Many people around the world are interested in learning a second or foreign language, be it English, Spanish, French or any of the 6,500 spoken languages in the world today. It would do good to any of us to try to avoid these 7 Bad Language Learning Habits That Turn People Off.
Speaker and author Julian Treasure gave a popular TED Talk in 2014 that explained how anyone can speak effectively, whether in a conversation or in front of a crowd.
Here are the bad habits you need to avoid if you want to learn another language, loosely adapted from Treasure’s “seven deadly sins of speaking”:
1. Worrying about what others will think and say
If you worry that other speakers will be judging you and that they always speak better than you and more fluently and effortlessly, that will only hold you back.
2. Setting unrealistic goals
“In 3 months I’ll be speaking the Queen’s English” – Well… that will depend on what queen you’re talking about.
3. Being negative
“I’ve been learning ___________ (fill in the blank with any language) for X years and I can’t get above a pre-intermediate level conversation. My listening sucks. I’ll never speak like my friend/ enemy/ boss, spouse, etc.”
Complaining easily becomes a habit, and before you know it, you’ll be known as the person who complains about the weather, the news, work, and about the language you’re learning. It’s what Treasure calls “viral misery.
Guess what happens if you keep saying: “This exercise is boring… it’s too difficult … it’s too easy, why do I have to learn this grammar point? … “
Some people have a “blame-thrower,” Treasure says, putting the blame on anybody and anything except themselves. “I don’t have anyone to practice my language with”. “I don’t have time; I have 2 wives and 1 child to provide for”; etc
6. Not using the language you’re learning
It’s a waste of time and energy to only spend 45 minutes a week in touch with the language you’re learning. You have to find ways to listen, read, write, speak (even if only to yourself) in your target language outside the classroom environment, be it physical or virtual.
7. Being lazy or a sloth
see item 6 – you see? – you not even want to refer back to the previous topic (yes, I told you you won’t learn if you don’t invest time and effort).
So what can you do to enjoy you’re learning journey?
- Start using the little of the language you already know, not worrying what other people will say.
- Set realistic goals. Be aware that the you’ll be learning the language for years to come.
- Be positive. I’ve been studying this language for X amount of time and I already can … “Today in class I learned x, y, z.” I was watching a movie in my target language and could understand some words here and there”.
- Suggest alternate exercises, topics or activities that might be more appealing to you.
- Own up to your duties in the language learning process.
- Use the language you’re learning as often as possible. If not daily, at least every other day.
- Don’t surrender to the sin of laziness. Just do it.