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The 5 Most Common Mistakes People Make When Learning a Language – And How to Avoid Them!

Image representing students learning to use the correct present tense

Learning a language isn’t always as easy as you might hope it to be. In fact, you can pretty much guarantee that you’re going to make some mistakes along the way!

But some mistakes are more common than others – and they’re actually pretty easy to avoid. Read on to find out how you can steer clear of five of the most obvious mistakes.

Not spending enough time listening

All languages are meant to be spoken – and that means you should make time to listen – and speak – a language as much as possible, when you’re learning.

But a lot of learners will often make the mistake of sticking to the textbooks rigidly – or the audio recordings that come with it.

Textbooks and recordings are definitely helpful as they’ll introduce you to a new language and break it down in a simpler, more accessible form for you.

But once you’ve started to gain some familiarity, try listening to as many naturally spoken examples of the language as you possibly can – radio shows, podcasts, audiobooks and TV are all great ways to help you feel more comfortable with the pace and style of the language.

Sticking to a single way of learning

Learning doesn’t have to be a chore, or deathly boring!

Sticking to the same way of learning, day in and day out can soon get pretty tiresome. But more than that, it can also prevent you from learning as much as you capable of doing.

Mix things up with a variety of activities instead – practice short exercises with flashcards when you’re out and about, listen to a radio show and see how much you can follow, and try speaking a little too – even if it’s just to yourself!

Ignoring intonation

There are two parts to any spoken form of language – pronunciation and intonation.

Pronunciation is all about the sounds that make up each word. Intonation is how you put words together, and use sound to convey your meaning overall.

It’s important to practice both – because even if you pronounce words correctly, if your intonation is incorrect, then the listener might not fully understand what you mean to say.

A good way to understand intonation is by listening to other speakers – tune into a regular podcast, and pay close attention to the sounds of words as they express different things!

Trying to be too perfect

Anyone who is learning a language will want to know as much as possible before they start to use it.

But in trying to be perfect, you may end up making a big mistake.

Naturally, you’re going to get some things wrong as you move along your language learning journey. You’ll forget grammar rules, mix up vocabulary, or completely mispronounce words at times!

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try – or that you’re not good enough.

Instead embrace your mistakes and keep practicing!

Thinking you have to be ‘ready’ before you can try it out

Going out into the world and testing out your newly learnt language skills can be pretty nerve-wracking – but wait too long to give it a go, and you could end up getting stuck in your language journey.

It’s best to start practicing using your language skills as soon as possible, to help you build the confidence and the skills you need. Even if you only have a limited vocabulary and only know a few phrases, try them out! You’ll feel much more confident and positive about your language use, and this will inspire you to learn even more.

Are you learning a new language? Tell us all about it in the comments!