A little while ago I wrote about learning a new language, the challenges, the discouragement, frustration and the slow progress I experienced along the way.  The language, in particular, was Lithuanian, which is accepted as a very difficult language, and I can certainly attest to that!

I am just back from another visit to Lithuania where I had ample opportunities to make use of my acquired skills as I had no one with me to interpret this time.  In my earlier post “Learning Another Language”, I wrote that although I could be understood when I asked a simple question from the very few I had managed to learn at that time, I couldn’t understand the answers given and the conversation would halt there.   But this time was different!  Not only could I be understood, but I could understand most of the replies I got and so was able to communicate with Lithuanians I met in shops, restaurants and on the street (asking for directions).  Admittedly it was broken Lithuanian for the most part, but it worked. 

In one café the waitress responded that she had little English and so I had to do my ordering and ask any questions in Lithuanian.  I was chuffed with myself as she understood my ordering of coffee and sparkling water and my questions about the cakes in the cabinet in my odd Irish accent and she replied, and I understood.   When it came time to leave and pay, she spoke to me in English and said “Your Lithuanian is lovely to hear, you are doing well.  I remember you from last year.”   I was so delighted with the encouragement. 

Other older Lithuanians including our taxi driver, when I apologised for my bad pronunciation, which at times is really bad, responded “we understand you”.  I still struggle with the language, but I have seen a big improvement this year and that coupled with the encouragement given by the locals, will fuel my learning for the next visit. 

So, if you are learning a new skill and feel you are not seeing much improvement please don’t give up!  Don’t beat yourself up, take a breather and then get back into it.  I have found taking breaks from learning the language, sometimes a month or two long, has actually helped me by taking the pressure off and allowing my brain to process what it has already learned.  Also, if you come across someone who is trying to learn your language be encouraging and helpful, you might not realise how much it helps that person to not feel defeated and keep pushing on in their learning. 

Stick with it!