I’ve been blogging about foreign languages for 2 years, teaching languages for over 12, and learning languages myself for 15. Through this article, you will discover the top 5 reasons why People Fail To Learn A Language, Reasons for Language learning failure and also some suggestion and solution to the problems!
Who wouldn’t want to learn a foreign language? It is no longer news that knowledge in one or two foreign languages is a wonderful way of boosting one’s career. The better part is that it enables people to view the world from a different perspective and relate with people and businesses in more advanced terms.
There are various benefits of learning a language in India. While which foreign language should you learn depends on many factors and very subjective. Whatever you choose, you can boost your career options in foreign languages.
Everyone wants to keep up with the accelerating trend of globalization and learning a foreign language is one way to achieve that. However, it is one thing to have a dream about speaking another language, but an entirely different thing to actually learn how to speak that language.
Quite a few numbers of people actually start taking classes studying from home, or taking courses on foreign language but unfortunately, most of those who set out give up before reaching their goals.
I am sure you have met some of these people. To be candid, you just might have been one of them.
So what could be some of the reasons why most people fail to learn a language? Well, let’s go down the ‘why’ lane; shall we?
1. A Flawed Curriculum in the Schools and Universities
Foreign languages are taught to college or school students, who take language classes because they have to. They take up a foreign language course in school or Colleges for six months to several years. After all those years of intense studying, endless assignments, homework and test activities, these students discover they cannot communicate in the language they have been learning for so long a time, why?
There is a strong reason and a lot of people don’t even know or realize it yet. The fact is, most public or private schools or universities, continuing education institutions, etc, operate a flawed, wrong, outdated curriculum.
How well do these classes work?
In one word “Terribly“. Did you or any of your friends learn a foreign language at school or college? Quite likely.
Now, can you hold a reasonable conversation in that language? Can you watch a TV series or movie without subtitles, or write an essay, or read a book or novel or newspaper in the corresponding language? Do they remember anything, beyond a few words or beginners phrases? Probably Not.
Why do language learner fail so badly?
Before now, you might have thought the problem is you when really it was the flawed and pointless curriculum that was constantly being fed to your brain that constitutes the problem.
Languages are treated as a subject to study, not a skill to acquire. Languages are not like other subjects, which can mostly be studied, or memorized from books. To know a language is to have developed a skill. You don’t need information or facts but develop a more natural skill in using the language. Unfortunately, this is not followed by school or university curricula, not only in India but all over the world.
Today, the majority of the curriculums used in most schools and language institutions lack three essential components of studying a language — the M.A.C. They lack the vital ‘M’ (mental comprehension), ‘A’ (auditory comprehension), and the ‘C,’ (conversational comprehension), which entails one’s ability to input and to output information in a foreign language.
Any language curriculum lacking these three essential components is just as needless as a bald-headed man buying shampoo for himself.
In India, Foreign languages are treated as a subject to study and get good or just passing marks, not a skill to acquire. The 4 basic and important language skills are Speaking, Writing, Listening and Reading. However, You might have noticed that often, across all schools or university or even in some language learning centres don’t speak their target language often enough. While reading and writing are important but Listening and Speaking are two most vital component for Language Learners.
It doesn’t matter how important, or unimportant, you think learning a language is. The current methods obviously don’t work. And everyone knows they don’t work. Why to waste so much of time and money on something that everyone knows won’t work?
2. You have very little or no time to learn the language
One thing most of us fail to comprehend is that learning a whole new language is never going to be like a walk in the park. The earlier you realize this, the better your chances of success. Learning a language takes time, and enough of it must be dedicated to it. This is one area in which most people fail to measure up adequately.
Few things in language learning simply take time and unfortunately there is no shortcut, at least not in my knowledge. Remember: A language quickly learned is a language quickly lost. If you follow “slow and steady wins the race” and pursue language journey at a steadier pace for a longer period of time. Not only you will learn the language but also retention will be staggering high.
How Long Does It Take to Learn a Language?
Mastering any foreign language is never easy. It is a complex system and it’s going to take a lot of time, focus, dedication, effort, persistence, patience and discipline. One would be surprised to know that a significant majority give up after Beginner’s level or Lower-Intermediate level. Don’t start studying if you cannot devout next few years. You can read more at How long does it take to learn a language?
How many people will get up early in the morning or sometime at night to study for at least an hour? “Oh, my schedule is very tight, I can’t find enough time to study.” If this is one of your numerous excuses, know you have already plan to fail, and eventually, you will throw in the towel.
Regular Practice, not talent, is the key to success
When you are free or well relaxed and empty, try to study. Not only it will good for your brain but also make sure you are making use of your dead time to study. Even if it is just 30 minutes you were able to squeeze out from your schedule, make judicious use of it in studying.
It is incredibly important that you practice it regularly and not once in a week or when you have the time. Repetition strategy and consistent practice are essential ingredients in acquiring a new language skill. Pursuing language courses for a few months has no real life advantage or any job opportunities anywhere. There is no shortcut to success.
Read — (i) Advantages of Learning a Language (ii) Career as Translator and Interpreter (iii) Careers Involving Languages (iv) Language Courses in Embassies (v) French Vs Spanish Vs German? (vi) Mandarin Chinese, Japanese or Korean? (vii) Which Language to Learn? (viii) Top 10 Languages (ix) Language Teaching Techniques (x) Language Proficiency Tests (xi) Career as Language Teacher (xii) High-Paying Language Jobs
3. You lack motivation, interest & passion to study language
One of the major reasons why most people fail to achieve success in learning a language is because they lack the right or proper motivation. Someone might have told you that taking classes in French will boost your career, and so you’re out to learn la Langue Francaise. Well, there is nothing wrong with studying a language to further our career, but it is not as motivating as having a passion for the language you want to learn.
Sitting around, with a career in mind, to learn Hanzi characters will never be that fulfilling as when you emotionally entrenched yourself in the language itself. The key is to link up emotionally with the language.
You have to fall in love with everything that has to do with that language — its culture and its people. This is the best way you can become motivated to learn a language. Being emotional about the language will allow you to persevere and scale through whatever hurdles it contains. In short, Learn the language you love!
Why Passion and Motivation are everything in language learning?
I certainly get a sense of pleasure and joy when I think about all the languages I could learn. There is certainly a feel-good factor at least for me. I personally have never learned any language only because I wanted it for a job or enhance my career prospect but I can understand why so many people do.
Despite the fact that I’ve made my career in foreign languages, it was merely an accidental rather planned. I did out of Interest and to retain & enhance my existing language skills. However, the truth is, most people don’t actually have a great passion or profound interest in learning languages like some of us do.
It may be because our education system is all about getting a job, employability & career success rather identify and pursue the passion, interest and hobbies. Unfortunately, our education system promotes rat race. In almost all college campuses it has become a very common that every student is interested in a getting a high-paying job.
Wait…..Why I’m talking about passion & Interest when this topic is all about Reasons why people fail in Language Learning? Because no matter how hard you tried or try, the key factors that define these people are that their passion for language learning is low or negligible.
Passion is the energy that keeps us going. Motivation and passion are everything as far as language learning is concerned. In addition, there is little correlation between people’s salaries and their job satisfaction. Doing what you love and feeling passionate about your work what matters at the end of the day.
If you don’t want to work hard to learn any foreign language then it’s most likely not for you. If you don’t work hard, you won’t get good. However, if you truly enjoy what you do then even when you have to work hard, you won’t feel like you’re working hard. Do you feel like you work hard?
4. Procrastination and inability to define your language goals
Procrastination is the thief of time, and if you are the type that believes someone else has found the solution to all your language learning challenges, you will never be inspired to search, find and get started with the right materials.
So many people find the perfect method, locate the right source, book, blog, youtube videos, podcast, but after amassing these materials, they never sit down to get started not to mention getting beyond the first page. When you keep procrastinating, you will never come close to achieving your goals, even as you keep rotating in the ‘failure’ corridor.
Another reason why you fail to learn a foreign language is your inability to define your goals. If you don’t know or can’t tell where you are heading, how will you ever get there? There is a whole lot of things to learn in a language, but not all of it you need.
You have to determine the quickest part to success by employing SMART goal-setting — whatever that means to you. But in all that you do when defining your goals, always remember that speed, not haste, is the child of timeliness.
5. Wasting time looking for the perfect method or technique
Have you tried to find “What is the best language teaching method?” or “what is a great language learning app? or “any magical book or other language learning techniques?
People look for quick, easy fixes to problems that they have to face. This isn’t something that can be rushed. The last thing you should be wasting your time on is endlessly searching and researching to see which one of us has that one perfect language learning approaches or method. There is no perfect technique for you.
Successful and effective language learners know that there’s no silver bullet to language learning, so they don’t waste time searching for it. Stop wasting time and get busy using your language, and adapt your learning approach to the challenges that you face!
Final thought – The Conclusion
Learning a foreign language is not a rocket science, but the approach and mindset that you employ will go a long way in determining how successful the outcome will be for you. Put the above tips or suggestion to use and enjoy your new language learning.
Avoid the mistake made by others and you will soon find out how relatively easy it is to learn a new language. My views are not based on hearsay or anecdotal evidence, but my own personal experience and interaction with thousand of students over the past 13 years.