Coping With Language Envy… How To Take Pride In Your Language Skills

A few weeks ago, completely out of the blue, I got jealous of someone else’s language skills.



To experience the ugly emotion of jealousy in my language learning took me completely by surprise.

There I was, working on my laptop. My mind a million miles away. Then, from the other side of the room, I heard someone speaking Japanese.

A native speaker.

Or so I thought.

To find out what happened next, watch the video above.

(Then read on for some practical ideas on coping with jealousy in language learning.)

Dealing With Feelings Of Jealousy

Since I posted this video, there’s been quite a reaction.

It seems many of you know what it’s like to feel jealous about someone else’s language skills.

Jealousy (or is it envy?) is an ugly emotion.

Perhaps the ugliest of them all.

When I realise I feel jealous of someone else, my gut reaction is to pretend it's not happening.

To push the feeling right back down, deep inside.

But this time, I decided to confront this feeling head-on. After all, if I pretended it never happened, wouldn't that be admitting shame?

And I’m pretty sure I have no reason to feel shame about my language skills.

Here’s a summary of what I learned from the experience:

After publishing this video, an active discussion kicked off in my Facebook community. (Come join if you’re not a part already!)

The discussion went like this:

4 Questions For Coping With Language Envy

So, if you experience envy in your pursuit of learning a new language…

What can you do about it?

Well, first, I suggest you read through the relevant thread in the Fluency Mastermind group.

(You’ll feel much better when you do!)

Then, ask yourself the following questions.

These questions, sent to me from fellow language aficionado Peter Fremlin provide a framework for thinking about your life vs the lives of others.

Hope they help.

Quick Note: The questions use the concept of the “Other Life”. The Other Life refers to the life of the person you feel envy towards. The life they have led, which has allowed them to develop the language skills they have.

Questions to ask yourself…

1. Does thinking about the Other Life make you better?

2. Would you want the Other Life?

3. What would getting that person’s life involve, and would you want that?

4. Is there something in your current life that’s missing, unbalanced?

These notes are from a conversation between Peter Fremlin, @desibility on Twitter, and Adam Spooner.

We’d love to hear your comments or other experiences on this topic.

Please comment below to continue the discussion.

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