Learning a new language is an endeavour for the dedicated. It requires time, energy, and inevitably, resilience because it can be very easy for your motivation to wane. In the long run it’s worth it, but what’s the point if you never make it to a stage where you can actually converse with anyone?
It’s easy to feel dejected – we’ve all been there – but don’t worry! We’ll equip you with a few tips for staying, or getting back, on the horse. Check out these 4 slip-ups that many people make when studying a second language, and see how you can avoid them in your next attempt!
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1. Approaching language learning as a task
Learning a new language requires studying, but studying can take various forms. Sure, it’s useful to take a course in which you’re given exercises and assignments, but when you start to look at it as a task, an obligation, or a means to an end, you get frustrated.
Instead, look at learning a language as an adventure – along the way, you’ll earn rich rewards, but you’ll also trip and fall on your face. Get back up! And try new ways of incorporating your recently acquired language abilities into your everyday life. Watch a movie in your new language or download some music.
And be sure to contact us to find language tutors near you – they can help you out with some of the nuances and teach you some exciting things about culture too!
2. Trying to learn a language solo
One of the main mistakes people make when learning a new language is trying to go at it alone. I’m sure there are a few super dedicated individuals who have achieved dramatic success by plopping themselves down in front of Rosetta Stone every night, but most of us aren’t like them. Without people around you, talking to you, struggling with you, and triumphing with you, it’s really difficult to stay motivated.
So, join a class – we offer many! – and meet new people. And as you progress, you’ll have new buddies to chat with and test out your language skills.
3. Reading the classics – in that language
Perhaps you’ve been studying Russian for a few months, and with your new knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, you’re thinking of trying your hand at some Dostoyevsky. Pause. Reading is a phenomenal way to better your vocabulary and your language skills, but there are a couple of inherent flaws in this plan. First, classic literature often uses complex and archaic vocabulary and grammatical structures that can not only be difficult to understand, but that are also irrelevant in conversation today. And second, having to understand abstract and complicated themes in a second language can be taxing on your self-esteem.
But don’t stop reading! Instead, try your hand at a few children’s books first, work your way up to young adult novels, and then test out the more complex fiction. With lots of dialogue, and written in a more modern tone, you’ll start to breeze through these books, and be less likely to throw your hands up in exasperation.
4. Memorising long lists of vocabulary
And last but not least, trying to memorize long lists of vocabulary is an unsustainable method of learning a foreign language. Why? Well, you don’t actually get any information about the grammar of the language you’re learning. Having a large repertoire is no doubt useful, but pack on the additional vocabulary after you’ve nailed down all the basics. Oh, and rote memorisation is also super exhausting – besides, you don’t necessarily need to know that many words to converse like a champ.
So, rather than wear yourself out trying to remember an endless list of words, listen to music in your target language, or watch a TV show. Even better? Talk to real people!
Learning a new language can be hard work – it can be stressful, it can be exhausting, and it can be disheartening – but don’t give up! It’s worth it in the long run.
Let us know what mistakes you think people make when learning a new language in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out our list of language courses on offer, or contact us to find out more about courses near you!