“No time” is just an excuse

One of the skills most valued by native English speakers is the ability to speak a foreign language. Some may console themselves in the knowledge (or assumption) that “everyone” speaks English. Some would give it a try at some stage. Most who wish to learn a language do not get started or fail to persevere. The most common reason cited is “no time”.

This is particularly true of young professionals today, who lead very busy lives. Whilst it’s not my place to be telling clients how they should spend their time, I would like to point out some brutal truths. It’s not true that some people are particularly “gifted” and hence able to speak multiple languages. I grew up in Malaysia where almost everyone is at least bilingual, with many people being trilingual or quad-lingual. Including primary school dropouts. If you want something bad enough, you will do what it takes. Despite all the websites and CDs promising instant results, the truth is learning a language takes time and effort. But then so does everything worth having.

I recall reading somewhere that the average Kiwi spends over 10 hours a week watching TV.
Even half that amount of time invested weekly in language learning will bear rich fruits. After a few months you would develop greater confidence and more importantly, know whether language learning is the thing for you. There’s no loss. At the very least you will be able to greet people you meet in their native language. Anyone who has done this will understand how good it feels to be able to do so.

Instead of playing games and watching TV, spend the time going through materials covered in class. Download apps, watch youtube videos, listen to podcasts. Don’t come up with excuses. The only person you’re cheating is yourself. Much as I like our high-achieving teachers to be miracle workers, the truth is at most they contribute 20% towards your language learning goals. You make up the other 80%.

With some willpower, accountability, a systematic approach and some old fashioned hard work, anyone can achieve basic competence in a foreign language.

p/s: Check out Euroasia’s upcoming language courses

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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.

2 Comments

  1. Ni Hao Kenneth, I do not disagree with your sentiments, however some of us are caught up in the daily demands of our businesses, which may clash with EuroAsia lesson times. In my case several sessions clashed with a long sales trip to Malaysia and China. I am not of the younger generation who are comfortable with “Apps” and would have preferred a catchup course page, “homework” if you will, on the EuroAsia website, I could have kept up to date while travelling. The excellent course books were just too heavy to take in my otherwise stuffed luggage, and with no updates enroute, I was out of date on my return. This made it too hard for my old brain to take it all in. While Tutor Elaine is a wonderful teacher, the demands of the class’s progress mean’t that I was out of my depth very quickly.
    I would like you to consider a web page of course material accessible by financial students to catchup and/or refresh the lessons. The sign-in should be accessible from the course start date and for a few weeks afterward to reinforce the lessons. This would also reinforce EuroAsia as the place to be.

  2. Ken Leong says:

    Good idea Trevor. We’ve been thinking the same thing. So your comments are very timely.
    I’ll be in touch with you to let you test our new online course so that you can catch up and refresh.

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