Learning a language: 5 Psychological reasons why you are struggling

Nov 8, 2023Anxiety, Counselling, Hypnotherapy Information and Advice, Information, Stress

Learning a language: 5 Psychological reasons why you are struggling

learning to speak a language

Hiya, I’m Linda Witchell. As someone specialising in helping people change their minds to feel better, I have witnessed many people who want to learn a language give up, not because they don’t want to do it anymore but because they feel demotivated and lack confidence and self-belief.

Today, I want to discuss a topic you may not have considered before– the challenges of learning a second language.

So you might be a teacher, a business person, or someone who wants to go on holiday to a place where few people speak English. Whoever you are, if you desire to learn a second language, there are many benefits.

They include:

  • Getting to know more people and their culture.
  • Travelling to new places and not getting stuck in restaurants, travelling or in difficult situations.
  • Improving your attention and brain function.
  • Increasing business opportunities.

Yet some people continue to struggle when learning a language. I often think about the brain like a puzzle; sometimes, the pieces need guidance to think and behave in specific ways. Through my journey in hypnotherapy, counselling and coaching, I’ve discovered that our mindset plays a massive role.

So, let’s explore five psychological reasons behind these challenges.

1. Fear of making mistakes in language learning.

Fear prevents us from doing many things, yet we also need it to protect ourselves from harm. For example, it’s natural to be frightened of fire because we can seriously damage ourselves. Fear is a survival mechanism, but it  also relies on experiences we collect over the years to reinforce caution.

Remember when you were a child and were afraid of getting an answer wrong in class? Maybe you feared being rejected by your classmates as being part of the ‘in gang’ is essential as a young person. You didn’t want to appear stupid because people would laugh at you.

Unfortunately, this fear can carry into adulthood. Yet you know as an adult that we all make mistakes, which helps us learn.

Even famous people have made mistakes before they became a celebrity. We are not perfectionists but can be good at language learning with commitment and perseverance.

‘Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.’ Salvador Dali.

In a similar situation, when learning a new language, we sometimes fear making mistakes in front of others. But you can build confidence and overcome this fear with the right mindset and support because it’s not helpful.

2. Self-limiting beliefs prevent you from learning a language.

A self-limiting belief is something we tell ourselves that is untrue. We do this because we believe it is true, but the subconscious belief is wrong. An example of learning a second language might lead us to think-  “I’m just not good at languages”? I’ve heard many people say this, but we can all learn languages. We did it as a child.

A self-limiting belief can lead to procrastination as we think it’s too hard. You might tell yourself you don’t have enough time to learn a language today, so that you will do it tomorrow. Or you might think you are not clever enough to learn a second language, yet we all can with consistency and hard work.

Although that tiny voice says you can’t do something, you can learn to change that voice! Counselling, hypnotherapy and coaching can help you change these negative thoughts with positive ones.

3. Lack of confidence in speaking the language.

If you don’t feel confident in your abilities or uncertain about yourself, you worry about other people’s opinions. You feel judged when you lack confidence, which can prevent you from pronouncing the language.

This worry has a knock-on effect as the more you lack confidence and fear being judged, the more you try to convince yourself that you are no good at languages. It becomes a cycle of negative thinking, negative feelings and avoidance.

4. Stress and Anxiety holding you back.

I have been working with people with stress and anxiety for many years now, so I know that stress and anxiety play a part in many things we want to do.

So, are you feeling stressed or anxious? These feelings can act like a wall, blocking the learning path. When our minds are filled with worries, absorbing new information is challenging.

The answer is to identify and remove any stressors and reduce anxiety. Thankfully, tools like hypnotherapy can help break down this wall and clear the path for smooth learning.

5. Lack of Motivation to continue language learning.

When you start learning a second language, it can feel exciting, and you go out of your way to learn. You put lots of time into studying, but sometimes, the excitement we initially think about learning can start to fade. When we lack motivation, everything seems ten times harder. By understanding our deep-rooted reasons for wanting to learn and adjusting our mindset, we can renew that spark of motivation.

If you keep overthinking and questioning yourself by saying:  “Did I say that right? Was my accent okay?” It makes us doubt our abilities and recheck or give up. On the other hand, a calm and focused mind, which counselling and hypnotherapy can help achieve, makes learning more enjoyable and effective.

Of course, you still need to study, whether it’s by using apps or getting a good teacher.

Remember, every challenge presents an opportunity to grow. Whether you’re trying to master French, Spanish, or any other language, understanding these psychological barriers is the first step. And with the combination of hypnotherapy, counselling, and the right mindset, you’re well on your way to becoming a confident multilingual speaker!

If you want to let go of stress, anxiety, fears and self-limiting beliefs, I would like to help. Visit my website, www.awakenthechange.com or contact me for a free initial consultation and learn more.

Awaken the Change is about Focusing Minds for Positive Results

Awaken the Change is a self-help service providing education and information.

Linda sees clients at her practice in Bournemouth, in the UK. She is also happy to provide online help via webcam for hypnotherapy, counselling and supervision. Counselling and supervision can also be provided by telephone.

Linda is an accredited trainer and supervisor.

Linda Witchell
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