Given the choice, I don’t think that there are many people who wouldn’t like to have the ability to speak another language, whether it’s for professional purposes, travel or personal enjoyment. Despite this, there are so few native English speakers who actually make the effort to do so. Why is this? Below are the top four excuses English natives use:
1. Everyone speaks English, therefore I don’t really need to learn a language.
There’s no doubt that English is the most important language in the world and those of us who have it as our mother tongue should consider ourselves lucky. Estimates suggest that in between 1 and 1.5 billion people speak English as a first or second language and are at least able to hold a basic conversation. As 1/7th of the population speak the language you can see why English native speakers don’t feel the need. However, what about the other 6 billion people who don’t speak English? What happens if you want to communicate with them? By limiting yourself to English, you are missing out on thousands of opportunities to meet people and create meaningful connections. A good example of this is Brazil; estimates show that only 5% of people speak English, meaning that you are unable to communicate with 190 million people in the country!
2. I don’t have time or money to learn a language
This is a classic excuse that is used over and over again by people to prevent themselves from doing the things that they really want to do, and not just with language learning. But the impression that in order to get fluent in a foreign language you need to spend hours a day studying and practising is wrong. By just spending 10-15 minutes a day on consistent basis (this is key) you can speak a language well. Let’s say you learn just 5 words a day, you’ll have a vocabulary of around 2000 words in just over a year, easily enough to have a decent conversation! In terms of money, how much does it cost to learn 5 new words and a grammar rule a day? Absolutely nothing. Don’t have time to look for new words? Use the Immerse app and choose from hundreds of articles!
3. Languages just aren’t for me
This one makes no sense. So many people claim that just because they feel that they don’t have a “thing” for languages there’s no point in even trying to learn. Or they remember how unproductive and dull French Lessons were back in Secondary school and decide that the “language learning” environment isn’t for them. Yes there are some people who find it easier than others, but there’s three things in common that people who develop a skill have (language learners or not) – A can-do attitude, determination and a bit of discipline.
4. There’s no one to practice with so what’s the point.
This was one thing that initially held me back. I thought that there was no point putting in the effort to learn French as I had no-one to practice with. However, after spending a week in Belgium and realising how bad my French actually was and how much of a difference speaking the language well actually would have made, I tried to figure out ways to find people to talk with. Unfortunately, due to living in a small English village with no native French speakers (unsurprisingly) there was only one other solution, forcing myself to think in French. Thinking is truly the most underrated way to learn a language and despite being hard at first, you can gain a high level of a language very quickly. By being able to practice vocabulary and grammatical patterns anywhere and anytime you will be 10 times more prepared when you get the chance to practice your skills abroad!