Common mistakes in learning English

English is probably the most studied language in the modern world which is no longer just another subject in the curriculum. Over the past decades, thousands of people in many countries have experienced that learning a foreign language is certainly not an impossible task. To succeed in that, however, you need eliminate any flaws in the learning process that have prevented many learners from achieving their goals from the very beginning.

Common mistakes in learning English can be linked to both the methodology chosen and the motivation of the learner and, more generally, the school organisation and management. Here are some of the most common mistakes:

  • the lack of clear goal;
  • searching for 'quick and easy' English (learn in an hour, a day, a week);
  • exercising occasionally and from time to time;
  • memorising lists of words;
  • translating of each phrase into the native language;
  • trying to understand every word;
  • lack of speaking practice.

Let's describe why the above mistakes in learning English can prevent you from achieving results and how to avoid them in your practice.

Motivation Issues

Studying a foreign language requires a good motivation — from the desire of someone who loves literature to read famous authors in the original to career ambitions or plans to go to another country for permanent residence. For English, it is now increasingly seen as the key in getting a chance to study at the world's best universities.

One should see the goal they are aiming for. Because children, for the most part, cannot set themselves such a goal, learning a language from childhood is the first choice of wise parents. Today it is possible to start teaching your child English from a very early age, almost from kindergarten.

For example, CIS International School offers a unique opportunity to bring up a bilingual child (learn more at what age you can enroll your child in a course with native speakers by calling or checking up-to-date content on the school's official website). The school combines a kindergarten and a school, allowing your child to obtain the Russian state certificate of secondary education along with the prestigious Cambridge certificate.

School Organisation and Management Mistakes

When you send your child to a special school or attend a respected language course, you don't have to worry about the amount of hours and lessons - the curricula contain these already. However, if you want to learn a language on your own or with a tutor, you must first realise that the random lessons are extremely ineffective.

For example, if you have no time during the week, there is no chance to make up for it by doing extra exercises at the weekend, and a delay in lessons for a month can send you back to square one.

Experts have developed a universal formula of vocabulary acquisition — for example, to memorise the word in the long term repeat the word immediately after an initial memorisation, then after about half an hour, then after 24 hours, and once again after 2—3 months. The formula clearly does not work well with pauses in exercise.

Another danger is linked to the offers, which are now abundant online and offline; because there are no such magic methods, the promise to learn a foreign language in a short time is simply infeasible.

Wrong Way to Memorise and Use English Words

Learning methodology determines both the quality of knowledge and the speed at which it is accumulated. Unfortunately, tutors, course instructors and schoolteachers all use too frequently a vicious practice of memorising lists of words as if it is possible to build a strong vocabulary by trying to memorise specified ranges of words.

In fact, this is one of the most harmful mistakes when learning English, because the efforts spent on rote practice are unfruitful and the material learned in this way lies fallow in your memory. It is more effective to learn words in context trying to think of/write down a phrase or a sentence using the new word (ideally, to create some vivid association in that phrase).

Try not to focus on every word when reading or listening to a text in English; it is a better idea to try to comprehend the meaning of anything you have just read or heard. When you get stuck on an unfamiliar word you can lose your momentum resulting in frustration and anger which is wrong in general and can also lead to a decrease in motivation.

Another bad technique uses the translation of any phrase into mother tongue — this not only takes your time (even if it seems to be done instantly) but also does not allow you to let English in. There are also many words which simply have no equivalents in Russian (e. g. the word 'siblings' cannot be translated other than 'brothers and sisters'). Finally, remember to put what you have learned into practice by reading, writing down events or your thoughts, and most importantly, communicating in English as much as possible. Otherwise, there is a risk that the new language will remain just a sum of learned words and grammar rules.

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