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Learning a Foreign Language: The Five Most Common Mistakes

Learning a foreign language can be a wonderful experience as it literally opens up new worlds for you when travelling. However, even the best of us can make mistakes when learning a foreign language that can lead to embarrassing situations or complete misunderstandings.

In essence, learning a foreign language does require applying your learning skills and taking the right amount of time and effort to accomplish the task. Each of us will have our own personal timetable in learning a new language, but everyone can do it if they apply themselves and learn to avoid the five most common mistakes that can occur.


One of the most basic problems that face many people when speaking another language is the fear of being embarrassed. While this is understandable, it is also without any foundation. Even the best of us will not speak another language perfectly 100% of the time, so there is no reason to let the fear of being embarrassed prevent you from speaking the language to others. Those who are native speakers will do their best to understand what you say and opening that line of communication can be even more rewarding than getting everything right the first time.

No Curiosity

Generally speaking, the more curious you are about the culture and people whose language you are trying to speak, the more you will learn. Studies have shown that those who were truly interested in the culture and people learned at a far greater rate than those who had little interest. In fact, not having any interest can prevent you from properly learning a foreign language. So before you waste your time, know if this is something that you are really interested in learning.

Limiting Yourself to a Single Method

While each of us will have preferences as to which form of learning works best for us, limiting yourself to a single type is a mistake. This is because that relying on a single method will mean missing out on other, more beneficial ways of learning a language. If you like listen and repeat drills or reading a grammar textbook, each has its own benefits and liabilities. It is best to broaden your methods to get the most out of your learning.

Inflexibility of Thought

Learning a new language generally means facing new rules, vocabulary and pronunciations that you are unfamiliar with. In fact, because all languages have certain elements of ambiguity, you will find that there may be no right answer for certain words or phrases to use in sentences. This should not frustrate or stop you from learning another language. In this case, you should reach out by getting assistance or simply breaking down what is difficult to understand into smaller sections so that you can more easily grasp what is being stated.

Failing to Listen

Listening is the primary skill of learning. If you do not listen properly, you will miss out on important information that will lead to making avoidable mistakes. In essence, you learn a foreign language in roughly the same way you learned your native language as a small child, through hearing and repeating the sounds, words and phrases over and over again. Failing to properly listen can lead to making avoidable errors in learning a new language.