Every language learner’s dream is to familiarise oneself with the foreign language he/she is studying and conquer mastery at some point. But on the other hand, there seem to be a little internal voice in some trying to convince them that this is an impossible dream.

It has been proven that how we talk to ourselves influence our choices and outcome in life so, what is the right mindset for language learning?

How can we define mindset?

Mindset is an established set of attitudes and ways of thinking about things. Mindset can dictate how you view the world and yourself.

Carol Dweck published some research about mindset where she gives this classification. She speaks about growth mindset and fixed mindset.

Let’s define them:

Growth mindset is when people believe that they can develop their brain abilities, and people with a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence and abilities are fixed and can’t be developed.

Dweck proved that students with a growth mindset develop a love for learning, a drive for growth and are resilient when facing setbacks. For them these just highlight problems and issues that they will need to deal with and learn from. They are always in the lookout for new learning opportunities. They learn from criticism and suggestions and are always seeking to implement new strategies to improve. They act on the feedback they receive.

On the contrary students in the fixed mindset category blame themselves for their lack of progress. “I am not very good at learning languages” is their motto. They often try to avoid something new. They find it extremely hard to cope with setbacks and seek to blame others for these. It is always somebody else’s fault. They don’t appreciate feedback from others and are jealous of the success of their peers. They also seek to put people down.

In language learning Mindset + Motivation equals Success

In language learning growth mindset, paired with motivation, plays an important role as well. Motivation is the driving force that enables learners to make constant effort in order to reach their goals. Without it, even the most capable student will fail at reaching their long-term language goals. Hence the need to be constantly reminded of your vision: the end goal you are pursuing.

When you have a growth mindset, you are aware that you are on the driving seat. Even though some people may have an innate advantage, no matter what your natural aptitude is, you know that your effort will lead you to results. With effort you will improve and consistently surpass the set milestones in your language journey. This assurance will keep you committed and motivated in the long run.

Language students with a growth mindset always look for learning strategies that can help them improve (My blog newsletter is jam packed with them); and they look for the adequate solutions when they are confronted with setbacks. They find the right support; they invest time and effort in practising the language. They know they can develop their abilities and grow beyond expectation.

They crave feedback, because as previously mentioned, they know that it is an important tool for their growth. They cultivate a positive attitude to learning, they don’t give up, they try and try again until they get things right. Striving for excellence boosts their motivation.

How you talk to yourself matters

Be careful about how you talk to yourself, because it will influence your feelings and your performance.

When having negative thoughts say "stop".

Every time you surprise yourself saying “I am rubbish at languages”, or “I will never understand this grammar rule”, say STOP.

It has been proven that by doing so - just after a negative thought- helps you overcome the stress and the fear of not wanting to use your new language in a conversation and you will stop dwelling on the worst case scenarios “I will make a fool of myself”, “everybody will laugh at my accent”.

Instead ask yourself questions. For example, “How can I improve on my accent?”

This technique is effective because it triggers a call to action in your brain, and it starts searching for possible answers.

When you panic during a conversation and think that you are not good enough, repeat to yourself “you can do this” or “you’ve got this”. Research demonstrate that when you use “you” or your name at the start of your affirmation, you will feel calmer and you will be perceived as a confident person.

Cultivating a growth mindset in language learning, not only will allow you to develop a new skill but will set you for success in life when you apply this in every area.

“If you never failed, you never tried anything New”

Do you have a growth or or fixed mindset? Comment below.