Keep Failing Until you Succeed - Lingua Materna

Keep Failing Until you Succeed

Becoming a successful language learner is not easy but if you’re will to embrace your failures and learn from them, you’re well on your way to success.

Life presents us with a lot of challenges. And so does learning a new language.

Fail Until You Succeed

Each stage of language learning presents its own unique challenges. In the beginning, you have the fear of just getting started.You’re full of excitement and motivation and you throw yourself into the challenge. Armed with grammar tables, a shiny new notepad and an assortment of pens and highlighters, you’re ready to take on the world. However, when you get started all of a sudden it doesn’t seem so easy. The pronunciations are difficult and you can’t even imagine trying to have a conversation with someone in English!

Or maybe you’re at an intermediate level. You’ve studied some English before and overcome the beginner’s hurdles. Perhaps you can even communicate pretty well in the language, but you keep mixing up verb tenses or forgetting words. You find you’ve hit the dreaded ‘plateau’ often suffered by intermediate learners. At this level you know enough to get by, but you’re still nowhere near fluency and your progress seems to be slowing down. How will you ever manage to reach fluency at this rate?

The simple answer is: keep going.


As a child and teenager, I took horse riding lessons for about 8 years. Why is this relevant? Because it taught me a valuable lesson about facing challenges and how to overcome them.

When you’re learning to ride a horse it’s inevitable that you’re going to fall, and I did. Sometimes, I fell over and over again. I’d ride towards the fence in front of me, gradually increasing speed, leaning forward slightly to prepare for the jump, and then … the horse would stop suddenly, digging in its hooves and refusing to jump the fence. I would be thrown soaring into the air before plummeting to the ground with a thud.

You can do this. Let’s try it again.

Falling off hurt. Sometimes quite a lot! But no matter how painful the fall was, [note]Thankfully, I never sustained any kind of serious injury that required immediate medical attention.[/note] the first thing my instructor would always say was: ‘Get back up on the horse. Let’s try it again’. So, I’d get back up and try again. And once more, I’d end up on my backside in the mud. ‘You can do this. Get back on the horse. Let’s try it again’, came the instruction.
The point of this anecdote is to illustrate to you that failure is a natural and necessary part of any journey. It is through failing, often over and over again, that we learn from our mistakes and build the strength that eventually leads us to succeed. This is as applicable to language learning as it is to anything else in life. There are going to be days where you don’t practice English. There’ll be times when you fail a test, or a conversation with your language partner goes badly, but that’s ok. Decide what you can learn from it, pick yourself up, and try to do a little better the next time.

You must be persistent to become a successful language learner

failure, successful language learner

To become a successful language learner, you have to embrace failure and use it as a learning tool.

Robert Kennedy said that ‘Only those who dare to fail greatly, can achieve greatly’. I think a good example of this in relation to learning English (or any language) is the challenge of speaking. The idea of scheduling a conversation with someone in another language and then having to do it is, for me, definitely the most nerve-wracking element of language learning. There’s always a fear when talking to others of saying something stupid or even worse, not knowing what to say and having to endure an awkward silence. But for those who persist in taking that risk and trying to speak a language, the reward is enormous. By taking this risk and accepting failure as part of the process, you can learn to communicate in a new language! Not only that, you can do it faster than with any other method and I promise you it will also be the most enjoyable way to learn.

Here’s a little secret. The only way you can really fail is by giving up.

If you persist, if you keep going, and if you pick yourself up every time you fall, you will succeed, So if you didn’t meet your English study goals this week, that’s ok. You can become a successful language learner. Use your failures as extra motivation to hit those targets next week.

Make learning English your only option and refuse to accept defeat. Keep failing until you succeed, and you will succeed.

Let me know your thoughts. You can comment below or send me an email and let me know how what has most helped you to become a more successful language learner. If you enjoyed this post please share it with your friends and loved ones!

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James Granahan

I'm a language acquisition expert and mindset-oriented learner. I love to learn new skills and push myself out of my comfort zone. I'm passionate about online business, travel and languages. Access the FREE e-course '5 Steps to Revolutionize the Way You Learn English for Business':

  • I seriously believe the largest success in the world is built off the foundation of ‘failure.’ Therefore, failing is the most successful experience you can have, and the world’s greatest teacher. It’s the treasure map. It’s the motor.

    If you keep heading in a direction, you will eventually get there. That’s not wishful thinking.. it’s factual. It’s physics.

    Thanks for the post man.

    • Absolutely, the important thing is to always seek to learn something from your failures so that you can use that experience to make you better the next time.

    • Thank you for the comment Heath.

      I agree 100% with what you’ve said. Failure is life’s teacher and it’s what drives each and every one of us to be the people we are.

  • Tammy Do

    I’m with you on that. Speaking IS scary. Especially the first few times when you accidentally say the wrong word and get laughs. Still takes me a while to remember that they are laughing with me and not at me. The laughter always ends up being one of those natural connections that bring two people from different worlds together.

    • I totally agree Tammy. It’s super scary to start off with, but once you embrace the idea of making mistakes and learning from them it really helps you progress quickly. Besides, the times you say the wrong thing can often end becoming the little jokes that are the foundation of a new friendship!

    • Definitely @TammyDo. I think speaking is by far the hardest part of learning a language, because it’s just so intimidating, especially at the beginning. I think it’s incredibly rewarding once you get over the hump and start making new friends though!