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Language Learning Tips from a Polyglot | 4 Unacceptable Excuses

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Fri, Jan 13, 2012 @ 02:23 PM

English language learning BostonWhat are the excuses that you use when it comes to your English improvement? What are the beliefs, thoughts and ideas that are holding you back from becoming fluent? Today I would like to present a recorded talk by Bennie, an Irish guy who travels around the world and becomes fluent in a new language every 3 months. In his talk he gives some important language learning tips and highlights four of the most common reasons why people insist that they cannot learn a language. Are you using any of these excuses?




Bennie's Points: 4 Excuses that Are Holding You Back:


#1 "I don't have enough vocabulary words to speak the language": I heard this excuse from someone learning English yesterday. I think this is a lazy excuse. In his talk, Bennie recommends creating word associations using images in your mind to remember vocabulary words in a new language or using music and creating a song in your head to remember the meaning of a new vocabulary word. You need to get a little creative! You need to understand your own learning style and know what works for you when it comes to learning new vocabulary words. Most importantly, you DO NOT need to know every vocabulary word in the English dictionary to be able to speak English. I think a lot of English students have the belief that they need to reach a level of perfection before they can actually speak in authentic conversations and it really prevents their improvement.


#2 "I don't understand the grammar rules so I can't speak the language": Bennie's suggestion for this problem is to put the grammar aside for a while. Start by actually speaking the language. Go out and learn about the culture, meet people, learn some common phrases. You should be trying to make mistakes, not trying to avoid them! After you have been out in the culture, then you can go back and look at the grammar rules. At that point, you will have a much better understanding of how the grammar system works.


"Grammar is not a language, it is a list of rules"




#3 "I don't have enough money to learn English": Bennie's answer to this common excuse is this: you don't need to take an expensive language course to become fluent.

Now, I am an English tutor and at English and Culture, we offer private English classes so of course I believe that language courses work for some people.  But I am also a language learner (Spanish) and I can tell you that language classes are not right for everyone. I became fluent in Spanish in about 15 months by arranging language exchanges, living, dining and socializing with native Spanish speakers and listening to Spanish podcasts on my way to work. I didn't take many formal classes. Could this work for you? I absolutely believe that it could. However, for this to work you need time, flexibility and dedication. Many people choose to take an English course because they don't have the time to learn on their own. In that case, working with a tutor is a good idea for you, but you also need to make a promise to yourself to spend at least a certain number of hours outside of your class practicing the language. If you don't do this, your language classes will be a poor investment.


#4 "I don't want to annoy people when they hear me making mistakes in their own language": This might be a confidence issue for some people. Try to remember that people are usually excited and have more respect for you when they see that you are trying to speak their native language. If they are impatient and rude, then you are practicing with the wrong people. It is up to you to create your English learning network and make it work for you.



Watch Bennie's Talk:






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