How to learn a second language – You don’t seem to be getting anywhere?


How to learn a second language is a very complex subject but we will go directly to the core on this post. Watching people learning languages for years I’ve come to a very personal conclusion. If you want to learn Italian or any other language, I believe the key factor lies inside yourself. It’s the motivation, the push, the drive, the eagerness to discover what makes the difference in the process of learning a language.


Aesop’s fable: “The tortoise and the hare”

All of us have heard Aesop’ fable, “The tortoise and the hare”. The hare had it all in its favor. But the attitude of the proud coney made it suffer defeat. It had all the resources and recourses but it did not use them wisely. Its anatomy, the stats, common sense, all pointed to the hare as the winner, but… well, you know the story! Slow and steady wins the race.

Unmotivated students

I’ve seen students start a course to learn a language. They have time to practice. They don’t have great responsibilities in life yet or time-consuming positions. They have the means to learn the language: they can take courses, pay private tutors and travel. They have people around them constantly encouraging them to learn the language: family and friends are persistently motivating them to learn. But, yet, with all these advantages, they don’t learn the language.


Motivated students

On the other hand, I’ve seen students with everything against them. Resources are less than the minimum, exposure is scarce, and life on the whole is not favorable to them. They can’t pay for courses, private tutors, or journeys to the foreign country where the language is spoken. They have come under responsibilities over the years that they can’t set aside. Yet, against all stats, they triumph because they really want to learn and aren’t considering what they are doing as a sacrifice. They eat, speak, breathe the language and they are rewarded for their persistence.

The difference between the former and the latter

For the former, motivation, resources and persistence are on the outside. For the latter, motivation, resources and persistence come from the inside.

And what about you?

If you have not arrived at this conclusion yet: you’ll spend and not gain, you’ll plan and not reach. So, please take a moment and think: What’s that you have come to seek?” If there is no firm goal, no inner purpose, it’s wise to move aside and detour your focus to a more fulfilling activity.
But if you have just woken up to this reality, and comprehend that you can’t take things in this life for granted, that you must be grateful and use resource wisely, then run… run, run, you have no time to lose, the tortoise long ago has passed by your side and you’ll need a pair of running shoes.

10 thoughts on “How to learn a second language – You don’t seem to be getting anywhere?”

  1. What a nice article! I totally agree. A tortoise can overrun a hare if it is motivated and concentrated, and have abilities, of course.
    With no language ability it’d be difficult for both. But luckily, there are very few people totally devoid of them. True, some are given more, some less, but everybody can realize their potential in case they want.

    1. Hello, Vera! You’re right! Very few people are totally devoid of the ability to learn a second language. In fact, I believe that most people who think they don’t have the capacity are just under estimating the enormous potential of the human brain. In most cases, people who think they can’t, just need more exposure.
      And I totally agree with you, some are given more, some less. Two children can be born in Italy, and one may be more verbally fluent than the other, but in normal conditions, both will speak Italian. Exposure will make them speak. Ability will make them excel in some areas more than others.
      Thank you very much for bringing up this point. I greatly appreciate your insight on this matter.

  2. Hello, thanks for writing this blog. It’s very educational. My first language is Thai and I learned English as my third in high school. A few years ago, I attempted to learn Spanish and French. However that didn’t work. I’ve been feeling stuck with languages and seeing barely any progress after graduating and starting to work. Thanks for the breakdown of information here. I recognize it’s a great truth, resources are limited and we must make proper use of them.



    1. Hi Laureen. Thank you very much for stopping by and I’m glad you have interest in learning languages. Yeah, I know that after starting to work, there isn’t as much time as before graduation. But taking advantage of the resources we have and appreciating them can make a huge difference. Please continue coming back for more useful posts. 🙂

  3. Hello there! Your article is indeed motivating. Some students don’t really take advantage on what’s already spoonfed to them. Learning a second language is really difficult but with a lot of tools,mentoring and other resources, it will be easy. It is always up to the person how they can improve themselves. 

    The story of the Turtle and the Hare is a good comparison. It goes to depending in ourselves to achieve goals. In this case, learning a different language. Globalisation includes learning another language different from the mother tongue. It helps in communication especially in business dealing.

    Thanks for sharing your insights. I hope a lot of students out there will read this so they can evaluate themselves whether they are a turtle or a hare. 

    1. Hi! Yeah, I like the way you have said it: Globalization most of the time implies learning another language different from our mother tongue. And there are so many resources out there. Let’s take advantage of them.

  4. Hello friend, I have read your entire article very carefully. And I have gotten some insights from your experience. Our mindset before starting to learn a language seems to be very important. If we’re aware of our limitations but also of the things the favorably affect us, then we’ll concentrate our efforts and lose no time! I appreciate your unique approach. 

    1. Hi! Thank you for your kind words. I hope this perspective may be useful for you and all those learning a new language. All the best!

  5. What’s up, Henry?

    What an excellent article you have written! I really liked the tortoise and the hare analogy. When you’re great, good, or talented at something, be grateful for what it took you to be where you are because it’s the journey that separates winners from quitters.

    Many ask how others learnt a second language. But in many cases those that ask, don’t have enough passion to learn what they’re suppose to be loving. Change your thoughts and change the way things end up in your life!

    1. Hi José Reyes. You make two great statements here. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts.

      I agree with you. Quitters don’t realize that winners also encountered adversities. And our thoughts are powerful, so we must be careful about them.

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