Here is my argument in favor of learning a new language: every person around the world has done it! At some point, in some way, from conversations with parents and friends, following songs or TV shows, children form their vocabulary and start learning their mother tongue – naturally, gradually, step by step, year after year.

Nobody was born speaking a language.

So much for the tired excuse: “I’m not good with languages”! Recently, scientists have discovered that children are not really learning more easily or more quickly than us, adults. They spend several hours a day, immersed in the new language at school or out in the street, in a new country, working hard on their new skills, making mistakes, trying again, repeating and slowly going forward. Adults are more self-conscious and more critical; they get discouraged by every mistake, often have unrealistic expectations and, almost all the time, they’re very hard on themselves. Well, we, your teachers, have news for you: learning a language is a process. Make your mistakes – then the teacher will explain and correct you – then you’ll start catching yourself and correcting yourself – and fluency will come with time, practice and dedication.

It’s a proven psychological fact that we retain much more when we are interested in the subject of learning. Our memory is very selective this way. Events and experiences that have impressed us or moved us deeply are engraved in our memory, many years later, while we all have boring exams we have passed and completely forgotten about within weeks. Take a sports fan who knows every detail about his favorite team or player, plus stats and scoring situations, championships, positions on the field, etc. I could never remember that, since watching sports is not my cup of tea; but ask me about my favorite musicians, and I will tell you every album, every landmark in their lives – believe it or not, I know every word of every song of my favorite band from the time I was growing up (it’s too embarrassing to mention but I still like them), and I have won a bunch of contests and prizes because of my useless trivia knowledge, based on pure interest in the subject.

There is a huge, dangerous misconception about games, music and all visual media as sources of entertainment and nothing more. On top of that, young language learners are presumed distracted and unwilling to learn. Connect the dots, and you have the picture: if your students are lacking in interest or motivation, the reason is most likely boredom. The traditional textbook-workbook-pen-chalk-blackboard concept may be still good, but it most definitely is only a small part of the arsenal a language teacher can use in an attempt to make it a success.

So accept that new language as a new adventure.

Take a deep breath. Jump! The water is great.