Language Learning As Self-Discovery

March 7th, 2018 Posted by Learning Languages 0 comments on “Language Learning As Self-Discovery”

How learning a new language is a path to a new you! 

Some who believe in past lives believe that some individuals are drawn to learn certain new languages, especially languages that are not obviously practical or ancestral, because that language was theirs or similar to theirs in a former lifetime. More than other languages, it may sound extremely intriguing, extra soothing, or even really familiar in some strange way.

Even if you don’t believe in past lives, you may be curious why learners, including yourself, are drawn to certain “outside” languages and cultures. Each language with which we are or think we are acquainted brings to mind certain associations and/or a mood that we are either attracted to or repelled by. The intensity of any attraction says a lot more about us than about the language or a culture in which that language is used.

The language which attracts you the most can be a key to discovering who you really are. This language can be a tool to use to learn valuable information about yourself and give yourself the opportunity to express more of who you really are or even reach your higher potential. Learning a language can be a wonderful journey to self-discovery.

a journal as a companion to the learning process

In your journal, jot down your observations of yourself, your behavior and emotions, and any realizations about the language and culture too.

The new language that you fancy will probably have at least some similarities to your native language, even if these similarities are just coincidental. If these similarities aren’t already obvious, you will enjoy finding them. The new language will have many differences that you may either like or dislike, but if it’s a language you really want to learn, you’re likely to love these even more. You could embrace your new language with the love and devotion of a zealous convert.

The new language will have many words and phrases that can’t be directly or accurately translated into your native language. These will represent that language’s unique essence and from this comes the learner’s opportunity to explore a different way of thinking about the world. Understanding this different way of thinking could enrich your own point of view. This way of thinking may provide your existing thoughts with a voice like your native language never could. In any case, learning a new language can broaden and strengthen who you are and what you are able to offer yourself and to others.

When practicing a new language with its native speakers, should you have the opportunity, you will find how they respond to your efforts and how you respond to their response to your efforts. You may gain a great deal of support from these individuals and feel inspired by their encouragement. You may find that your efforts are met with some form of criticism, but this too is a way to discover yourself.

How do you accept criticism in its different forms? 

Are you humble and open?

You may be surprised to learn that just as it is important and ideal to be patient with learners of your own language, it is important to be patient with native speakers when you decide to communicate with them in their language. Individuals’ reactions could vary greatly according to how they feel about their language, about others learning it, and ultimately about themselves as well as their unique personalities and the situations in which the interactions occurs.

Reactions, such as laughter or shy behavior, may be easy to misinterpret as negativity if you’re expecting clear acceptance and reassurance.

If your first instinct is to take personally any reaction that is less than outright praise, you may want to explore the possible reasons listed above and/or the cause within you to receive it this way. Journal about it in detail. What view of yourself do you have that causes you to agree with negative assessments of yourself or of your abilities?

Does the view that you hold accurately indicate a characteristic, behavior, motive, or expectation of yours that needs some adjusting? How might you go about it?

Alternatively, is this view merely a result of low self-esteem? Isn’t it time to be explore how to adjust that?

If you take learning a new language seriously at all, you will likely engage in much real soul searching as part of the process. As a result, self-discovery and self-actualization is likely to take place, making language learning beneficial in more ways than you had ever imagined.

Practicing a new language can become a healthy exercise in humility and vulnerability as well as a booster of confidence.

 The new people and places to which learning a new language will lead you are also new opportunities for you to learn not just about those people and places but yourself in new contexts. Observe how you feel in these situations and how you behave. Are you pleased?

What could you do differently?

How could you enjoy these moments even more?

Can you describe the new feelings in the new language?

Give it a try!

How does the language show you new sides of yourself and what are they like?

Two souls? What a magical partnership. Reaching that point of facility is a highlight of the language learning process; however, it is also a sign that a new and very personal, intimate journey has really only  just begun.


Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for the April 2018 Parlay Vacay blog post:

Why You Need to Slow Down to Learn Faster: the Paradoxes of Efficient Language Learning

Dr. Brumett is the owner-operator and founder of Parlay Vacay Language Vacations.

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