Learning a new language? Avoid these 7 mistakes

Everyday I hear people talking about their interest in learning a new language. Some people want to learn the language of a region they are currently living in, while some want to learn to make use of their spare time.

So, I have put together seven mistakes people can make when they take up this new interest.  Here are they:

  1. Starting with the grammar

A new language is like a wild territory you are trying to enter into. You don’t know what you might have to face in there.

A lot of people try to approach it with the hardest route – the grammar.

Because they have learned it that way, from schools. 

After learning a few other languages, I have understood that going with the grammar is hard path. It doesn’t make you emotional about a language. It doesn’t create any sound or dream in you.

At a very young age, I started reading Kannada folk tales. And folk tales from all over the world, translated into Kannada.

By the time my teacher started to teach Kannada grammar, I already knew a lot of those concepts. Though I couldn’t name them, I could easily find grammatical mistakes in sentences. 

Even now I cannot tell what kind of a grammatical error it is. I cannot name it from the grammar book, but I can tell where the mistake is and can correct it. 

I didn’t study grammar, but grammar grew internally from reading a lot of literature. So, for whoever wants to learn a new language, I’ll tell this – don’t start with the grammar. 

Because it is dry. Grammar means you are still outside the border. You didn’t enter into a language. Instead, approach it with love and passion.

2. Learning multiple languages at a time

Again this is a mistake from schools. 

Even before a child learns reading and writing in her mother tongue, the school has already put two more languages into her syllabus – the second and the third language. Soon, she ends up hating all three.

Remember, every language has its own long history. Each one has its own civilization hidden within it – every word is uttered millions times, polished through ages. 

So, learning a new language is literally entering into a different civilization. You need to approach the language with that reverence.

For that, you must approach one language at a time.

Every language has its own tone – the way people twist their tongue while speaking it. To grasp it, you’ll have to listen to it a lot.

For the next six months or one year, decide that you’ll not read or listen to other languages, other than the one you are planning to learn.

If you are learning French, only watch French TV shows and movies. Try to move to a place where French people are residing. Listen to them interacting. Just listen to their tone, their use of words. Don’t try to understand it, but listen to their tone.

Let this language go into your heart. But, if you become greedy and try to learn multiple languages, or if you cannot abandon TV shows from other languages, forget it. You’re not gonna go far, kid.

3. Going the book or the traditional way

People try to learn a new language from reading books. It helps. But, some people directly take up classics, which is a huge mistake. You’re not prepared to read Camus or Kierkegaard. Instead, start with Charles Perrault, his children’s stories.

Now you have more avenues – multimedia and internet. Use video streaming apps to watch movies and shows from that language. (I don’t recommend using language learning apps at this stage.)

If you are travelling a lot, podcasts can be your company. 

4. No commitment

Most of our dreams are airy. There’s no strength of commitment and desire to turn them into a reality.

It’s because for most people, singling out their most important goal and achieve it is difficult. Singling out means you’ll have to drop many things – your habits, everyday inclinations, and fears. You need a great will power to do that.

Your WILL POWER is so powerful, it can seal all your energy leakings and set you in one direction. The more inclinations you have, the stronger the WILL POWER you need. The stronger you WILL, the stronger your commitment gets.

Using will power is easy for short term goals.

For example, if you say I’ll not watch movies anymore, it’s a difficult decision. Just say, for the next three months, I’ll not watch movies. Or until I learn this language, I will not watch any movie. See the change happening in you.

Commitment is planning and executing something with complete sincerity. If you can do that, you’ll know how much you’ve learnt in a few months.

Commit and plan a short-term goal; it becomes easy.

5. No Planning

I used to dream a lot. But, didn’t know the planning part.

Planning means – to create something, you’ll have to chalk out each step, and assign it with a timeframe.

Once I started planning my goals, they became a lot more easy and concrete.

So, to learn a new language, you’ll have to commit to a plan. 

Try this: For the next 3 months, you commit yourself to learn a new language. And for those 90 days, spend at least one hour on learning. Make it the same time everyday, like from 7-8 in the morning or evening.

6. No passion

Some people say passion HAPPENS. But, if you wait for it to happen, it may not happen at all. Passion needs to be developed, and it can be developed.

Passion is a state of mind. Try this example to make it clear: One day you watched the sunrise and you liked it. The next day may not be so joyful. But, if you start imagining, experiencing the first day’s phenomenon in your mind, soon you’ll become emotional about it. Begin to feel the sunrise often, and soon it becomes your passion.

Similarly, in learning a language, you’ll have to emotionally connect with it. Think about its history, dream about its civilization. 

And, every word from that language, when you hear or read – it should mesmerize you. Then you begin to adore the language. If you can create that adoration in your heart, learning is magically easy.

7. Doing it alone

Some days back, I was talking to a colleague. Her school-going son is studying Kannada, as a second language. Though his marks are comparatively low, he’s committed. He’s not ready to change the language. At the same time, she’s also interested in learning Kannada. Living in Bangalore, she knows it helps her.

Why don’t you make your son your learning partner, I asked her. Sit together for an hour a day, and learn it. Read together, try to talk to each other in Kannada and correct each other. Challenge each other to learn 10 new words each day.

That’s how you learn faster.

Some people like doing it alone. But with a partner, there’s accountability. And motivation to keep going.

Alright, we’ve read seven mistakes to avoid when learning a new language. 

These are not just seven mistakes, these are seven steps you can use in learning a new language. Here, are they:

  1. Forget grammar, begin with easy step
  2. One thing at a time, one language at a time
  3. Get into real-life situations, you’ll learn faster
  4. Commit to something, it’ll strengthen your mind
  5. Begin with short term plan to see concrete results
  6. Be passionate, put your heart to grow faster
  7. Go in groups, to sail easy and fast

These seven steps help you in achieving any of your goals, not just in learning a new language.

Is anything else bothering you? Comment below.

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