5 mistakes to avoid when learning a language

Let’s be clear: if you want to learn a language, you must be ready to make many mistakes! Mistakes are part of the process and are often an opportunity to improve.

But there are some types of mistakes made by almost everyone who wants to learn a language, and if you avoid making them, you make your life easier!

Here are 5 mistakes:

1. Having the wrong attitude

The first mistake is often to have a completely wrong attitude, and to approach the world of languages with a list full of excuses. Before even starting this adventure or just after starting, you try to convince yourself that learning a language is too heavy a commitment, that languages are too difficult, that you don’t have the time, you’re not good at it, or that you are not gifted. And you give up…

Change your attitude: languages don’t have to be difficult, and you need no superpower to learn one. Put all these excuses aside, and start to learn a language right now, with consistency and patience, and with the right method for you!

2. Not having a plan

The second mistake is not having a plan:

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”

If you start to learn a language without knowing why you do it, what is your goal, and what is your specific plan, it is very likely that after a few lessons you’ll lose motivation, you’ll feel lost or disappointed with the results, and give up… But on the other hand if you have a plan with very clear goals and realistic expectations, these will work like your compass, and it will be easier for you to follow the plan and continue to study even in the most difficult moments.

So, at the beginning of your path, make a plan, set your goals and don’t set your expectations too high.

3. Giving priority to grammar

The third mistake is to give too much importance to grammar rules, especially in the beginning. Grammar is important, don’t get me wrong, but you can learn languages even without focusing on each grammar rule. Imagine if before playing a football or basketball game with friends, you had to study the whole rulebook … It would be boring, right? Starting from the boring part, and forcing yourself to learn the tables of conjugations can kill all the excitement of learning a new language and turn it into a negative experience … Instead, use a more intuitive method: take note of the constructions, the rules, and grammar notes, think about them but don’t learn them by heart, and go back to these notes later, whenever you have a doubt about them. At the end of the day, as a child you have learned to speak before learning to read grammar books, right?

4. Using wrong resources

The fourth mistake is to use the wrong resources. Maybe you use an app or a language course only because it is free or because it is very popular: the fact that it works for others does not mean that it is necessarily the best course for you … Or maybe you chose a very expensive course, because you think that it automatically means that it works wonders. Or maybe, you think that you have to attend language classes and pay a lot of money… The truth is that everyone learns differently, so you have to try different courses or apps, free or paid, until you find the right method for you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a single book or a single app will lead you to language fluency. Diversify your method: by doing so, you will constantly stimulate your brain. Also, adapt the resources on yourself: for example, don’t learn lists of words that you will never use. Instead, customize these lists with words or phrases that you will use often, like the ones you will need to talk about your work, your hobbies or your family.

5. Not speaking the language

The fifth mistake is to wait too long to start speaking the language you are studying. We all have a “silent” period, in which we only learn passively until we feel ready to start speaking. But don’t forget that learning a language is about communication, and speaking is a skill. If you don’t practice this skill, you’ll never be ready. Often what keeps you from starting to speak a language is the fear of making mistakes. Believe me, there has to be no such fear! As I said before, mistakes are part of the growth process: you make mistakes, you correct them and you learn. Don’t take your mistakes as an embarrassment or a bad grade: you’re not in school! Instead, accept the fact that in order to learn to speak a foreign language, you will need to make thousands of mistakes. By doing so, you will live your language challenge with peace of mind. After all, how many times did you fall when you were learning to ride a bike? Get up, learn from your mistakes and keep having fun!

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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About Raffaele Terracciano

Serial Language Learner, Blogger, Language Coach and Tour Leader. Travelling the world through books, languages, food and, you know, actual trips. Currently on a quest to gather the pieces of the Tower of Babel.