Sunday, March 2, 2014

Five Common Excuses Not To Learn a Foreign Language – guest post from Lingholic


I don’t need to tell you that I like learning languages. I know there are many people who don’t like to do so. When I ask them why, there are some frequently repeated answers. It’s surprising these people don’t know each other, but I hear the same reasons again and again. I was very surprised when I found a blog called Lingholic. This blog has excellent articles that are helpful and I’d like to show you the kind of excuses the author encounters when he asks, “Why aren’t you learning a foreign language?” This article is based on the passage that I read on Lingholic (written by Sam Gendreau). I have added my comments to each statement. Also, I will give two additional excuses that I hear frequently. You can find Lingholic on Facefook as well.

 Excuse Number One - “I get by with [English] just fine.”

“This excuse is probably the one that sounds the most reasonable, and it’s most often used by native English speakers. The question that should be asked, though, is: 'How do you know you get by with English just fine if you haven’t truly tried learning and using a foreign language?' It’s kind of like asking a frog in a well to come out and enjoy the pond, and being told 'I’m just fine where I am.' Fair statement indeed.”

Maybe this excuse is frequent in English speaking countries. Yes, indeed, native English speakers are very lucky, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t need foreign languages. My native language is Hungarian which is spoken by about 15 million people around the world. It’s a very small part of the world. Nowadays, more and more Hungarian people learn and speak foreign languages, but there are some who still think and say, “I get by with Hungarian just fine.”

Excuse Number Two - “I don’t have time.”

“Learning a language is not very time consuming (you choose how much time you wish to allocate to its study every day, and it can be very little), and best of all it can be done from practically anywhere and at any time of the day. The second truth is that if you believe you 'don’t have time' it’s probably because you have some time management issues (we all do, to some extent). Learning how to use your time efficiently is well worth the effort, though, and it’ll allow you to live a richer life and do more interesting things, such as, who would’ve thought, learn a language!

Lastly, remember that consistency is crucial. Putting as little as 15 or 20mn a day learning a language will be enough to get you quite far at the end of the year. But be consistent, and do it every day.”

If someone considers how much time he or she wastes on other activities (such as watching TV 3-4 hours a day), it’s obvious that this is nothing more than an excuse for himself/herself. I do agree with the author. 15 minutes every day can help a lot. In my opinion, it’s better to work on languages 15 minutes a day rather than 105 minutes on one occasion (such as on each Sunday).

Excuse Number Three - “I’m too old to learn a language.”

“I think I’ve heard this excuse one too many times. Whoever came up with the idea that you had to somehow be under a certain age to learn a language should be fined

First of all, this excuse presupposes that you either become too dumb to learn any kind of skill as you grow older, or that learning a language is some kind of race. Both of these statements are obviously false.

The truth is that millions of people of all ages around the world learn languages. Saying 'I’m too old to learn a language' is just like saying 'I’m too old to eat bananas.' Totally unrelated. Yes, it might be true to a certain extent that as you grow older, learning a language might not come off as easily as to younger people. Hell, walking to the supermarket might not come off as easily as to the younger folks. Does that mean you’ll stop walking?

Language learning is no race or competition. It’s an enjoyable, life-enriching journey that’s available to anyone of any age, gender, and ethnicity.”

Maybe a young can learn quicker, but, believe me, the brain is the kind of thing that needs to be used in order to preserve its status. The more you use your brain, the better condition in which you can keep it.

Excuse Number Four - “I’m not talented with languages.”

“If you think you are not talented with languages, it probably has to do with your track record in language classes at school. This isn’t surprising because the curriculum of language classes is made so that it teaches languages in one way (usually through grammar, drills, manufactured conversations), whereas we all learn differently. It might be good at this point to mention that doing interesting stuff does help significantly in the acquisition of a foreign language.”

Yes, it’s true. I mentioned earlier that in school I got C in English due to my teachers, poor methods, and bad books.  I have to add that maybe my approach to languages wasn’t appropriate. Later I changed my attitude towards learning languages.

Excuse Number Five - “It’s too much time, money and effort.”

Excuse number two mentioned the time factor, as well.

“Next, the money part. Yes taking language classes is expensive, and no they are not necessary. This very blog contains enough resources to guide you through the process of learning a language on your own, which can be done for very little money (or even for entirely free). Learning a language on your own is a flexible thing, it’s cheap, and it’s fun. I do it, and you can do it too. The language learning community is here to help.”

Partly, I don’t agree with this statement. Taking language classes is expensive, but it’s not true that “they are not necessary.” They can be necessary depending on your purposes, teacher, and some other factors. Anyway, Lingholic really gives good tips. I do the same, so please follow me.
“Finally, learning a language WILL require some effort from your part. Living requires an effort.”

Yeah, it needs effort. However, knowing another language opens new possibilities. As for me, I worked a lot on learning English, and in the end I was able to spend four unforgettable months in the United States.

Any More Excuses?

“Today we’ve looked at five of the most common excuses that people make up to rationalize their decision not to learn a language.”

So I give excuse number 6:

“I am afraid of making mistakes and I will be laughed at native speakers.”

I will tell you a secret. Even native speakers make mistakes every day, everywhere. I lived in the States and I heard several mistakes even from native speakers. I’m sure I make mistakes speaking my native language. They won’t laugh at you, and you will be understood despite your mistakes. I won't tell you to not pay attention to your mistakes. Try to speak accurately, especially during exams (such as TOEFL), during presentations and every day life as well as you can. This ambition, however, should NOT consume you, otherwise you become too tense and in the end you cannot write or say anything. Which is better? To say nothing (you don’t have any mistakes, it’s true) or to describe your thoughts with some mistakes. The more you write or speak, the less mistakes you will make.
You can read the original article here. I recommend you to read other articles as well on Lingholic. Maybe later I will also return to this site again.

Hi Gardeniafly, have you ever encountered these excuses?

“As a language learner myself, I have thought of these excuses before. Especially the excuse about not having enough time. In reality, if you have the desire to learn a language, there is nothing that can stop you from learning it. When you're truly interested in something, you allocate money, time, and effort towards it. There are tons of free resources out there and many people who are willing to do language exchanges with you even (especially if you're fluent in English). Italki is definitely a great site to meet people who are in the same boat as you and who are willing to help. You just have to have dedication!”

Thanks for your attention.

See you next time.



  1. :) very great !
    thank you a lot Attila . .
    i like what your entry , it's very interesting as always ..

    So , i have no excuse about learning language anymore!

  2. Without a doubt, everyone makes mistakes. In my viewpoint, even native speakers won’t laugh at you, and, of course, you will be understood by them, despite your mistakes. Our essential blog may be useful: \ frequent grammar mistakes everyone can miss