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Avoid 5 Common Mistakes Made By Language Learners

A colleague of mine once said to me, one must master reading, writing, speaking, and listening when learning a new language. The skill(s) within these skills; writing (grammar), reading and speaking (pronunciation and intonation), and listening (pronunciation) is even more vital and shouldn’t be left out.

If you’re thinking of learning a second language online avoid these 5 common mistakes made by language learners.

Overly Excited Vs Extremely Motivated

Language Learning It's Not A Race

Do you feel overly excited when you start learning a new language? Other people feel the same way as well and that’s good because you’re not forcing yourself to do the thing you don’t like.

What’s not good is being extremely motivated and lose it after a while. You spend so many hours learning it. When I say hours, I mean like 3-4 hours a day. You feel like you have to master it in a short period of time. Don’t do that. Learning a new language isn’t a race.

I bet you’ve heard the story of the turtle and the rabbit. Don’t be like the rabbit. Don’t go all out, save a little. You have to keep your excitement and motivation balanced. 

If you think learning hours a day is totally ok let me ask you this. Can you do it consistently with the same hours without losing the same motivation? If you can, I really salute you then.

Grammar Vs Pronunciation (vocabulary)

The most important question when it comes to learning a foreign language is, which one should you prioritize more, the grammar or the pronunciation?

I mostly learn foreign languages by copying what my teachers said or the dialogues from TV series or movies. After all, we learn by copying pretty much everything not just in the language area.

I unintentionally expose myself to the language first. So, when I decided to start learning a foreign language I’d naturally prioritize both because it’s equally important.

From my perspective, the importance of learning grammar and structuring your sentences correctly though it doesn’t have to be perfect so long as people understand what you’re trying to convey is as much important as pronunciation. Don’t choose grammar over pronunciation and most certainly don’t underestimate the power of pronunciation.

Do you know when your pronunciation would come in handy? It’s when you’re making a call, ordering a delivery service or making a reservation, etc.

Don’t make an excuse like “I don’t know how to pronounce this and that” when the fact is you can just list down all the difficult words and start improving them.

So, start paying extra attention to it. Save yourself from embarrassment and stop making excuses.

Writing Down

Another vital skill people tend to neglect is listening. Do you know how many English homophones, homonyms, homographs, and heteronyms out there? Countless. It’s easy to get confused.

Same as pronunciation but the opposite. This skill would come in handy when picking up a call and jotting down customer’s orders (delivery service/reservation), taking notes from classes, and many more.

Don't Wait. Just Talk

Just Talk Shadow

When learning a second language one needs to learn to practice and make use of any skills they have, be it writing or speaking. You’re good at writing – that’s great, but don’t just stop there, speak.

You won’t know how good you are, how far you can go, or how much you need/have to improve unless you start practicing it.

“I’m afraid my friends or people will laugh at me” – embarrassment is inevitable. Criticism is needed for you to improve so, learn to accept it with an open heart.

I was like that too, and yes, some of my friends laugh at my pronunciations. The thing I really hate the most was doing an English presentation in front of my classmates. So, what I did was I let go of the embarrassment. I didn’t care about the grammar and the pronunciation I just wanted to finish it.

Then, I worked like crazy polishing my pronunciation and care less about the grammar. The result is I gained confidence when speaking in English. As time passed by I learn to improve my grammar. I’m happy with where I’m right now with my English skills. I still don’t like doing presentations though.

Resources And Methods

There are many ways, methods, and resources out there you can reach the tip of your finger. When learning a foreign language you might want to have all of those to diversify your learning. Don’t just stick to one. Ask help from Mr. Google to find it for you.

Write Be Creative
One needs to learn to break out of their comfort zone sooner or later. Sticking to the same old method for months isn’t going to help you much. You’ll end up quitting sooner you can imagine because you suffer from boredom. Failure to change your method is going to cost you that.

Too Polite

This one is more of a mistake made by a language learner’s friend. When your friends talk in their second language and you spot the mistakes be it grammar or pronunciation, what would you do? I guarantee most of you just let it go because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Your intention is good but don’t do that too often.

As a friend, you should tell them and don’t let them proudly go around speaking in that language like everything is ok because no one “corrects” them. Don’t be too polite. Trust me by doing this you’re helping your friends in many ways and not just saving them from being the laughing stock of your other friends.

In conclusion, all these skills are needed because they complement each other. Now that you know the common mistakes when learning a new language, try not to let history repeats itself. You can apply all of the above to traditional learning methods as well.

Did I get your mistakes included on the list? If not, share with us below. Let the others learn from your mistakes too.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Sheni

    Hi June,
    I enjoyed reading your article. It is well written and well illustrated to keep people interested enough to want to read it to the end. As of now I have no real desire to learn a new language. This is because I am having a tough enough time learning to speak my own native language fluently. I wish people had politely corrected my grammar and pronunciation when I was trying to speak my native language instead of poking fun at me. So that tip is certainly an important one for people to follow.

    1. Meina

      Hi Sheni.

      Thank you for such a wonderful comment =) I’m glad you enjoyed my article. I truly wished my friends would do that too during high school so that I didn’t have to escape class whenever there were presentations haha but I didn’t do that too often, though.

      I realized if they didn’t laugh and just sit quietly, I’d never had considered improving both skills. I learned it the hard way, but I’m happy they did that although it wasn’t a polite way of correcting it.

      By the way, what’s your native language?

  2. Anthony

    Fantastic article, I am going to be learning Japanese soon so I will definitely take into account the things that you have spoken about here 🙂 I am going to be learning with a few others so I will get them to read this article.

    I want to learn one more language after Japanese, what would you recommend I learn?

    1. Meina

      Hi Anthony.

      Thank you 🙂 Japanese? Wow! That’s one of the most difficult languages to tackle. I’d love to read and have your success story mastering Japanese on my Wall of Motivation page (coming soon). I’d recommend you to choose a language that you have an interest in. You’re welcome to try Spanish or French though.

      Wish you lots of success in your future endeavors 🙂

  3. Kendy

    Great article on learning another language. You covered some questions I’ve had, like grammar or prounuciation. I like your idea of immersion too. Well thought out and comprehensive.

    1. Meina

      Hi Kendy.

      Thank you 🙂 Glad you like it. I think most people worry about grammar and/or pronunciation when learning a new language, so I thought it’d be a good idea to cover those as well.

  4. Vinnie Prasad

    Awesome article, at the moment, I’m really trying to learn Spanish but it does become difficult when you’re trying to learn on your own. In the next couple of months, I really want to travel and hope I can learn as I go along but would like to know the basics before I leave. I’ll defiantly take up your advice.

    I heard the fastest way to learn a language is exposing yourself to it consistently, would this be true?

    1. Meina

      Hey Vinnie,

      Self- teaching and self-learning is never easy, I have experienced it myself.

      Yes, it is true. Exposing yourself to their music, Telenovela, entertainment or anything related to Spanish in general really contribute a lot to your learning process. Constant communication with native speakers also helps. This is what I do every day. When in doubt, it is best to directly ask help from them and I have to admit it does improve my Spanish.

      If you don’t mind my asking, what method do you use to learn Spanish?

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