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5 Deadly Mistakes that All Language Learners Make

5 Deadly Mistakes that All Language Learners Make

Let’s face it.

Learning a new language for the first time is confusing.

We often don’t know how to get started, nor do we have the time to commit to learning! This leads us to waste our energy, money, and most importantly, time.

That stops today. We’re going to show you the 5 most deadly mistakes all language learners make — and how you can avoid them.

1. Not knowing your “why”

Understanding your “why” is where it all has to start. As Simon Sinek explains in his book,
Start with Why that the reason why you’re doing something is far more important than the how or what.

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    This is because whenever we take on a new task or project, there’s always going to be an obstacle or struggle that we’ll need to overcome. Those who give up early on are the ones that haven’t clarified what their “why” is.

    Let’s come back to language learning. Whatever your target language is — Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, etc. — what’s your “why?”

    Here are some questions we recommend you ask, as explained in our free language learning course:

    What you will achieve?

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    Who will you be able to connect with?

    Who will you become as a person?

    The next time you’re facing difficulty or losing motivation, just come back to these reasons, and you’ll get right back on track.

    2. No clear end goal 

    “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”

    — Tony Robbins

    It doesn’t matter if we have the fastest car in the world. If we don’t know where we’re going, we’ll just end up wasting precious energy, money, and time going nowhere.

    All of us have a desire that we want to fulfill; we just have to clarify what that is, and make it the driver to our success.

    There are 5 key components to setting goals. Your goal has to be:

    a. Visually specific — Get as visually clear as possible about what your end-result would look like, to the point where you can close your eyes and imagine it.
    b. Slightly out of reach — There is a fine balance to picking a goal that’s way out of reach, to one that is within reach. This mini-goal should be something you can visually imagine, but a goal that you would need to push yourself to accomplish.
    c. Measurable — What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get improved. The easiest way to do this is to put a number on it. This could be number of words memorized, the length of conversation you can have with a native speaker, etc.
    d. Goal oriented Focus on the results, not how much time you spent getting there. For example, instead of measuring how many hours you studied every week, only measure what measurable result you achieved.

    Remember, it doesn’t matter how much effort you put in, unless you don’t get the results from the effort
    e. Deadline specific — As Parkinson’s Law states, the time we spend completing a task will depend on the time we allocate to the task. This means that if we give ourselves 30 days to complete a report that should only take 30 minutes, that’s exactly how long we’ll take to complete it.

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    Whatever goal you set, make sure you have a deadline to accomplish it.

    Let me share 3 examples of goals that are bad, good, and great, so you can get an understanding of how your goal compares.

    Bad goal: I want to become fluent in Spanish so I can travel to Spain by next year.

    Good goal: I want to become conversation fluent in Spanish so I can travel to Spain by next summer.

    Great goal: I will have a 15-minute conversation in Spanish with a native Spanish person over coffee in a cafe in Madrid on July 2016.

    Do you notice the difference?

    Compared to the first two goals, the great goal is written as if it’s already accomplished (I want vs I will), and includes all the components of the goal-setting formula including deadline, measurability, visually specific, and results oriented.

    3. No schedule

    The most successful people and top-performers in their industry focus on the process, not just the deadline. Optimal performance is less important than the daily practice of taking action, no matter how hard it is or how tired you are.

    If you want to write a book, this could mean waking up each morning in order to write 500 words, no matter how bad the first draft is.

    If you want to double your business sales, this could mean spending every week with your team reviewing your sales numbers, and executing a new growth experiment.

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    If you want to lose 10 pounds, this could mean running 30 minutes every morning.

    For many of us, learning a new language is not the #1 priority in our lives. It’s our family time, careers, or other side projects we may be working on.

    This is why scheduling your learning time is even more important than scheduling your work time.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 1.06.14 PM

      Here are some practical steps we recommend to schedule your learning time:

      1. Pick your language learning activity — this could be memorizing 30 of the most common words on your own or working with a private language coach at Rype.
      2. Figure out your free times — when are the vacant times during the day?
        If you’re a morning person, it could be before work. It could be during lunch break, or even in the evening (the most popular time for Rypers).
      3. Add in 15–30 minute buffer time — schedules never go according to plan. This is why we want to make sure we add some buffer times, so if we happened to wake up later than usual, or get held from traffic on the way back from home, we can still use the buffer time to stay on track.
      4. Set reminders — because we probably have a dozen things we need to remember during our days, setting notification reminders goes along way.
        This could be done through any digital calendar software you use (i.e. Google, Outlook, etc), and you can even receive them on your phone.

      4. Being an information sucker

      We’ve all been there. We spend hours attending a conference or reading a book. The excitement overwhelms us and our body is filled with motivation ready to master anything!

      How often do we actually master it?

      Research from NTL Institute has shown that people learn:

      5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture.
      10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading.
      20% of what they learn from audio-visual.
      30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
      50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
      75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
      90% of what they learn when they teach someone else/use immediately.

      The key to learning a language is to learn by doing! This means actually going out there and practicing your skills with other people (preferably native speakers). If you don’t have anyone in your inner circle, then work with a language coach online!

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      5. Doing everything yourself

      Ever heard the saying, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together?”

      According to best-selling author, Seth Godin:

      Five Reasons You Might Fail to Become the Best in the World (In Anything)

      1. You run out of time (and quit)
      2. You run out of money (and quit)
      3. You get scared (and quit)
      4. You’re not serious about it (and quit)
      5. You lose interest (and quit)

      It’s easy to resort to going at it alone, this is how we’ve lived most of our lives.

      But if you observe the best performers and the fastest learners, they have someone who works with them, whether it’s a mentor, advisor, or coach.

      In almost any aspect of our lives, we have a coach that we work with, whether it’s a fitness trainer, financial advisor, business mentor, or sports coach. This is the best kept secret amongst the best performers and the fastest learners in the world.

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        Language learning is no different.

        If you’ve truly discovered your why, and have a clear goal that you’ve set for yourself. It’s time to get outside help, to guide you through each step of the way, keep you accountable, and accelerate your learning speed.

        With so many solutions out there at the tip of your finger —  from craigslist, Rype, conversation exchanges, or even Meetups — there is no excuse.

        Anyone can learn a new language, no matter how old you are, how busy you are, and even if you’ve tried before. It’s finding the right strategy that works for you, and avoiding the most deadly mistakes that language learners make.

        More by this author

        Sean Kim

        Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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        Last Updated on March 30, 2020

        What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

        What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

        Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

        You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

        This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

        What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

        According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

        Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

        There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

        How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

        When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

        Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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        1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

        One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

        The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

        Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

        2. Be Honest

        A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

        If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

        On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

        Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

        3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

        Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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        If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

        4. Succeed at Something

        When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

        Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

        5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

        Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

        Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

        If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

        If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

        Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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        6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

        Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

        You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

        On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

        You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

        7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

        Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

        Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

        Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

        When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

        Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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        In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

        Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

        It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

        Final Thoughts

        When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

        The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

        Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

        Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

        Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

        More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

        Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
        [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
        [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
        [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
        [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
        [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
        [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
        [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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