We all get tonnes of advice on what to do when learning English, but we are never told what NOT to do! Here are the top 3 things to avoid at all costs.
Learning a new language can feel like a real challenge when you’re an adult. Unlike children — who seem to do this naturally and without any effort — we adults often take a longer period of time to learn and become fluent in a second language.
The way adults learn a new language is very different from the way young children do it; we tend to rely on a more traditional method — following textbooks, focusing more on grammar rules and spelling, and being generally embarrassed by small mistakes.
Are we learning English the wrong way?
The fact that children and adults have different ways of learning a new language doesn’t mean that the “adult method” is wrong. In fact, the “adult method” also has a benefit: we often have a better understanding of the structure of a language when we study its grammar.
However, there may be a few things that you’re doing wrong when learning English the traditional way. These are not related to the learning method per se, but to your own approach to learning. So keep an eye on the following list of things you should never do when learning English (or any other language, for that matter):
1. Don’t make up excuses: “I’m too old to learn” and “I can’t afford it” are not real obstacles
We often think that we’re too old to learn a new language. If that was true, no adults would ever learn a second language — and we know for a fact this is not the case. We see adult learners everywhere!
Are adults who learn a new language “naturally talented” then? No, not really. Sometimes, all it takes is a bigger effort, a little more discipline, or even a bit of personal motivation like moving to another country, learning the language of your partner, or following your passion for a certain culture.
What about money? Studying a new language always costs money, right?
Well… it may or may not cost money: you may choose to spend money by hiring a tutor or enrolling in a language school OR you may choose to study on your own with entirely free resources on the internet — resources like VoiceTube for those who want to learn English watching videos.
As you can see, the popular English idiom, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”, is certainly true in this case. Stop making excuses that are keeping you from reaching your goal of learning a new language.
2. Never let shyness get in the way. Practice even if you’re not fluent
Another problem is that not being fluent in a language usually makes us a little less confident. We’ve all been there: wanting to say something in English, but feeling shy because we hardly had the opportunity to practice in a real life situation. Or being afraid of making a grammar mistake, forgetting words, and then pausing for a long moment while trying to form an intelligible sentence.
Let’s face it — in the beginning, your English will not be perfect! And you know what? That’s OK. You can still engage in conversations with other people and have fun even if your pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar are not 100% correct. In this case, making mistakes is better than not practising at all.
3. Never listen to the ones making fun of your accent, pronunciation or grammar
And what if someone makes fun of you for having a “funny accent” or “broken English”? It might hurt, but don’t listen to people who make you feel down. It is often the case that people who make fun of English learners have never learned a second language themselves, so they probably don’t know how difficult it is.
Keep in mind that improvement doesn’t happen overnight: reaching a high fluency level takes time and effort and you are bound to have a few flaws here and there on the way up. So instead of feeling upset for being ridiculed or criticised, focus on the skills that you need to improve.
This text was inspired by Benny Lewis’ Hacking Language Learning TEDx talk, which you can watch below. For more inspiring talks, visit our TED channel on VoiceTube!
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