Whenever you set out to learn something completely new, it seems like there’s always quite a few people full of tips on how best to accomplish your goal. While advice from someone who has been there and done that can be great, it’s important to know which tips are really the most effective and which ones are probably destined to fall flat. If you’re considering trying your hand at learning a new language, but are feeling intimidated or overwhelmed by a multitude of advice and tips, you’ve come to the right place! Take a look at some of the worst language learning tips out there, so you know what not to do when approaching language acquisition.
Bad Tip #1: Don’t pick a ‘hard’ language
If you’re thinking about learning Mandarin or Arabic, you’ve probably heard tons of people tell you how difficult these languages are. It’s easy for a new language learner to get discouraged by the words: That language is too difficult, choose something easier. Seasoned language experts will back me up when I say, it doesn’t matter how easy the language you choose is because if you aren’t really invested in learning it you’re much more likely to give up without ever accomplishing your learning goals. This is why it’s important to choose a language you’re really interested in. Perhaps you want to learn Spanish because your grandparents migrated from Mexico, or Mandarin so you can converse with your girlfriend’s parents. Whatever your reasoning, if you have a passion and interest in your chosen language, achieving the level you want will be a lot easier.
Bad Tip #2: Immersion is the only way
While complete immersion in a foreign language does have lots of benefits, it’s a myth that it’s the only effective way to learn a new tongue. Your level of success in your chosen language is dependant solely on you. If you’re willing to put in the work on a daily basis and seek out creative ways to implement your knowledge in your daily life, then you shouldn’t have any problem with gaining the language level you want. There’s also plenty of ways you can incorporate a new language into your daily life and immerse yourself in it without having to live overseas.
Bad Tip #3: Start by learning grammar
Obviously grammar is a big part of language learning and you’ll never acquire fluency without studying it, but it’s a mistake to think that you need to hit the grammar books from the first day of your learning process. The best way to start learning a language is to just start using it. This means speaking it from day one so you’re increasing your vocab bank (which will come in handy for applying grammar later on) and learning the basic phrases of your target tongue. Don’t bog yourself down with grammar right away. Instead, focus on building up your confidence as a beginner language learner. If you wait to study grammar after you’ve been working on the language for a few months, you’ll find that it will make a lot more sense!
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Bad Tip #4: You need to invest (a lot)
The first thing you need to do when you decide to learn a new language is to stock up on a myriad of textbooks, dictionaries, and expensive learning courses. The more you spend, the better your chances of success! Actually, this is completely false. It’s great if you’re able to drop hundreds of bucks on a private tutor, or thousands on overseas immersion courses, but most of us simply can’t afford to invest that kind of cash. And that’s perfectly okay! As long as you’re smart about how you invest your money in language learning, you can definitely get the most bang out of each buck. There’s plenty of free language apps out there that are great supplements for the average language course. And it’s not hard to find excellent tutors and instructors who don’t cost a fortune and are invested in helping you to succeed.
Bad Tip #5: There’s no point to learning a language
This is probably the ultimate worst tip of all time and really pisses language learners like myself off. Hopefully you never hear this, but if you do just completely ignore the naysayer that claims you can get by speaking only English when traveling or living abroad (you can’t). Again, this comes down to your personal reasons for learning your target tongue. Learning a language can be a great way to connect with your past, keep your brain healthy, and open doors to new and better opportunities. So never give in to the belief that it’s pointless; learning a language is one of the best things you can do!
What are some of the worst language learning tips you’ve heard?