Stop Making These Mistakes!
Mistakes All Language Learners Make.
We are Alejandra and Barbara from Dilo en Inglés . Today, we want to talk to you about the most common and basic mistakes we’ve seen our students make when learning English.
1. Keeping quiet
2. Having no study plan
3. Putting all the pressure of learning English on one course, teacher, or class
WHY IS BEING QUIET SUCH A BAD THING?
In most classes you’ll hear the teacher ask the students to keep quiet, and we fully understand that there are times when the class can get out of hand and Mr. or Ms. English Teacher can feel quite overwhelmed. But this is not the type of “quiet” we are referring to.
By “quiet” we mean never asking questions.
Believe it or not, this can lead to all kinds of problems: frustration, disinterest, or never overcoming your fear of speaking…ever. This is more common than you might think. In fact, we have yet to come across a student who dares to raise his/her hand in class to ask the teacher WHY a sentence functions in this or that way. It’s even less common to find students who tell the teacher that they still didn’t understand even after an extensive explanation.
Does this sound like you?
There are many problems associated with approaching language learning with this type of “quietness.” Below are some examples;
1) Doubts can pile up and lead to frustration. We’ve had students drop out of courses because their frustration was too overwhelming.
2) You may adopt that mistake into your conversational English. Some people find it so difficult to ask a question that they would rather keep make a mistake rather than correct it
3) The longer you wait to overcome your shyness in asking, the harder it will become.
All in all, not getting a clear answer to your questions will hinder your progress.
WHY DO I NEED A STUDY PLAN? ISN’T THAT WHY I’M PAYING A TEACHER?
Your teacher does have a plan…for his/her course. But, that may not be your plan. I (Barbara) was not one for making lists, but I have to admit that organization is a big part of achieving success. If you don’t believe me just ask anyone who’s ever reached a goal. They’ll tell you that it takes a lot of hard work and years of practice. But, what they forget to mention is that none of that effort will lead you to your goal if you don’t have some sort of plan.
HOW DO I MAKE A STUDY PLAN?
You first need to ask yourself these questions:
1. Why am I studying English? -> For work, for social interaction, to travel?
2. Do I like the language? -> Would I rather be learning something else? Can I see myself studying every day?
3. What do I want to achieve? -> Is there a specific job I want to apply to? Am I taking a trip or planning to move to an English-speaking country?
Answer these questions as honestly as possible.
Don’t think that you have to learn English just because people say that it’s a necessity. The motivation to learn has to come from you, not from anyone else.
Now that you’re sure that you are going to study English, you need a plan.
You need to know what to study and how much to study to achieve your goal. This is how you can do it:
A. Be specific about what you want to achieve. We know you want to learn English, but that’s too broad. A goal like “I want to be able to order a meal in English” is very specific.
B. Make short term goals. Don’t make a two-year plan without first having a 1-month, 2-month or 3 -month goal. If your goals are too far down the line, you will probably lose interest.
C. Once you’ve reached one goal, make another. This will keep you moving in a positive direction.
D. Celebrate your triumphs. Every time you reach your goal, celebrate. This will motivate you to keep studying.
YOU’RE STUDYING ENGLISH: SHOULDN’T YOU BE SPEAKING BY NOW?
One course or teacher will never teach you everything you need to know about a language. There isn’t one single mathematical, scientific or even logical formula to learn a language. It’s also not one-sided. The burden of learning a language is not on the course or the teacher. It’s on you. That means that you have to be able to solve the problems you come across. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to know the answers to the questions. It means that you have to ask the questions to get the answers. If you don’t take an active part in your learning, no teacher in the world will be able to help you.
GO BEYOND THE CLASSROOM
Now you know that you can’t put all the pressure of learning on your class or hours of self-study to get you to the next level. A classroom setting is a great way to get started, but it’s very important to go beyond the comfort zone of your classroom or bedroom.
Get out there and practice what you’ve learned. Find online resources (like Word Perfect English) where you can practice with native speakers. Seek out language exchange programs. There are several informal exchange programs in the area we live in, and there are not even that many foreigners here. The point is there will always be a way to practice English outside of the classroom.
STUDY IN A CONSISTENT MANNER
Whether you are enrolled in a class or self-studying, continuity is very important. We know that learning a language can get frustrating at times. Some students become overwhelmed and decide to take a break. But, that break turns into weeks or months of not studying. If your breaks are longer than your actually study periods, you won’t be advancing at all.
We recommend 2 or 3 hours of studying per week to start off with.
Slowly you can build up to studying 1 hour per day which is actually the ideal minimum we strive for with our students.
Hopefully, these tips can help you start or continue on your language-learning journey. If you are a native Spanish speaker, you can visit our blog, Dilo en Inglés , where you can find resources in Spanish.
Thank you to Word Perfect English for letting us share our experience and suggestions with you!
Alejandra and Barbarabutton