Belief in your Abilities

A key part of learning a language better is to have confidence in your abilities.  I believe the bridge to that is to actually hold a “belief” in your abilities first.  A belief may not have any intrinsic evidence, but in your view, it is more likely to be true than not.  People “believe” silly things all the time, simply just to get through the day.  It may be worth your time to have some silly belief that you can indeed learn a language until the undeniable evidence exists.  This is self-delusion with a purpose.  You can also think of it as building trust in your own abilities, which necessarily takes time.

The first action step may be to accept social proof through friend validation or from authority.  Ask a good friend or even your mother for an honest assessment of your abilities.  Maybe your language partner from university or the lacrosse club.  It may not be 100 percent accurate or even partly true, but you can take that validation and run with it.  Just by virtue of the fact you spoke Japanese in your classroom or on the street, you are indeed a Japanese speaker.  Forget about your level right now and take that knowledge and act upon it.  Do what you would expect Japanese speakers to do.  Watch a short video in Japanese, briefly practice a new character or try a Skype call on a chat service like iTalki.  These small steps lead directly into the next phase.

If you take small steps, the next thing you know is that you have small achievements.  You may gain three straight days of learning new vocabulary.  Mark this on your calendar.  Celebrate these achievements.  Then keep going.  If you perform simple tasks on a consistent basis and you will gain endorsement from unexpected places, often at unexpected times.  Let’s say that you practiced your basic introductory and dialogue in Japanese for perhaps sixty days in a row.  The next time you have an opportunity, either planned or unplanned, you are going to rock it and it is all because you started with a belief that was based solely on a positive idea.  An endorsement at this point is necessarily external.  A teacher’s sincere compliment, or better yet earned grade, is something that will tell you that you are on the right track.

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