This morning I hit the internet looking for quotes on how hard it is for some people to learn languages. I learned some people’s brains communicate in a way that better facilitates learning languages. I learned (or was reminded) Italian is one of the Romance languages. That’s because it’s of Latin (Roman) origin, not having anything to do with love, though I still thinks it’s fun I chose learning a Romance language for my February “someday”. I also learned about growth and fixed mindsets (Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, PhD). I didn’t read the book; I just read a synopsis. Here is an even briefer synopsis: people who have a growth mindset believe their abilities can be developed; people who have a fixed mindset believe they have a certain amount of abilities and nothing more. The example given in the article, Why Some People Find Language Learning Harder Than Others was:
For example, telling yourself that “you’re not talented at languages” and essentially doing no effort whatsoever to improve your foreign language abilities is a classic example of a fixed mindset, and it can have devastating consequences.
Hit me over the head! Was the writer talking directly to me? I don’t want to think about how many times this month I’ve said, “I’m smart, but my brain just doesn’t learn languages well.” I’ve saddled myself with a fixed mindset – so utterly not my normal modus operandi! Sure, it may be true my brain doesn’t have the language facilitating way of communicating, but that ability is just an indicator of the ease of learning a language. If your brain doesn’t communicate that way, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn the language. However, having a fixed mindset, as I’ve had – lots of negative self-talk – can be a real hindrance. So, starting today, I’m going to do what I do in other situations. I’m going to fake it till I feel it. I’m going to stop saying my ability to learn Italian is cattivo (bad); I’m going to start saying my Italian is buona (good). And, I’ll get out my new Italian for Dummies book and really start putting in some effort. Too bad the book isn’t titled, Italian for Those Who Are Willing to Work Hard – that’s a much more growth mindset title.