Everyone says that “patience is a virtue” but did you know that also applies to learning a new language? When learning a new language, patience is one of the most important factors for success. You have to be patient with yourself and know that you will face some challenges along the way, but the more consistent you are, the easier it will be. And once you get to the end, you’ll see that you’ve not only improved your own ability to be patient, but also extend that patience to others.
6 reasons why learning a language improves your patience
1. You understand how hard it is to learn something from scratch
Learning something, regardless of whether it’s math, rock climbing, or playing the piano, is not something that just happens overnight. It takes time to wrap your head around the new context and learn how everything fits together.
The same concept applies when learning a new language. At the beginning, you have to learn new vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar that may be entirely different from your native language. So you begin to see that you have been patient with yourself to learn. If you aren’t patient, you’ll end up staying stuck in your mistakes. So keep this patience within your mindset and you’ll inherently be much more successful at learning the language.
2. You have respect for others who are fluent in your native language
As a US native English speaker and former monolingual, I have come to realise how truly lucky I am to be born a native English speaker. I think it’s why so many Americans are monolingual, because they aren’t born into a system that requires another language. In today’s globalised world, I find this a major disadvantage, because many Americans miss out on how awesome other languages and cultures are, as well as one very important thing: that most of the world learns English as a second language.
When I moved to Germany over 4 years ago and began learning German, I gained a whole new level of respect for how fluent Germans and other expats in Hamburg were at speaking English. I stopped caring whether others made mistakes when speaking English to me or if they needed extra time to finish their sentence. I am simply happy they made the effort to learn my native language.
3. You become calmer when there are issues surrounding cultural differences
When you learn a new language, you automatically gain insight into that culture as well, because culture and language go hand-in-hand. Languages themselves are a direct gateway into a culture, so you inherently learn those cultural concepts through speaking the language. It then makes sense that the wider spectrum of cultures you understand, the easier it becomes to empathise with others who come from different backgrounds than you. And when a conflict arises, that empathy translates to patience and understanding.
4. You learn to celebrate the small wins
In the same way that it takes time to get from point A to point B, it also takes time to go from A1 to C1 (CEFR language levels). These levels not only help language learners orient themselves in their classes, accomplishing them is also the perfect reason to celebrate the small victories. While rewards for doing something positive are good, they’re even better when you’ve passed a certain milestone after working hard to get there. So instead of only rewarding yourself only after C1 or rewarding yourself too often, be patient enough to work on reaching that next step and then celebrating it. When you know a reward is coming, you’ll also become more motivated to work on achieving it.
5. You know how to get through language barriers
Language barriers are certain to occur at some point in your life, but if you’ve learned a second language, dealing with language barriers is a whole lot easier. These skills are a direct result of your interactions with your teacher and other students in your language classes. Even though you don’t always know the vocabulary or sometimes you struggle to understand your teacher, you work together to find a solution. So when a similar situation happens outside of class, you apply the same concept to move through a language barrier with a stranger: patience, understanding, and listening.
6. You learn to be patient with yourself
As a former English teacher and current language learner, I can absolutely confirm that patience with yourself and a positive mindset is the most influential factor for learning a new language. You have to accept that you will make mistakes, so give yourself that space to make mistakes and recognise them, but then move on. Don’t dwell on them and instead be proud that you keep trying. Most people are much more so focused on understanding you instead of keeping note of your grammar mistakes. As I mentioned before, patience is a virtue – even with yourself!