Episode 29: Sunk Costs in Language Learning


14 November 2022

18 mins 58 secs

Season 2

Your Hosts

About this Episode

In this episode, I talk about the sunk costs of language learning -- all those resources (time, money, energy, etc) that we've put into our languages but that can't be recovered. I discuss the sunk cost fallacy, which is the idea that one should continue on the set path – the original plan – because of what’s already been invested. I think as language learners, we’re often stuck in a sunk cost fallacy mindset, continuing on the exact same path we paved because of everything we’ve already invested, not because we want to continue investing in it. Today I give three specific examples of how I've been caught in the sunk cost fallacy in my language life, how it affected my language progress and mental health, and what happened when I decided to stop focusing on what I'd already invested in these language activities and choices.

This topic is something that affects so many of us, and I don't have particular tips or tricks for avoiding the sunk cost fallacy, but it's something that's been on my mind lately, so I wanted to share my thoughts here. The key take-away today is this: your language journey is your own, and no matter what you’ve done in the past, no matter how much time or money or emotions you’ve put into your journey, where you go from here on this day in this moment is best paved from what you want and need now on this day in this moment, not from what your past looked like. So pave a path from where you are right now that includes only the things you want that serve you and help you progress toward your biggest goals for your life.