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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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        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 October 22, 2019

        How to Get “I Can’t Do It” Out of Your Vocabulary

        How to Get “I Can’t Do It” Out of Your Vocabulary

        When someone says, “I can’t do it” . . . I say to myself, “What do you mean you can’t do it?” Maybe you don’t want to do it, but saying you “can’t” do it is a completely different story.

        With the right mindset, positive attitude, and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, the only thing that is holding you back is yourself.

        Can’t is a terrible word and it has to be taken out of your vocabulary.

        By saying you can’t do something, you’re already doubting yourself, submitting to defeat, and you’re making that barrier around your life tighter.

        So today, right now, we are going to remove this word for good.

        From now on there is nothing we can’t do.

        “Attitude is Tattoo”

        Your attitude is everything; it’s your reason, your why and how, your facial expression, emotions, body language, and potentially the end result. How you approach an opportunity, and the result of it, is solely based on you — not your boss or your co-worker or friend.

        If you enter a business meeting with a sour attitude, that negative energy can spread like wildfire. People can also feel it — maybe even taste it. This is not an impression you want to leave.

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        Now imagine you enter a business meeting with a positive attitude, that whatever happens in here is going to be your result, in your control, not someone else’s. Of course, we can’t always win, but even if the outcome is negative, your attitude and perception can turn it into a positive. The question is: can you do it?

        Of course you can, because there is nothing in this world you can’t do.

        It’s much better to be known for your positive attitude — your poise, your energy, the reason why things go so well because you are able to maintain such character. A negative attitude is easy. It’s easy to complain, it’s easy to be mad, and it’s even easier to do nothing to change it.

        When I say your “attitude is tattoo”, it sounds permanent. Tattoos can be removed, but that’s not the point. Your attitude is like a tattoo because you wear it. People can see it and sometimes, they will judge you on it. If you maintain a negative attitude, then it is permanent until you change it.

        Change your attitude and I guarantee the results change as well.

        Believe You Can Do It

        Do you know why most people say “can’t” and doubt themselves before trying anything?

        It’s our lack of self-confidence and fear on many different levels. The one thing we have to purge from ourselves is fear — fear of bad results, fear of change, fear of denial, fear of loss, the fear that makes us worry and lose sleep. Worrying is the same as going outside with an umbrella, waiting for rain to hit it. Stop worrying and move on.

        Confidence is fragile: It builds up slowly, but can shatter like glass. Project your confidence and energy into believing in yourself. This is a very important and groundbreaking step — one that is usually the hardest to take. Start telling yourself you can do something, anything, and you will do it the best to your ability. Remove doubt, remove fear, and stick with positive energy.

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        Embrace Failure

        Do not fear failure. Do not run away from it. Face it, learn from it, grow, and take action. Just remember: You will never know success if you have never failed.

        Your confidence will bolster after embracing these facts. You will be immune to demoralizing results, and instead you will find ways to fix it, improve upon it, and make it better than before. You will learn to never say “can’t,” and will realize how many more opportunities you can create by removing that one word.

        Don’t let one simple and ugly word plague your confidence. You’re better and stronger than that.

        Start Making the Change

        But to actually start the process of change is very challenging.

        Why is that?

        Fear? Time? Don’t know how — or where — to start?

        It’s hard because what we’re doing is unlearning what we know. We are used to doing things a certain way, and chances are we’ve been doing them for years.

        So here are some ways that I avoid using the word “can’t”, and actually take the steps to put forth the change that I wish to see. I hope you can incorporate these methods into your life.

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        Write down What You Want to Change

        Write it on post-its, notecards, whatever makes you comfortable — something you will always see. I usually write mine on post-its and put them all over the wall behind my monitor so I always see them.

        Tell a Friend and Talk About It

        Discussing your goals, what you want to change, is very effective when you say it out loud and tell another person other than yourself. It’s almost like saying, hey, I bet I can do it — watch me.

        When you fulfill that goal and tell your friend, it feels rewarding and will motivate you to do it again in a different aspect. Who knows? Maybe your friend adopts the same mindset as you.

        Stop Yourself from Saying the Forbidden Word

        Sometimes,I can’t control myself in public when I’m with friends, so I have to be careful with the words I use so I don’t embarrass or insult anyone.

        Treat the word “can’t” as the worst word you can possibly use. Stop yourself from saying it, mid-sentence if you must, and turn your whole perspective around — you can do it, you will do it, and nothing is impossible!

        Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

        You think this change will be overnight? No way. This is a practice. Something you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life from now until forever.

        As I said earlier, you are unlearning what you know. You know how easy it is to say you can’t do something, so by unlearning this easy practice, you’re self-disciplining yourself to live without boundaries.

        Practice this everyday, a little at a time, and before you know it, the word can’t will not be part of your language.

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        Do Anything That Can Relieve Your Uncertainty

        When I catch myself saying I can’t do something or I don’t know something, looking up information on that action or subject, doing research, educating yourself, relieves that uncertainty.

        Sometimes, we think we can’t do something because the whole idea of it seems too large. We skip the small steps in our head and only focus on the end.

        Before you say you can’t do something, rewind and slow down a little bit. Focus on what the first step is, then the next. Take it a step at a time, and before you know it you will have done something you previously thought you couldn’t do.

        Final Thoughts

        You know what you must do. The first step is right now. Once you begin this habit, and really start noticing some change, you’ll realize the door to opportunity is everywhere.

        The funny thing is: Those doors have always been there. The evil word that we no longer use put a veil over our eyes because that’s how powerful that word is.

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        Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

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