Everyone learns differently. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another. However there are two classes of personality traits that have things in common when it comes to learning a new language and that is whether you are an extrovert or an introvert.
What Is An Introvert?
Generally speaking if you identify as an introvert you will be a deep thinker, be introspective and feel uncomfortable in prolonged social interactions, but be energized by spending time alone. So as an introverted language learner the popular advice of ‘just get out there, meet people and start speaking’ may well fill you with dread.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you have an extrovert personality, you will love meeting new people, be able to chat for hours and feel energized in large groups of people, but find being on your own for extended periods of time difficult.
Is It The Same As Being Shy?
Absolutely not. Both introverts and extroverts can be shy. Shyness is a fear of social situations which specifically evokes feelings of nervousness and anxiety. You may have this too, but it’s important to know the difference.
It’s also worth noting that absolutely everyone can be apprehensive about situations that make them uncomfortable. And the good news is shyness can be overcome with practice and patience. Being an introvert is not something you can overcome, and nor should you want to because it has it advantages when it comes to language learning.
Learning Techniques For Introverts
- Manage Your Energy Levels
Be mindful of how much energy you have left and how and when you can top it up. For example, if you’ve been in a big meeting at work or had a presentation to give at school during the day, that evening will not be the best time to practice talking to strangers because you will already be drained. You will make more progress practising on your own from your textbook.
- Be In Control Of Your Social Interactions
Set these up so that they have definite end times. For example at a group meetup let people know in advance that you can only make it for an hour. That way you’re getting the valuable experience of practicing speaking in a real life situation but are not putting unnecessary pressure on yourself.
- Talk To Yourself
This is a key technique for introverts who are particularly wary of judgment. Yes it may seem a little crazy at first but it totally works. You will get used to hearing your voice form the new words and it will build your confidence for when you are speaking with others.
- Focus on 121 time
As an introvert you will probably find that working with an online tutor whilst being in the comfort of your own surroundings with a set time limit on the interaction, is easier than classroom based learning. Or you may have an introvert buddy that understands the struggle who you can practice with. Either way, encouragement and constructive feedback from someone you trust are powerful things.
- Listen to music and watch movies
Find some songs you love in your new language, get up the lyrics on google, hit repeat and sing along. Use your much-needed alone time to your advantage by watching movies and series’ in the language you are learning. Have a dictionary and notepad to hand and make note of any words or phrases that you don’t know and want to practice. You can even use subtitles.
- Do a Homestay or Language Exchange
Living with a foreign family for a language exchange (reciprocal hospitality) or homestay (a one way stay) that you have chosen is a great way to feel settled with the person that you plan to practice your language skills with. Choose the right host based on their profile, lifestyle and interests and then chat with them to make sure that they are a good fit with you. Practicing your language skills with somebody you like is always so much easier. Many end up making lifelong friendships with their hosts.
- Force Yourself Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Learning a language is also about pushing yourself too. And the bottom line is you can’t get better at speaking if you don’t practice speaking. So while this may not be realistic for everyone, go somewhere where you can’t escape speaking your new language. Not right away but once you’ve been practicing the above techniques for a while this a great way of getting to the next level.
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, shy or outgoing, anyone can learn a language and ultimately language learning should fun and fulfilling, not something that depletes your energy and fills you with frustration.
So be aware of being an introvert and work with it, don’t fight it. It is part of your personality and doesn’t need to be fixed. Accept yourself and get creative in your learning techniques.
Article by Lingoo, the world’s biggest language exchange and homestay club. Lingoo gives language learners of all ages the power to decide how they would like to learn and practice a language and helps teachers and hosts to deliver authentic language learning experiences.
This is a sponsored post.