Take a look at this list of 10 reasons people don’t succeed in their language learning. Do any of them seem familiar to you ? 

  1. You want to speak and make full sentences immediately.

The problem: impatience, you want to run before you can walk.

The solution: Your need to understand the importance of listening.

When we learn anything we need to listen first. And this is especially true of language learning. We MUST listen before we can speak. Just think about how children learn their mother tongue….. they listen for a long time before they speak !! As adults living in the 21st century we are so lucky to have the benefit of technology (Streaming, YouTube tc) to help us listen and hear English every single day. So make listening part of your daily routine.

  1. Reading the subtitles in your mother tongue when listening to a series or film in English. Unless you’re a trained spontaneous interpreter your brain will probably explode (metaphorically of course !)

The problem: fear of not understanding, you want to stay in your comfort zone and understand everything.  

The solution: Activate the sub-titles in English, and realize that you will probably understand only 10% of the story at first. Only by reading and listening in the same language will you make progress.  

  1. Not preparing for real situations, YOUR real life.

The problem: using standard, inappropriate resources.

The solution: We learn better when the vocabulary is useful to our real life, so focus on words that you actually need.

  1. Your goals are too vague. We all want to “speak fluently”, or “improve my English”.

The problem: Your goals are too generalized and there is no focus.

The solution: Keep a real objective in mind, for example; I want to order a meal in a restaurant, I want to speak in a meeting, I want to explain a problem to my boss, I want to help my children with their homework. Take a look at the SMART (Specific, meaningful, Appropriate, Realistic, Time based)  objectives in the Welcome Pack.

  1. You lose momentum.

The problem: You haven’t set a schedule or real goals. The reality for most of us is that we’re busy people  juggling between work priorities and family responsibilities, so it can seem hard to find the time. You start well but after a few weeks you get despondent.

The solution: Make sure you expose yourself to English every single day by either listening, watching, reading or speaking. Every day counts. Do what it takes to remind yourself clearly of your motivations for learning. Why not, keep a note in your diary or stick a message on the fridge. You could also keep momentum by writing a schedule or a journal.

The work doesn’t have to be a lot, but it must be  consistant.   

  1. You’re not being realistic.

The problem: You know it is a challenge to learn a new English, but you secretly hope it will be easy.

The solution: Set realistic goals. How long do you really think it will take you to achieve your goals ? 3 months, 6 months, a year……. It’s probably close to year, so don’t give up after 4 weeks !!

And remember than learning a language does take time to develop, passive learning is just as important as active learning. Very often you can notice progress if you take a short break.

  1. You’ll use the wrong type of resources.

The problem: You’re reading boring books and listening to boring podcasts. You’ve lost interest !

The solution: STOP. Focus on what interests you…. Sport, gardening, movies, travel. Work on the topics that interest YOU. Remember to listen everyday to English, so choose a topic which interests you!

  1. Being worried (terrified) about making mistakes.

The problem: Fear of what other people think of you.

The solution: Think about how you feel when you hear other foreigners speaking your mother tongue. You probably find them charming/ interesting…. certainly not stupid. So, stop being so hard on yourself.

  1. You’re ashamed of your accent.

The problem: fear of not being good enough.

The solution: realise the difference between accent (which everyone has) and mispronunciation.

Check out the Pronunciation Journal in the Client Space and start practicing.

Above all, do not compare yourself to others. YOU ARE good enough you just need to be aware of the particular difficulties between your mother tongue and your target language.

  1. You spend too much time doing grammar exercises.

The problem: You spend your time doing grammar and vocabulary exercise and get them all correct but… you can’t speak correctly!

The solution: Sure, do a few exercises to make sure you understand the differences between your mother tongue and the new language but above all SPEAK, and if you make a few mistakes nobody will mind and importantly you’ll learn from your mistakes! Speaking and making mistakes is the quickest way to build confidence in a language, which in turn leads to more progress.

So, start a new path today and turn these 10 mistakes into positive learning steps. 

Susan Barke 20/07/2022


Buckland Business English