First, let’s define the word difficult to mean *”requiring hard work; laborious; takes time to accomplish.”
So, is learning a language difficult?
Short Answer: Yes
Truer & Longer Answer: Yes, maybe, if it’s your first time but it gets easier once you build the skill
I am American, a native English speaker, and many people would say that for a native English speaker learning Spanish is “easier” than learning Mandarin Chinese.
But is that really true?
Such blanket statements are rarely good in any circumstance.
I took 3 years of Spanish in high school only to come to be able to say: Yo tengo uno gato en mis pantelones. Yet, fast forward 10 years later and then I’m having a 15-minute conversation in Mandarin Chinese after just about 5 months of studying.
The truth is, like anything else in life, learning a language is a skill. A skill that I learned. A skill that anyone can learn.
Mandarin Chinese was the 7th Foreign Language I’ve studied. So you better believe I learned how to learn! I found the great resources like Memrise, Duolingo, Anki, theMimicMethod, the add1challenge, etc. I followed the encouraging polyglots of Benny Lewis, Idahosa Ness, Brian Kwong, Luca Lampariello and more.
However, don’t be discouraged if you’re an absolute beginner. You may be saying “Well Phillip that’s all good for you but I’m barely starting, I don’t have this “language learning skill.”
Let me stop you right there.
The most successful language learners I know are those that find their target language, take their Why and Goals in hand, and run with it. No excuses. Just do it.
Don’t delay, start today! Even the Christian Bible stays in Proverbs 6:4-11 (NLT):
“Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do. Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter, like a bird fleeing from a net. Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”
The Bottom Line
When it comes down to it. Any language can be learned. With motivation, reasoning, and persistence in hand, you can learn. Sure you can find a 7 year old polyglot speaks 5 languages
and be amazed but then slowly and secretly discourage yourself by thinking you’re too old or it’s too late. Or you let a man who learns Spanish in a month provide encouragement.
Truly, if we just keep in mind the six steps I outline for learning a language. Just think “Okay, let’s learn some pronunciation today, throw in a couple of vocabulary words, have a nice chat with my iTalki tutor, and finish it off with a movie.” Then much more of us would be bilingual.
Difficultness of anything is relative and changes by each and every one of our perspectives. Our views are shaped by so many factors. However, I do hope that you, and anyone reading this for that matter, can at least come to believe that:
Learning A Language is Simple
Good luck & God Speed