1. The Critical Period Hypothesis
Some have said that if you don’t learn a language when you’re young, the chances you can do it when you’re older fade
The critical period hypothesis, as they call it, is not quite right. It’s true that a child can and does learn a language quickly, but it’s far from true that an adult cannot.
The brain is malleable, and changes with every experience, every new piece of knowledge.
Neuroscientists have discovered just how adaptable the brain is, defined as neuroplasticity, and it shows not only that we can learn at any age, but that we should be continuously learning.
2. The Fluency Illusion
Another common mistake that creeps up in language learning, and learning in general, is that it can or should be easy. It’s not.
The fluency illusion is a bias that creeps in when we don’t have trouble recalling something.
If you read the translations of a few words, repeat them to yourself a couple of times, and think that that’s enough, then you’ve succumbed to this illusion.
Real learning means testing yourself, it means coming back the next day and trying to think of the translations without looking.
To learn is to struggle.
3. A Fixed-Growth Mindset
Carol Dweck has studied the way people look at their intelligence and abilities.
For some, they see a static, unchanging aspect of themselves.
This fixed mindset causes people to think that they are as smart, and as capable as they’re ever going to be.
The other type of mindset Dweck has studies is the growth-mindset.
People who live with this view believe they can get better, they can become more intelligent.
They see problems as challenges to be overcome, they see failures as lessons to be learned.
Take a growth-mindset to learning a language.
Seek out the challenges, make it hard on yourself, stretch beyond your capacity.