Learning a new language
You might be learning Italian because it’s one of the conditions of your new job, or because you want to travel to Italy.
It might also be because your partner is Italian, because you want to expand your language skills, or just for fun.
In any case, learning a new language is always a great option. It’s all about being persistent and having the will to learn a whole new world. It’s also about making mistakes and learning from them.
This process can sometimes seem tiring, overwhelming, and challenging but it’s always better to think positive: learning a new language is definitely very enriching and satisfying.
There are different ways to learn a language. Some of them are wrong. In today’s post, we’re going to learn how not to learn Italian.
How not to learn a language
We usually focus on how to learn a language but knowing how not to learn a language can also be very useful. We all know we have to study and practice but, what about all the things we shouldn’t be doing?
A lot will depend on your attitude. Starting with the wrong attitude is not productive. Thinking learning a language is a boring and difficult task won’t help you learn.
When learning a new language, ideally, you should be motivated and determined. If this is not the case, then you should focus on all the other positive aspects.
Also, don’t be tempted to underestimate your learning process, your level, your skills, and your strengths. If you’re learning a new language, you’re definitely one step ahead.
And don’t push yourself too much. You should be fair and realistic. Comparing yourself to someone who learns faster than you is just useless.
Common mistakes language learners make
There are common mistakes language learners make. Choosing the wrong methodology or approach, like learning without an order and a specific goal, can be very disadvantageous.
We should always ask ourselves why we’re learning and find the methodology that suits us and makes us feel comfortable.
If we want to learn to communicate mainly orally, learning from a book might not be the best option. Relying too much on a teacher and forgetting about one’s responsibilities is also not effective.
Another mistake language learners usually make is focusing on only one aspect: a skill (like listening or speaking), grammar, vocabulary, translating, or a specific method. The more the merrier!
Finally, another mistake is ignoring mistakes (excuse the redundancy!). If we make a mistake, we should take that as a great opportunity to face it and learn from it.
In fact, your brain will definitely remember that and the next time you find yourself in the same situation, you’ll know how to act. So, don’t be afraid of making a mistake. Just go for it!
Things to avoid when learning a foreign language
Let’s now focus more specifically on the things to avoid when learning a foreign language. Before we go into more detail, let us remind you that learning Italian is a huge challenge and so, you should be proud of yourself.
Of course, there are things you shouldn’t do, but as we said earlier, it’s ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.
If you find that you’re making some of the mistakes we’re about to describe, just think about what exactly it is that you’re doing wrong and focus on our recommendations.
Choosing the wrong approach
Sometimes we feel lost and we don’t know where to start from. For this reason, we might end up choosing the wrong approach or methodology.
There are different ways of learning such as attending one-to-one classes, or group classes, but also using language-learning apps, traveling, and reading.
Before you choose, ask yourself which one/ones will be more beneficial for you.
Learning without goals
Don’t start your learning process without a general goal and more specific goals.
Why do you want to learn Italian? Is it because you want to be able to communicate with Italians? Or is it because your boss asked you to do so?
Before you start your learning process think about your main goal and this will help you set the other goals.
Thinking learning a language is a task
Try to avoid seeing learning Italian as a task. It’s definitely a big challenge but it doesn’t have to be boring and tedious.
A lot will depend on your approach and your attitude. If you think it’s a boring task, you’ll make it boring.
Try to see it as a great opportunity and as a personal process.
Relying too much on teachers
If you’re learning Italian with a teacher, make sure you don’t entirely rely on them. As we said earlier, a lot will depend on you, so don’t blame your lack of progress on your teacher.
They are a guide and a helper, but you’re the protagonist so make sure you make the most of their lessons.
Learning a language with an app or with a book could be good options as long as they’re not the only method and, most importantly, as long as you’re not learning passively.
You shouldn’t just read and do exercises. You should understand and internalize the rules, ask yourself questions, and find your own learning strategies.
Learning just the language
Learning Italian is not just about the language. It’s also about the culture and its people. Of course, you have to learn the grammar and vocabulary.
But if you get the chance, plan a trip to Italy or the south of Switzerland. Meet up with Italian speakers. Watch movies in Italian. Expose yourself to the language.
Focusing on one aspect
Learning a new language is like multi-tasking. It involves grammar, vocabulary, listening, reading, speaking, and writing. If you focus only on one aspect, your learning process will probably not be successful.
Working on just one skill
Again, learning a new language involves different skills. If you only focus on, let’s say, listening, you will find it very hard to speak or write.
The solution to this is a combination of all skills. You should spend roughly the same amount of time on each of them.
Learning with only one method
As we said earlier, there are different ways of learning Italian. Don’t focus on just one method.
Try a combination of methods like virtual learning, group classes, language exchange events, reading, and watching movies.
In other words, try to be as immersed in the language as possible.
Learning mainly grammar rules
Grammar is of course very important.
However, sometimes even native speakers can’t explain a grammar rule. This is because they apply it without realizing it.
So, once you internalize a rule, try to apply it but that’s it. Don’t worry too much about it. Just make sure you get out of your comfort zone to practice.
Learning lots of new random words
Similarly, learning new vocabulary is essential and will make you expand your knowledge. But try to find a logic to it. Don’t just learn random words.
Also, don’t force yourself to learn lots of new words. You should learn an average of 10 words at a time and focus on practicing.
Learning a new language is not about translating unless you want to be a translator. Ideally, you should be able to understand and produce language without translating.
Of course, at the beginning, this might be hard. But try to ignore your native language.
Instead, you can try other strategies like writing down the meaning of a word in your own words in Italian.
Underestimating your learning process
Never underestimate your learning process if you’re making an effort. You’re already doing something amazing by learning a new language because it is a whole new system so your brain is definitely working hard.
Underestimating your level
It’s very common among language learners to underestimate their level. It’s part of the learning process.
Sometimes you’ll have the impression that you’re learning a lot and suddenly it feels like you stopped learning. This is because you’re improving so much that the language starts to seem easy to you.
When you find yourself underestimating your level, think of how much you’ve learned.
Underestimating listening skills
Sometimes we focus too much on learning how to speak and write but listening is essential too. Understanding what the others are saying is the key to communication. And if you understand, you can reproduce what you heard so it’ll also be beneficial for the other skills.
Don’t rely on boring listening exercises. Try to listen to radio shows, podcasts, songs, movies, and our audio course “Ripeti con me!”.
Underestimating how long it takes to learn a language
Learning Italian takes time. Don’t expect to be fluent within a few weeks. This is just not possible.
Just be realistic: learning a new language is about learning a new system, a new logic, new rules and this takes time.
Of course, we all learn in different ways and there are people who are just more talented and learn faster than us. But this doesn’t mean we can learn as fast as them.
Underestimating your learning strengths
Don’t be mean or tough with yourself.
Instead of focusing on how much you have left, appreciate your learning strengths which have helped you learn all the stuff you’ve learned. Don’t ignore them.
If you’re making progress it is because you have strengths you should be proud of.
Pushing yourself too much
It is great to be motivated to learn a language and to make big efforts. However, don’t push yourself too much. Know your limits. If you feel that you’re trying your best but it’s not working, try something easier or another approach.
Overwhelming yourself with advanced level content
Trying to read content that’s way above your level will only make you feel frustrated.
Focus on material that you understand and feel comfortable with. If this means you have to stick to short texts or children’s books for a while instead of politics or philosophy, so be it!
Comparing yourself to other people
Comparing yourself to someone else is never a good option. The funny thing is that we usually compare ourselves to people who we believe are “better” than us. Instead of doing this, focus on yourself.
You should make a list of all the things you’ve achieved and learned.
Thinking of giving up
Being pessimistic is just not good. Thinking of giving up is just a consequence of it. Before considering this option, you should think of how much you have learned and improved.
You could also try to think about your learning process and check what you’re doing wrong. You’ll probably realize you’re not trying your best.
When we learn a language, it’s absolutely normal to make mistakes. We’re learning a new system that we were not born with.
So, we have to learn how to make the most of our mistakes. Instead of ignoring them, we should think about what we’re doing wrong and try to change it.
Being afraid of making mistakes
Don’t be afraid of your mistakes. Instead, focus on what you did wrong and reflect on it. Next time you find yourself in the same situation, you’ll know what to do.
So, we encourage you to make mistakes because they’ll help you learn efficiently.
You shouldn’t ignore your mistakes. Ever. You’ll make mistakes when you write, when you speak, even when you read.
When you do so, just stop for a second to consider them and learn from them. They’re there to help you improve your skills.
Waiting until you feel ready to speak
Speaking is one of the main skills you need to communicate in a foreign language. No one is born with all the equipment to be able to speak perfectly from day 0.
It’s a long process, but the earlier you start practicing the earlier you’ll start being confident.
Last but not least, make sure you read these blog posts about how to learn Italian on your own and about how to learn Italian fast. If you follow our recommendations, your Italian will definitely be amazing!