We have all been there. Taking English lessons, trying to keep straight all those articles, tackling tricky prepositions and figuring out apostrophes.
And even though confusing adverbs and adjectives 100 times in a row might be pretty annoying, these are not the mistakes that slow down the progress.
Moreover, they are an inherent part of studying. Whereas real mistakes that hold you back as a language learner are hidden in your attitude.
1. Believing Phonetics Is Not That Important
When it comes to learning English, phonetic skills are often ignored. Most people chase after rich vocabulary and grammar rules leaving the pronunciation behind. And it's a no-brainer why.
Working on the rhythm, correct intonation and proper sounds is both challenging and quite mundane process. And unfortunately, neither a super-duper English tutor from Canada nor non-stop online English classes won’t improve your TH sound unless you do your day-to-day phonetic training.
It may sound weird, but you should take your face to the gym. Because only regular training of your muscles and articulators will let you speak English effortlessly.
2. Using “TV English” As A Linguistic Role Model
We won't deny the fact that some films and TV series are indeed can be a great source of that authentic, 'real world', spoken English. But what we couldn’t miss as well is that fiction loves to play with the rules of grammar.
Grammatically incorrect titles, inaccurately constructed sentences, dialect peculiarities — a great way to reveal a character and to baffle an English teacher at the same time.
And this applies not only to feature films but TV in general. As the author of How To Talk American Jim Crotty points out, even well-paid American sportscasters and news anchors — seemingly perfect linguistic role models — make errors.
And infamous “He played good” instead of grammatically correct “He played well” proves the point.
3. Getting Obsessed With Grammar
To start speaking English faster, some students tend to go to extremes, focusing on grammar structures as if there is nothing more important than correct endings and auxiliary verbs.
On an intuitive level, that idea kind of makes sense. Yes, it is necessary to understand the basic tenets of grammar. But on the other hand, why be so judgmental and harsh on yourself, if some basic proofreading can easily fix it?
Grammar is the glue of language, there is no doubt about that. But if it paralyzes students so much that they cannot help but think about it all the time, that’s not a good way to go.
So let it go — download a convenient grammar checker for your browser and check your English writing once in a while. Use technology to your benefit and remember: people obsessed with grammar aren't as nice as everybody else.
Seriously. There’s a study.
4. Giving Up Their Native Language
English-only classroom policy has been promoted as best practice by many teachers, linguists, and tutors. But is it really so?
Some scholars won’t agree. Recent research has found that mindful and strategic use of a student's native language — especially in understanding new vocabulary, teacher’s instructions, grammar concepts — could be beneficial as well.
So, do not exclude your primary language completely, just put some reasonable limitations instead and use it as a crutch. Ask your English teacher to arrange certain classroom activities, so there could be an English-only time during lessons.
10 or 20 minutes would be just enough.
5. Thinking Immersion is All About Travelling
If you suppose that you can only be immersed in a language by going overseas, then we have good news for you. That’s not true.
The almighty Internet makes it really easy to immerse yourself in a new language, even if you live under a rock.
First of all, you can learn English online chatting with people from across the globe via different apps and platforms. Second of all, you can build a lifestyle where your target language will be around every corner.
Come on, our access to information has never been easier: YouTube, social networks, streaming services, digital libraries — they are all just waiting for you to come and buy another subscription.
So, as you can see, the difficulty doesn’t lie within the language itself, it’s all about attitude and study methods. And your main goal is to find the approach that works best for you, instead of committing yourself to familiar, but ineffective ones.
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