When we first start to learn a language, we’re very excited about the whole process. But this doesn’t stop us from making some big mistakes. I know I’ve personally made these mistakes, so maybe you have to. But don’t worry! As long as we can learn to laugh at our ourselves, and continue to learn, we’re already making progress. So what are the biggest mistakes?
1. Trying To Be Perfect
Perfection may seem like a good thing, but, it can actually hinder us. We become so obsessed with every small mistake we make, and let it completely discourage us. When I was beginning to learn Spanish, I was so excited and thought I would be relatively good at it. I practiced saying a Spanish sentence with my friend, expecting that I would say it perfectly since I practiced so hard. But he said my grammar was a little off, and my pronunciation needed some work. I was so upset and embarrassed because I wanted to be perfect. I was always too nervous to ever practice with him again! But don’t follow my example. The fact is that we’re all imperfect, and we’re all going to make many mistakes if we’re trying something new. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning. So don’t worry about your mistakes. They are probably not as bad as they seem.
2. Focusing On Grammar
Many students think that by learning English grammar, they will just automatically come out speaking perfectly. But this is not the case. English grammar is so complex, and confusing, to memorize and use logically. For example, you may think that the plural form of goose would also apply to the word moose. We use the term geese, but we would never use the term “meese” (it isn’t even a word). So it would be impossible to memorize grammar rules and expect them to apply to every English sentence properly. Grammar is something you can learn very minimally, like learning the basics of nouns or pronouns. But you will learn grammar, in time, as your English improves. The best way to learn grammar is intuitive – much like a child.
3. Learning Textbook English
The English you learn from your textbook is correct, but it’s not always the most common form of English. Most native English speakers don’t speak that formally. Their speech is full of slangs, idioms, cliches, and phrasal verbs. So you’re better off learning casual English to better communicate with native English speakers.
4. A Bad Attitude
A bad attitude will weigh you down, even if you are gifted with the English language. Thinking negatively and convincing yourself that you can’t learn English, will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you can’t, you won’t. The biggest hurdle you may have to overcome is your own attitude. Although at times, we all get discouraged and feel like we’re not making progress, you need to keep a positive attitude about your growth. Think to yourself, I can do this! I will learn English! You need to get over your own fears of being ridiculed or being considered a failure – because this won’t happen. We all have bad days. But don’t have a bad attitude, it won’t get you anywhere.
5. Not Listening Enough
The only way you can learn how to speak English is to actually listen to native English speakers talk. You may listen to your textbook audio CDs – and that’s a great place to start – but those audios are usually very rigid and fake sounding. It usually doesn’t sound like a normal English conversation – it’s just not how native English speakers talk. Even if you don’t understand every word, it’s still a great idea to listen to English movies, TV shows, the radio, music, and the news. You’ll get a better idea of the pronunciation, intonation, and ‘flow’ of the English language. Don’t hesitate to expose yourself to the language in any way you can.
6. Trying One Method
Using only one method to learn a language can get pretty boring. Although you can start out with a couple of English textbooks or workbooks, it’s a good idea to open yourself up to diverse learning methods. Pick an activity or hobby you love, and try to include your English studies. For example, if you love playing music, try to write an English song! You can have fun learning English, it doesn’t have to all be serious studies. You don’t have to look at your studies like a chore. There are so many fun activities to try, so open yourself up to all the diversity in language learning.