3 Reasons Why Introvert Learners Should Join a Language Challenge
As an introvert language learner myself, I’ve always found language challenges incredibly useful. That’s why I’ll give the word to Elena today. She’s a Japanese and Italian teacher who teaches introverts and will share her thoughts on why they should join a language challenge.
For introverts, language learning can seem like a battle lost before it began.
We see extrovert learners shine while they speak from day one and share steady progress, day after day. They’re not afraid to start a conversation with a native speaker, they thrive in social environments. They like to be in the center of attention and we dream of being like them, sometimes.
Introverts, on the other hand, shy away from the spotlight. Speaking from the first day doesn’t feel quite right, the thought of approaching someone just because they speak our target language freezes us. We prefer to be on the quiet side of things, and as a result, we often stay invisible.
We admire our fellow language learners who are more social and outgoing and we can’t help feeling like they have an unfair advantage.
I believe that every language learner has the tools to improve and reach their goals, introverts and extroverts alike. The key is not forcing yourself to use strategies that don’t feel good but finding your own path to success.
I’d like to share with you some thoughts on why introverts should join a language challenge and how to do so without getting anxiety from it.
Let’s start with 3 reasons why.
1. Because you can find community while avoiding overwhelm
Finding community plays a big role in our language learning journey, to the point where it can determine our success or failure. Connecting with others who are in the same situation and understand our struggles can keep us motivated and focused on our goals. And it’s always nice to meet like-minded people and make friends. We’re introverts, not hermits!
When you’re part of a community, someone will be there to pick you up when you feel discouraged and are about to give up. And they will be there to celebrate every achievement you share with them and make you feel awesome. No matter how much you like your me-time, don’t assume you will never need a supporting network.
At the same time, an online community is a community you can “pause”. When you need to take some time off from people and socializing, you can turn off your notifications and decide to reply to any message the coming day. You have the power to dose the right amount of interaction, making it just right for you.
2. Because you can find inspiration without leaving the house
Sometimes we feel stuck in our learning routine. We know something is missing but we can’t quite point out what that is. We try Googling some new tool or strategies, but the frightful amount of results scares us away.
We need some fresh air in our studies but we’re in the dark and we can’t find any window to open.
New inspiration can come from other learners in ways you wouldn’t expect. The solution to our problem is often so close and so simple and yet, we need another pair of eyes to see it.
Observing the way others do things, the resources they use, or even new ways to use the same resources we have, is eye-opening.
You might even feel encouraged to dare something completely new, like making a video of yourself speaking in your target language. It seems less scary when you see someone else doing it, doesn’t it?
The best part of it all is, you can find all this inspiration while being comfortably curled up on your sofa, wearing your favorite pajamas
3. You can step out of your comfort zone just slightly
A challenge is meant to… well, challenge yourself. You wouldn’t be learning a language if you weren’t up for some of that anyway, would you?
To improve yourself, stepping out of your comfort zone is necessary. You can’t get far if you’re not willing to move at all. This is not to say you have to go through something you dread and makes you feel awful. Starting with a tiny little new thing is good enough.
When you do so, you’ll realize that being just one step out of your comfort zone isn’t so uncomfortable, after all. Soon you’ll realize that your comfort zone is very elastic and it expands as you stretch it.
A language challenge will help you do exactly that: through prompts, little goals, daily tasks, you’ll be able to expand your language learning playground week after week.
Remember that a little goes a long way
Alright, so you’re convinced and pumped up to join your first language challenge. Let me just give you a few quick tips before I send you off to a bright new start.
- Don’t overdo it. It’s easy to begin with tons of enthusiasm, only to end up on a breakdown a week later. If it’s your first language challenge, take it easy and respect your own boundaries.
- Be kind to yourself. It’s not a tragedy to skip a day or two if you’re feeling exhausted or if life gets in the way. Not even to skip half of it, for what matters. Half a challenge is already much more than no challenge at all. You’re human and you don’t need to be perfect!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Did you get stuck and disheartened? Share your struggle and ask for advice to your loved ones, to other participants to the challenge, language buddies or teachers!
- Do your best. Simple as that, your best is good enough. Don’t do anything less and don’t feel pressured to do anything more, either.
- Celebrate yourself. Do something extra nice to reward yourself for your hard work. You deserve it!
So, where do I find these challenges?
As I’d like to give you the most honest advice as I possibly can, I’m going to recommend you only challenges I’ve taken myself and that are, at the moment of writing, free of charge.
Instagram is a good place to start: there you can practice both writing (in the captions) and speaking (making a small video of yourself) in one place.
Do you want to focus on speaking with the aid of prompts and the corrections from native speakers? Then the 30-Day Speaking Challenge by Jonathan Huggins might be your best pick. You can also check out the #languagefunchallenge, which has topics for every day of the week and encourages language learners to step out of their comfort zone.
Are there any other language challenges I’ve missed and that you would recommend? Have you ever tried to join a language challenge and if so, how did it go? Let me know in the comments!