There is nothing quite like starting to learn a language. For many adults, the last time they started learning a brand-new subject matter was when they were in school, so sometimes it is difficult to envision what the language journey will look like. As they start there are 5 mistakes language learners make when approaching language learning. Take note so you avoid these common mistakes.
Afraid to Make Mistakes
The biggest mistake that language learners make is being afraid of making mistakes. Winston Churchill explains that “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” Although it is very normal to be averse to saying something incorrectly, you will not progress in your language fluency if you are afraid to make mistakes. Adults speak their mother tongue 100% fluently. When learning a language, adults are back at square one with fluency. The comparison between the two levels sometimes cripples adult language learners from trying to use the language abilities that they do have. Some adult learners will not utter a single syllable unless they know it is completely perfect. Unfortunately, that is not how language fluency is improved. Think about a child learning their mother tongue. Do they pronounce everything correctly? Do they get all the grammar correct? But do they still get their message across? Yes! It takes a bit of humility to realize that mistakes are a necessary part of language learning. Loosening up your grip on perfection is key to progress in your language learning journey.
Exclusively Use Apps
As evolved as Rosetta Stone and Duolingo are, they cannot be your exclusive language learning tool. Apps to offer all for modes of communication that should be practiced when learning a language. Those modes are listening, speaking, reading, and writing. When learning their native language, children start with listening, they progress to speaking after that. Then when school-age, they start reading and writing. Adults have the advantage of having developed all of the modes of communication in their native tongue. As long as you do not have to learn an alternate writing system, you have all four of those modes of communication available to apply to a new language. Most language learning apps start with displaying new words and then you select the correct answer based on the picture displayed. At some point a picture will be displayed with a spoken phrase. You might then write the phrase or select the picture that matches. After that you will test your speaking skills. Although apps are great for building up vocabulary, unless your app of choice allows for speaking with native speakers, your language learning will not reach fluency.
Non-immersive Study Methods
Along with exclusively using apps to learn a language, another similar mistake that language learners sometimes make are not using immersive study methods. Now, you may think, there is no way that I can just up and move or travel to a different country to immerse myself in learning. While that may be true, that is not the only way to practice immersive study methods. While seeking out a roommate or significant other that speaks your language of choice may be a great idea, it may not be your preference. Going to an authentic restaurant from a country that speaks that language is another great option, but it can be hit or miss as to whether you will actually find a native speaker when you go. Try these easy ways to learn a language. An immersive option that is always available to you is listening to music. It needs to be music made for speakers of the language you have chosen. A simple Google search for the popular singers will get you on your way. Another easy option would be finding a movie or show made for native speakers of your chosen language. You can simply search for the name of language on your streaming service. Netflix tends to have more options available, but most streaming services will have something for you. Podcasts are another excellent option. Although audiobooks would be immersive, it will have more academic vocabulary, so it may not be the best option for new language learners. Choose one, two or all of these immersive methods to build up your language skills.
Inconsistent Study Schedule
Like any new skill, language learning requires consistency. Studying a little bit on Monday, then a random pocket of time on Friday, and maybe an hour on a lazy Sunday afternoon is not what you need to improve your language skills. You may think to yourself, something is better than nothing, which is true. However, language learning is like muscle building. If you do not set aside time each day on a schedule, you will build muscles, but they will constantly be returning to their previous state. With language skills, if you do not use them, you lose them. Just like muscles. Another comparison would be to learning a musical instrument. Although you can sit down and learn a song every once in a while, it is dedicated practice that will allow you to be able to pick up a new piece of music you have never seen and read it from start to finish. Set a time every day to be your practice time. A consistent schedule will give you the progress you are searching for.
Learn a Language on Their Own
While learning on your own may be the most convenient, it is not going to get you to fluency in the language you are learning. As stated in previous points, learning a language without being immersed will only get you so far. Learning for the sake of learning does not give you the motivation to keep going when the going gets tough. Like any long-term goal, you need motivation to keep going. When it comes to language learning, the best motivation is other people. If you are learning a language to converse with a family member in their native tongue, that will be plenty of motivation. However, you might need to manufacture other motivation, if that is not your case. A very good motivator would be language lessons. You can do them individually, or you could even suggest that your company pay for your lessons, if the language can be used in your place of work. Another motivator could be finding someone to learn the language with you. This will allow both of you to encourage one another in you language studies.