Language Learning Myths

January 18, 2016 / by Lindsay Mullen

books-860444_1920Deciding to tackle a new language is no easy feat. Besides setting aside time to practice verb conjugations and rolling those tricky Spanish Rs, there are also a number of language learning myths that will deter your library patrons from buckling down and setting their sights on mastering a new language. Here are the most staggering of common language learning myths and how to prevent new learners from being intimidated when beginning their multilingual quest.

Myth #1: “It’s too difficult to start learning--especially without the structure of school.”

Starting the process of learning a new language is often the most challenging step. Many of your library patrons will become quickly overwhelmed when picking up a new language and may need an extra push before they can ever say Beszélek magyarul (or I speak Hungarian) with conviction. Those who are past schooling age may have also forgotten the best practices for studying and might be indecisive when initially choosing a language to learn. Level with your patrons to make sure that their expectations are in line with reality and provide them with some different options when starting their learning process. Some language learning solutions *cough, cough: Mango* even provide supplementary marketing resources and a multitude of language options to help ease patrons into fluency—these are completely free of charge for anyone with a library card. How’s that for a quick and easy start?

Myth #2: “English is the universal language- there’s no reason to learn a new one.”

Nous demandons à différer (We beg to differ.) If your patrons are touting this old myth as a reason not to pick up a new language, remind them of all of the benefits those with dual fluency receive. Not only will they gain access to many new job opportunities, but they will be more equipped to take on international travel and gain better insight into the world around them. While it is true that many countries abroad teach English throughout their schooling, tourists may run into unexpected language barriers during travel as many locals will not have received the hands-on practice to become truly fluent. Promoting language learning at your library is also a great way to get patrons interested in new reading materials they never knew existed, like an article on Thailand’s Monkey Buffet festival or your newest collection of Chinese proverbs.

Myth #3: “You’re too old to pick up a new language.”

Many of your older patrons may have heard the myth that only those who start young can truly master a new language. While older learners may run into unique challenges when learning a language, try focusing on the many advantages that come with starting a language during adulthood. While younger language learners may have an easier time picking up pronunciation, older learners are at a distinct advantage for developing a larger vocabulary. Having an existing mastery in a language (even if it’s English!) makes it much easier to add new words an already-hefty vocabulary. If your library patrons get a kick out of learning tricky English words like pharisaism (self-righteousness or sanctimony), words like 你好 (hello) should be a breeze! Another advantage to learning a new language is adulthood is that it keeps the mind sharp and decreases the chances of dementia in the future.

Learning a new language is a big step for your library patrons and it’s important to encourage them every step of the way. Are you thinking about investing in a language learning software for your library? Take a look at our planning guide: Making the Most Out of Mango at Your Library.

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Topics: Public Libraries

Lindsay Mullen

Written by Lindsay Mullen

Lindsay Mullen is CEO of Prosper Strategies, working behind the scenes to support the Mango team's world of lovable language learning. A language aficionado herself, Lindsay oversees a team of marketers fluent in public relations, content development and strategy (and they speak some German, French, Spanish and Chinese as well.)

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