4. Flush Out the Negative Thoughts Holding You Back
There are two soul destroying reasons why most people are afraid to learn a foreign language.
The most common is fear and lack of confidence. The biggest obstacle for the adult is the emotional factor. Adults have bought into the myth that they just cannot do it. They are afraid of making fools of themselves.
I have often thought this is the reason children seem to learn languages faster than adults do. They simply are not afraid of making mistakes and are not embarrassed when they do make mistakes.
The second reason is age.
A lot of people think they are too old. However, there is no credible evidence to show that the older one becomes, the more difficult it is to learn a foreign language.
This belief stemmed from the theory on “brain development” in the 1960’s that taught that there was a “crucial period” (ie. before puberty) an individual had before the brain lost its “plasticity,” making learning a second language too difficult. (Lenneberg, 1967).
In fact, modern studies have shown that even though there are some differences between how a child and an adult learns a second language, the older learner has many distinct advantages.
Did you hear that? You have the advantage!
First, an adults maturely developed brain has the superior ability to understand the relationship between semantics and grammar.
Second, the adults brain is more mature in its ability to absorb vocabulary, grammatical structures, and to make more generalisations and associations.
Third, an adult learner’s better-developed brain is better at putting together all the pieces with a more developed long-term memory.
Still not convinced?
To be successful you must have a positive mindset. Dwelling on the negative thoughts as mentioned above will only set you up for failure. Essentially what you’re doing is failing before you even begin.
Start by changing your attitude. Do this by focusing on your end goal.
Address your negative concerns by writing each of them down. Alongside each one, write down why that negative thought isn’t true. For example, you might say “I’m too old”, to which you would argue saying “My brain is better developed which enables me to absorb the complexities of grammatical structures” or “If Michele, can do it then so can I”.
Don’t feel intimidated. Don’t forget that Italians are amongst the warmest, most hospitable, easygoing, and open-minded people you will ever meet. Your attempt to speak Italian will only make you more endearing and you’ll be praised for your efforts.