Co blokuje Cię przed mówieniem w językach obcych? Jak to możliwe, że mnie się udało – na tę chwilę mówię w czterech, a Ty jeszcze nie? I zapewniam, że wcale to nie jest tak, że ktoś z nas jest bardziej uzdolniony lub mniej. Może lubię, to wszystko. A przede wszystkim umiem się uczyć. Zapraszam do lektury postu, gdzie zdradzam trochę technik. Post oryginalnie opublikowałam po angielsku na moim LinkedInie w kwietniu 2018 roku.

What really stops you from learning foreign languages?

If you are reading this post, you would probably like to improve your language skills as you need them to enable you to be promoted or you would like to embark on an international career. Have you ever asked yourself what is really stopping you?

I kept asking myself that question, while observing people who were stuck in their careers because their English or X (substitute X with a language that concerns you) was poor. They were brilliant in their fields, they managed to overcome terrible crises, were excellent leaders, but their foreign language skills were not improving and seemed to be blocked.

Ok, you may say that my story differs from yours as I did linguistic studies at university. In one way it is true, but please remember that I added German as the fourth foreign language to my language portfolio while working in finance in the banking sector. Also if I did manage to work successfully in the financial sector without studying economics or finance, as you probably did, you do not need to have studied Applied Linguistics or Language and Literature to master foreign languages.

To be successful, you must change the way you think about learning a foreign language.

These are some tips (based on my wealth of experience) that I have found to be really crucial:

Set a time line for learning a foreign language

How quickly you will master a foreign language depends on how much time you will spend on studying it; maybe it’s a cliché, but it is true. A magic method doesn’t exist, unfortunately, learning a language is a process and it simply takes time. It is a marathon not a race.

Take into consideration two factors: your goal (why do you need to learn a language) and the time you can spend weekly on it. Adjust. The “algorithm” is simple. If you frequent a standard course (twice a week for 1,5 hour), it will take you approximately 6 years to arrive at C1/C2 level. So, if you plan to work abroad next year, such courses will not be sufficient to achieve your goal.

Of course, some factors may slightly shorten or extend this period: your attitude, teaching methods, living in a foreign country or working with foreigners as well as a quantity of foreign languages you know. Learning the 2nd foreign language shall be easier than the 1st!

Quickly go through the very first “A levels”

EU experts divided perfectly language competencies into three levels A (A1, A2), B (B1, B2), C (C1, C2), where the Cs are proficiency ones. For me the worst are A levels – they are just boring. The fascinating journey starts later.

My strategy is to go through them as quickly as possible! So maybe the best for you will be to join a summer intensive course. I did it with my German, and if it hadn’t been for this quick start, I would have never learnt it. I am sure it won’t be easy: work, then some 3 hours of a language course and the rest of the day for the family, friends and hobbies, however it will pay off. Usually it takes only 3 weeks, 15 working days.

As we are nearing the summer, it’s high time now to look for such an intensive course in your city and remember it isn’t necessary, to be prepared all the time and participate in every lesson.

Forget about being the best

You do not have to be the best, sometimes it is enough to pass, really.

Do not easily give up a language course, an example was a colleague who was very good at Spanish but she quit at B level, because her work did not allow her to participate in every lesson, she wasn’t able to arrive on time or do her homework. Never ever do it! Do not take breaks from learning a language, at least unless you reach C (proficiency) levels.

Don’t be afraid also to make mistakes, even the most stupid ones. Don’t block yourself, unless you do want to be a linguistic expert, your goal shall be to communicate easily. Mistakes are ok, you are not a native speaker! When you meet a foreigner who speaks your language, you don’t really care so much about mistakes, do you? You simply appreciate that they speak your language, don’t you?

Find your way

When I was learning Spanish during my university times, I enjoyed reading Spanish Cosmopolitan ( Some ten years later, to learn German I watched a lot of movies on ZDF or ARD (German TV channels available in the Internet) or I started watching them when I was on B level, choosing subtitled movies with an easy plot (mainly romantic movies, series or dramas).

You can do different things as well: learn vocabulary on your smartphone (there are many apps nowadays), meet with people (in big cities ”tandem evenings” are usually organized), participate in film festivals, watch videos connected to your passion whatever it is: fashion, cars, sport (watch matches!), make the best out of your holidays abroad (sometimes in holidays resorts there are courses of skiing, dancing, windsurfing in different languages) or your expat contract (even when it lasts only for a few months).

Don’t care that you don’t understand everything or sometimes you understand only few words. The understanding will come with time.

Just be open!

Author: Kasia Münnich, PR manager, blogger. This post was originally published on my LinkedIn profile in Apr, 2018.