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10 Myths You Tell Yourself about Why You Can't Learn English or Any Other Language

Here are some myths you may tell yourself about why you can't learn a new language and how you can overcome them.

Keep reading to find out how you stop living these myths and move on with learning your target language

1. I'm too embarrassed to speak

A lot of people feel this way. I have, too. I used to be too embarrassed to speak Spanish.

I was also too embarrassed to dance at my boss's parties in Peru. So I'd sit there mute, not getting up out of my seat except to grab some food.

Then one night after watching my boss's friends and family dance, it looked pretty easy. Maybe I had drunk just the right amount of pisco. Whatever it was, I was finally ready.

And I could dance! Cumbia, salsa, and more. Who knew?

I started speaking more in Spanish around that time, too. My accent started to improve, and I was able to have more conversations with new friends.

It's just something that clicks when you're ready. Only know you when that time is. You can try or not try. You can stay mute and just watch people on the dance floor having a great time.

Or you can get out there and dance. And have fun. It's up to you.

2. I'm not good with languages

We have an Italian student named India who felt this way. She had tried numerous ways to learn another language before coming to us.

She felt like learning new things was difficult and that she'd never be able to do it.

Now after 5 months of lessons one hour a week with her Italian teacher, she speaks Italian well enough to go to Italy on her next vacation.

I've had a math student who said the same. He had been told he wasn't smart with math, so he decided that was true.

It wasn't true. He was actually very intelligent, but he just couldn't remember the many steps to calculating the answer each time.

So he worked on it in many different approaches and finally his hard work paid off. He understood how to tackle math problems correctly.

I took a logic class in college. I was failing in that class, but I knew that despite my failing that the material had to be understood another way.

I just didn't understand how the professor was teaching. His way of teaching wasn't reaching me.

So I sat down with a philosophy major who lived down the hall from me. We spent a couple of hours together going over all the material.

I had to ask a lot of questions, but then the lightbulb came on for me. I understood it! And then I passed my exam and rose my F to a C.

Sometimes we need a different approach to learning. Maybe what we've been doing in the past isn't working for us. And we just need to try another way.

What if that's all you need to do to learn English?

3. I don't have enough time to learn

I've heard this excuse more often than I'd care to. A lot of students think they're ready to learn and then they find that it's more of a time commitment than they had expected.

I'm not sure if they thought learning a new language would be easy or if it just wouldn't take as much time as it does.

That's ok. Sometimes we find that learning a new language isn't our priority at that moment and we're not able to make time for it.

But if it is our priority, we will find the time for it.

I recommend setting aside 10 to 20 minutes a day reviewing what you learned in the previous lesson. You can:

Review your notes from past lessons.

Watch a video to increase your listening comprehension.

Message with a friend in your target language.

• Chat with someone who speaks your target language

• Read a short news article in your target language.

• Listen to music or watch a music video in your target language.

• Watch a movie or series in your target language

4. I'm too old to learn a new language

I've had students who are in their 70s learn a new language. My best student, in fact, was a retired history professor.

This student picked up Spanish the fastest I've ever had any student learn. He would analyze what he was learning and then he'd ask me thoughtful questions.

He'd always have his homework done and ready to go over with me at the start of class.

He went on a trip to Cuba with his wife and came back telling me what he'd learn there. He was just so happy he could understand and speak some with the people there.

I've had a few other students in their late 60s learn Spanish and Italian, too.

One of them wanted to learn because she was retired and didn't want to develop Alzheimer's like her mom. So she thought learning a new language would help her brain keep active.

You're never too old to learn a new language. Never.

5. Language lessons are too expensive

This happens to almost all of us, we look at our budget and we say we can't afford to invest in ourselves.

What would happen if you did decide to invest in yourself? Would you be able to finally work towards your personal and professional goals?

If you really don't have the funds, there are a lot of English learning resources available online for free.

Rachel's English for pronunciation

JForrest English for grammar

Business English All-Stars Facebook group for Business English

6. It's just too hard to learn a new language

This covers a lot of issues. It may be about a lack of time. It may be about a lack of willingness to study and practice.

It may be about negative experiences in the past with learning. It may be about having a place to take lessons or study and practice alone.

It may be about having competing priorities, like work and family, that would take time and attention and focus away from learning a new language.

The list continues. The thing is, you have to figure out why you think learning a new language would be too hard. And then try to find solutions. If you're willing, that is.

7. I need to only learn in a country that speaks my target language

That's a funny one to me. A lot of people are sure they only need to learn from teachers who are native speakers. Or that they need to go to that country to learn in that country.

It really places a lot of obstacles in the way of beginning to learn something new and fun. And that's unfortunate.

I work with two teachers who are the best English teachers I've ever known. They're patient, friendly, and thorough. They've helped students who were sure they'd never learn.

But they're not native English speakers. One is Peruvian and one is Italian.

They studied their butts off learning English. They know more about English grammar than I do. They know so many resources to use in teaching because they've used those resources before.

I place students with these teachers first because they're the best teachers I have and the teachers who have worked with me the longest. Students learn quickly and thoroughly with these teachers.

They're also excellent at teaching their native languages of Spanish and Italian, too. I've taken lessons from both of them, and that's why I know for sure they're the best teachers I've ever worked with.

I'm a Spanish teacher even though I'm not a native Spanish speaker. I lived in Peru and Mexico and I've traveled around Latin America extensively, picking up a lot of expressions and cultural knowledge.

I make a great Spanish teacher because I know what it is to learn Spanish from the very beginning. I know what it is to struggle learning the language and the culture.

I was able to write my own curriculum that other Spanish teachers now use to teach their students. I did this based on how I learned to speak Spanish.

Thanks to the internet, we're now able to take lessons from teachers all over the world. They can be native speakers, or they could speak your target language as a second, third, or even fourth language.

It doesn't matter the geography or the native language. What matters is how good the teacher is. How she presents the materials, how she makes it fun for you, how she engages you. This is what makes a great teacher.

And it all benefits you no matter where you live.

8. Learning a new language is boring

If you have a teacher who didn't make learning a language fun for you in school, then yes, for sure, it's understandable that you'd think learning another language would be boring.

To me, there's nothing more boring than drilling grammar over and over. Especially grammar that I don't understand in the first place, thanks to a teacher who doesn't explain it well.

But what if I told you there are teachers out there who make learning fun? Who mix it up for you? Who make learning interactive? Who include you and your needs in their teaching?

We're out there, I promise! These days there are simply too many resources available, making every single lesson a fun experience. There are games to play, videos to watch, music to listen to, and so much more.

9. I'll just never be able to improve my listening skills

Listening is hard. Some of us get really nervous and think we need to be able understand every single word that's being said. And then we are so focused on feeling that pressure that we lose the meaning of what the person's just said.

It's a terrible feeling, not understanding. And it's a terrible feeling that you think you're coming across as an idiot.

I had to learn to stop being a perfectionist. Every person going from not understanding a single thing to understanding most of what's being said.

All you have to do is relax. Focus on getting the context of what's being said.

And then ask questions about what you didn't catch. It could be asking the person to slow down a bit. It could be asking them to enunciate clearer. It could be asking them to repeat some words. Or it could be asking them to

I've had to do all this time and time again. Even when I think I'm completely fluent in Spanish, I come across someone using vocabulary or expressions I don't know or pronouncing a word I've never heard spoken before.

So I have to stop, relax, focus on the overall context of what's being said. And then I ask questions about what I don't understand.

It's actually pretty simple. It doesn't feel simple when you're first doing it. But it gets easier as you try this more. I promise.

10. English is too different from my own native language.

English is an Indo-European language from the Germanic peoples, so it shares a lot in common with the languages it directly comes from including German, Danish, and Norse.

Other languages have greatly influenced English through the centuries. Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Hindi, Yiddish, Italian, and Japanese all have found their way into English. The list actually goes on.

If you speak any of those languages, you will certainly find some similarities in English.

If you think you're ready to start your journey towards learning a new language, we're here for you. We offer group classes and private lessons in Italian, Spanish, and English, for both adults and kids.

Message me at or call or WhatsApp at 619-483-5874 for a free assessment. Get started today!


Jackie Donaldson is the owner and director of Amidon Studios Language Studies. She started Amidon Studios in 2017 after managing a language institute in Lima, Peru for six years. She's taught students from all over the world while living in Peru, Mexico, and the U.S. When she's not working or studying, you'll find her gardening, playing with her cat Frankie, swimming, baking, and exploring the globe.

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