6 Obstacles You Must Overcome to Learn a New Language

Like anything we want to achieve, language learning is a long journey to go through.

Many surveys show that the majority of the reason why people never reach fluency is not because of age, talent, or resources.

It’s because they quit too early. While there have been several studies of the major benefits in acquiring a new language, such as improving your memory and delaying dementia, we’re all humans after all.

For those of you learning a new language, whether your goal is to speak Spanish, French, or Chinese, you’ll go through several inevitable obstacles during your journey.

Here are 6 major obstacles you will face and how to overcome them.

1. Frustration

Frustration is the first stage that you’ll experience in the learning stage, and it’s perfectly normal. This state of frustration just means you’re stretching your comfort zone and pushing yourself further than before. However, this is when so many of us quit because we don’t immediately “get it.”

Once we realize that upon getting past the frustration stage that the learning process becomes enjoyable and fun, it’s much easier to overcome. It’s only a temporary state that we feel, and what separates the successful individuals versus the unsuccessful is the ability to get past this stage.

The key is to take it step by step, instead of overwhelming yourself with a massive challenge. If your goal is to speak Spanish fluently (and you have zero knowledge), then your first goal should be as small as memorizing 10 of the most common Spanish words. From there, give yourself a treat or celebrate your small wins, and this will trigger your brain to crave more of these progressions. Then learn 20 words, and so on…

2. Lack of interest or purpose

While most obstacles could be easily cured through simple solutions, the lack of purpose or interest can only come from within you.

Without an internal desire to learn something, no amount of money, resources, and strategies can help you get to the next level.

In our free language course, we cover what we call our Ultimate Goal Setting strategy, by answering questions like:

  • What opportunities will become available by speaking fluently?
  • What would I do if I could speak this language fluently right now?
  • How will I feel after reaching fluency?

Perhaps you could have a deeper connection with your partner or family member who knows another language.

You could get a raise at your current job or open yourself up to new and amazing career opportunities with your new language. You can finally move to Spain or travel around South America with ease and comfort, creating deep connections with new people you meet.

Whatever your goal may be, make sure it excites you!

3. Cost

While money does not equal happiness, it is certainly a problem for many people when it comes to learning a language.

At the same time, with anything in life, you get what you pay for. This doesn’t mean that free solutions are ineffective, but if you’re looking to see serious and lasting results, then the fastest way to do this is through immersion with a native speaker (preferably a professional).

The best part is, this doesn’t mean purchasing a $1,000 ticket to fly to South America or Italy. With the advent of online technology, immersion learning can be brought to the comforts of your home — right to your screen.

Online platforms like Rype, provide you with language coaching for as little as $1/day, while matchmaking you to a personal language coach that will work one-on-one with you to accelerate your learning speed.

4. Lack of time

Time is the most valuable commodity that we never seem to have enough of. Having more time to learn a new language is a struggle for many of us, with our normal jobs, social life, and family to take care of.

And when we do manage to find those extra few hours in our day, the last thing we want to do is get in our cars and drive to go to language school or meet a private tutor, right?

Truthfully, we only need to carve out an extra 30 minutes per day (or less) to learn a language, and the simplest way to do this is to eliminate commuting. Most of us are still learning a language in-person, which requires anywhere from 45-60 minutes on average that is spent on solely commuting!

Instead of taking a bus to the nearest Starbucks in your local city, why not look for a teacher online that will allow you to avoid the commute in the first place?

5. No growth

If we don’t grow, we die. This means we have to constantly be improving, consistently be getting better, and always growing our knowledge.

Think about the last time you went on a long hike. While the final moments may seem like you’re walking in one place, the moment you look back, you realize how far you’ve walked!

This is what we need to do with language learning. Seeing how far we have come with our skillset will be the fastest way to motivate ourselves out of frustration, disappointment, or whatever state we’re in that leads to giving up too early.

If you’re working with a professional teacher or coach, ask for a monthly report of your progress, or even record yourself every month and watch how far you’ve come. Even noticing the improvement of your accent, or the confidence you have when speaking the foreign language can give you a boost of energy and excitement to sustain your growth over the long run.

6. No accountability

This applies to not just language learning, but everything from health & fitness, nutrition, business, and more.

The top athletes and business leaders pay coaches millions of dollars per year, sometimes solely for the psychological edge it gives them, knowing that someone is there to keep them accountable.

Think about how much more motivated we are when we go to the gym with a partner, rather than ourselves. It’s just how the human mind works.

After surveying dozens of language learners, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s why free mobile apps like Duolingo don’t bring lasting results, because there’s no incentive or motive to continue.

Languages are meant to be learned and experienced with fellow humans, there’s no other reason to learn it in the first place. It’s also how we’re best kept accountable. Whether you’re just beginning your journey or at an intermediate level, find an accountability partner who is a friend, family member, or a private French tutor to help you achieve your end goal.

If you’re still looking for a language tutor, head over to Rype and get started for free!


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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