Billions of us around the world are learning languages… and billions more of us would like to, but don’t. What’s stopping us?

Many people feel daunted by the prospect of learning a language, particularly when it is being learned from scratch. We often hesitate to take the plunge when we focus on the reasons why it is hard to learn, rather than considering the amazing benefits of learning a language.

So, it’s time to move on from some of the biggest excuses we make to ourselves when we consider getting started with a new language. While learning a language might not be easy, let us reassure you: there no good reasons why you can’t meet your goal!

Whether you are adding another language to your roster, or are ready to conquer your first foreign language, we’re here to put any worries at ease. Here are some of the most common excuses we hear – and how they can be quickly debunked to help you reach your goals.

Excuse 1: “I didn’t learn a language at school so it’s too late for me”

It’s never too late to learn a language! Of course, there are some benefits to learning languages as a child, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother as an adult. Being older means you can know and respond to your own personal learning and studying styles. Age offers you the freedom and convenience to develop at a pace that suits you and set goals that are specific to your language learning needs. And of course as an adult you will have far more exciting opportunities to practice your new-found language skills!

Excuse 2: “But my language skills are sooo basic!”

Great, you are in the right place! Do not fear if you are just a beginner in your chosen language. Every language learner starts from the same place and the only way is up! When beginning with Tandem, make use of our language levels feature to select your current level. Build up your confidence by learning a few useful phrases first so you can start making conversation straight away, and then focus on using as many new words as you can. Slowly, you will build up to full sentences.

Try using a vocabulary trainer app like Duolingo, Memrise or Busuu to help with your basic knowledge… but don’t be afraid to get stuck in with your language partner as soon as possible. You’ve got this!

Excuse 3: “I’m too shy to speak in a foreign language”

This is a valid fear for many people, who may feel shy even in their native language, but don’t let the fear of making mistakes stop you from putting your great new skill into practice! Think of this as a great chance to increase your confidence at a pace that suits you. Tandem offers members the option to practice speaking by simply typing – a less scary way to get the ball rolling! The language learning community is a friendly environment where everyone is learning. This is a perfect way to build up some confidence, and it may even aid your confidence in other areas of life too!

Excuse 4: “I don’t know how what to talk about”

No one wants to be lost for words, and that fear is massively amplified when you don’t know many in a certain language! When you’re new to speaking a language, a bit of preparation beforehand can really help keep nerves at bay and ensure you have plenty of ideas and topics to chat about. Have some conversation ideas jotted down and small list of keywords you are aiming to include in your exchange.

If you are stuck for topic ideas then have no fear, Tandem is here! When setting up your Tandem account you will have the opportunity to list your passions/hobbies and topics you wish to discuss. Topics range from members wanting to chat about ‘The meaning of life’ to ‘The best workout playlist’. This means that members can read each other’s profiles, connect with a partner, and discuss the various topics that already interest you. Trust us, once you get chatting, conversation will flow!

Excuse 5: “I’m just not a natural linguist!”

This has to be one of the biggest language myths out there. While natural linguists who love languages do exist, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for the rest of us. The trick is to find the right tools that suit you and your learning style and go at your own pace. This way, language learning will feel fun and not like a painful chore. Set yourself some clear language goals and a plan of action to ensure you stay motivated. With positive thinking and motivation, you’ll stop comparing yourself to others and be able to focus on making a success of your own language learning journey.

So there you have it: the top 5 excuses that we hear for not getting started with learning a language. It’s time to rethink those excuses and get chatting!

Making use of great tools such as Tandem amongst others, you may just learn something amazing about your own language and you will definitely learn something about someone else’s.

If you are new to the Tandem family, find out more about our community here.

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