Is it easy to learn a new language? Can you become fluent in just one month? Should you consider if the language you are currently learning is useful? These and many other questions were actively discussed recently in a popular thread on Reddit. We’ve gathered the most exciting points from the discussion; continue reading to learn more about the most common misconceptions about language learning from Redditors!

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Key Takeaways:

  • Effective communication in a new language does not require knowing every word. Understanding context and effectively using the vocabulary you know is more important. 
  • Contrary to the belief that learning a new language is always costly, many free or low-cost resources are available. Online tutorials, language exchange communities, and self-study methods can be just as practical as expensive courses and tutors.
  • The notion that one can become fluent in a new language in just a few months is misleading. Setting realistic goals and understanding that fluency develops over time is important.

Top 6 Most Common Language Learning Misconceptions

There were many interesting thoughts and valuable points in the original discussion, but we’ve gathered only the best and organized them in a top list. So, what are the most widespread misconceptions, according to Reddit users? 

  • You need to memorize all the words. Obviously, how else can we speak? 
  • Learning a new language is always costly. Buying all these courses and hiring a personal tutor is necessary!
  • Older people can’t learn new languages. You’ve already missed your opportunity when you were a child!
  • Your pronunciation should become perfect before you start speaking. You just can’t start talking until everything is ideal.
  • You are currently learning the “useless” language. It would be better to drop it and learn something useful—for example, English. Or English. 
  • You can become fluent in a few months. Sounds very plausible, doesn’t it?

If you are learning a new language, you have probably already encountered at least some of these misconceptions, but others can still surprise you. Let’s review each of them one by one, starting from the least popular to the most. 

#6 You Need to Memorize All the Words 

❌ You need a colossal vocabulary to communicate in a foreign language. You shouldn’t even start practicing before you’ve mastered all the theory and learned thousands of words.

✅ Nobody understands every word in their language, much less a language they are just starting to learn. It is not even necessary for effective communication. Being articulate and able to comprehend other people’s explanations are more important. Even when you don’t know what a term means, you can usually figure it out by looking at its context or making a good guess.

#5 It Is Always Costly to Learn a New Language

❌ You must pay to learn a new language properly. You should start with courses and then pay for personal tutoring. Learning a foreign language alone is impossible, so it would be stupid even to begin trying. 

✅  There are plenty of low-cost or even free options for new language learners. You can check lessons on YouTube or another streaming service, discover speech communities in your area, collaborate with other students to organize speaking clubs, or engage in cross-cultural interactions. There are many ways to start learning a language, some of which can be more effective than courses. 

#4 Older People Can’t Learn New Languages 

❌ Only children can learn new languages effectively. Adults (elders especially) will struggle with learning, spend much time trying, and eventually fail. 

✅ Adults can also become proficient learners given the correct environment, enough practice, and the opportunity to engage with native speakers. Youngsters really do have a remarkable ability to pick up new languages, but adults have a lot of valuable advantages. 

Of course, adults and children are different. Adults also have a lot on their plates between jobs, family, and other responsibilities, and they only sometimes have the chance to learn a new language as children do.

Because of this, it is even more crucial for adults to establish reliable study habits that can withstand the demands of everyday life. Make studying the new language a regular part of your routine (perhaps with your morning coffee), integrate it into your interests and hobbies, and set short-term goals to keep yourself motivated. 

Here is the Reddit user’s opinion on child learning dilemma:

“That learning a language is easier as a child. The only thing that is easier is pronunciation. Adults have many advantages over child learners, especially the ability to better self-evaluate.”

#3 Your Pronunciation Should Become Perfect Before You Start Speaking

❌ Native speakers will understand that you are a foreigner; it is embarrassing. Natives would hear each and every mistake in your speech, so it’s better to retreat to theory and delay practice further. 

✅ Learners should not set the aim of “sounding native” as it is both tough to achieve and useless for effective communication. Students must instead concentrate on expressing themselves with conviction and clarity.

#2 Language You Are Currently Learning Is “Useless”

❌ Why learn Korean instead of Chinese or Polish instead of English? You should justify your decisions and only spend time learning the most common and popular languages. 

✅ There are no useless languages. You can learn any language you want or need, and you are not obliged to justify your actions to everyone. Languages exist because people use them; they are a valuable part of ethnic and cultural heritage. Even if some languages are more widespread than others, it doesn’t make your decision to learn something terrible. By the way, did you know that learning one particular language can be easier by learning another one

Many Redditors shared their frustration about this subject in a thread, for example, the one below. 

“That a language must be “useful” for you to want to study it. That the number of speakers of a language somehow correlates with how much use you, as an individual, will have of that language.”

#1 You Can Become Fluent in Just One or Two Months 

❌ You should become fluent in just a few months with suitable tutors and language courses. If there were three months and you’re not speaking well for some reason, you are definitely either not talented enough or doing something completely wrong. 

✅ No magic tricks or shortcuts can help you learn a whole new language in only six weeks, three simple steps, or even with this one incredible technique. Learning a new language is a lengthy process! Training your brain to form new associations between words, grammar, and pronunciation is critical to language acquisition, and it takes time!

Below is a valuable opinion from one of the Redditors about “fun” language learning!

“In the context of languages, people seem to think “fun” = less work. When people ask about “fun” or “different” ways to learn languages, they’re usually really asking if they can learn without doing the work. The answer is no. You can’t learn with only Duolingo, and you can’t learn from only watching Netflix.”

The Bottom Line 

Sometimes, the realities of how we pick up a new language’s syntax and grammar are more startling than the myths and misconceptions around the subject. Knowing that there is a lot of leeway in expressing yourself and being understood in the language you are studying is reassuring because getting your point across involves more than just vocabulary and syntax. Consider exploring more resonant discussions from Reddit, for example about the worst reasons to start learning a foreign language.

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