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Expectations when learning a foreign language

19.04.2021

Happy Monday from Langports! Today we would like to talk about the common expectations people normally have when learning a foreign language.

Have you ever left the cinema feeling disappointed and wondering what all that hype was about? If so, you joined the ranks of all those people who went to see a movie with certain expectations. It’s perfectly normal and we all do that. We expect and are expected to do certain things in life, whether it is getting married, finding a fulfilling and well-paid job, buying our own place or learning a foreign language. The trouble begins when we don’t get or do what we expect or what is expected from us because then we start feeling the pressure and end up feeling frustrated and stressed.

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People come to Australia to learn English for many different reasons

A better job, a university degree, or a new chapter in life. There is, however, one thing they all have in common – expectations. They expect to learn fast and have a near-native knowledge of English after a very short time. Inevitably, they are headed for disappointment. While it is necessary to set ourselves goals, it is equally important to be able to assess how realistic they are. Do you really think that it’s possible to master another language in 6 months when it took you years to learn your own? If you do, you are putting way too much pressure on yourself and your unrealistic expectations will either make you feel inadequate or make you blame everyone else for your lack of progress.

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Learning a language is a process that requires a lot of dedication, work and time.

It’s not easy and how long it takes depends on many factors – our life conditions, our ability, effort and also attitude. However, it doesn’t mean that it cannot be enjoyable and satisfying! So here are a few tips how to approach language learning:

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  1. Start with an open mind – don’t expect anything and you won’t be disappointed.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to other people – there will always be someone better than you. People have different strengths and weaknesses and learn at their own pace.
  3. Do some practice every day – not doing anything for a week and then studying for hours on end simply doesn’t work.
  4. Vary your activities to avoid boredom – focus on your weaknesses, but also do what you find easier and more enjoyable to keep the right balance.
  5. Don’t study just because your parents want you to or because it’s good for your future. It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re doing something just because you should. Try to find something that makes it meaningful to you, for example watching your favourite movies or listening to your favourite songs in English.
  6. Change your attitude and stop complaining – yes, English spelling doesn’t make any sense and yes, there are many different accents, but it is what it is. If you can’t change it, accept it.
  7. Keep an open mind – approach the language with curiosity rather than distrust and let yourself be surprised again and again how people in two countries express the same in a completely different way. Isn’t variety a spice of life?
  8. Set yourself achievable goals – try to learn 5 new words a day, not 20!
  9. If you are constantly tired from work and feel like you don’t have any time for your studies, reassess your priorities.
  10. Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes or progressing more slowly than you were hoping to if you have been doing all the right things. You just need more time.

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So, have you been doing all of the above or do you recognize your bad habits? If you have, well done, you are on the right track. If you have just realized what you have been doing is wrong, don’t despair; it’s never too late for a change. Don’t worry so much about the outcome, just do your best and enjoy the process!

Thank you!