Language Learning Myths – Part One

A map of the world with 'Language Learning Myths Part 1' written over the top

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. Watch this space for part two.

I can learn a language in a few months if I try really hard.

This statement is very misleading and often discourages students when they are not able to learn that quickly. In just a few months, it’s not possible to learn and become fluent in a language you’ve never studied before. However, If you completely immerse yourself in your language of choice for a few months, you will improve much more than if you studied only occasionally. That’s why we offer intensive English learning courses at Intrepid English.

Here are some things to consider which might speed up or slow down your progress:

1 – Do you know any languages that are similar to your target language?
2 – Do you have any other responsibilities which will take up your time while studying? 
3 – What is your current level in this language?
4 – Why are you learning the language?
5 – Do you enjoy learning and using the language?

– Jo

I can’t learn a language fluently as an adult.

This is wrong and also disrespectful to all the adults who work hard at improving their language skills. Is it more challenging to learn a language as an adult? Yes. Is it because adult brains are incapable of learning a language? No. As we get older, it becomes more difficult, but not impossible. Kids learn easier. That is true. It is also their full-time job to learn. Adults have jobs and other responsibilities in addition to learning a language. It’s not fair to expect the same results from learners with vastly different learning conditions.

– Lida

I need to speak like a native.

You need to speak in a way that is understandable for native speakers and other non-native speakers. Instead of trying to get rid of all aspects of your non-native accent, you should focus on making sure your speech is clear, engaging, and easy to understand. It makes sense to emulate an accent if you live in a specific place and don’t want to stand out. On the other hand, there is no standard “native accent”. If you listen to the recording of parts 1 and 2 of this blog, you will notice that each of us is a “native speaker”, but we have wildly different accents.

– Tom

I just need to learn the rules for everything to speak well. Learning English is like learning maths.

We often think learning a language is like learning maths because we learn both at school, usually from textbooks. Students learn the rules, and then it’s up to them to put the pieces of the puzzle together. This may work for maths but learning a language requires a lot more exposure and context. When speaking a new language, there is usually more than just a right and a wrong answer. The listener might understand what you want to say, but it may use incorrect grammar. Your sentence might be perfectly correct, but there might be better or more appropriate ways to say it. This is also why your teacher might not say “you’re wrong” very often, if ever.

At Intrepid English, we focus on a more communicative approach so that you learn in a way that’s more similar to the way you’ll use English in your daily life. Kids learn their first language because they want to communicate with others, but they don’t learn it by memorising rules. Instead, they learn through using it, making mistakes, observing, and practising. As teachers, we help you communicate with confidence while providing a model of correct English use to emulate first language acquisition better.

– Kate

I must memorise ten new words every day.

You may be able to memorise many words quickly, but without practising them over a long period of time, you will forget them again. We call this the “forgetting curve”. If you study a word fourteen times over three months, you’ll remember it much better than studying it fourteen times in one day. I never recommend students learn vocabulary only from lists. Why? It’s much easier to confuse and misuse words you learn from a list. You want to learn words in context so that you know how they behave in a sentence. Also, I don’t know many people who enjoy memorising lists.

Instead, try to learn words that are relevant to you, then try to use them often. Focus on what is useful to you. If you want to learn English to travel, read travel blogs and research your dream destinations on English language websites. Whatever your reason to learn a language, there are better resources to learn vocabulary than lists. If you’d like some tips, feel free to ask in the comments or reach out to us. If you’re an Intrepid English member, you can also ask in the Intrepid English community.

– Lorraine

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.

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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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