Monday, February 17, 2020

8 Mistakes People Should Stop Making When Learning a New Language by Aimee Laurence

Learning a new language can be an incredibly tough challenge, but also very rewarding if you keep up with it. Here are some things to avoid doing while learning your target language, as they can affect your motivation and overall performance.

1. Freaking out about mistakes


Many people, when starting to learn a new language, avoid using it because they are afraid of making mistakes, but this approach is not at all beneficial. Making mistakes is all part of the process of learning, and errors are actually an essential part of it.

There is no point in panicking once you make a mistake; you should learn from it as quickly as possible. If you avoid practice because you worry about being perfect, you'll not be able to progress. It's important to relax and acknowledge that you are only at the start of your journey and that these mistakes can only help you gain experience.

2. Getting frustrated about pronunciation


It is very easy to let yourself feel overwhelmed with pronunciation in your target language. There are between 300 and 600 different possible sounds and every language has its own unique phonemic inventory. Not getting it right from the very beginning is no reason to get frustrated or lose confidence.

It is important to identify the rules you have the most trouble with learning and focus on them. At first, you have a bit of work to do to adjust your mouth and tongue to the target language's unique sounds, but with time muscle memory will help you start to pronounce them correctly.

3. Not starting with the way a language sounds


When starting to learn a new language, everybody wants to delve into reading and writing right away, but that is not always the right way to go. Instead, start with the way the language sounds first. Verbal exercises will help you, even if you are only pronouncing a few basic words and phrases.

4. Focusing too much on grammar


Every language has complex grammar rules, and it's easy to get tangled up in them. Many people make the mistake of focusing too much on the grammar they find difficult, which can be discouraging.

It's important to remember that all languages have easy aspects to them as well, and if you feel overwhelmed, you can always just focus on them. Any practice is valuable, even if it seems "too easy".

“[E]ven the hardest features of language have ways in which they can be simplified. By knowing the simplest, core grammar, you will be able to recognize elements from them when they are used in harder structures," says Brian Oliver, an educator at Assignment Service and OXEssays.

5. Focusing on the wrong vocabulary


Contrary to what you might believe, starting with endless lists of vocabulary isn't the way to go when learning a language. Ideally, you should start slowly, with a strong base of words that are useful in day to day life, such as numbers, colours, days of the week, food and family members. By knowing the core phrases and words, you can start practising speaking right away.

“[L]earning vocabulary is more effective when you choose words that are relevant to you and your life. Because of this, starting off with a list of words related to your hobbies, hometown and life will help you be able to speak to people right away about the stuff that is specific to you," says Diana Simpson, a tutor at Australianhelp and BoomEssays.

6. Getting too frustrated listening to natives


As a beginner, one of the most frustrating things when watching a video in your target language is listening to the fast, complex speech of natives and not being able to understand everything. However, simply listening to them can help you improve in many areas such as grammar, pronunciation, and broadening your vocabulary. Even if you may not be able to follow the speech of a native from the start, there are many tools to help you, such as subtitles.

7. Using textbooks instead of immersion


Another common mistake is using textbooks too much instead of other methods of immersion, such as listening to the radio, watching TV, reading articles online, all in your target language. Immersing yourself in the current culture will give you great insight into how people actually use their language, instead of what's "grammatically correct".

8. Not having enough patience


Language learning is a task that involves a lot of time and commitment. Many people tend to be intimidated by this, but it's important to have patience with it. Just like with any other skill, you will only get better with practice, and a lot of trial and error.

Overall, keep in mind that even making these mistakes does not mean you won't be able to learn a language. Everybody learns languages for different reasons, but you can always learn to adapt your behaviour for better results.

Aimee Laurence is a writer and language tutor specialized in topics related to education. She works at BoomEssays and UK Writings, and you can find her work on Essayroo as well.

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