Introvert & language learning

I’m an introvert.

When I say that, I immediately get pushback from friends and even people who just met me.

As if I just said I have brown eyes (they are blue).

Seriously, I do identify as an introvert, because

  • I love spending time on my own and this is when I charge the batteries,
  • the idea of reading a book is usually more exciting than going to a party (one thing the pandemic helped me with this year!),
  • I have a tendency to sit with my issues rather than share them with others,
    (even when I’m the first one to tell my friends about good news!)
  • and most importantly: it takes me a lot of energy to talk to someone new.

For example, if I need to ask a stranger for direction on the street, or introduce myself to the new neighbours, I always need to pluck up my courage very consciously and decide to do it.

Do I think it’s a bad thing? Not at all.

Do I have moments where I’m comfortable and I can be around people? Of course.

Do I gather all my willpower and send a newsletter to people I don’t all know? Apparently!

But that doesn’t mean it comes naturally.

And I think it’s important to acknowledge that.

Especially when you’re learning a language, and the most common way of practising is with other people. 

To a certain point it can be fun to push yourself a little bit.

I’m realising though, pushing too hard doesn’t work.

Sometimes it’s just OK to say: I’m an introvert, I already went to one dinner this weekend, I’m not going to add another one.

Or: I’ve spoken a foreign language to 3 people already, now I’m ready to take a break.

And there are many other ways to practice your language skills as an introvert. I recently heard an interview with a guy who had taught himself German just by speaking to himself. In the interview he said it was the second time he spoke to someone, and he was fluent.

Journaling can have the same effect: you write and get better, just by yourself.

Even though my programme includes speaking in a (safe) group, there’s also plenty of introvert-orientated activities in there, because I designed it for people like me, who are not always up to talking.

What about you? Do you identify as an introvert, extravert, or a little bit of both?

How do you notice this when you show up in life? Or in your language practice?

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