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The matter entails not only your own mother tongue but the thousands (7139 to be precise according to Ethnologue) of languages which intertwined make up the fabric of this intricate but magnificent world we are all part of.

Why does any language exist?

Reread the heading. Allow it to sink in.

Communication should never be underestimated because our need to express our feelings and ideas and in turn be able to understand others, is at the core of what makes us human.




By and large, language may be broken down into fluency and accuracy. Even though they are two sides of the same coin, occasionally we need to favour one over the other. As a language learner, they both require to be understood as individual skills to be developed and nurtured. Regularly tossing the coin is a plausible alternative to cement your foundation.



According to the dictionary ‘accuracy’ is the quality or state of being ‘correct’ or ‘precise’. When it comes to language learning it refers to how correct your language system is or in other words how well you can manage to use grammar, vocabulary and alas pronunciation. Mainly, it is about the use of the correct tenses, verbs, collocations, and colloquialisms; somehow pronunciation requires to be squeezed in as well.

Whereas ‘fluency’ basically refers to the ability or condition of being fluent or in other words being able to communicate. In the language learning process, it means that the individual can convey meaning regardless of mistakes.



Unfortunately, most educational systems place a disproportionate importance on accuracy rather than approaching both in a balanced manner, hence fluency is usually dwarfed and neglected. Up to a certain point it is easier within schools to teach the rules to a language rather than delving into it, it adheres better to old-fashioned methodologies within systems that sometimes are exhausted from having to cater to multiple needs and requirements.

However, where does that leave the language learner?

Most likely, perplexed, anxious over grammar, grammar and you guessed it…more grammar, fostering obsessive nit-pickers who are terrified of engaging in any conversation whatsoever. Such condition is everything but flattering but luckily there might just be a way to boost your self-esteem as a language learner.



No one on the face of this planet enjoys or remotely likes making mistakes.

If we are to speak candidly, this is all the more so when it comes to adults who are intrinsically averted to putting their foot in it. Yet as grown-ups we have hopefully come to appreciate that we are imperfect beings who learn our most valuable lessons through our so-called mistakes.

That is to say, that the most monumental mistake you can make as a language learner is to be intimidated and not put yourself out there in order to put your skills to the test and so discover, explore and unfold language through trial and error.

To favour communication, you ought to deliberately leave your fears of making mistakes at the door. In essence, this approach mimics a great deal how a child learns their first language; ergo much like children you would be focusing more on getting your point across without worrying excessively about making mistakes. Being bold, a bit reckless but carefree certainly may reap its rewards in the long run.

The instant benefit is that real-life-communication is attainable and not completely out of reach but for a change, it is the main objective. What you are saying becomes more important than how you are saying it; of course, this does not mean that you can merely string words together and expect to have had fulfilled your task.



Unapologetically, intentionally choose to make the free flow of ideas the purpose of communication. We still have to articulate a message for which reason a word salad will just not do.

The message should allow coherent interpretation within context; nonetheless, try stop yourself from assigning excessive weight to grammar. Continuous vigilance is not necessarily a good thing and it is certainly impractical.


Here are some tips to ease the bumps on your journey…



In a world where everyone is overly concerned about other people’s opinions, learning a language will constantly push you out of your comfort zone by putting you in awkward situations. The silver lining is that it will strengthen your character, resilience, and self-esteem because through persistence you will start conquering situations. In short, you need to learn to be comfortable or at least ok with being uncomfortable.


There are no magical short-cuts, but one thing is certain; the more we learn a second language, the less exciting it is. This latter is true due to the following:

  • the more grammar the learner knows, the more they want to squeeze it into conversation by disregarding the main purpose which should be communication. Retrieve the fun by keeping it light, keeping it simple- an
  • d that includes the grammar you use.
  • the more theory a person knows, the more self-critical they become thus developing a sense of apprehensiveness because of how others might perceive them. Stop worrying, trust what you know and if shifting your mindset seems a bit far off, then try to shake it at least.

We learn the most when we are relaxed and enjoy the process, not when we are trying to hit targets and meet deadlines.


One of the biggest misconceptions is that fluency requires people to speak quickly, and this is not quite so. Most people speak very quickly when under stress; in contrast, eloquent speakers such as Sir Winston Churchill or Martin Luther King Jr, took their time to interpret their thoughts into words.

Slowing down allows you time to think and it makes you sound more confident.



Whilst it does seem rather logical that we ought to think in the target language, our intuitive preference will be against it because we would rather feel safe. Deliberately thinking in a foreign language requires huge effort and does not happen overnight but if achieved, it makes it easier on your brain.

Picture an intense quick-paced game of ping pong, the ball vehemently being flung from one side to the other. That is what happens in your brain when you are relentlessly translating. Your mind will demand frequent timeout of the conversation.

Translation rarely works because we think associatively in meaningful segments of language- imagery and chunks of language such as idiomatic expressions or phrases. Therefore, we are more akin to thinking in pictures rather than words.


Ideally, you would want the ‘English’ map on your brain to be as independent as possible from your mother tongue’s map. So, for example when you are speaking and you suddenly realise that you are missing a word to shape your idea, instead of resorting to translation, try to use the vocabulary you do have to describe the concept.

If I did not have the word ‘map‘ in my repertoire, I would say ‘it is a drawing or diagram representing geographical areas such as continents, countries, cities, etc. or even ideas’

This is a fabulous coping mechanism which will enable you to scaffold a conversation. So, let’s take the first step together…you might have noticed many words in bold such as fabric, coin, old-fashioned, etc. while reading this article. How would you describe them?