Learning a language is an awesome project. You will learn about a completely different world, meet incredible people, feel a great sense of self-achievement. It can also improve your confidence and memory. The benefits are incredible. Unfortunately, too many of us learn only a single language in our lifetimes. Why do we stop at our mother tongue? Why don’t we all learn multiple languages? Unfortunately, there’s a belief that learning a language as an adult is nearly impossible or at least incredibly difficult. This is very far from the truth, you just have to make sure you do not fall into the great language-learning booby trap. Here are five mistakes people make that hinder their language-learning success.
SHOOTING FOR FLUENCY INSTEAD OF PROGRESS
This is a very common, but rather strange fact about language learning. Unfortunately, a lot of people have only the final goal in mind, but can’t seem to enjoy the journey. We see so many people wanting to be fluent in a very short and unrealistic amount of time and they keep wandering how long it will take to reach their fluency goal. This is the wrong way to go about language learning and many things in life.
Shooting for fluency when you don’t know how to shape a single sentence can make the task at hand look insurmountable and can be very discouraging. Learn to enjoy learning, set small realistic goals for yourself, feel proud of the little progress you make every day and reward yourself along the way. Fluency is no miracle really, if you get a little better every day and set yourself small attainable goals, it will eventually add up. This is how everything is learned and we all know this. But for some reason, we need to be reminded of this when it comes to language learning. Imagine trying to climb a 500-step staircase, it would be impossible to take a giant leap all the way to the top. Take it one step at a time and enjoy the progress you are making.
NOT HAVING A GOOD MAP
When we learn our first language, we have the best map in the world; our parents. They are the most loving, enthusiastic teachers and your success is of the greatest importance to them. After all, they tried to get you to say mama for months! And when you finally did, they cheered louder than teenyboppers at a Justin Bieber concert. You will never find that kind of map as an adult and to be fair, it would be a bit creepy. However, you still need to find a map that guides you very well and lets you see the progress you are making. Feeling like you are turning in circles and not getting anywhere is a huge waste of time and can be frustrating. So find a good resource, perhaps a good grammar book, a computer program, Ouino is a pretty good choice (wink wink nudge nudge) or a teacher to help you get to your destination with continuous progression. If you feel like you’re in a labyrinth, or if you’re bored out of your mind. Find a better map.
BEING AFRAID OF MAKING MISTAKES
One of the biggest mistake people make is not making enough mistakes. Rather ironic isn’t it? This is a real fight for most people, we like our native language because we are so darn good at it. It can be quite intimidating to speak a foreign language, but the thing is that the very reason we are so good at our mother tongue is because we’ve made an imaginable amount of mistakes over the years. As a two-year old, we couldn’t care less if we conjugated incorrectly. We didn’t feel embarrassed. All we wanted was to get our message across. “Why?”, “want milk”, “no sleep time”. That was enough and we were understood. To learn a language without making thousands of mistakes is simply impossible. You need to feel comfortable with that, and even be happy to have made a mistake. Every mistake is an opportunity to get better. Communication first, perfection later.
NOT SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE
To learn to speak a language, you need to speak the language (thank you Mr. Obvious). Yes, it’s very straightforward, but many people don’t do this. Of course, you need to learn some vocabulary, verbs, grammar etc. But if you don’t put the things you learn into practice, you will have a really hard time remembering and understanding how the language works. Sinking your head in a grammar book can give you a headache fairly quickly. Since a language is something that evolves over time, there are always many exceptions to grammar rules. Learning every exception can be very complicated and boring for most people. Learn the basic rules and go practice the language by speaking, reading, listening and writing it. Being involved with the language in many ways is a lot more entertaining and motivating and will keep you from taking too much Advil after a large study session.
There is also a certain foreign language anxiety that you need to get out of your system as fast as possible. The only way to get rid of the fear of speaking is by speaking. You need to face your fears. If a computer program could fix this anxiety, we would definitely include that feature in Ouino, but sadly we haven’t found a computerized remedy for this yet. By speaking the language, you will also meet a lot of interesting people from different places in the world. Making new friends will help you fall in love with the language.
NOT LOVING THE LANGUAGE
Most people who don’t succeed in language learning don’t have a strong passion for it. You need to develop a bond with this new language and make it part of your life. It has to mean something to you and you have to love learning it. If you don’t like the language you are learning, spending hundreds of hours learning it doesn’t make much sense and likely won’t work. Remember our staircase at the beginning? What is at the top? If there’s nothing up there in your mind, why would you climb it? There has to be rewards all the way to the top and a huge reward once you get there.
The good news though is that you can learn to love the language and make it part of your life! The language has to add value to your life. Get involved with the culture, talk to natives, watch movies, listen to music, read books, play games etc. From beginner to fluency and beyond!! All these things will help you fall in love with the language and give you the motivation you need to keep going. In addition, you need to find things you love doing. Don’t watch a movie just because it is in your target language, find one that you will enjoy. If every time you study the language it feels like a chore, you need to find other ways of learning. Love the culture, the people, the learning, and the language itself. If you enjoy your “study” time, success is just around the corner.
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it with your friends by using one the social links below. If you are interested in learning a language, or are still looking for a great map to guide you in your language-learning journey, checkout our website at Ouino.com. Thanks a lot! Until next time!
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