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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.

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      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.

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        Last Updated on April 11, 2019

        How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

        How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

        Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

        I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

        I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

        Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

        How Communication Skills Help Your Success

        Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

        Create a Positive Experience

        Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

        When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

        What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

        Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

        As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

        Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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        Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

        Help Leadership Skills

        It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

        Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

        As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

        Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

        If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

        Build Better Teams

        Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

        In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

        If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

        When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

        Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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        How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

        There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

        Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

        1. Listen

        Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

        Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

        People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

        Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

        Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

        2. Know Your Audience

        Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

        Here is a good way to think about it:

        Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

        You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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        3. Minimize

        I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

        He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

        Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

        State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

        The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

        4. Over Communicate

        So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

        What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

        Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

        Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

        Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

        There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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        5. Body Language

        The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

        When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

        In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

        When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

        Conclusion

        Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

        Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

        There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

        Now go communicate your way to success.

        More Resources About Effective Communication

        Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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