VIDEO: Do you need talent to learn a language?

Do you need talent to learn a language?

Whenever I tell people that I speak 7 languages, they always say: ‘Ah, you’re so talented, you’re so lucky, I wish I had the talent that you have.’
But the question is: 

  • Is it really talent that helps people learn languages?
  • Is talent important to learn a language?
  • Can people learn a language if they’re not talented? 

I personally think that if I have some talent for languages, that it helps me maybe 15% more than other people who are not talented. That means I need to work just 15% less than those who are not talented. And that is not really very much, is it? 

The right approach will help you! 

I really believe it, because I’ve been working with people who think they don’t have language talent because they’ve been struggling for 20-30 years. They’re learning on and on. They try different methods and nothing works. 

And then they change something in the way they are learning, and suddenly, it works! Suddenly, they can learn a new language or even two or three, and suddenly they are talented. 

So I really think it’s not about the talent, it’s about the approach to language learning that we have. And to be quite honest, I think that for many people, not being talented is actually just an excuse. Because it’s quite comfortable to say: ‘Oh well, I’m not one of those talented ones. I won’t even try, I won’t bother because I can’t learn a language.’

But I can assure you that everyone can learn a language.
I honestly believe that.

Because if you think about it… we’ve all learned our mother tongue. There are no people who are not talented enough to learn it, or who know just a little bit of it. We all speak our native language pretty well. We don’t have any problems communicating.

Basically, if you do the same for any other language (learn in a natural way, where we hear the language many times in many different contexts) then we can learn any other language just in the same way. But of course, it takes some practice, discipline, and some time spent with the language. 

So if you’ve been thinking that you’re not talented, think twice. Because maybe you just haven’t found the right approach which would help you learn a language. 

I like this saying which says:

Quote saying: Hard work beats talent if talent doesn't work hard

This is so true, because you can be the most talented person in the world, but if you don’t really do something about it, if you don’t spend time learning the language, then you will never speak.

Fluency doesn’t just come upon you; you won’t just speak the language miraculously one day. You really have to work hard. And that is exactly what I’ve done with all my languages. I usually spend two years learning every one of them. And that’s what it takes.

Lýdia Machová

Language mentor
I have learned 7 languages by myself, and I usually add a new one every two years. As a language mentor I've helped thousands of people to learn languages by themselves, in ways different from traditional classroom methods, and with much better and faster results. I'm a TED and TEDx speaker and a former organizer of the Polyglot Gathering, one of the biggest world events for polyglots.
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