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Linguaholic

Can introverts learn languages?


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One has to be sociable to effectively learn to speak a language correctly. This is very easy for extroverted individuals because they're drawn to the crowd. They just can't be by themselves and for that reason, even if they're to settle in some foreign land, the need to communicate with others would compel them to learn the local language.

Introverts on the other hand. . .

So, guys, is it true that introverts can't learn languages unless they're forced to do that while in school?

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Not all introverts need to be forced to learn languages. Actually, the silent types could be the geniuses for all we know. I guess it will just take time but I doubt that they will have a hard time learning a new language. Just my opinion though.

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Of course, anyone can learn a language if one is really interested. One doesn't necessarily need to speak with other people to know when to use certain words. Watching other people use it is already sufficient. I know for certain because I'm an introvert myself and I learned Chinese no problem. I was never forced or anything. It's a different story though if you're referring to people with autism.

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I don't believe that introversion or extroversion is a deciding factor in the ability to learn languages. Desire and hard work are the main factors. I am an introvert and I have been able to learn Spanish. I also spoke German fluently as a child. Unfortunately, I don't remember much German. It was a case of "use it or lose it".

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I'm sure, the fact that I'm quite introverted plays a, huge, role in how difficult, I'm finding, it is to learn Spanish. I don't, particularly, care to speak to people in my own language, let alone my second language. How much I talk, directly depends on how comfortable I am. If I'm not comfortable, I don't speak a lot, in either language. I'm, definitely, not comfortable speaking in Spanish so, I don't talk, to native speakers, as much as I should.  If I wasn't so shy, I wouldn't be so nervous when talking to people. If I spoke Spanish to people, more, I'm sure I would grasp the language a whole lot better. However, I don't so, I'm really struggling.

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Yes of course, I don't think whether someone is more extroverted or introverted affects their ability to learn a language at all. Sure, extroverts may be more likely to get out there and mingle more often but the idea that all extroverts are party animals and all introverts are hermits is totally incorrect. An introvert is just as capable of interacting and socialising as much as extroverts do, they just need the downtime away from people as well.

Also while introverts may talk to fewer people, the ones they do talk to tend to get into deep meaningful conversations and they can talk on for hours.

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If a person is really keen to learn a language, nothing will stop him. This is especially true in this day and age, when one can easily gain access to a multitude of online language resources.

At the same time, I agree that people who socialize more are able to pick up a language quicker. You don't have to be a party animal though. A good idea is to start an interest group and practice the language together.

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I'm with John here, I say anyone can learn a language regardless of being an introvert or extrovert. If you're into learning you will learn, if you have to speak you will speak, it's not a social thing learning a language, it's studying right?

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I think both have their own benefits. Extroverts, as you've mentioned, will have the advantage of getting to practice speaking with other people. However, introverts on the other hand, would probably have more time getting the technicalities of the language down since they will have the sort of environment that will make it comfortable for them to focus on the small details that someone who can't stay put may miss.

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I really don't like this current trend where people act as if introverts are some bizarre aliens who require careful special treatment. Everybody can learn a language. If somebody is so introverted that they are literally unable to learn a foreign language, they need psychiatric help, because that is not normal at all.

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I think it all has to do with how passionately someone feels about learning another language.

For those who really want to learn a language, being an introvert won't matter. However, the way that introverts learn might be different from extroverts. For example, an extroverted person might learn socially, while an introvert might learn from CDs, computer software, etc.

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As an introvert (or should I say, an introvert in real life. On the internet it's much easier for me to express myself) I would have to say that it's probably harder for us to learn how to speak a new language. The intonations/accents doesn't come as easily since we don't practice speaking the language as much as extroverts. However, when it comes to understanding a new language, I think we fare better than the extroverts, having more time to listen rather than speak. Of course, this is just speaking for myself as I'm the "shy" type of introvert and I know there are the "loner" type of introverts who don't really enjoy human company too much whether it be talking or listening.

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I really don't think being an introvert or extrovert or in between has anything to do with language or other learning.  Sort of a "chicken and egg" question though.  Could learning a new language increase confidence and help an introvert be more outgoing?  In my opinion, I think I would not want to even imply personality traits could affect learning...if it discouraged someone from trying.

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  • 1 year later...

Introverts are also homo sapiens, just like the rest of humanity, so of course they can and do learn languages. I'm an introvert myself and I love learning. It seems to me that some people equal "introvert" with "completely cut off from the rest of society". This is not true, at least, not always. I don't have a huge circle of acquiantances, and my perfect idea of a weekend is at home with a book but that doesn't mean I never enjoy talking to people.

Besides, even if us introverts decided to spend our whole lives behind closed doors, we'd still have the Internet and books, and so be more than capable of learning (and speaking) a language.

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I'm an introvert and I have no problem learning new languages. In fact, I remember my English teacher saying that I was the most enthusiastic student (to learn)! I've always been interested in languages (and learning them, of course) so i suppose it was never that much of a problem for me. It's probably true that it's harder for a lot of introverts to learn, but I don't believe that it's impossible.

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I'm introvert, I'm not very sociable, in fact, I find it hard to do it, but language learning, I enjoy it, and it is possible, you don't need to be sociable out going person to learn a language, you just need the time and will power to do it.

It's can be hard though, especially if you have anxiety for example, and you're not talking a lot to people, but it's not impossible, I do a lot of reading and listening to help me with language learning, as well as chatting online to natives, sometimes I have the courage to talk, which helps me improve my listening skills vocabulary and confidence, as I'm not a confident person.

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One question: what do "introvert" and "extrovert" mean?
I have never heard of these words until now.

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I really don't see why they couldn't, a language isn't merely verbal, there is the literary part of it. Just because someone is shy and has difficulty communicating with other people, doesn't impede them from learn another language. There are plenty of source for them to perfect there language skills and we are using one of those right now. Forums are a great place to remove any doubts you might have about a language. I'm sure that some of the posters here might not be able to have a verbal conversation with someone but be perfectly comfortable posting in a forum.   

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Seeing that we have quite a lot of introverts here, I'd like to share a link to an interesting TED talk of Susan Cain (who also wrote a whole book about the issue):

https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts?language=en#t-736538

 

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The thing about introverts is that they may behave in an extroverted manner in certain contexts. Mahatma Gandhi, for example, is famous for leading the Indian independence movement, even though he lived his private life as an introvert. Introverts don't necessarily always keep to themselves.

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I too don't believe being an extrovert or introvert has any sort of bearing on a person's aptitude in terms of learning foreign languages. Introverts are much less likely to shout about it from the roof tops. But introverts are quite often very smart, smarter than average, so it wouldn't surprise me if they stand just as good if not slightly better chance of excelling at learning new languages.

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