10 Don’ts When Learning a Language

We all know learning a language can be tough and we mean really tough! There are times when we just want to throw in the towel and give up! But, what about those dreams we have of becoming fluent? What about those visions of kicking back in Germany, chatting with the locals and living THE life? We can’t let them disappear! So, we want to make learning a language (an German in particular of course!) as easy as possible for you! Check out these 10 Don’ts When Learning a Language to help you on your merry language learning way!

1. Don’t Speak English

Or any other language which comes easy to you or is your mother tongue! The first rule of language learning is to immerse yourself in the language you are trying to master. We know it can be so easy to switch back to your native language but as much as you want to, you need to stick with the language you’re learning. If people try their best to switch your conversation to English because it’s easier, be strong and stick with German (or whatever language you’re learning!). Saturate yourself with the language, do not switch from it unless it’s absolutely necessary!

2. Have Goals But Don’t Make Them Unrealistic

We all need a goal to reach – it’s the easiest way to help us to stick with something. We want to accomplish that goal! However, setting yourself a goal that is never going to be achieved won’t help you at all. For example, don’t say “I will take the A1 exam within a year” as this could put way to much pressure on you and if you don’t make it, you’ll more than likely want to give up and nobody wants that! Instead, say “I’ll take my time and reach the A1 exam when I’m ready” this way you have the goal to take the exam but without the pressure and time constraints. Set yourself little goals like “speak German all day every day at least 3 times a week,” “watch a German TV show” and “listen to some German music” that way you can look back at the small achievements as well as the big ones.

3. Study, But Don’t Study Too Much

Yes, you have to study to learn a language – how will you ever remember it if not? But, sitting in front of books and a computer for hours on end and staring at a foreign language might not be the way forward! If anything, it could hinder your language learning making it something you despise. Instead, study in short bursts of 15-30 minutes, this way your brain will soak up as much as possible and you won’t be bored or annoyed by it. In addition, adopt different ways to study instead of just staring at books or a computer like music and TV programs – by doing this you’re exposed to the language without really realizing it.

4. Don’t Worry About Making Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes! We might not like to make a mistake but we do and that’s just a process of learning. Don’t be scared to try things out, make mistakes, learn from them and embrace them – they’re an essential part of language learning. There’s no way you can reach fluency without making a ton of mistakes, and we mean a ton! Avoiding speaking will just put your language learning in reverse – the longer you avoid speaking, the longer it will take you to pluck up the courage to start. So don’t beat yourself up about it – mistakes will just make you better and stronger than before!

5. Don’t Get Fixated on Grammar

Yes, language has grammar and yes, parts of it can be super hard, especially in German – we all know that! But, your grammar doesn’t have to be 100 percent perfect straight away and every time! Focus on the easy grammar – the hard grammar will come in time and you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished so much more. Look for some grammar shortcuts – every language has hacks you can use…even German!

6. Don’t Think Immersion Can Only Be Achieved By Living In The Country

Immersion is a great way to learn a language – living in the country where the language you’re learning is spoken and being totally surrounded by it is a perfect way to pick it up. However, it’s not the only way – immersion can be achieved without jumping on a plane and heading to another country. You can immerse yourself in the language by building a lifestyle that surrounds you with it – listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks, watch TV shows, invest in some language software that helps you to practice and find people to have conversations with: classmates, friends, MeetUp groups – there are plenty of options out there! You could also change the language on all your digital interfaces like your smartphone, tablet and TV along with social media channels – that way there’s no escaping!

7. Don’t Translate Directly From One Language To The Other

Direct translating is a no-go! What makes sense in one language might not make sense in another – this is usually the case with German! The sentence structure is different, verbs are in different places so it you try to directly translate the sentence it ends up making no sense at all! When you start learning a foreign language, look at it with a blank slate, try as hard as you can not to use expressions and sentence structure from your mother tongue. Get used to the new patterns and expressions and it will all fall in to place, you’ll see!

8. Don’t Compare Yourself With Others

“I started the class with him, I should be at the same level!” “I’ve been learning the language for longer, I should be better than her!” This type of sentence should never come out of your mouth or pop into your head. Comparing yourself with other language learners will not help with your progress, in fact, it will probably make you more likely to give up. Everyone learns at a different speed and with their own method, some people pick things up quickly while others take a little more time – but ultimately, we all get to the same goal. Be patient, take your time and you’ll all be at the same fluency level before you know it – if it takes you a little longer, who cares!

9. Don’t Forget Why You Are Learning A Language

There was a reason why you decided to learn a language – never lose sight of that! That was what pushed you to take the plunge and sign up for a language course, what made you want to become fluent in another language. Losing sight of that goal and motivation will only make you more inclined to quit. Try creating a vision board to help you to keep sight of that goal and motivation, or pin a motivating phrase to your desk to prevent you from giving up and, if all else fails, think of the financial implications and how much you stand to lose if you quit before mastering the language!

10. Don’t Give Up

If there’s one thing you don’t want to do when learning a language that’s give up! You started this thing for a reason guys, don’t lose sight of that and don’t waste the time and energy you’ve already put into this mission! Persevere, persevere, persevere! Keep that goal and why you started to learn a language in the first place in mind and don’t give up on it – you’ll be so pleased, proud and happy once you’ve finally mastered it!


Don’t forget, you can keep up with everything that’s going on here at the Goethe Atlanta by following us on social media:


Twitter logo



Linked In



Posted on March 16, 2017, in Language Events and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. tkiiatmindspringcom

    Great article! Thanks for posting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: