I have to admit that I have stolen the idea to this episode. Language training and strength training – or sports activities in general – are very similar. You just have to think of building brain muscles. So, my inspiration has come from a blog post on prevention.com called “10 Strength-Training Myths You Need To Stop Believing”. And here are the 10 myths as seen from a language learner’s perspective:
With regard to strength training this has changed a lot. So women do this as well as men. What about language learning though? Well, I do not have exact numbers about how many men versus women learn languages. I only know that women, in general, are better language learners. This is similar to muscle building. Men have more testosterone than women, hence their muscles growth faster and stronger.
There is not testosterone in the brain responsible for language learning, however, women seem to have an advantage over men. Anyway, I wouldn’t give it too much thought. Anybody can learn a language – whatever language.
Okay, there are some people who think that when they do strength training that they will look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not true, definitely. So, what does language learning do to your brain? Will it become bulky? No, the opposite is true. Language learners are better problem solvers. They rewire their brains while learning a new language. This is a wonderful side effect.
Okay, this is tech talk. How efficient is lifting weights as opposed to going for a jog? Both activities burn calories. Actually, with language learning there two different learning modes to be distinguished. It is a little far fetched to compare it to strength training. Anyway, let’s try.
Repetitive tasks such as vocabulary training or working with some language learning software products can be compared to cardio. You are basically getting in shape. Your overall condition is better. You are better prepared in general. However, that does not mean that you will survive in any situation. For that you will need some additional specific training on certain issues such as technical vocabulary, grammar or structure. The latter could than be compared to strength training where you work with specific muscles at a time.
In the above mentioned article it says “…it’s never too late to undo the damage.” Yes, that also true for language learning. You can forget a lot of things. And, you can regain everything there used to be.
Light weights are fine in the beginning. The same is true for language learning: When starting out with learning a new language just do some fun stuff. It is great way to get started. Maybe you just want to see if you like it, if the language suits you. But once you know that you want to go all the way, just go all the way. Embrace everything it takes.
Oh, yes. This is the biggest of the training myths of all times. And it is true for everything including strength training, language learning and whatever you want, you name it. Go for it, and you will find the time. Believe me.
All you need for a workout is your own body. That’s it. Actually, you will need a little more when it comes to language learning. The reason for that is that muscles and strength can be build from within your body. You already have all it takes.
A foreign language does not reside inside of you. It has to come from the outside. But you don’t need a gym, meaning, you don’t need a language course, a trainer, a software or something like it. Just find somebody who speaks the language or use the Internet.
The article says “…just 10 weeks of progressive strength training can reduce anxiety, fatigue, and depression and boost a sense of tranquility and revitalization in older adults.” Wow! And yes. Language learning does the same if not more. Just try it!
Well, I can imagine that using specific gear will help you build more muscles than doing it with just your own body. And, yes, you can learn a language by just listening to native speakers. However, if you use the specific tools, and a language coach introduces you to the most appropriate learning methods for the language and for the specific problem to learn, you are much better off.
Of course not. Not for strength training. But this is not a myth for language learning. You can learn your first sentences in minutes and use them right away.
Okay, and don’t forget: trainings myths are not your friend. Get rid of them as soon as possible.