Things that stand in the way of becoming fluent
I asked a Vienna Internationals Facebook group with more than 8000 members about what holds them back from becoming fluent in German.
This is what they told me: Laziness, lack of money, lack of time, pronunciation, grammar, perfectionism. These are the basic struggles I was expecting.
But then a few opened up about their problems more deeply..
They wrote about their continuously switching to English because of the impatience or annoyed reactions to their bad German. Others had to realize that the content learned in classes is not so relevant for their actual usage. Furthermore, Verb-pronoun combinations that have a felt infinite number of meanings can stand in the way of becoming fluent. Also it seems to be hard for some to overcome the status of being “good enough”, since nobody corrects you anymore. And one lady explained: “I was keen to learn German – but then I met my husband’s family who do not speak English and realised life would be so much better for us if I could not communicate with them….”. These experiences can give you the idea of a grumpy Vienna. Almost as if there is no actual need to improve your German for everyday life.
So why even try to learn this hard language? Especially when speaking English is enough to survive.
Firstly, knowing more languages definitely opens you a boarder career market and also your opportunities to really understand colleauges. Secondly, you will really experience new cultures, as a participant. Thirdly, your ability to feel empathy will increase with every language you speak. (check out the presentation by Timothy Dean Keeley, link below) That’s because you’re forced to give up your ego of speaking perfectly and put yourself into others’ shoes to communicate. It’s like training empathy.
Some facts I learned at the last Polyglot Gathering at Bratislava. It’s a language conference where the guests speak 3 to 30 Languages fluently.
To be honest, I have never experienced this many open-minded and interesting people gathered in one spot. Let me think why. Speaking means interacting with people. And interaction will improve your speaking AND social skills. Now imagine there is a new method for learning a language through real-life interactions you already have. This would mean you save time and money on language courses, right? And still, you can practice and improve on a daily base.
But how? Let me also suggest you a new tool. (Lingophant tool)
First, interact with people! And fail! If there is no failure you will have no success. But this time you record and capture the correct sentences with the Lingophant app. Let locals speak into your phone.
Third, make collecting new phrases and learning them become part of your everyday life. Start learning by doing.
My tip: Ask People to teach you a few German jokes or compliments. They might help you find your way through some awkward situations.
Wait? What? Another App? Why?
Lingophant app was recently created by a language learner who couldn’t remember new words from conversations. He was simply tired of asking people for the same words again and again. So he built this app. And now he’s sharing it with everyone. Try it, it is entirely free.
It focuses on personally relevant content. No suggestion of boring or weird words, you generate personalized content by being out there everyday. Start recording your own vocabulary (or talk to our chatbot who can send you phrases and provide tips on where to start). Is there a job interview coming up? Sit down for a coffee with a nativ German speaker (find them on the Tandem App) and record what to say together. Later on you can practice them.
Now let’s conclude
Learning a language becomes easier if you can improve by every situation. Eager to fail and succeed by it! Focus on the driving qualities like empathy or being part of another culture. This is what a new language skill will bring you. It clearly sucks to not understand your work colleagues or be afraid of annoying people. But shift it into motivation. Ask them to teach you a compliment or joke. Furthermore I suggest you to start watching movies with subtitles and try to read in German. With each conversation you take speaking will become easier. Don’t give up.