As exciting as it sounds, learning a new language can sometimes become a frustrating experience. Go and read the full article to avoid falling in these common language learning traps.

One of the most common language learning pitfalls is certainly setting unrealistic expectations. This applies to learners of every level and experience. Language learning isn’t really something you can achieve within a set period of time. This is simply because language proficiency can only be maintained through continuous practice and exposure to the target language. As Lesley Vos explains it, “the process of language learning reminds one of a marathon rather than a sprint”. Therefore, it is unrealistic to expect to “jump levels” like a hare in a matter of months, or even worse, weeks. Before starting to learn a new language, you should first accept the idea that language learning is a long process, in which you’ll need to be persistent. On the other hand, not setting any goal might be as detrimental to language learning as setting unrealistic goals. The solution? Try and set a small goal each week, e.g. to be able to say an entire full sentence with the vocabulary you have learnt, or with a new grammatical pattern you have studied. Try to memorize that sentence and, if possible, try to use it! 

Another common pitfalls language learners make is to translate directly from their native language to the target language when they speak. Although language learners may naturally feel inclined to translate (this is especially true for early learners!), it is an erroneous habit you should beware of, as most languages do not express the same concepts with the same words or structures. Overcoming the “translation trap” is a hard task, but it is absolutely possible! Listen to native speakers in the first instance, and try to memorize entire sentences. I know school encouraged us not to learn things by heart, to use our own brain, instead. However, mnemonic learning not only works the best for language learning, but it is necessary! Think of the way children acquire language: they hear words, and repeat them themselves, exactly in the way they have heard them. 

Finally, the last most common pitfalls of language learning is not to speak. Why do some people not dare to speak in the language they are trying to learn? There are lots of reasons behind, e.g. lack of confidence, introverted personality, fear of making mistakes, even fear of being judged by native speakers. As you probably already know… this is wrong. Speaking is not just a way to practice pronunciation, but it is also very important to memorize sentences. Although this is the best method, you might feel frightened to go out and speak to native speakers at first. Why not try to practice with your phone or computer? Perhaps this may help you start getting your feet wet and make you feel more comfortable speaking in real life.