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The Top Five Mistakes of English Learners

Teacher Joe has been teaching English for almost 20 years. Here are the biggest problems he sees in students' study methods. If you can avoid these mistakes, you can learn English much more efficiently.

1. Students practice their mistakes. Sometimes it's helpful to practice fluency and make lots of mistakes. Other times, however, it's necessary to practice carefully and accurately, so that you develop good habits in speaking and writing. Many students recite sentences and memorize words and phrases with poor pronunciation or incorrect grammar. When repeating incorrect language over and over again, the mistakes actually become stronger. The lesson is: Be careful how you practice!

2. Students memorize lists of words. The best way to learn vocabulary is to read, and read a LOT! The human brain learns by making connections. The context provided by a book or story in a magazine or newspaper gives your brain what it needs to remember better. Word lists lead only to more and more forgetting!

3. Students worry too much about grammar details. It would be better to learn the most important sentence patterns rather than try to learn every detail about English grammar. It is much easier, much faster, and much more effective to focus on key sentences. After you master the most important sentences in English, you can spend more time on fluency practice.

4. Students don't listen to English spoken at normal speed. It's extremely difficult to successfully listen to fast English, but it can help you make big improvements in your English. At first, you don't need to understand 100%. In fact, you don't need to understand much at all! You just need to keep on trying and understand a little more each time you listen. This is what I am now doing in my study of Chinese and it's helping me so much.

5. Students don't read in English. Reading real English (newspapers, magazines, books, stories) can be as difficult as listening to English at normal speed. Real English is very rich and complex, but it is this richness and complexity that can help students learn much more than any textbook can teach. It is not necessary to understand everything you read. The more you read, the easier it will become. Then, one day, you'll realize that you have the skill to read easily. And it will be enjoyable. From that time forward, your English will really "take off"!

Good luck with your studies!

Recommended Sites for Learning English:
How to Learn English
Listen to English
Learn to Speak English Fluently

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