learningDid you ever look at a bilingual colleague or friend in awe and ask them, “What’s your secret?” If you are trying to learn a language it can be tempting to seek out the shortcuts. But asking someone who already mastered a second or third language how they did it is not always helpful. Everyone is different and one person’s quick-and-easy method is another’s form of torture. Some advice is downright wrong. For example, learning English as a second language is not easy and anyone who says so is lying. Here’s a selection of bad advice about learning a language, and what you really need to know to succeed.


You Must Buy an Expensive Book/ CD/ Online Package
The only way you can learn a language is by purchasing a language-learning course – the best there is on the market which also happens to be the most expensive. Don’t start learning until your course has arrived and work your way through it without missing any chapters in order to get your money’s worth. Watch out! Some language courses are excellent and will help you meet your language goals, but others are a waste of money. Do your homework if you want a self-study course to find the best one for your specific needs and style of learning. Better still, use the money to enrol in a class where you will have exposure to the language from a teacher and will also have the chance to practise and ask questions.


Learn Grammar Correctly Before You Speak
Remember every verb conjugation and be able to recite grammar rules off by heart before you attempt to visit the country of the language you are learning or speak anything at all. You don’t want to make a fool out of yourself and a solid foundation in grammar is essential. Forget it! Grammar is important, yes. If you are learning English you need to be able to form sentences and write in English in order to pass exams but it is equally important to learn to speak and to be able to listen to spoken English without getting lost. If you study grammar, grammar, grammar, you’ll quickly get bored and give up.


Practice Speaking in the Classroom Only
You don’t want to pick up bad habits and, besides, no one will understand you anyway so make sure you only practice speaking in a classroom with your teacher. Wrong! By far the best way to achieve fluency and spoken accuracy is to speak the language. Speak in different situations, with different people, as much as you can. Make the most of any opportunities you have for communicating with native speakers. For example, if you are studying English then attending a summer school in the UK is a great way to progress with spoken English. Not only will you get exposure to the language in the classroom, you’ll also have the opportunity to practice on excursions and during activities with new English-speaking friends.


If it’s not Easy, You’re Doing it Wrong
Learning a new language is tough. You will have good days and bad days, and things you find easy and difficult. The key to learning is to study, focus, and practice, practice, practice. There are times when you may feel like giving up but remember your own individual goals and keep going. That’s the best advice you’ll receive.

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