By Karoline Gore

Tips for Learning Language as an Introvert

The introvert-extrovert spectrum represents a way people can classify themselves and according to the first random sample carried out by Myers-Briggs, around 50.7% of people are introverts and 49.3% extroverts. When it comes to traditionally social learning contexts such as language learning, introverts may worry about whether or not they will enjoy learning in a group setting. Language schools often recommend small group classes as a way for students to practice skills they have acquired. How can you make the process more enjoyable so you can feel more motivated to participate?

Know Your Personality Type

Knowing a bit more about the way you prefer to learn and share information can be helpful when it comes to overcoming learning obstacles in language. The Myer-Briggs system espouses that there are eight types of introvert: ISTJ (sensing, thinking, judging); ISFJ (sensing, feeling, judging); INFJ (intuition, feeling, judging), INTJ (intuition, thinking, judging); ISTP (sensing, thinking, perceiving); ISFP (sensing, feeling, perceiving); INFP (intuition, feeling, perceiving), and INTP (intuition, thinking, perceiving). They vary in qualities such as flexibility and reflective versus active learning. For instance, INTP types are perceptive, meaning they may be more flexible to new language learning activities, while an ISTJ may have fixed ways of learning they like to pursue.

Acceptance of Strengths and Challenges

Introverts aren’t necessarily quiet or withdrawn in a language class. However, those who are sensing may prefer to learn by jumping into an activity ‘in the now’ and learning new vocabulary or grammar ‘on the go’. Those who process information through intuition, on the hand, may prefer to read and absorb information before they are called upon to display their knowledge. Taking the test is a good way to divide your learning between what you can do at home and what you should leave to class.

Opting for Small Group Classes

If you are attending a language academy, find out their class sizes. In order for everyone to take part in speaking activities, the class should be on the small side (think four to five students per teacher). If you are introverted and enjoy running things before a professional before heading to class or practicing what you have learned, you might also think of investing in online classes with a teacher. Doing so will enable you to have one-on-one attention so you can ensure all your questions are answered. It will also allow you to hone in on the particular conversational scenarios you wish to perfect. For instance, if a trip is in the works, then practicing travel-related talk on booking hotels, buying tickets, and inquiring about tourism-related services will be helpful.

Jumping into the Fire

One of YouTube’s most-followed linguaphiles, Arieh Smith (who surprises native Mandarin speakers by speaking to them in their native language or, indeed, in Cantonese) recently took up a new challenge: learning Spanish in a matter of days. He managed to achieve his goal of holding a conversation with a native Spanish speaker via video conference in far less time than you might imagine. His experience is a good reminder that language isn’t always about ‘getting it right’, if not about making new connections and getting your message across. Introverts who are worried about being seen as less than perfect can consider online language forums to converse with people from abroad who are interested in language exchange. Taking turns with languages can reduce the pressure and raise the fun factor.

If you are an introvert, then know you are joining approximately half of the population in the U.S. Take an online personality test so you can glean more information on your preferred learning and communication styles. If you are introverted, smaller and one-on-one classes may be your style. However, no two introverts are alike so you may actually enjoy the social aspect of class; personality tests shouldn’t fence you in, but rather, provide information you may find useful during your language learning journey.