There are many different ways to learn a foreign language and you should take the one which you feel most comfortable with. This means that we all learn differently but there are some common mistakes which many of us make and which only result in us wasting our time.
Learning Weird Words
I once worked beside a guy who knew how to say the names of at least 10 different dinosaurs in French but couldn’t order a baguette in Paris if his life depended upon it. When you first open a foreign dictionary it can be almost overwhelming and you probably won’t know where to start among such a huge collection of new words. Human nature being what it is one of the things you might instinctively do is to look for weird and interesting words. This is a fun thing to get started with but once you start studying seriously you will make better use of your time by learning words which are useful in everyday situations. Having said that, my ex colleague would have been the happiest man in the world if a French person came up to him in the street one day and asked if he knew where to find some pterodactyls.
Trying to Perfect a Word or Phrase
Another way of wasting time is when you try desperately hard to learn one difficult word or phrase. It seems that everyone who learns a second language has a certain word or phrase which they simply can’t say well or even remember correctly. In my case I spent a long time trying to perfect the Spanish word deshidratado for some reason. It’s not as though I have a specific problem with the retention of fluids in my body but my brain just got stuck on this word. It is better to move on to learn other words and then go back to the tricky one later on. You might find that it is a lot easier if you do it this way.
All Listening and No Talking
It is important that you do a lot of listening when you are starting out on a foreign language but talking is ever more important. It could be a lack of confidence which holds you back from speaking more but whatever it is you need to overcome it and talk as much as you can, even if it just about dinosaurs and dehydration.
Are you learning smartly or wasting too much time? Make the most of your studying and you will feel a tremendous amount of satisfaction as you progress day after day.