Language Learning Myths #1: A Talent For Languages

In this blog series, we’re going to explore common myths people have about learning a new language so that we can encourage you to give it a try. Today’s post explores the idea of a ‘language-learning gene’—do some people really just have a talent for languages?

Making assumptions is never ideal. However, we’re going to make one, right now, about you.

That is, if you’re reading our blog or you’ve heard of our app, then we’re going to assume that, at one time or another, you’ve been interested in learning languages.

But you may not have started yet.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! There are so many people who want to learn a language but haven’t begun—and there are also so many reasons why that’s the case. Most of these reasons, though?

They’re myths.

Yup, that’s right, language learning can be difficult and time-consuming and uncomfortable at times, which leads to people thinking up all kinds of different reasons why they just can’t do it.

Language learning is often, however, also fun and exciting and freeing, so in this post, we’re going to bust the first of many myths that might be scaring you about language learning:

The myth of the language-learning gene!

Okay, so this myth comes from a place that kind of makes sense, especially in the UK, where the number of students taking language qualifications has dropped dramatically since the year 2000. There are definitely a number of different factors as to why this has happened, but one very likely one is the fact that, when you learn a language at school, you are in a group of people that have a varying interest in the language and also very different academic attainment levels.

Basically, some people don’t learn languages well at school, but others seem to soar through them, which can lead to a lack of confidence when it comes to this skill.

The thing is, it’s not so much that one person learns a language instinctively better than another; it’s more that one person learns better in a classroom environment. 

There are heaps of language learners who finished school without knowing a bit of English or French or Irish, but have then gone on to teach themselves (in whatever form that takes) multiple other languages.

Now, no one’s saying you have to go that far. Maybe you’ve had your eye on Spanish to maximise a sunny trip to Seville, or Cantonese to show off on a business trip to Hong Kong. The point is, simply, that you can learn that language, promise!

If you’re still in doubt, think about it this way: you’ve already done the hardest part.

When you were a baby, you couldn’t speak at all, right? For a while, you couldn’t even understand anything. In the years since, you’ve mastered all that, to the point where you’re reading this blog post right now.

So, if you’ve done it once, why can’t you do it again?

Plus, it’ll be even easier this time—you’ve got one language there already. That language will work as your frame of reference; you tie grammar and vocabulary and concepts from your new language onto it and, by forming connections this way, you’ll find you really can learn another language after all! 

But where should you start?

If you found that sitting in a classroom and learning a language from a textbook wasn’t for you, then it’s obviously best to start learning your new language some other way. Fortunately, there are hundreds of ways out there to do that, with more and more methods and strategies and tips popping up every day.

If you have a smartphone or tablet, then using our uTalk app is a great idea to kickstart your journey. With 150+ languages, we offer around 2,500 words and phrases across more than sixty different topics, so you’ll learn enough information that you’ll be able to get around and communicate with people, but not so much that you’ll be overwhelmed.

Our app is also flexible—you can learn what you’d like, when you’d like. As opposed to most beginner’s courses, which handhold you through topics like greetings, then introducing yourself, then talking about your family, with uTalk you could start with some basic words, then skip to skiing (if you’re planning a fun winter trip to Switzerland) or directions (if you’re going to take a road trip through Europe) or even business (if you’re going on a business trip to Dubai).

So, what are you waiting for? Download our app and get started with our free words (including hello, goodbye, please and thank you) today. If nothing else, it’ll leave you with a lot more confidence about your ability to learn your first foreign language!

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