121. The Hurdle of Learning a New Language (or any new skill)

In this episode, we discuss the challenges of learning a new language or any new skill. Many people feel overwhelmed, stressed, and embarrassed when faced with the task of learning a new language. Our brains often expect us to be proficient in something before we even begin, creating unnecessary pressure and hindering our learning process. 

We can relate this to other areas of life, such as starting a new job or learning to drive. Our brains tend to rely on past experiences to determine what we can achieve in the future. However, it is important to remember that it is normal to not know how to do something if we have never done it before. 

The same applies to learning a language. It is understandable that we may struggle with speaking a new language when we have been speaking our native language for most of our lives. It takes time, practice, and patience to become proficient in a new language. 

To overcome the negative thoughts and emotions that can hinder our progress, it is important to challenge our beliefs and expectations. We should let go of the pressure to be immediately good at something and instead embrace the learning process. 

In the podcast we also highlight some common thoughts to watch out for, such as comparing ourselves to others and expecting quick proficiency. These thoughts can lead to feelings of pressure, stress, overwhelm, confusion, worry, and embarrassment, which are not conducive to learning. 

Ultimately, it is important to remember that learning a new language or any new skill is a journey. It is okay to make mistakes and take the time to practice and improve. By letting go of unrealistic expectations and embracing the process, we can approach language learning with a positive mindset and achieve our goals.

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0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone, it’s Jennie Dildine, the LDS mission coach and you are listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 121, the hurdle of learning a language or any new skill.

0:16 I’m Jenny, the LDS mission coach. And whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next.

0:55 Hey, everybody, welcome to the podcast. I’m excited to be here with you today. I’m pretty sure I say beginning of every podcast, I should come up with something different maybe or not. Because the truth is, is I’m always excited to be hanging out with you. That’s the truth. I’m like, I can’t wait to hang out with the missionaries, their parents, their families, the RMS. I’m just glad to be here. And I’m glad you’re listening, because it shows that you really care about your mental and emotional well being. That’s what we’re doing here. And it’s super fun. Today, we’re going to be talking about the hurdle of learning a language or any new skill. I put that in there because I think these could be some tools and strategies you can use for any skill.

1:47 But before I jump into that, I want to just share with you a couple of fun things that are going on. One of the things is, I was talking to my husband this week and I said “Episode 121 comes out next week”. And he said, “Wow, you’ve been doing this as long as a mission now.” Okay, so we haven’t quite reached how long you would be on a, like a mission president or a mission leader. But if you typically, you know, you’re assigned to labor for 18 to 24 months, and I did the math, and I’ve been doing this for 2.3 years now. That’s how many episodes 50 121 weeks of it. And it’s pretty fun to think, Oh, I could have served a mission and come home now. Unless I was a mission leader, then I’d still be out there. But um solidarity with all of you. And it’s fun, that I just feel like this is my mission to get these tools out to you guys. And as many as possible before you leave, I did receive two new messages today. I talked a lot about this last week on the podcast, when I talked to you all about Mission Prep Plus, I shared an email that I get and how that I got and how it’s not uncommon for me to get emails like how can we help my son? How can we help my daughter?My son struggling with anxiety. My my brother is so anxious that he can’t sleep, things like that. And so I’ve definitely felt like it’s kind of my mission to get the word out about getting these tools before you leave mental and emotional tools to prepare you more for the mission. And if you’re already out, and you’re listening to this, hopefully it’s grounding you. I did get an email from a sister that was like, thank you so much for the podcast. It’s really grounding me. My companion and I listened to it, I’m sending it to my other friend who’s now who’s serving in Peru. And so I guess I will put in here that if you do want the podcasts for a missionary that you love, we do share the podcast via Google Drive with missionaries all over the world. If you’re interested in that you can just send an email to podcast at Jennie dildine.com. And just say, hey, I want the podcast for my missionary and we’ll just send it right on over totally no cost to you. So that’s super fun.

4:16 Um, anyway, 2.3 years on the podcast, sharing stuff with you guys and hearing from you. And it’s important work and I love it. Love it. Love it. So thank you for being here. I wanted to mention quickly that I was in a summit with a lot of other presenters, a Seek this Jesus Study Summit that’s going to begin on Monday. By the time this podcast airs, you would get 16 videos to your inbox every day. And when Erin told me that she’s the one who’s running the whole thing when she told me that it was completely free. I wanted to make sure that you guys could have access to it. So it’s completely free, I’m gonna put a link in the show notes. But basically, you’ll get a video every day to your inbox that will teach you lots of ways to become closer to our Heavenly Parents in Jesus Christ. I’m super excited about that. So if you’re interested in that, I’ll put a link in our show notes. So you can sign up for that, because it begins on Monday, October 16th, 16 days to get you all the way through the end of October, and I’m in there somewhere in the middle. I don’t remember exactly what day but we talk all about missionaries. But there’s so many good presenters in there. I’d highly, I’d highly recommend checking it out. And then, just one little reminder that we’re now enrolling for Mission Prep Plus, so we are enrolling for our November program, our November cohort or a class I think of it much like your MTC class, and it’s going to run those two weeks. So if you’re interested in that, I will also include a link in the show notes.

6:11 Okay. Whew, that was a lot. But let’s start with the hurdle of learning a language. So there’s one of my emails that goes out, when people sign up for a certain free offer that I have, that asks missionaries to email me back and tell me the thing that they are most worried about, for the mission. And I love hearing from you. So keep sending emails, thank you. That’s so fun. And it’s such good information for me to have. But one of the things that comes up quite often is I’m afraid of learning a language. Or maybe they already have their call, they know they’re going to learn a language and they say something like, I am afraid that I’m going to be terrible at speaking Portuguese. I’m afraid I’m gonna be terrible at speaking Finnish or whatever it is. And so I wanted to record this podcast because I think our brains, it’s just a funny thing that our brain does is that it thinks we’re supposed to be good at something. Before we even do it. Do you guys notice this? Like, we’re just supposed to always be good at everything. Before we even know what we’re supposed to do. Like, if we’re starting a new job, we’re supposed to know how to do the job, our brain tells us, we’re supposed to know how to do that job before we even do the job.

7:33 I’m reminded of this when my daughter was going through elementary school. And even if she went into middle school this year, she just was like, well, the maths can be middle school math, I don’t know how to do middle school math. And I’m like, of course, you don’t know how to do middle school math, because you haven’t been taught middle school math. Here’s the thing is our brain will always go to the past for proof of what it can do in the future. And so it’s gonna go to the past and be like, well, we’ve never done middle school math. So of course, we can’t do middle school math in the future.

8:07 Here’s a couple other examples. I don’t know how to drive, right, maybe you recently got your driver’s license, or whatever it is, or I don’t know how to teach the scriptures, maybe you’re on the mission, or you’re getting ready to leave, and you’re like, I don’t know the Scriptures well enough. And I’ve never taught the Scripture stories before, so I won’t be able to do it. Or at some point, I feel like I will be writing a book for preparing missionaries, or returned missionaries, or for currently serving missionaries. I actually picture as sort of like a trio of books, one for each stage of the mission. But um, my brain is like, but how do we do that we don’t know how to write a book. And this is what I want to say to all of us and especially if we’re thinking about learning a language is this is just a really good thing to remember is of course, you don’t, of course, you don’t know how to do middle school math. Of course, you don’t know how to drive if you’ve never driven before, of course, you don’t know how to teach the scriptures if you haven’t taught them before. Of course, I don’t know how to write a book. I’ve never written a book before. And if you haven’t spoken German, of course, you don’t know how to do it.

9:19 Obviously, I mean, when we say it that way, doesn’t it makes so much sense. We’re like, oh, yeah, I guess that makes sense. The problem becomes right when our brain sort of gets us into this mindset that we’re supposed to already know how to do it, and that creates a lot of emotions. We start to have a lot of thoughts that actually prevent us from learning the skill that we want to learn. So I just was kind of brainstorming some other things that we might want to learn some other skills like pickleball, you guys, I don’t know how to play pickleball maybe I should learn how to play pickleball.

9:52 I was coaching one woman one time who was learning a flute part for a concert that she was in, and our brains want to be like, I don’t know how to do that part. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that part. And, of course, you don’t know how to do that if you’ve never played this part before. It could be scripture memorization. My daughter in law is wrapping up her nursing degree, and I’m sure before she started, she’s like, I don’t know how to be a nurse, I can’t be a nurse. And of course, she doesn’t know how to be a nurse. She’d never been a nurse before. And even when I started this podcast, I remember getting coached one time, I think it was by Jodie Moore, actually, I was on a call with her. And I’m like, but I’ve never done a podcast before. So I don’t know if I can. And she was like, “yeah, of course, you don’t know how to do a podcast, you’ve never done it before”. Maybe you’ve just gotten back from your mission. And you’re just like, I would love to end up in a marriage at some point, but I don’t even know where to begin dating because I haven’t done it for so long. And of course, you don’t know how to date after your mission, we might have some ideas, but mostly, we just got to start trying stuff.

11:01 So when it comes to the language, because it’s so makes so much sense that we don’t know how to speak a new language, you’ve spoken the same language for like 18 years, or 19 years or 20 years, 21 years, maybe even. So it makes sense that you’re not going to know how, and that it’s going to be a challenge and that it’s going to be a hurdle, or a mountain that you need to climb in order to get where you want to be. So here are a couple of thoughts that I want you to watch out for. Remember, our thoughts create our feelings, which drive our actions, K thoughts I want you to watch out for good missionaries learn the language more quickly, or I want to be proficient or good quote unquote, at the language, or I can’t communicate well, if I don’t know the language. This is when I hear a lot like my son can’t communicate with his mission president, my son can’t communicate with the people he’s teaching, my daughter can’t communicate with her companion. If I don’t know the language. This is what I was thinking about last week, the gift of tongues is a spiritual gift, so I must not be close to the Spirit, if I’m not learning the language quickly or in the way that I want to. And then this one is one that I kind of thought of was my companion should know the language better. So think of this if you’re in training, or something like that, that you just notice, like, oh, well, so and so they should know it by now, or they should know the language. And please don’t assume that about other people, maybe it came easier to you maybe it’s not going to come easier to your companion or the person you’re training. And it’s all fine. Because listen, of course, we don’t know how to speak a new language.

12:50 Now again, in this podcast, we’re talking all about the language. That’s kind of the focus I’m using here. But we could plug anything into these thoughts to watch out for right? Good athletes learn pickleball more quickly. I want to be good at pickleball. I can’t play pickleball at all, if I don’t know how to play. Maybe this spiritual gift one doesn’t apply to pickleball. But like if I was a better person, or if I could just make myself practice more or whatever, then I’d be good at pickleball. And then we bring in this comparison one like, oh, they should be better at pickleball or that person is better at pickleball than me.

13:36 Okay, so here’s what all of these thoughts create. The feelings that they create are pressure, stress, overwhelm, confusion, worry, embarrassment. And here’s what I want to offer to you today, is that these emotions are not useful for learning a language or any new skill. Pickleball, nursing, flute, dating, not useful to be in pressure, stress, overwhelm, confusion, worry or embarrassment, because here’s what’s happening when we feel these emotions as we shut down. And actually, it’s super funny to notice, like, it’s intentional for your brain to offer you these thoughts. Because when we feel these emotions, we shut down and your brain is like, winning! We don’t have to try hard. We don’t have to do anything. We get to conserve energy. We don’t have to feel any discomfort. So when we feel these feelings we do we shut down. Maybe we don’t practice the pickleball we don’t practice our flute part. We don’t practice the language. We actually do less. It propels us away from our goal instead of towards our goal.

14:50 Now I definitely want to reiterate, there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling these feelings. I don’t want to I don’t want you to misunderstand me like, Oh, if I’m feeling stressed, then I can’t learn the language. Or if I’m feeling overwhelmed, I can’t learn the language. Or if I’m feeling worried or embarrassed, I can’t learn the language that is not true, you can, you can still learn the language, it just might take a lot longer, it just might be a slower process. It might feel terrible along the way. And it just won’t be as fun learning the language when it’s fueled by those emotions.

15:27 Remember, your emotions are always like fuel in a car. I love telling the story of one of my friends, that when she was first learning how to drive, she went to the gas station and started filling her car up with diesel fuel. And then of course, her car didn’t start. And then she was freaked out and felt all of these emotions and felt really embarrassed and stressed and overwhelmed and all the things. Well, because she filled up her car with the wrong fuel, did it make it impossible for her to get to our next destination? No, like eventually her dad came and they pumped it out or whatever, they took it to the car shop or whatever. And they got it all figured out. It just took her a lot longer to get where she wanted to go. And in the meantime, she had to feel all of these feelings that didn’t feel as good. So please don’t think that because you feel these emotions that it’s wrong or bad, it’s just if you want to and you’re ready to fuel, kind of a more fun, way to learn a language and a more, less hurtful way to learn language or self hating way to learn language. There is a way or any skill, right?

16:38 So here’s the other thing. I’m not asking you to go all the way to I’m amazing at speaking Portuguese or German. I’m amazing at ASL now, just all of a sudden, because we have to choose thoughts that our brain actually believes. If we don’t really sort of have a little bit of evidence that we’re amazing at Portuguese or German or ASL, then our brain will just reject it. And it’ll go back to the other thoughts. So here are some thoughts that maybe you could try on, if you’re ready. And if you want to. And if it feels like fun.

17:14 “I am willing to stink at Japanese for a while”. It sounds counterintuitive, right? It sounds like we should just be positive thinking. But this really takes the power back to yourself. Like I’m willing to stink at it and be bad at learning a language. It takes all the pressure away, it takes all of the stress away, it takes all of the overwhelm away. And it’s just like, yeah, I might stink at it for a while.

17:40 Okay. Here’s another thought you could try. “I have to be bad at the language before I can get more proficient at it”. That’s actually true. For any skill. Like, I could sit all day and be like, I’m never going to be good at pickleball, I’m going to be bad at pickleball you know what that’s going to cause me to do is not go play and not go try. But if I’m just like, you know, what I think I could do is be a terrible pickleball player. I’m willing to be bad at it. You can bet you’re gonna find me on the pickleball court. Does that make sense?

18:16 Here’s another thought you could try. “This is the part of the mission where I butcher the language and accidentally say all the wrong words”. Because here’s what’s true, is that if you’re trying to learn a language, part of the process is getting it wrong. Part of the process is doing it bad, part of the process is being terrible at it. And then you’ll go along and you’ll be terrible at it. And then you’ll keep going, keep going. And you’ll get more and more confidence built as you sort of remember because your brain looks the passes, the more successes that you have. You’ll build up momentum and start to gain that confidence in your speaking. But we never have that confidence at first. I wish I could tell you, you did. I wish and all the things that I’ve been doing in my business and recording a podcast and creating a new program. And you know, speaking on stages and stuff like that. I wish that I could tell you that, yeah, I was just confident from the beginning. But I wasn’t. At first when I started this podcast. I was like you know what, I think I just want to create a lousy podcast. Let’s just see if a lousy podcast can help a few people and it has and I’ve learned along the way how to tweak, how to change, how to speak, I don’t know if I even want to go back and listen to the first podcast episode. And but I should write and then acknowledge how far I’ve come.

19:42 Here’s another thought you can try. “Of course I’m bad at learning this language, being bad at it is part of the process.” Just be willing to be bad at it you guys. Stop with the pressure. Stop with the stress. Stop with the overwhelm, even the embarrassment like I’d say, fully own it. If you mess up a word here or there, just say to the person. “Yeah, I’m still learning, I’ve got a ways to go.” Just own that, because there’s nothing wrong with being down for the process. In fact, I highly admire people who stick with it and keep going, even though they feel bad at it. You know what most people do when they feel bad at some things, they stop, and they give up? Not you. You’re like language. Let’s go, let’s do this. I’m not going to be good at it at first. And that’s okay. I’m not supposed to be good at it. Of course, I don’t know how to speak German. Makes sense? Right?

20:43 Okay, there’s a couple of things that I want to mention here. One is just sort of like an anecdotal story I was talking to one of my friends and her daughter is, just recently I got to Brazil. And she was telling me how the language is kind of coming slowly. And it sounds like her daughter has an awesome attitude about it, she just knows that the language is going to come, it’s going to come with time. And she’s not, you know, beating herself up or creating any pressure or anything like that. And what she told me that her daughter keeps saying is, you know, what it’s taught me, not being able to speak in the language, is how to better, listen. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, that’s such a cool thing, I want to tell that to my listeners of the podcast is, maybe there’s a reason that it’s not coming. And it doesn’t have anything to do with you. Maybe there’s a reason that you are having a slower time, or whatever it may be it is just because you need to learn to listen more. And what a cool skill to have as a missionary, is just how to listen. This story reminds me of one of my favorite thoughts when it when I’m learning something new or a new skill is this isn’t about me. It seems to always get out of get me out of my head. And like I have to be better at this. I have to be proficient at this. Instead, like why do I want this? What is this about? It’s about someone else. And it kind of gets me out of this idea that I need to prove something, prove that I’m good at German, prove that I have a good podcast, prove anything like that. I just always come back to this isn’t about me. And that story of this sister missionary reminded me of that, oh, wait a second, this isn’t even about me. I’m here to listen, and love. And so I love that story so much.

22:40 There’s one other really important thing I want you to remember here is when you gain the skill, of pickleball, of the flute part, of your nursing degree, of learning that language, you won’t be any better as a human than you are right now. You today, and you and eight weeks or whatever it takes you 10 weeks, 12 weeks, six months, you now are equally as valuable and whole and worthy as you will be then you can’t change your worth by adding a language. You can’t change your worth by being good at pickleball or at flute part. So here’s what’s true you guys is your brain will just want six months from now when you know the language, your brain will just find another reason to feel pressure, stress, overwhelm, confusion, worry and embarrass. That’s its job, right, to protect us. And so it will always be looking out for those things. So if that’s true, you’re gonna feel those emotions both ways, now, and in the future. Let go of the stress or pressure. There is never better than here. You are enough. Right now. How much you know the language right now is enough. And you’re no less or more, even, worthy or valuable or whole if you know the language. Okay, you’re no more spiritual, whatever. It doesn’t mean anything. Except for sometimes we just want to learn a language because it sounds fun. Sometimes we want to learn pickleball because it sounds fun. Sometimes we want to get a nursing degree because how fun would that be to help in that way?

24:15 So what is the only hurdle preventing you from learning a language? What’s the hurdle that we all have to get over to learn a new skill? What we find out that the only hurdle is you. You thinking you should do better, you not being kind to yourself when you aren’t better, you putting pressure on yourself to be better. That pressure isn’t coming from outside of you. And if it is, that’s okay too. But notice that that pressure is only created because you’re believing a story someone told you, so just let go of all those emotions. Let go of all those thoughts that are creating all of those emotions that just make it harder to get where you want to go. Ironically, when we can just be willing to be bad at it, to be willing to be terrible at speaking Portuguese, guess what happens? We learn Portuguese, and it’s a lot more easy and fun. We don’t have to beat ourselves up along the way. All right. Okay, you guys, I hope that this episode helps you. Everyone have the most amazing week and we will see you next time.

25:29 Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can present a unique set of challenges. And many of those challenges you might not even see coming. So you’re gonna want a unique set of solutions. It’s easier than you think to overcome worry and anxiety, serve the successful mission you’ve always dreamed up and navigate your post mission experience with confidence. That is why I created some amazing free goodies that I’m sharing in my show notes. Maybe you’ll want to grab the free training for preparing missionaries, my video course for RMS or maybe you and I should hop on a free strategy call. If you’re ready to take your preparedness to serve or your preparedness to come home to the next level. Then go grab one of those freebies. And in the meantime, no matter which part of the mission experience you are involved in. Just know that Jenny, the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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