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August 2015

Top five mistakes language learners make

Five common mistakes to avoid while learning a new language

We all prefer to learn a new language in unique ways, but many of us make similar mistakes. Save yourself some time while studying by getting over these errors as soon as possible, and you’ll find a more natural and fun learning experience. Today we look at the top five mistakes language learners make and how to overcome them.

Being afraid of making mistakes

When you find yourself making a language mistake in public, the embarrassment will likely make you remember that lesson for a good while. Errors should be embraced when it comes to language study. One of the biggest mistakes a student can make is not trying out of fear of failure. Be bold and speak up; any errors you make only go to show what you could work more on. Think of each mistake as an additional step toward your learning goals. (Read also: “Language learning and the merits of making mistakes”)

Losing the drive

Many new students excited about learning a new language have their greatest burst of momentum at the very beginning. The sense of excitement that accompanies the start of the language learning process should certainly be embraced (such wonders are rare indeed), but how does one maintain the momentum after the initial months? Focus on necessity: study subjects that pertain more to your interests. If you like food, learn more vocabulary related to cuisine. If you’ve got the wanderlust, study words that will help you travel. Every so often, watch a film or go to a cultural fair to remind you why you started learning the language in the first place.

Always feeling not ready enough

While grammar studies are important, learning from the textbook can only take you so far. Language has to be experienced in a real-world setting. A common mistake many language learners make is taking too long before going out and using the language, thinking perhaps that they simply aren't ready yet. Using the language is part of the learning process, meaning it's very useful to speak even if you really aren't ready. Real-world experience is the point of learning a new language, after all. (Read also: “5 tips for finding a good language partner”)

Overthinking the rules

A person fluent in a language doesn't have to think much while using it. The language becomes almost an instinctual response, a feeling. Rules are important for speaking properly, but one shouldn't treat the language experience like a mathematical formula. Speak with your gut whenever possible (and, as we said earlier, be okay making mistakes). Keep grammatical rules in mind but try not to rely on sorting through them every time prior to speaking.

Forgetting to have fun

Never forget why you started learning a new language in the first place. Whatever it was that inspired you, hold it to heart. Too often the demands of seeking perfection make us anxious to learn more quickly. Relax, use the language, find ways to make studying fun and, most importantly, find friends who you can go on this journey with.

What are some common language learning mistakes you’ve encountered? What are your tips for overcoming them? Let us know on our Facebook page and be sure to “like” it for more updates on upcoming language study tips!