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There’s a lot of failure in language learning. But then, how do you reach success without climbing on top of the failures?
I hate to break it to you, but even after you learn your new language, the road is going to be tough. Unless you plan on living in the country for decades, you’ll be hard-pressed to internalize all the various idioms and slang terms and vocab variants. Even native speakers can’t manage that – ask yourself, do you really FULLY understand everything everyone says in your native language in every context, ALL the time? Of course not!
You’ll have slumps. You’ll think you’ll never climb that mountain. You’ll give up for long stretches, then try again in a short, excited burst after seeing a movie with a cool character speaking the language and then you’ll slump again when you remember how hard it is. You’ll find yourself tripping over words you thought you knew, digging for phrases you thought were planted, hearing your accent burn your ears like a high-pitched squeal.
And that’s okay.
If this happens to you, first take a moment to feel sorry for yourself. But then pat yourself on the back because these are the scars of victory, my friend.
Nobody ever made a journey worth taking without getting a few pebbles in their shoes. And nobody came back with a story worth telling unless they got scraped up pretty bad. If there’s one great thing you can learn from language learning, it’s that learning a new language takes grit: the stubborn willingness to endure failure.
Grit is not an inborn talent. It’s a habit. It’s a skill. Like anything, it can be practiced and learned. And language learning is a great place to train your grit. When you succeed at speaking, reading, writing or understanding the language you’re learning, it’s because you’ll be standing on a mountain of failures. And you’ll never have gotten that high if you hadn’t fallen and climbed back up.
Be proud, fellow language learner. You share the battle damage of anyone who’s enduring a physical or mental trial; you’re toning your hardiness and flexing your fortitude.
You’re a language learner, and you have grit. So show the world what you’ve got!
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