For those of you who missed it, two weeks I posted about three myths regarding learning English. If you haven’t checked it out, please do! It may help you on your journey towards English mastery!
Now, on to the last three!
Myth #4: If you are studying and practicing well, you shouldn’t be making mistakes.
A lot of English learners, my students included, get very frustrated about making mistakes. It seems like no matter how much they learn, they keep making mistakes. But if you’ve been making a lot of effort and studying hard, shouldn’t you make fewer mistakes?
The amount of studying you do has no effect on how many mistakes you’ll make, or how often. Vice versa, the amount of mistakes you make or how often you make mistakes has no bearing on well you are progressing.
In fact, I’d say the better you get, the more mistakes you should make!
Why is that? Well, as you get better, you should realize that making mistakes is how you grow and improve! In other words, the more mistakes you make, the more opportunities you have to get better at English. It’s a natural part of your growth. Learning a foreign language is a life-long process. Even native speakers can get better at their own language.
As you practice English more and more, you should realize just how little effect mistakes actually have on you and your progress. You should realize most people don’t care, or even notice, most of your errors. You should realize that you can make mistakes, even lots of mistakes, and still be a good speaker!
All of this should make you more comfortable with making mistakes.
So, unless you’re making very basic mistakes, mistakes are nothing to worry about.
Myth #5: If you don’t understand what the book or teacher says and you need to ask questions, you’re probably not too smart.
While I think the next myth is probably more prevalent myth, I think this one is the most important one to dispel.
It is absolutely NOT true.
In fact, I want to go so far as to say the opposite is more likely true: the more curious you are, the more you will want to understand, and the more you will want to ask questions. In fact, the more deeply you want to understand something, the more questions you will have! This is the sign of a very intelligent and inquisitive person, not a dummy!
In addition, even though many textbook writers and teachers understand the language or education very well, they aren’t always good at explaining things. Sometimes teachers explain things badly, or too quickly, or not clearly enough.
Every student has his or her own learning style. Yours might be visual – maybe you need to see pictures – or it might be audio – maybe you need a clear explanation that you can think about – or it might be kinesthetic – maybe you need to actually do it yourself to get it – or you might need to sit down and read the information. Your teacher’s style may be different from yours, so they may be teaching in a way that’s easy for them to understand, but not you!
Because learning is your responsibility, it is also your responsibility to ask questions when you don’t understand something. Pretending to understand something is not a good idea.
Myth #6: Learning happens on a straight, even incline.
Many people assume learning goes something like that. You study for one hour today, and next Tuesday and the Wednesday after that, and your improvement will be exactly the same every time.
Think about it. You’re a human being. You have good days and bad days. You have busy days and free days. You get sick some times. Things happen every day that affect your mood and motivation.
Beyond that, your mind works in unusual ways. Sometimes it needs a break, other times it’s ready to receive and integrate lots of information. Sometimes certain study methods don’t work, other times they seem to work perfectly. Some teachers are better than others. Different learners have different strengths. We’re not computers uploading programs. We’re people.
If you want to know what actual learning progress is like, check this out.
Unfortunately, plateaus, troughs and declines are just as common and normal as progress. If you feel stuck, or like you’re even getting worse, that’s nothing to worry about. It’s all a necessary and natural part of the learning experience.
Anyway, I hope I managed to dispel some myths that you are holding! If you have any questions, or if you are wondering about other beliefs regarding learning, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment, send me a message or find me on twitter!