Successful vs. Non-Successful Language Learners

We’ve all had experience teaching as well as learning languages. In your opinion, what qualities do the successful language learners have the ones who aren’t successful don’t?

My top factor is motivation! I think you need a reason to truly learn anything that goes beyond just passing a test. My best students are those that want to move abroad, travel the world or work for an international company. Those that study just to avoid having to take the class again next year are obviously pretty terrible students.

Jackie-I totally agree about the motivation thing. That’s huge for someone being able to learn a language and without it, it’s basically impossible.

But, if we assume that motivation does indeed exist, here are a couple factors that I think are important:

1. A large enough working vocabulary. Students that don’t know enough vocab, especially nouns and verbs really struggle. But, the key is that it must be working vocab, which means that students are able to recall it effortlessly and actually use it.

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2. Confidence. Here in Korea, I have so many students that speak English reasonably well but have no confidence. This results in them appearing to be far worse at English than they actually are. Sometimes, there is someone who is far more confident than their skills should actually dictate, but they often get perceived as “good” at English.

Elizabeth-what are your thoughts about how to help learners have confidence in their language abilities? I agree that it’s really important, but it’s also kind of a “fuzzy” thing that doesn’t lend itself to quantitative measurement.

Confidence-it can be pretty difficult to help the students who have no confidence whatsoever. That often has more to do with their personalities and it’s likely that they’re pretty down on themselves in many other areas of their life besides just English.
However, the people that I can help are those who are normally pretty confident, capable people but just think that they’re lacking in English ability.

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