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Why You've Learned English All Your Life, But You Can't Master It: Common Mistakes



Many people complain that they have been learning English for almost their entire adult life, but they cannot master it. It is possible that this is familiar to you. Teachers highlight several common mistakes that prevent you from mastering the language at the required level. Let's tell you more about them.

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Edition Marina Kladova, an expert on teaching the Skyeng English school, analyze errors and tell how to fix them in order to learn the language.

Abstract motivation

Motivation is central to language learning. It may seem that you have a lot of it, but only in words. “Developing your own personality”, “living and working abroad”, “communicating with colleagues” - sounds like a good idea, but these are all very abstract concepts, general phrases. As a result, there is no goal as such.

Achieving long-term goals, for example, “speak fluently,” must be broken down into intermediate, short-term goals for the near future. For example, "I want to learn how to write letters in English in the coming month." If you have a goal, then it is easier to determine the timing and the desired intensity. You simply have to make a curriculum and stick to it.

Inadequate load

According to Cambridge, on average, in 200 hours of classes, a person moves from one level to another. According to many schools, 120 hours are enough for this. Even less if you need to rise from the level of Elementary or Beginner.

The best approach is 3-5 hours per week with a teacher and 4 hours for homework. For example, in 10 hours of classes with a teacher, you can quickly burn out and even learn little. This is a big load and an unreasonable waste of money if the goal is not to learn a language in a short time. The brain receives new knowledge, but cannot process and apply this knowledge.

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Deprecated Approaches

For example, you study the famous and formerly very popular Murphy grammar book. This textbook is remembered by everyone who once studied English. But any modern teacher knows that he is full of examples that a normal person, most likely, will never use in his life. Murphy is good and useful as a complement, but certainly not as a primary focus.

Plus, you may not have determined where you will end up using English. And right now. This can be, for example, the search for investments, the study of some foreign creative cases, if you are in business. Watching movies in your free time is great, but it's better to come up with a more significant goal.

For example, a trip to the States for a conference, where you need, sorry, networking (to get acquainted with nice people from your field of activity). But how will the same outdated Murphy help in a trip to a modern digital conference? The irrelevance and inapplicability of the material in life is one of the biggest mistakes.

Waste of pronunciation time

Pronunciation in most cases should not be the focus of learning. This is a companion skill that is trained in the process and is most effectively learned along with other language skills. Any perception of English by ear helps in pronunciation, and even a trip to English-speaking karaoke will be useful.

English simple audiobooks are also helpful. If you repeat after the speakers, it will help to catch the melody of the speech. If a person already knows how to read in English on their own, then it is useful to read aloud in order to speak more fluently and confidently. Just do not choose Shakespeare in the original for this purpose: this will not help in any way to teach English to a modern person, especially to one who needs language in his work. Read Wired, Mashable, Digiday.

A separate point - do not spend money on Received Pronunciation (standard British pronunciation). This can only be important if you are planning to enter the market for British aristocrats. Only 3% of the UK population has such a pronunciation, and in America you will not find it at all.

70% of people who communicate in English are not native speakers at all. For some reason they are perfectly understood and accepted. For those who still cannot speak fluently, the pursuit of RP and generally “perfect” pronunciation is a waste of money and energy.

Obsession with homework

Yes, there are students who do not have the time and energy for homework, but only have a frantic work schedule. There are two ways out of this situation. The first is to integrate homework into the lesson. For example, study five hours a week with a teacher instead of two. This is for those who are willing to pay.

The second is to put up with the fact that if you do a little, then studying will take a lot of time. If a person has one hour a week, then he should be mentally prepared to learn the language to the next level a year.

What can be done in both situations is to use 3-5 minute breaks during the day for microtraining. For example, look at the words in the application while you are traveling in the elevator, or look at the phrases you went through yesterday while waiting for a taxi.

We need to take homework easier, not prepare ourselves mentally for it. This is as much a part of life as everything else. For beginners, one of the first steps is to switch the phone interface to English.

At the next levels, you can already read thematic channels in Telegram or news using special translators, subscribe to memes and quotes in English.

Illiterate educational process

You can learn a language in different ways, there are many ways. A person determines these methods based on their preferences and capabilities. If you do not see progress, there may be no point in continuing to study in the same way with a specific teacher. It can also be a mistake to try to change teachers often without having time to find one good coach who would help you determine a global goal, plan, step-by-step goals, a process that is right for you.

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Fun lessons

Engaging with any teacher without a program is almost useless. For example, some people hire a native speaker who simply listens and periodically asks questions for the assimilation of the same materials. This suggests that there is no program as such.

It seems to many English-speaking teachers that their main function is for students to listen to them and occasionally practice speaking themselves. Yes, a native speaker helps to overcome the language barrier, to practice pronunciation. But the main criterion for choosing a teacher is his program. And here it is not so important whether he is a carrier or not. If the teacher broadcasts only about himself, you need to part with him, and not study for fun for years.

Confidence that the English-speaking environment will do everything itself

It seems to many people that if you spend 3-4 months in a language environment, the language will be learned by itself, but this is not so. Even in the environment, it is important not only to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible, but also to set specific challenges for yourself that will help you master the language and understand its importance for your life. And here a project-based approach is needed.

Traps Not to Be Afraid of

Time loop

Until you have reached a certain level, each time it is as if starting anew. We studied the 3 of the month, got tired, took a break for the 2 of the month and then as if starting all over again, but slower. So there is demotivation. How to overcome it? Periodically conduct diagnostics - this is done in many language schools online and offline. Even if you understand that you have advanced one small step, it will psychologically help you move on.

Intermediate plateau

At the level of confident Intermediate or the beginning of Upper, stagnation often occurs, we call it Intermediate plateau. Progress slows down, and many drop out of this study.

At this moment, you need to determine small steps, how to evaluate your own success: I will pass the international exam, I will be able to speak faster, I will meet expats in the bar. It works well as a motivating tool. If desperation occurs, you can turn to the old notes, look at an essay or conversation three months ago and understand that there really is progress.

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The higher the level, the harder it is to learn

During training, many English words appear in the lexicon - now you already know 10 shades of red and 5 synonyms continue. It helps to understand books and films, but cannot find application in real life. In the same English-speaking schools among the international environment, everyone speaks mainly at the Intermediate level. Therefore, you and your Upper may need to simplify your speech. Therefore, sometimes you can brake at a high level simply because you don’t have a level interlocutor for regular communication with him.

“I have been teaching all my life and will not learn”

Not that we're all great coaches, but we still need to think positively. If you give yourself the line “I have to try, but I probably won't succeed,” then nothing will work out for sure.

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