guidance you give, so if you believe in yourself then this time you will do it! Go for it!

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      Thank you!Keep on reading!

  4. Ioanna says:

    It’s a difficult decision, especially as we get old, to start learning something from the very beginning! But this is the only way to keep evolving! This article feels really soothing for me, as I get veeeeery nervous when I have to speak in a language that is not my maternal.

    1. Dora says:

      It is natural for any foreign speaking person to feel nervous before speaking another language! Fill yourself with confidence, go ahead and every time it is going to be better and better!Never give up!

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    1. Dora says:

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