Language Learning for Introverts: An Anxious Guide to Mastering a Second Tongue

Image source: Thomas Hawk, CC.

This is a step-by-step collection of successful anecdotes and ideas that might come in handy if you are planning on learning a new language — or can’t seem to find a way to do it without betraying your much treasured solitude.

Step 1: Observe.

I personally find phone calls particularly anxiety-inducing. After heavy reading, I have sort of come to the conclusion that this probably originates in my fear of not reading social situations well. Communication means all sorts of verbal and non-verbal expressions, and I’m scared of becoming clumsy x10 when I only have words and tone to help me.


Step 2: Get the Basics Right.

I need my sweet time to get familiar with a topic, because I enjoy exploring every possible angle of a problem or discovery. I need to feel confident I have understood -not just the thing itself but its ramifications,- before I can express my opinion. It’s the same with a language.


Step 3 (optional): Test the Waters.

You can skip this step and go directly to n. 4, but I would recommend to give it a try since it feel damn good when you succeed, and not much is required to make it work.

Step 4: Think.

This is not a very descriptive title, but it’s as simple as that: Try to think in the language you are learning. This step, by the way, can be done in simultaneous with Step 5 and is my ultimate favorite breakthrough-inducing activity.

Step 5: Read, Watch and Explore.


Anthropologist & User Experience Designer. I write about science and technology. Robot whisperer. VR enthusiast. Gamer. @yisela_at

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