Language Learning Myths – Part Two

Language Learning Myths Part 2

As English teachers, we often hear the same type of questions and complaints about learning a language. So some of our Intrepid English teachers decided to share the language learning myths they hear most often. While most of our ideas come from our teaching experiences, we also drew from our own language learning journeys. Did you know that all of our Intrepid English teachers can speak at least two languages? 

After a short discussion with the teachers, we had so many ideas that we had to divide this post into two. You can find the other part here.

There is ONE efficient method to learn English quickly, painlessly, and without practising. My teacher knows this method, and they just don’t want to tell me about it.

Okay, I’ll tell you the secret. The best way to learn a language is to try different methods and find the ones that work for you. You should never focus on just one thing. And then, when you feel like you’re not making much progress anymore, you might have to try a different way to improve. Remember to practise the skills that you don’t enjoy practising too. For example, if listening is easy, but you struggle with writing a short text, you should spend more time practising writing so that it’s just as easy. There is a good reason why most languages have a variation of the phrase “practice makes perfect”.

– Elena

I can’t learn a language fluently without the language learning gene.

There is no such gene. Speaking a foreign language is a skill that requires attention and training over time. It is more of a language learning muscle than a gene. Some people may find speaking a new language easier. Others find playing a musical instrument or basketball easier. Can you learn it anyway? Of course! Motivation and attitude play a significant role in learning a language. If you tell yourself you’ll never learn a language, you likely never will.

– Tom

It’s better to learn from a native-speaking teacher.

You should learn from the teacher that suits you and can help you improve. Teachers who are native speakers know how to use the language as their second nature. That doesn’t always mean that they are experts at grammar or writing business emails. If having a teacher who speaks your native language gives you the confidence to take classes, that is the best teacher for you. If you want a teacher who has gone through the same experience, you should learn with a non-native speaker. Don’t limit yourself to only native speakers as language teachers.

– Lorraine

I have to speak quickly, or people will think I can’t speak well.

Many of my students think that they sound more fluent when they speak fast. In English, intonation and sentence stress are very important. Take pauses, and don’t forget to breathe. If you speak slower, it makes you easier to understand. It can also make you sound more fluent. Often, when students speak fast, they slow down when they come across a more difficult passage. If you speak slower, it’s less noticeable because your speech sounds more uniform. Finally, speaking slower gives you more time to construct the next thing you want to say. If you think you already speak slowly enough, you can probably slow down even more. Don’t worry. Our Intrepid English teachers can help you find the right speed suitable for you and your English level. Book a free trial lesson today!

– Maddox

The Queen’s English (Also known as BBC English or Received Pronunciation) is the only correct kind of pronunciation.

When I was a child and first learning English, we were supposed to learn the Queen’s English. My teacher told us that we needed to pretend like we were holding a hot potato in our mouths. For years I thought native English speakers must be very uncomfortable when they speak. And then I learnt that less than 3% of the UK population speak RP. It can be harder to learn and understand than many other accents, especially because of its pronunciation of “r”. 

Yet, RP is the accent most non-native students still learn at school or courses because it’s used as a model in textbooks and dictionaries.  I don’t know if The Queen’s English is still the most recognisable British accent, but it is evolving and losing its status as a more appropriate or professional accent. And, if you don’t believe me that the accent is changing, just watch the Queen’s Christmas message from 1957 and 2020. You should notice a significant difference in the way the Queen pronounces her vowels. As with every other accent, it’s important that you can understand it but don’t worry if you don’t sound like the queen.

I tell students they shouldn’t worry about their accent, let alone make them speak RP. I don’t speak RP, so it’s not appropriate for me to offer this speaking model because I could make mistakes and confuse my student. The most important thing about your accent is whether you can be understood. Everything else is a bonus.

– Lida

I have to master one level before trying anything more complex.

It’s easy to get stuck practising one thing over and over. Students often think they can’t move on to the next topic unless they’ve mastered what they’re learning now. When you learn a language, you need to revisit things and build upon them over time. You’re also more likely to get bored and give up because you don’t feel like you’re making any progress. If you’re climbing a tall mountain, it may be better to take the scenic route that wraps all around the mountain rather than trying to force your way straight up over cliffs and vegetation.

To make a good sentence, you need to have some vocabulary knowledge, know the word order rules, use tenses and prepositions, etc. Just because you sometimes make mistakes in past simple sentences doesn’t mean you can’t study present perfect. It means you need to revisit the past simple later once you’ve had more practice. 

– Gemma

Have you heard any of these language learning myths before? Have you heard any language learning myths that we haven’t addressed? Leave us a comment below.

Book a free trial lesson today and talk about your learning goals with an experienced English teacher. Say goodbye to boring English lessons! If you’re not sure what you want to learn, let your teacher choose from the range of English courses that have been designed to help our students to achieve their goals.

This blog was compiled by Intrepid English Teacher Lida.

Find out more about Lida on her Intrepid English Teacher profile page. 

If you have any questions, or you would like to request a topic for a future blog, you can contact us using the chat box, or email us at Intrepid English.

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