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The 8 Biggest Mistakes Language Learners Make !

If I asked you to name some language learning mistakes, what would you say? - Bad pronunciation? - Not knowing the right words? - Messing up grammar?

These are pretty common mistakes, and people make them all the time when learning a language. But these aren’t the mistakes that will hold you back as a language learner.

Today I’d like to share with you 8 of the most common mistakes that will hold you back. I see language learners struggling with these issues every day. Don’t be one of them!

Luckily, although these mistakes will stall your language learning, they are easy to fix, just by making a few small changes in your mindset. Language hacking is all about mindset.

1/ Freaking out about Making Mistakes : Mistakes are an essential part of learning languages (or learning anything, really). So don’t beat yourself up about them and always remember that mistakes are the gateway to improvement and are essential to our development. Without mistakes your progress will stall.

2/ Thinking You’ll Never Pronounce it Right : Repeat the words again and again, and muscle memory will eventually take over. Your mouth and tongue will have a bit of work to do at first to learn how to make these new sounds. But with repetition, you’ll eventually be pronouncing even the toughest words with ease.

3/ Getting Tangled up with Grammar : Yes, the language you are studying has grammar. And yes, some of the grammar might be “hard”. But guess what? Every language also has aspects of grammar which are easy! There are two related mistakes people make with grammar. The first is ignoring those aspects of the grammar that make the language much easier. For example, you’ll never need to conjugate verbs in Chinese or know noun cases in Italian. The second grammar mistake is to focus on the details of “hard” grammar without stepping back to see how things can be simplified.

4/ Focusing on the Wrong Vocabulary : One of the biggest mistakes you can make with vocabulary is failing to choose the right words for you. Vocabulary serves you best when it’s relevant to you and your life. After all, you’re much more likely to talk about your hobbies, family or home town than you are about the top kiwifruit producing country in the world .

5/ Believing Immersion is All About Living Abroad : this is a big mistake. The Internet makes it really simple to immerse yourself in a new language, wherever you live.Immersion has less to do with your location than your environment. Build a lifestyle where exposure to your target language is around every corner — through music, TV shows, movies, software and the people you see regularly .

6/ Getting Frustrated When Listening to Natives : One of the first things you’ll notice when learning a language is the speed at which natives speak. Even if you understand words written on the page, when you hear them spoken at full speed by a native speaker you can feel like you’re listening to a confusing collection of random sounds. While there are many great methods for developing your ear,like watching TV shows or movies, listening in your target language, all while following along with the subtitles. After a while, test your improved listening skills by watching it again, this time with the subtitles turned off.

7/ Having a Study-Heavy Approach : If you want to improve your language skills, I recommend studying less, not more.One of the biggest mistakes I see language learners make is believing that studying languages is about acquiring knowledge. Newsflash: it’s not! Learning a new language is about building a communication skill. Like any skill, you have to use it to improve it. Don’t get so mired in the study of a language that you forget the whole reason you’re doing this — to communicate with people around the world!

8/ Believing it has to be Hard : While language learning is many things, believing that it is intrinsically “hard” is one of the biggest mistakes I see with language learners.Does it take time and focused commitment? Absolutely! Can it be scary and intimidating? Sure! But is it “hard”? Not necessarily.

Your attitude towards language learning is the biggest factor in how difficult or easy a language will be to learn.

The truth is, the difficulty doesn’t lie within the language itself, but in the study methods and materials you use, and your attitude towards the language. Adapt your approach to be like a scientist testing out new theorems. Find the methods that work best for you instead of committing yourself to one that is familiar, but ineffective.


April 21, 2017



Thanks! That was really helpful!


If you liked that you should check out some of Benny's other articles: http://fluentin3months.com/home

He's actually got a Duolingo account but he doesn't use it... looks like DL is not on his list of useful language learning aids :D


thank you for reading ;-)


You are soo right, I have some of these problems, thanks for explain it.

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I totally agree with number 8. Many people will stop learning or perform poorly in their learning process because they believe it's too hard to do. They should realise that little kids (of any language) can do that... Why couldn't we, the non-natives.

Also number 5 is very true. I immersed myself in English years ago without ever traveling abroad and when I finally did, most people where really impressed with my language skills. Doing the same with German now. Pick a TV show that you like and watch it in your target language, don't give up and eventually it will click (given you have enough vocabulary under your belt.. which is what Duolingo trees are great for).

Happy learning to everyone :-)


Wow. I couldn't tell from what you wrote that you weren't a native English speaker. It does work, eventually.


that is very interesting!


All the points you made are valid. Great post.


you're welcome ;-)

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