If you imagine a person who is good at learning foreign languages, you may picture someone outgoing who enjoys meeting others, rather than an introvert who spends most of their time alone. But is this how it is in reality? And if it's true that quieter people are at a disadvantage, how can they improve without talking to every person they meet?
In this article, we will discuss the relationship between character and language learning while also providing tips to help you learn no matter what kind of personality you have!
Characteristics of people who are good at languages
Are sociable extroverts in a better position to improve quickly, or is it the serious, silent types who study hard by themselves? The answers aren't quite so simple. Let's look closer to find out more.
Ability to accept mistakes
The ability to accept that mistakes are a natural part of learning a language makes a big difference in how quickly you learn. As long as you are scared of failing or worried about being embarrassed if you say the wrong thing, it will be difficult to improve. It is only when you make a mistake and realize it that you will know what is right.
This is why your learning environment is very important. If you are in a place where mistakes and failures are laughed at or criticized, it will be natural to want to avoid them as much as possible. Instead, put yourself in situations in which mistakes are allowed and learners will be helped and encouraged to continue even when their English isn't perfect.
Enjoy communication with others
People who like communicating with others will have a much easier time improving their language skills. This is because the more you learn a language, the more rewarding communication becomes. For this reason, many people believe that the quickest way to improve is to have friends and partners who speak the language you want to learn.
Hunger for knowledge
People who are interested in languages and who have a strong desire for knowledge will naturally make efforts to learn more and more. Rather than being satisfied with just a little or "good enough," they will continue to look for ways to go even higher.
This creates what is called a "virtuous circle" in which knowledge leads to more self-confidence and a more positive attitude, which then encourages more learning — and the positive cycle continues.
Ability to take action
Depending on where you live, you may never need to speak English in your daily life. However, a person who is proactive about learning will be able to improve in spite of their environment. For example, one person may decide to take small steps, such as learning a new word every day, while others simply think about it but do nothing because their surroundings don't require it.
Things to keep in mind to improve your English
Now that we've looked at the characteristics of people who tend to succeed in learning a language, let's look at things you can do to improve your English if you don't feel like you have these traits.
Stay interested and motivated
It is difficult to do things you are not interested in. Maintaining interest and motivation is essential to improving your language skills. Ask yourself why you want to learn English and what level of skill you are trying to achieve. Being clear about these points will help you on the road to success.
Create opportunities to use English
It will be hard to hold onto your motivation to learn English if you don't have opportunities to use it. In the best situation, you will have chances at work and in your daily life, but if not, you will have to create your own opportunities. If you are ready to try speaking with others, try a conversation class, an English club or an online English conversation service.
If you are still nervous about speaking to people, you can try using social media. Pick your favorite app, then post something in English! It doesn't matter if it's just a one-line post; if you get a response, you will be motivated to post more. Having every skill is best, of course, but even if your speaking skills aren't great, you can still improve your reading and writing. It's better than nothing at all!
Solve small questions immediately
"What does this phrase mean?" "What does this word mean?"
If you look up small questions like these immediately, you can boost your vocabulary rapidly. If you have a smartphone handy, search the Internet or use a dictionary app to quickly find the information you need. Learning the meaning of a word or expression after understanding the situation in which it was used will also make it easier to understand the nuance, which might not be clear from what you find in the dictionary.
We recommend that you make it a regular study habit! After you've looked up a word or expression, immediately look for opportunities to use them yourself in your conversations. Doing this will give you a better chance of remembering them.
Become a good listener
The ideal way to learn English is to have a good balance between input and output. When you think of input, you probably imagine learning by yourself by memorizing vocabulary or reading textbooks.
However, listening to people speaking is also an important type of input. The most effective way to improve your English is by actively speaking it while interacting with others, but even if you are a shy person or are not a great speaker, you can still learn by simply listening to others speak English.
Listen carefully to what people say and pay attention to how words and expressions are used. Don't forget to listen for rhythm and intonation as well. It can be easy to forget that being a good listener is a valuable skill, whether you're learning English or even when speaking your native language.
Find your own path
People often think that they need to be proactive and outgoing in order to increase their language skills. It's true that having that kind of personality is a big advantage, but everyone has different ways of learning and different goals they are trying to reach.
Finding a unique learning style that fits your personality, situation and aims is more important than you might think on the long road to language learning. Instead of worrying about not having the ideal character traits or situation, find the path that works best for you!
This article was adapted from an original written by Tamaki Saito.