5 Lies You Use To Hypnotize Yourself That You Can’t Learn A Language

Have you ever said out loud or in your mind, “I can’t learn a language!”

Well … guess what?

You’re fooling yourself!

And it’s the worse kind of lie.


Because every minute you’re not fluent in at least one other language, you’re keeping yourself locked in a monolingual prison …

The same prison that deeply dissatisfies billions of people around the world!

And instead of doing something to improve their lot in life and memory, they simper and whimper in the unnecessary depression and suffering that the following lies, illusions and problems created by people perfectly capable of success.

Avoid the following traps and you will grasp success and suckle from its nourishment for life – guaranteed!


#1: The Lie That You’re Too Busy To Learn A Language


That’s how most people see themselves:


REALLY busy.

In some cases, this is true.

But for most of us, being “time poor” has a core root. And that root is rotten.

These days its lots and lots of time WASTED on social media.

Don’t blame yourself, though. As I talked about last time when I gave you my Ultimate Concentration Exercise Combo, a lot of the problem isn’t your fault.

But you can do something about the problem. And to ignore it means just three things:

1. A lack of discipline.

2. An unwillingness to learn and practice focus.

3. A complete and utter lack of prioritization.

The good news is you can change this sorry state.


And You should!


You want discipline.

You want results.

And you know that learning a language is good for your brain.

The secret?


Stop Splitting Your Attention


As I shared in my post about morning rituals for language learning, you can use Magnetic Habit-Chaining to get more results in 15-30 minutes per day than most language learners will accomplish in a month.

It’s fun, easy to do and you’ll like yourself better.


Because you’re moving towards your language goal, not cheating yourself out of it by wasting time on unnecessary social media.

Whatever you do, stop running around as if your hair's on fire.Click To Tweet

It isn’t. And you’ve got languages to learn.

Bonus: How to maintain quality in your daily language learning ritual:

Have a space in your home dedicated to language learning. For tips on how, check out these 15 memory care home solutions.


2. The Lie That You Don’t Have
The Adequate Language Learning Tools


A vital component to learning a language is knowing what to use and how to use it.

Here’s a Magnetic-sized tip:

Use just one book, just one audio program and just one video course at a time. No more than that, though always with the option of using less.

Use this “rule of three” in combination with The Big Five Of Language Learning to structure your learning sessions:


Here’s my three and a quick summary of how I’m using them:

That’s my beloved Chinese character book. It’s presenting the material in German, which is great because it helps me maintain that language.

It also has a special feature in the back that bolts Magnetically to the Magnetic Memory Method – stay tuned for news about that.

I’m currently memorizing phrases from Pimsleur, more or less as discussed in this video:

It’s a golden technique.

But nothing is better than the Real Spoken Chinese Vault. Here’s one example of how I’m using it:

What a blessing this course has been! If you’re studying Chinese, you’ve simply got to check it out and grab my MMM bonuses.

In each case, I’m using Memory Palaces in combination with The Big Five of Language Learning.

This multi-step process is important because it moves the language through multiple representation centers of the brain: audio, visual and kinesthetic.

And if you get in some language learning practice in restaurants that feature the language you’re studying, you can squeeze in your gustatory and olfactory rep centers too.


What Matters Is Consistency


And you're much more likely to master consistency if you limit your tools. Don't forget the rule of three!Click To Tweet


3. The Lie That You Must Learn Lackluster Vocabulary
& Phrases So Boring You Wanna Tear Your Hair Out


Although you occasionally do have to buckle down and learn some boring words like he, she, if, then, but and … AND …

… most language learners struggle because they stick too closely to the boring stuff.

Let’s face it:

We need a textbook, audio and video program.

But we also need more. We need to learn vocabulary and phrases that connect with our interests.

For me, it’s movies.

And books.

And the topic of memory.

Knowing what I like makes the pursuit of vocabulary and phrases easier. Knowing what you like will make it easier for you too.

Plus, regularly meeting with native speakers who share similar interests means those interesting and exciting terms will keep popping up.

Case in point: I’m still sad about leaving Berlin, but delighted that there’s a German book club here in Brisbane.

And so that means I get to hang with literature enthusiasts who use really cool words and phrases – all while reading and discussing books that include amazing vocab and linguistic flair that excited me page after page.

Bonus: Focusing on words and phrases connected to your interests creates energy.

As language learners, we need all we can get for the long haul, so make sure you’re feeding yourself plenty of relevant things to say and understand. That’s how you create a powerfully consistent engine that builds and fuels itself for a lifetime of voyages on the highways of fluency.


4. The Lie That Language Learners Don’t Need
A Positive Mindset &  Welcoming Attitude


I’ve learned a lot over the years about why some people learning languages don’t have much success.

A lot comes down to the fact that they don’t make new words and phrases feel welcome. They don’t make their mood and memory like a warm living room. They don’t come out with freshly baked cookies and they certainly don’t serve milk.

And that’s sad.

Look at it this way:

New vocabulary and phrases are the backbone of your language learning progress. Without acquiring them, you’re left bored, frustrated and alone in a boat without a paddle. Those delightful islands of fluency become less and less reachable without a constant flow of the new entering and remaining in your brain.

But so many people prefer negative attitudes and the conviction that their language is the most difficult in the world.

How about a different tact? How about a positive and welcoming attitude that says:

My language is the best and easiest language in the world!

I love it and I’m going to do everything in my power to welcome its parts in so that they want to stay forever.

My language is the best and easiest language in the world!Click To Tweet

Sounds more inviting, doesn’t it?

Well, of course it does, but you’ve got to do more than just think welcoming thoughts. You need to prepare your mind to actually be welcoming.

And that’s as simple as creating and using Memory Palaces. It’s no more difficult than dreaming up pictures you associate with sounds so you can place them strategically in your Memory Palaces for recall later.

What you’re doing is so much simpler than people who insist on calling memory techniques for language learning difficult fail to understand:

You’re simply having a conversation with sound and meaning in your mind. But if your mind is an unwelcoming dungeon filled with torturous tools of negativity …

… Of course all the vocabulary and phrases you want to remember runs away fearful and screaming!

Instead, show the language you want to learn love and appreciation. Create an environment it actually wants to stick around and enjoy living in.

Bonus: One of the best ways to make new words and phrases feel welcome in your mind is to use them promptly.

Seriously. A huge secret of memory success is just to get the words and phrases you use into operation immediately.

Oh, and drink water. Dehydrated brains shrink. The smaller your brain, the less room for vocabulary and phrases.


5. The Lie That Leads To Lack Of Gratitude


This next point might sound a bit crazy, but I believe it to be 100% true:

People privileged enough to even think about learning a language are rarely thankful about the privileges they have.


All the whining and crying out there about the difficulties of learning a language makes me want to puke. Most of us should be on our hands and knees thanking our lucky stars that we even have the opportunity to learn anything.

And please do not waste any time feeling offended if you think I’m pointing my finger at you. Believe me, I sometimes get whiny myself about the difficulties in life. We all do.

But the difference between those who make progress and those who get stuck in a rut comes down to the simple ability to recognize when you’re feeling sorry for yourself.

And then pick up your chin and move on.

But the question remains:

How so you show that you’re grateful for learning a language?

One way is to write about it every day in your gratitude journal.

That’s what I do.

Every morning, I acknowledge at least 10 things I’m grateful for, sometimes more. And everyday, I acknowledge that I’m grateful for my progress with Chinese and the maintenance of my German.

When I get a chance to speak any other language I’ve learned something from – or even just remember a language learning experience – I jot that down too.

Showing gratitude is simple, easy and fast. And if you don’t think it will make a difference …

Go ahead and try to prove me wrong. I admire your skepticism and can’t wait to hear what happens when you apply sincere gratitude practice to your language learning activities.

Bonus: You can easily complete your daily gratitude exercise when you use The Freedom Journal for language learning. It’s an exceptional tool for breaking everything down into 10-day sprints, so make sure you’ve got one on your side in support of your language learning goals.


Magnetic Conclusion


Be bold and outrageous when learning a language. So many failures come down to the simple fact that people bore themselves to death.

Worse, they hypnotize themselves with negative messages and don’t prepare their minds for success.

Sadly, that’s the status quo. That’s what passes as “normal.”

But this sad portrait of normalcy and language learning destitution doesn’t have to be you!

Instead of being busy, make time …

Instead of feeling helpless and piling on more useless tools, recognize that you already have more than you need …

Instead of choosing lackluster phrases and vocabulary …


Sex Things Up!


Instead of forcing the language into a hostile jungle of negativity, welcome the language into a well-rested and well-cared for brain …

Instead of griping and moaning about how tough everything is,be grateful that you have the opportunity to learn in the first place.

And above all, recognize that you’re on a journey. You’re playing the long game. You’re in it to experience amazing returns on your investments and wonderful adventures.

But nothing’s going to happen if you let these 5 barriers hold you back.

So what do you say? Are you ready to drop the dark chains holding you down and release the language learning force within you?

I hope so, because time sure is ticking. And none of us know how much we’ve got left, so it’s important to seek the fulfillment of fluency with all engines blazing.

Are you with me?

10 Responses to " 5 Lies You Use To Hypnotize Yourself That You Can’t Learn A Language "

  1. Mark Tong says:

    Ha! Guilty occasionally of no1 – thinking I’m too busy. Love your point about Gratitude.

    • The time thing is a real illusion nearly everyone can escape. And the best part is that having a solid gratitude practice is one of the best ways to see the truth of it all.

      As for Basque, which you mentioned under separate cover, check out this little training on memorizing loads of vocabulary for that beautiful language here from long-time MMM friend, Daniel Welsch.

      Basque up the jams! 🙂

  2. Bjoern says:

    Hey Anthony,
    Nothing left to say. Thanks for this.

    It’s interesting for me that you are comparing computer languages with real languages. All developer have the API documentation on their second screen and learning the techniques and concepts behind it. Works great for me even regarding the circumstances that there are new packages every year.

    In Spanish, for instance, you don’t have your Spanish API on your second screen and you must speak within seconds while chatting. That sounds like Sci-Fi.. Putting a USB Stick in your brain and accessing the vocabs..;-). No, seriously, What do you think? My perspective is a bit different than yours for sure.

    Bis dann und viel Spaß in Brisbane mit deinen Büchern. Ich habe Grass nie gelesen.

    • Great to have these comments from you, Björn.

      Certainly there’s a huge gap between Spanish and HTML or CSS. But by the same token, both help us communicate with the world and we are well served by developing “fluency” in each area. And part of mastery as a coder is the speed at which you can make things happen on a screen that another person can use.

      I would also say that it’s not necessarily the case that we need to speak within seconds in a conversation. I had a long conversation in German this morning. When I needed time to process what I’d heard, find the words I needed or even go back and correct a bit of grammar – I took that time.

      I think a huge struggle that some language learners at even advanced levels have is just that: They don’t take the time they need. And yet there time is, completely willing to surrender to them.

      Another case in point is with how I converse in Chinese with April. She will ask me if I remember how to say something. I almost always have to remind her to not give me the answer if I don’t produce it within the time span that she decides is right. So it always starts with, “give me a second and whatever you do, don’t give me the answer.”

      The next thing you know, as happened yesterday when she asked me to tell her what “Asian Supermarket” is in Mandarin, I paused time in just this way by requesting it and within a few seconds was in a restaurant in Prague finding the answer. I hadn’t used the term in months, but there it was and I got the answer right in less than 10 seconds. It’s the “buying of time” in these situations that takes more time than anything.

      In any case, I’m now diving deep into learning HTML, then will go to CSS. This experience will help me understand more about the memory requirements. If it turns out to be a matter of constant reference to manuals, then so be it. But I won’t know until I dive in.

      Stay tuned for more on this issue because I think it’s going to be interesting, if nothing else. And who knows … I might be the guy who writes my own app one of these days! 😉

      • Bjoern says:

        If you are done with HTML and CSS, you might want to take a look at Typescript. Then you are able to write your own web apps.

        You made a valid point here. Sounds like a new chapter here : 6. Take your time and let your mind work.. 😉
        I suppose, I wanted to point out that you need to be confident with your language skills.


        • Great tip with Typescript. I will have a look at it.

          In the meantime, you’re right:

          Confidence is key with language learning in many areas, especially speaking. The trick is in getting started because confidence creates confidence. And in most cases, it’s like the old line goes in the movies, “You had me at hello.” So getting started really doesn’t have to be complicated. 🙂

  3. Muriel says:

    You’re right on point. Been in Egypt for a year learning classical Arabic and you hit a lot of my sore spots!

  4. Alex says:

    I loved this podcast Anthony. I have been lucky to be a lifelong language learner, and I think what helped me at a young age was “Stubbornness!” 😉

    On the first day I attended a “bilingual” high school one of my so-called teachers informed me that I would “never learn French.” Thankfully, my parents encouraged me to keep at it, and I left the school years later with achievement awards. I did it by having fun, going on trips, and not caring what people thought I could or couldn’t do. I did it by showing up.

    I currently work in an entirely Francophone milieu, and many of my colleagues tell me that my written and spoken French is superior to that of many native language speakers. As the industrialist Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” Learning anything is really a question of attitude.

    As for the vocab question, I find the best way to learn it is to consume media in the language you’re learning. If you’re learning Spanish for instance, read the papers, listen to the music or TV shows or YouTube, and put on the captions. Don’t put stumbling blocks in your language path, just listen and observe. Learning is like breathing or eating; once you start it’s hard to stop.

    Finally, language is merely a means to comprehend and to make ourselves understood. Don’t overthink it, just have fun. “Boring“ is what you say it is, so is “interesting.“ Words are merely placeholders for concepts; who are we to judge? How does it help us in the long run?

    So thank you, Dr. Metivier for your encouragement and leadership in this important activity.

    • Glad you liked this one, Alex.

      Stubbornness is perhaps a good virtue to have in learning a language, so long as you can get the horse to drink. It sounds like you also had the tenacity to face a challenge, which is great. I was just writing a piece on the crime of teachers who tell students they can’t, so am glad you were able to look this sad statement in the eye defeat it. Many students hear similar messages but don’t.

      Yes to media consumption in the language you’re learning. Ear-training is a huge part of language learning and listening practice pays off in big ways in man unanticipated ways. I think the “muscle memory” of the ear is just as important as of the mouth and German subtitles on both German movies and movies in many languages was very helpful for me with that language. In Chinese, it’s less so, but I like to have them running as much as possible. Sometimes you can even find some with Pinyin.

      The point is to get greedy with multiple forms of immersion and like things to the old saying, “take a spoon or a bucket, the ocean doesn’t care.” But in this case, we want to take both. Immerse in the larger seas of language, but also enjoy granular doses. The more grains of sand you lodge in memory, the more you’ll grow pearls. And when these pearls become magnetic, the more they’ll grow and snowball relative to the regular trips you take to the beach with both bucket and spoon in hand.

      And yes, as you say, both “boring” and “interesting” are available on tap. Enjoy both. Encountering them along the way is wonderfully inevitable! 🙂

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