5 Popular Myths About Language Learning, Debunked

Let’s clear the air on these oft-repeated myths, once and for all.
June 15, 2018
5 Popular Myths About Language Learning, Debunked

You’ve most likely heard a myth or two in your lifetime, and either rushed back home to google the accuracy or lived believing a lie until someone brought you to the light of truth. Well, the language world has its own fair share of myths as well.

Most people understand that knowing a foreign language increases the amount of connections you can make. Unfortunately, a lot of people also believe a lot of things about language that may not be entirely true. It’s time to bust some oft-repeated language myths once and for all.

MYTH #1: You need a language-learning gene to be successful at acquiring a new language

The Truth: It’s easy to assume that polyglots possess some sort of supernatural genetic makeup. But, the truth is a lot more simple than that. Those who know and speak lots of languages simply put in time and effort — something we’re all capable of.

MYTH #2: There’s no use in learning a language after my Sweet Sixteen

The Truth: Besides the extremely subjective notion of fluency, most claims that adults have little to no chance of learning a new language are made on pretty weak claims. Taking the time to make goals and practicing are what help the most with actually learning a language.

MYTH #3: English is the only worthwhile language to know

The Truth: English is largely considered the world’s lingua franca, with 1.5 billion speakers. But even with a quarter of the world understanding English to some degree, that still leaves quite a lot of others who do not. Not to mention, languages don’t exist in a vacuum — learning a different one can unlock contextual knowledge and broaden your understanding of the world around you.

MYTH #4: Learning foreign languages is for extroverted, confident types

The Truth: I’m sure many language lovers wished this were true, but in actuality, even the most seasoned polyglots will experience nervousness (and even anxiety) at times when practicing a foreign language. It just so happens that for many language nerds, the benefits of learning a new language outweigh those jitters.

MYTH #5: Your learning style should dictate how you go about learning a language

The Truth: So, here’s the thing: learning styles don’t exist. You can (and should!) tailor your learning journey to fit the material and your unique interests, but don’t pigeon-hole yourself. The truth is, you’re going to make mistakes when learning a new language, but that’s actually one of the best things that could happen.

Author Headshot
Sierra Boone
Sierra is a Content Fellow here at Babbel. She's a Detroit native and recent Northwestern University graduate who prefers to explore language through the lens of society, culture, understanding...and food. Sierra speaks Spanish and Portuguese - the former with much more ease than the latter.
Sierra is a Content Fellow here at Babbel. She's a Detroit native and recent Northwestern University graduate who prefers to explore language through the lens of society, culture, understanding...and food. Sierra speaks Spanish and Portuguese - the former with much more ease than the latter.

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