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The Road to Learning a New Language can be Tough but it is a Beautiful and Rewarding Journey

Esteban Touma, teacher and Babbel Live ( Content Producer, comments on the challenges of learning a language as an adult.

Adults can be very stubborn creatures. We’ve spent years developing a mind system that’s great at organising information. This makes us really really effective at learning new things, except for languages. It’s hard to break with the rules of that system, and that’s exactly what you need to do because you’re literally learning another system. Children are open-minded and their cognitive function is wide open, this is why it is easier for them to pick up. The good news is that learning a language isn’t really that hard if you’re open to opening your mind! But it does take dedication and motivation to achieve your goals.

Language Learning Hacks

TV and Movies
One tip I recently got to help learn a new language is to watch kid’s movies/shows you’re used to, but in the language that you want to learn. Since you know what’s going on and the language is pretty simple, it’s an easy way to help learn.

Any exposure to the language you are trying to learn is only going to benefit you but try to keep it pleasurable. The trick is to watch something that you would enjoy watching in any case, so this can include cartoons, kid’s movies, or even a programme that you know and love already that is available in other languages, such as Friends. The added benefit is that foreign language productions can give you cultural and regional insights too, and there’s a lot of great stuff out there. But the main thing is: 1. Being exposed to the language, 2. Having fun. Don’t worry about understanding it all. Just watch, enjoy, and try to absorb what you can.

Communication is key

Learning a language is not really about learning a language. What you’re actually learning is how to communicate in a new way with other human beings, so don’t separate that from your learning process! Try to connect with people you may know, listen to podcasts and music in your target language, or read about the country’s history. Also, remember that you have to be ready to share your own unique human experience with others in that language, so make sure what you’re learning is related to you. If I’m learning, say, Italian, I would never remember how to say “dove è la biblioteca?” or “where is the library?” But I will for sure remember how to say “Dov’è la pizza e il vino? Subito!” Priorities.


Be patient with yourself, learn to love your progress, and celebrate your successes. Do you know the word “piano” means “piano,” “slow” and “quiet” in Italian? Adding a single new word to your vocabulary can be so beautiful and rewarding. The road to fluency is hard but the view along the way is really amazing, so it’s ok if you are driving slowly. There’s a lot more I would love to add, but it would be in Spanish. Maybe I’ll come back after you’ve taken a couple of lessons?

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