In today’s article, I want to tell you about the main cause of frustration in a language student and how to leave it behind.
I already said that you don’t need to speak a single word in order to learn a language. This may seem a little bit extreme (although it’s true) because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to speak, but I’ve realized that the #1 cause of frustration by far in a language student is not being able to speak or communicate the way they’d like to in any given moment.
Although I perfectly understand the fact that we want to be able to speak as soon as possible, we already know that the process just doesn’t work like that, and our output is a consequence and not the cause for our improvement.
All I’m saying is that our attention should be focused on getting as much comprehensible input as we can, because that’s what we need to keep improving and for our speaking ability to show up later on.
Just pay attention to the fact that your comprehension ability is always several steps ahead of your speaking ability. This tells us how the true language acquisition process works, that comprehensible input is the absolute key to the whole process and that our output is a consequence of it.
Because our comprehension ability is always ahead, we believe (because nobody ever taught us otherwise) that our ability to speak should be similar, and this is the point where frustration comes into play, because this is simply not the case.
Because we’re unable to speak the way we’d like to and nobody told us it’s absolutely normal for this to happen, especially in the early stages, we believe it’s our fault because we’re dumb, we’re just bad at languages…, and frustration shows up. But actually, all this means is that we haven’t gotten to that point of being able to communicate yet and we should continue to focus on getting as much comprehensible input as we possibly can. Nothing else.
The subconscious power of having learnt languages through the traditional grammar approach pretty much our entire life is so strong that even I experience moments of frustration because of that reason, and I’m dedicating my life and my project to challenging these absolute nonsense traditional methods and to communicating how languages are actually acquired. I’m totally convinced and yet I experience that feeling of frustration at times. Unfortunately, that’s how “powerful” traditional grammar methods are in our subconscious mind.
I want to emphasize that I perfectly understand the fact that we want to be able to communicate as soon as possible, since I believe that being able to communicate with people from all over the world in their own native languages is an absolute blessing, but we’ve seen how the process works and that’s only going to lead you to frustration.
Once again, we just need to get back to the example of kids and their native languages to understand how the process actually works. One of the main differences between kids and adults is that the former don’t try to speak (because of their lack of consciousness, obviously) when they’re not ready for it and thus they don’t get frustrated. Kids don’t force output, they only start speaking when they’re ready for it, and that’s the reason why the process works every single time with them and we all acquire our native languages.
Like I mentioned when I said that you don’t need to speak a single word in order to learn a language, I’m not telling you to keep your mouth shut or to avoid trying to communicate, all I want is for you to understand that the fact that you can’t communicate the way you’d like to in a given moment is perfectly normal, and that all you need to focus on to keep improving is get more comprehensible input.
As I’ve said a couple of times before, speaking and trying to communicate is a good indirect way of getting comprehensible input, because you’re going to get a response from someone, but please understand that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with not being able to communicate the way you’d like to in a given moment. Once you understand that, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to speak as much as you want, but I believe that forcing your output when you haven’t yet internalized this idea or concept is going to lead you to frustration.
I don’t want you to blindly believe what I’m saying either, what I want you to do is to pay close attention to the emotion you feel when you can’t communicate the way you’d like to, because I’m pretty sure that’s also your main cause of frustration as a language student.
Like I’ve said before, I still experience that feeling of frustration at times when I can’t communicate the way I’d like to (the traditional grammar approach keeps coming back to haunt us), so don’t worry if you too experience it. It’s normal because the traditional grammar approach is all we knew up until this point, but my goal is for you to start realizing that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the fact that you can’t communicate the way you’d like to in a given moment, it’s just how the process actually works.
But when you start internalizing all this and you trust the same process by which each and every one of us acquired our native languages, there’s going to be a pressure release, the language acquisition process is going to be way more pleasant, and ironically, your results are going to be a thousand times better and you’re going to be able to actually achieve your goals.
It’s things like these that make many people give up on languages, because we believe it’s our fault, the process must be boring, we need to study hard… That’s why I want you to understand that this is all false, that it’s not your fault if you can’t communicate the way you’d like to in a given moment, it’s just the way the process works. And I believe it's also important to understand how not to learn a foreign language in order to avoid those feelings of frustration.
Thank you all for reading this article and I hope it’s helped you realize that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with not being able to communicate the way we’d like to in a given moment. I believe this is the main cause of frustration in language students by far and I want you feel that feeling of relief when you realize that this is just part of the process and that it’s not our fault when it happens.
Have a great day and don’t hesitate to leave your comments, questions, suggestions... below.