Mindset: Its importance in learning a second language

Jun 28, 2023Other

Mindset: Its importance in learning a second language

Have you got the right mindset when learning a second language?

There are many benefits to learning a second language, and it can be very rewarding, yet many people find it difficult because they don’t have the right mindset.

So what are your biggest challenges to learning a second language?

For many, challenges include learning grammar rules, memorising new vocabulary, listening and pronouncing unfamiliar sounds and mixing with different people, knowing what to say and when to say it, tackling embarrassment and shy or awkward feelings, and understanding a new culture.

Could getting the right mindset make things easier for you?

In this blog, I will explain that getting the right mindset is important as it will help in many ways.

What is mindset?

So let’s start with an understanding of mindset.

Mindset is commonly discussed these days. Yet the idea has been studied for years by various researchers. But was developed further with the work of Carol Dweck. She studied the mindset of students and concluded that mindset is on a continuum from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

Listen to Carol Dweck here.

Mindset cultivates motivation and resilience. It’s about thinking positively. It’s also about attitude and optimism to learn a new language. A positive mindset helps us move forward and develop to our true potential. A positive mindset develops creativity and makes us feel good. It’s connected to well-being, strengths and defence mechanisms.

Research studies continue to explore mindset. Zarrinabadi and Lou (2022) argue that a mindset is important for learners as a growth mindset helps to learn and build resilience, but this mindset can also help teachers.  It also acknowledged that there is an individual and collective view on mindset.

But why is a positive mindset so important for learning a second language?

There are so many reasons why a positive mindset can help in second language learning. For example:

  • A growth mindset helps us to learn. But it needs a positive and nurturing environment and support and praise from those helping in the learning process.
  • A growth mindset is vital as it can reduce anxiety and increase confidence related to learning the language.
  • It can help view a challenge as an opportunity.
  • It will help you believe in yourself; your effort and practice are worth it.
  • Although learning a new language is sometimes challenging, building the right mindset can help you build resilience because you know you will bounce back when things get difficult.
  • A growth mindset encourages you to consider errors temporary setbacks rather than big mistakes.
  • People with a positive mindset seek feedback and accept criticisms more readily.
  • You can develop more persistence as learning a language takes time and effort.
  • If you have a positive mindset, you are open to more learning strategies to get you through difficult times.
  • It also gives you that curiosity to explore new ways of doing things.
  • A positive mindset cultivates positive self-talk, so you have a motivating talk with yourself.
  • It helps with goal setting.

So, what can you do if you find learning a second language challenging?

Consider your attitude.

Attitudes are expressed in the way you think, feel and behave.

Reviewing your attitude towards language learning and the challenges ahead will help.

Consider this, are you motivated? Do you really want to learn this new language?

Think about the first reasons why you decided to learn a new language. Are those reasons for learning still there today?

And also think about what you are doing now to learn that language. Are you putting enough effort in?

How will learning a new language benefit you and others around you?

Are you confident that you can learn a second language?

Confidence is important.

We all need a boost of confidence when we are doing different things. Some people need that confidence to get past something that might feel scary, while others need the confidence to achieve their goals. People who are confident when learning a language can speak to native speakers. They will be confident that they can get over obstacles and learn more.

Many studies look at anxiety and lack of confidence, but the good news is that confidence and a growth mindset can go hand in hand. Research by McIntyre (2016) highlights the move to positive psychology to help people focus not only on the negative aspects of learning a second language but also on the positive mindset that helps us to feel happy.

Reflect on your goals.

Ask yourself why you are trying to learn another language, the benefits specific to you, and your realistic timeframes.

If you set the right goals at the beginning and check where you are with your goal setting, things will be easier because you have a framework.

Finally, there are times when we need help to get the right mindset. Maybe you know how you should think and feel but somehow feel something is blocking you from getting there. If this is you, you should consider getting help from a language teacher, hypnotherapist, counsellor or coach. The language teacher may be able to help with shortcuts and new ways of learning. The hypnotherapist can help you to reprogram that negative mindset, the counsellor can help you express your frustrations, and the coach can help you plan your goals.

Linda Witchell helps people feel more optimistic in life.Hi, I’m Linda Witchell. I’m a hypnotherapist, counsellor and coach. I also trained as a TEFL teacher (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact me and look out for my courses to help you learn that second language.


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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