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8MISTAKES THAT HAUNT
LANGUAGE LEARNERS
Image by Halloween Stock on Flickr.com
1
Learning without a specific goal.
“I want to speak Korean.”
“I want to speak Korean.”
Wanting to learn a language is not enough,
you need to have a specific plan for how
and when you’re going to learn it.
Image by Kyna Borlasa on Flickr.com
Set specific constraints and
deadlines on yourself.
Set specific constraints and
deadlines on yourself.
I want to improve my
pronunciation in Greek by
hiring a conversation paper
once a week.
Every day, I want to read
one chapter of “Le Petit
Prince” in French.
In other words, set SMART goals:
Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Time-bound
Scheduling specific activities or buying specific
resources will not only give you structure, but also
give you a sense of accountability for your
language-learning.
2
Starting out too fast.
So, you’re excited to start learning a new language.
So, you’re excited to start learning a new language.
(We’re excited for you!)
Just be careful not to burn yourself out! One of
the best ways to sabotage your language
learning is to do too much too soon.
Image by Laszlo-Photo on Flickr.com
Slow and steady wins the language-
learning race. The key is to develop a
consistent routine that you can maintain.
Image by Jason Hollinger on Flickr.com
Slow and steady wins the language-
learning race. The key is to develop a
consistent routine that you can maintain.
Image by Jason Hollinger on Flickr.com
As you progress, gradually add more
engagement time—and don’t forget, traditional
“studying” isn’t the only way to learn a language.
Make time for music, conversations, and beyond!
3
Using only one kind of resource.
Seek out a variety of language resources across
different media.
Image by Shutterhacks on Flickr.com
Image by Paul Hudson on Flickr.com
Relying on a textbook alone limits your skill development.
Multimedia materials provide opportunities for
reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
Don’t forget to acquire materials for different
occasions, so you can learn at home, during
your commute, on lunch break, or while
waiting in line at the store.
Image by Mo Riza on Flickr.com
Don’t forget to acquire materials for different
occasions, so you can learn at home, during
your commute, on lunch break, or while
waiting in line at the store.
Image by Mo Riza on Flickr.com
4
Using inauthentic materials.
Mixing up your learning materials is a
good start. Do yourself another favor
and stir in a large portion of
authentic resources.
Image by gonmi on Flickr.com
Textbooks, audio tapes, YouTube videos, and the like
that are designed for language learners are ideal for
beginners… to an extent.
These kinds of resources can sometimes be guilty of
oversimplifying for beginners.
These kinds of resources can sometimes be guilty of
oversimplifying for beginners.
Resources targeted at learners can also have a
certain element of awkwardness, contriving
nonsensical phrases or dialogues just to point out a
grammar concept.
Resources targeted at learners can also have a
certain element of awkwardness, contriving
nonsensical phrases or dialogues just to point out a
grammar concept.
(“The dog has a moustache.” Very useful.)
Image by ginnerobot on Flickr.com
Jumping in to authentic resources—newspapers,
books, music, TV shows, you name it—will expose
you to more natural language use, as well as
slang, idioms, and expressions you won’t find in your
textbook’s glossary.
Don’t trick yourself into
believing that you can’t use
authentic resources as a
beginner. Start out slow with
children’s books and movies,
comics, short recipes, etc.
and build up to the news
and sitcoms as you go.
Don’t trick yourself into
believing that you can’t use
authentic resources as a
beginner. Start out slow with
children’s books and movies,
comics, short recipes, etc.
and build up to the news
and sitcoms as you go.
5
Memorizing without understanding.
When it comes to languages, there’s a lot to memorize.
Image by drcw on Flickr.com
When it comes to languages, there’s a lot to memorize.
Image by drcw on Flickr.com
But it’s not just about memorization,
it’s about understanding.
When studying the grammar of a language, look for
the connections between words.
For example, you could memorize the French
phrases “le poisson bleu” and “la maison bleue,” but
that doesn’t mean you understand that bleu(e)
takes an –e when describing a feminine noun.
Image by Francisco Gonzalez on Flickr.com
Once you understand the connection between
noun gender and adjective agreement, you can
apply that to thousands of other phrases.
Don’t undermine your efforts to learn a language by
trying to memorize everything. Exploring grammatical
patterns and connections will eliminate that need.
6Translating directly to your native language.
Speaking of undermining
your efforts, don’t fall in
to the trap of relating
everything back to your
native language.
Image by Bill Selak on Flickr.com
Some words and phrases just won’t translate, word
orders will differ, and you’ll come across concepts
you’ve never heard of before—gender, case
marking, and tones, oh my!
Keep your mind open and your slate blank.
The less you use your native language as a crutch, the more
comfortable you’ll become with using your new language.
Image by IntangibleArts on Flickr.com
7Avoiding speaking.
There is such a pervasive fear of speaking in a
foreign language that it even has it’s own term:
xenoglossophobia.
Giving in to that fear is
a major mistake for
any language learner.
Image by Geoffrey Fairchild on Flickr.com
Speaking in another language gives you the
opportunity to practice your pronunciation,
wrapping your tongue around new sounds.
But there’s more to speaking than just
pronouncing the words correctly.
But there’s more to speaking than just
pronouncing the words correctly.
But there’s more to speaking than just
pronouncing the words correctly.
Don’t wait until you’re “ready” to
start speaking—let go of your fear
and start yapping right away for
maximum results!
Image by ddqhu on Flickr.com
8Doubting yourself.
While you’re at it, let go of your
doubts, too!
Image by Karen Ellot on Flickr.com
Scott H. Young gives great advice when it
comes to being a better learner:
Scott H. Young gives great advice when it
comes to being a better learner:
Be a perfectionist in the long-term, not
the short-term.
Making mistakes is a big part of learning a language.
Making mistakes is a big part of learning a language.
Embrace them.
Making mistakes is a big part of learning a language.
Laugh at yourself.
Making mistakes is a big part of learning a language.
Learn from them.
It’s not possible to learn a language without saying
something silly, using the wrong gender, conjugating in the
wrong tense, and so on.
It’s not possible to learn a language without saying
something silly, using the wrong gender, conjugating in the
wrong tense, and so on.
When it comes to language learning,
the cliché is true, you need to
step out of your comfort zone.
You can learn a language—it just takes
time and practice.
Now that you know what not to do when learning a
language, what are you going to do next?
f t in
FREE TRIAL
SUSCRIBE TO THE
LANGUAGE NEWS BLOG

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8 Mistakes That Haunt Language Learners (And How You Can Avoid Them!)

  • 1. 8MISTAKES THAT HAUNT LANGUAGE LEARNERS Image by Halloween Stock on Flickr.com
  • 2. 1 Learning without a specific goal.
  • 3. “I want to speak Korean.”
  • 4. “I want to speak Korean.”
  • 5. Wanting to learn a language is not enough, you need to have a specific plan for how and when you’re going to learn it. Image by Kyna Borlasa on Flickr.com
  • 6. Set specific constraints and deadlines on yourself.
  • 7. Set specific constraints and deadlines on yourself. I want to improve my pronunciation in Greek by hiring a conversation paper once a week. Every day, I want to read one chapter of “Le Petit Prince” in French.
  • 8. In other words, set SMART goals: Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time-bound
  • 9. Scheduling specific activities or buying specific resources will not only give you structure, but also give you a sense of accountability for your language-learning.
  • 11. So, you’re excited to start learning a new language.
  • 12. So, you’re excited to start learning a new language. (We’re excited for you!)
  • 13. Just be careful not to burn yourself out! One of the best ways to sabotage your language learning is to do too much too soon. Image by Laszlo-Photo on Flickr.com
  • 14. Slow and steady wins the language- learning race. The key is to develop a consistent routine that you can maintain. Image by Jason Hollinger on Flickr.com
  • 15. Slow and steady wins the language- learning race. The key is to develop a consistent routine that you can maintain. Image by Jason Hollinger on Flickr.com
  • 16. As you progress, gradually add more engagement time—and don’t forget, traditional “studying” isn’t the only way to learn a language. Make time for music, conversations, and beyond!
  • 17. 3 Using only one kind of resource.
  • 18. Seek out a variety of language resources across different media. Image by Shutterhacks on Flickr.com Image by Paul Hudson on Flickr.com
  • 19. Relying on a textbook alone limits your skill development. Multimedia materials provide opportunities for reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
  • 20. Don’t forget to acquire materials for different occasions, so you can learn at home, during your commute, on lunch break, or while waiting in line at the store. Image by Mo Riza on Flickr.com
  • 21. Don’t forget to acquire materials for different occasions, so you can learn at home, during your commute, on lunch break, or while waiting in line at the store. Image by Mo Riza on Flickr.com
  • 23. Mixing up your learning materials is a good start. Do yourself another favor and stir in a large portion of authentic resources. Image by gonmi on Flickr.com
  • 24. Textbooks, audio tapes, YouTube videos, and the like that are designed for language learners are ideal for beginners… to an extent.
  • 25. These kinds of resources can sometimes be guilty of oversimplifying for beginners.
  • 26. These kinds of resources can sometimes be guilty of oversimplifying for beginners.
  • 27. Resources targeted at learners can also have a certain element of awkwardness, contriving nonsensical phrases or dialogues just to point out a grammar concept.
  • 28. Resources targeted at learners can also have a certain element of awkwardness, contriving nonsensical phrases or dialogues just to point out a grammar concept. (“The dog has a moustache.” Very useful.) Image by ginnerobot on Flickr.com
  • 29. Jumping in to authentic resources—newspapers, books, music, TV shows, you name it—will expose you to more natural language use, as well as slang, idioms, and expressions you won’t find in your textbook’s glossary.
  • 30. Don’t trick yourself into believing that you can’t use authentic resources as a beginner. Start out slow with children’s books and movies, comics, short recipes, etc. and build up to the news and sitcoms as you go.
  • 31. Don’t trick yourself into believing that you can’t use authentic resources as a beginner. Start out slow with children’s books and movies, comics, short recipes, etc. and build up to the news and sitcoms as you go.
  • 33. When it comes to languages, there’s a lot to memorize. Image by drcw on Flickr.com
  • 34. When it comes to languages, there’s a lot to memorize. Image by drcw on Flickr.com
  • 35. But it’s not just about memorization, it’s about understanding.
  • 36. When studying the grammar of a language, look for the connections between words. For example, you could memorize the French phrases “le poisson bleu” and “la maison bleue,” but that doesn’t mean you understand that bleu(e) takes an –e when describing a feminine noun. Image by Francisco Gonzalez on Flickr.com
  • 37. Once you understand the connection between noun gender and adjective agreement, you can apply that to thousands of other phrases.
  • 38. Don’t undermine your efforts to learn a language by trying to memorize everything. Exploring grammatical patterns and connections will eliminate that need.
  • 39. 6Translating directly to your native language.
  • 40. Speaking of undermining your efforts, don’t fall in to the trap of relating everything back to your native language. Image by Bill Selak on Flickr.com
  • 41. Some words and phrases just won’t translate, word orders will differ, and you’ll come across concepts you’ve never heard of before—gender, case marking, and tones, oh my!
  • 42. Keep your mind open and your slate blank. The less you use your native language as a crutch, the more comfortable you’ll become with using your new language. Image by IntangibleArts on Flickr.com
  • 44. There is such a pervasive fear of speaking in a foreign language that it even has it’s own term: xenoglossophobia.
  • 45. Giving in to that fear is a major mistake for any language learner. Image by Geoffrey Fairchild on Flickr.com
  • 46. Speaking in another language gives you the opportunity to practice your pronunciation, wrapping your tongue around new sounds.
  • 47. But there’s more to speaking than just pronouncing the words correctly.
  • 48. But there’s more to speaking than just pronouncing the words correctly.
  • 49. But there’s more to speaking than just pronouncing the words correctly.
  • 50. Don’t wait until you’re “ready” to start speaking—let go of your fear and start yapping right away for maximum results! Image by ddqhu on Flickr.com
  • 52. While you’re at it, let go of your doubts, too! Image by Karen Ellot on Flickr.com
  • 53. Scott H. Young gives great advice when it comes to being a better learner:
  • 54. Scott H. Young gives great advice when it comes to being a better learner: Be a perfectionist in the long-term, not the short-term.
  • 55. Making mistakes is a big part of learning a language.
  • 56. Making mistakes is a big part of learning a language. Embrace them.
  • 57. Making mistakes is a big part of learning a language. Laugh at yourself.
  • 58. Making mistakes is a big part of learning a language. Learn from them.
  • 59. It’s not possible to learn a language without saying something silly, using the wrong gender, conjugating in the wrong tense, and so on.
  • 60. It’s not possible to learn a language without saying something silly, using the wrong gender, conjugating in the wrong tense, and so on.
  • 61. When it comes to language learning, the cliché is true, you need to step out of your comfort zone.
  • 62. You can learn a language—it just takes time and practice.
  • 63. Now that you know what not to do when learning a language, what are you going to do next? f t in FREE TRIAL SUSCRIBE TO THE LANGUAGE NEWS BLOG