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  • Susan "Zuzu" Skelly

English is Not Easy - Language Learning Dos and Don'ts

Updated: Mar 11

Studying a language can be stressful and exhausting, no matter what your learning goals or skill level are. And because it’s already tough enough, going into it with positive and healthy study habits is essential.

✔ Do

1. Allow yourself to make mistakes and then learn from them.

Mistakes will happen, at all levels. But mistakes should never stop you from trying to learn and should never make you think you can’t learn. Our brains are muscles, and just like the muscles on our legs or arms, we need to give them a workout if we want to make them stronger. Not allowing yourself to make mistakes would be like walking into a gym on your first day of weight training and expecting to be able to lift 200 pounds right away.


2. Set realistic goals.

Remember, we said that lifting 200 pounds on your first day isn’t going to happen. We might wish it would, but it won’t and it’s not realistic to expect it to. We might also want to become proficient in English in a very short time, but language learning takes time. There’s really no way around it… at least not until someone invents language data we can download directly into our brains. So, sit back, grab a snack, and enjoy the process.


3. Leave your comfort zone.

Muscles grow when we stretch them or push them to do a little more than we are sure they can. In language learning, this means you need to push yourself, little by little, to express things you aren’t totally sure how to say and try to understand things that confuse you a little. You’ll make mistakes, but we already know that mistakes are really just an opportunity for growth.


4. Find ways to use English for something you enjoy.

We learn better when we’re having fun. This could mean watching movies, reading books (comics, novels, math books, or whatever kind you like!), learning to sing songs, writing stories, playing games, taking a class for something else (horseback riding, cooking, sewing, dance, other) with an English-speaking instructor. Whatever it is, make sure it’s fun.

5. Reward yourself for your successes – big or small.

It might sound silly, but when you celebrate your successes, you motivate yourself to keep going and you help yourself stay positive, even when things are hard. Happy with a test score? Finished reading a book in English? Talked on the phone in English without any problems? Watched a movie without subtitles? Gave directions to stranger? Super! Celebrate that by giving yourself a little treat – an extra break, a piece of cake, a walk in the park, that new notebook you were thinking of buying. Whatever it is, gift it to yourself for a job well done!


6. Remember that you are capable and cool!

What else is there to say? You’re cool and you can do this!


☢ Don’t

1. Allow mistakes to cause you to feel bad about yourself.

You are growing and that is something to be proud of.


2. Let English become the monster in the closet.

If you let English scare you, that fear will stop you from learning. Remember that it’s just a language. You already learned one language – your native language – so you know it’s not impossible to do.


3. Think that you are too old to learn English.

Learning is scientifically proven to be possible at all ages. So, throw the phrase “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” into the trash can, and go for your goals!


Now go reward yourself for reading this! 😊



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