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When there is an impediment to getting something done, people say that it is holding them back. A lot of times these impediments are real, but many times, it is all in the mind. Sometimes the former can be changed, and real obstacles to what we want can be removed. The latter can always be changed… but it isn’t always easy.

Sometimes a situation can truly hold you back from doing something. Consider the case of the music lover who wants to drive across the country to see their favorite musician perform. If they do not own or have access to a car, then that holds them back from making it to the show. If they can buy, borrow, or rent a car, then they can get to the concert.

Every once in a while, I’ll meet someone who will say, “I can’t learn a language. I tried in school and I was terrible!” Well, school is not the be-all and end-all of learning. Just because you were unable to learn something in school does not mean that you will never be able to learn that thing. As the great American writer and humorist Mark Twain famously quipped, “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”

The human brain is hardwired for many things. Among them, learning and communicating. What better way to use your brain that by learning a new language? No matter what sort of experiences you had in school with language learning, other attempts at learning a language can have very different outcomes. Outside of school you are free to learn on your own terms, in a way that works for you.

Don’t let your past experiences hold you back from speaking a second language fluently, with ease. You can do it. With patient, consistent practice, you will do it. Sometimes all it takes to convince your mind that you can do it is to start small. Small successes in the beginning can grow into larger successes, snowballing until you are able to have a basic conversation in a second language.

When you think about those things that you find yourself telling others time and again that you want to do, what are they? Are you doing them? If not, why? What are the things that are holding you back from doing what you want? When it comes to working on a second language, we’ve already covered the common excuses.

So, what’s holding you back?

Glossary

impediment: obstacle, something that prevents or limits success :: When there is an impediment to getting something done

the former: the first of a list of two or more items :: Sometimes the former can be changed

the latter: the last of a list of two or more items :: The latter can always be changed

to make it to: to go, to arrive :: that holds them back from making it to the show

be-all and end-all: something that is essential or of great importance, the ultimate part of something :: school is not the be-all and end-all of learning

to quip: to make a clever remark or funny observation :: Mark Twain famously quipped, “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”

on one’s own terms: in one’s own way :: outside of school you are free to learn on your own terms

to snowball: to increase and grow at a rapidly increasing rate :: Small successes in the beginning can grow into larger successes, snowballing until you are able to have a basic conversation in a second language

time and again: frequently, repeatedly :: those things that you find yourself telling others time and again that you want to do