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5 things you need to stop doing

Stop translating everything

First of all, if you’re one of those students who checks their dictionary every five minutes and keeps telling the teacher “but in my language, we don’t say that…”, PLEASE STOP! Different languages have different rules, so it’s a waste of time and energy to translate phrases from your language into English.

e.g In Spanish people say “I have 10 years-old”, but in English, we say “I am 10 years-old”. In Russian sentences are constructed by placing verbs, nouns and adjectives in sentences in any order (correct me if I’m wrong). However, in English, the rule says that we need a specific order to form grammatically correct sentences – pronoun + verb + object. Do what is correct in your language might be a mistake in English!

The best thing to do is to learn how things are said in English and put your language on the back burner. Translating will only make things more difficult for you.

Stop watching films in your own language

Did you know that Portugal is one of the countries where people have the best level of English? That’s right! In many countries like Spain and France, the films are dubbed into their native language, whereas in Portugal the films and programmes are kept in English with Portuguese subtitles. This way, people get used to hearing English from an early age. Exposure to the language is very important and will certainly help you improve faster! So, change your phone settings into English, start watching films in English and I guarantee you’ll see positive results.

Stop trying to understand every single word

If you just started learning English it’s natural not to know all the words that you read. The most important thing is to understand the gist (main idea) of the texts and sentences that you’re exposed to. If your teacher is focusing on a grammar point or on a piece of language, pay attention to the explanation, don’t get distracted with unimportant words. If you check every single word’s meaning in the dictionary you’ll miss the teacher’s explanation, so hold on! If there are any words that you don’t know underline them and ask the meaning at the end.

Stop overthinking

It’s important to understand why things are done a certain way because it might help you remember the rules, but don’t overthink things too much! Some rules are just there for no special reason, so don’t waste your energy trying to understand why in English people say “I am 10 years-old instead of I have 10 years-old”, or why the idiom “it’s raining cats and dogs” means it’s raining a lot. Just learn to use the grammar and sentences correctly and stop thinking about the “ifs” and “whys”! Look at your own language, does everything make sense to you? When you reach a more advanced level where you’re comfortable with the language then you can start analysing things more deeply without it interfering with the learning process.

Stop worrying about your mistakes when you speak

Most native English speakers only speak one language and they are genuinely impressed by people who can master 1 or 2 other languages. Natives don’t expect foreigners to speak perfectly, so don’t think too much about your mistakes when you are speaking to them. As long as people understand you, everything is fine. Make sure you use the opportunity to practise your English and listen carefully to what natives say in order to learn from them. Don’t waste your precious time thinking about your mistakes. Some people don’t get much practice time with English speakers, so use the time to your advantage and leave the mistakes to be corrected by your teacher in the classroom!

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