Existential Psychology

Gift For Language

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What keeps a lot of people from learning a second language is their own entrenched belief that they lack the gift for language acquisition. But this is a rationalization, an easy excuse that’s accepted without too much push back. If this sounds familiar, realize that you do have the gift for language. How do I know? Because you’re reading this post right now.

The real problem is that you might be operating under the false assumption that learning a second language should be easy. This is because speaking your first language has become easy for you. But it wasn’t always easy, you just don’t remember the painful, laborious process of learning to speak it when you were a young child. It was challenging, but luckily you didn’t know any better, your fragile ego wasn’t all wrapped up in what you were doing, so you just kept pushing, you kept working to form those words, to express your thoughts, despite the countless failures along the way.

From our existential point of view the same rules apply for learning a second language as apply for any other endeavor. The process starts with the decision to keep going no matter what, the decision that you’re going to leave your ego at the door and keep at it despite the frustration and embarrassment that often arise from not being able to express yourself very well.

If you can speak one language you can speak another. It’s as simple as that. But everybody has to pass through the fire to get there. When you hear someone speaking a second language effortlessly you may assume that they’re endowed with some gift that you lack. But it took countless hours to develop that gift, it took blood, sweat, and tears. If you were to view this person’s book collection, for example, you would probably note many books in that second language, all of them read cover to cover. It’s no accident that people become good at a second language. It’s the result of focused activity. You have to accept that learning a second language shouldn’t be easy, that like with anything worthwhile it will take time and effort. But if you really want it, if you really really want it, and you make the firm decision that you’re not going to stop working at it no matter what, you’ll eventually become fluent and then it will be others who wish they had your gift for language acquisition.