Learning a new language is a challenging, yet rewarding experience. It is a journey that requires language students to overcome hurdle after hurdle as we attempt to reach the finish line. Even those with “an ear for languages” are faced with setbacks that can make fluency seem far out of reach. There is a world of resources out there regarding how to become fluent quickly and efficiently, however, these resources neglect the most important aspect of language learning: patience. In other words, the key to learning a language lies not only in our study habits, but also in rewarding ourselves for every achievement we make along the way.
As a novice language student, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the plethora of new information that must be learned in order to become fluent. When starting from the beginning, we are faced with the daunting task of memorizing new vocabulary and mastering grammar rules (exceptions included) all while maintaining confidence in our ability to do so. Being a language student myself, I have come to understand the significance of appreciating all accomplishments, no matter how small.
For instance, as a study abroad student in Spain, I was tremendously overwhelmed by all the conversations I could not understand and frustrated by all the words I did not yet know. However, it wasn’t until I reflected upon my experience and recalled everything that I could communicate, that I recognized the importance of being proud of those accomplishments. Although the amount I could communicate paled in comparison to everything I did not know, there was still an amount of progress that I allowed myself to take pride in. I reminded myself that there was a time when I couldn’t speak a word of Spanish, therefore, I should be proud of everything I had learned.
When encountering a task as long-winded as becoming fluent in another language, having patience with ourselves is the key to not becoming too overwhelmed and continuing to strive for success. Rather than focusing on all that we have not learned, we must learn to focus on all that we have learned. While studying a language there is no mistake we can make that won’t help us learn. Reminding ourselves to learn from those mistakes and to take pride in the small victories is essential to surviving the road to fluency.