Success in all areas of our lives is what everybody wishes for, and most of the time we do not realise the impact that our beliefs can have on the results we get. Unfortunately, language learning is not the exception. What we believe to be true about language learning can even prevent us from even trying.

After all, what are beliefs?

They are perceptions, attitudes, past experiences and assumptions that people believe to be true. As Fishbein & Ajzen point out: “beliefs are a central construct in every discipline that deals with human behaviour and learning”.


People might have a pre-determined feeling about a language. This might be seen as extremely difficult or impossible to master. You might as well follow the opinion of the majority without questioning and this might constitute a deterrent or even when studying the language, motivation might be fading or nonexistent.

Foreign language might be seen as extremely difficult to master.

Past experiences

If your first encounter with learning a language at school was at best unpleasant and at worst traumatic, it is understandable that your approach to language learning might be of hostility or self-doubt.


The way you perceive yourself as a learner will be important when tackling language studies. The qualities you think you have or lack of, will play an important role in the outcome you will obtain.

The way you perceive yourself as a learner is important.

Do you generally see yourself as an intelligent, problem solving person who adapts easily to new situations? If the answer is yes, you will bring all these aptitudes to the table and you will find ways to “manage, regulate and guide” your learning process.

The beliefs you hold about yourself, your ability to learn, your personality, your identity, your perception of success, your expectations and preconceived ideas, all merge to influence your thoughts and actions towards success or failure.

Successful learners develop positive beliefs about the learning process.

Successful learners develop positive beliefs about the learning process, their own ability and they use effective learning strategies as well.

In studies undertaken by Horowitz 1998, Kern 1995, and Mantle ,1995 they found out three commonly misguiding misconceptions in language learners:

  • Learners tend to underestimate the difficulty of language learning.
  • They don’t know about how to learn a foreign language
  • They tend to give more value to accent.

Excuses commonly given by language learners

I have always been bad at language learning.

You must bear in mind that one past experience - in a totally different situation - can’t determine your present. Give language learning a try, and you never know, you might be pleasantly surprised of the outcome this time around.

I don’t have enough time

“When there’s a wish….”

You can always find time for what matters to you. If you’re struggling take a course in time management to help you organise your day better.

I’m too old

One is never too old for anything, let alone learning a new language. There is a myriad of benefits that learning a new language bring at any age and one of them is preserving the cognitive attributes of our minds.

I don’t have enough money

There are plenty of FREE online resources in almost every language of the earth. Your local library for sure will have language books for the most common foreign languages.

I don’t live where the language is spoken

It is by no means necessary. With the internet and all the online language forums and websites putting in contact native language speakers from all over the world, it is not difficult to book a 30-minute conversation on Skype to practice.

I have no ear for languages

It’s just a matter of training your ear to recognise the different sounds and intonation of the new language. The more you practice, the better you will get.

Rome was not built in one day.

My pronunciation is awful

Once again, practice makes perfect. Having an accent is normal if it does not interfere with other people understanding you when you speak. And by the way, if you’re that bothered, you can always hire a pronunciation coach to help you improve.

These are just a few examples, there are so much more beliefs and excuses that I have heard throughout my years of coaching and tutoring.

You must identify your self-limiting beliefs about language learning and try to overcome them, either alone or with the help of a language coach.

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