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3 English Learning Mistakes

English Learning Mistakes

3 English Learning Mistakes

Having spent more than thousands of hours teaching English to English learners, here are the three biggest English Learning Mistakes you should STOP doing right now. Let’s jump into it! 

Reading in English before knowing how to pronounce correctly

English is not a phonetic language like Spanish. English, for the most part, is not that phonetic. This means that English does not always sound the same way as it’s written. 

So, if you haven’t learnt the correct way to pronounce a word, yet you are constantly reading those words and sounding them out to yourself incorrectly then all you’re doing is “learning” the incorrect way to pronounce this word.

Consequently, if time after time, you keep repeating a word with the incorrect pronunciation, then it’s going to be very hard to “unlearn” it after years of doing it the incorrect way. 

What we recommend: take English pronunciation very seriously. When you’re reading, get into the habit of looking up words in a good dictionary. At first, this will be somewhat straining, but in the long term your pronunciation will be far better off.

What’s more, doing this will pay dividends! If you read on an electronic device then you should be able to just install a good dictionary such as Oxford or Cambridge that also gives you the phonetic transcription of the word as well as the sound. Just start doing this more often! 

Staying in an eco-chamber

Perhaps you have learned something, and it’s not quite correct, or maybe you haven’t learnt it 100%. What happens when you go and repeat that bit of speech to everyone you know (who may not be proficient English speakers), and then those people copy you?

Welcome to the eco chamber of repeated incorrectness. 

If you want to avoid this, then choose good sources for your learning. We live in a world with an abundance of excellent sources for almost any language, so make sure you take advantage of the already amazing resources and learn English from reputable sources as well as movies and books.

On the contrary, this doesn’t mean you should stop speaking English to those around you even though not all of you are absolutely proficient. However, try to self-reflect as much as possible after your conversation. What did I say? Was it uttered and pronounced correctly? What did my colleague say? Did he or she use incorrect grammar or not? 

Try to always maintain the mindset of a learner and never “I am fully learned and accomplished and have nothing else to learn”. 

So, by all means keep speaking English, and stay as active as you can in the language, but be wary of your grammar and pronunciation and learn from the best sources. 

You might be speaking too fast

Everybody wants to show off, right? You may have got to that stage in English where you feel like you’ve obtained a high enough level and therefore you may feel you ought to have the right to speak much faster. 

The main problem with this is, unless you learned English (or any language) earlier on as a kid, you will still have to think a little bit about what you say before you say it.

  • Are you using the correct grammar to get your point across?
  • Are you using correct pronunciation?
  • Is your intonation, stress and voice inflection all on point (correct)? 

Doing all these things is hard enough. But doing them fast is way harder, and requires many years of practice. So, focus on speaking with less speed and more correctly. 

Being correct and slow is much better than being incorrect and fast. 

This doesn’t mean you have to talk extra slowly, but take your time to formulate your sentences correctly, and try to use correct pronunciation. 

Importantly, try to be as self-reflective as possible. After any interaction or encounter you have with people in English, ask yourself afterwards – did I use the correct grammar to formulate my utterances? Perhaps, you didn’t use the correct verbal form, or noun suffix or maybe you were supposed to use a passive voice instead of the active voice. Think about all these things after every interaction you have. You’ll be surprised at how much this helps!

It’s all about building a solid foundation first; speed comes second. Learn to walk before you run. 

Our Top 3 English Learning Mistakes

  • Reading in English before knowing how to pronounce correctly
  • Staying in an eco-chamber
  • You might be speaking too fast

Try to take in these tips and continuously learn, relearn or unlearn incorrect things in your English language journey. There’s no harm in making mistakes or changing your language learning philosophy.

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