Foreign language learning is no easy task, but if you are aware of the five most common mistakes, you’ll have an advantage. Empower yourself with these helpful tools to transform your learning process. The more you know going into the learning process, the easier it is to avoid mistakes and make real progress!

foreign language learning

Foreign Language Learning and the 5 Most Common Mistakes Independent Learners Make

Contrary to popular belief, foreign language learning skills are based on discipline and habits, not your IQ. We’ve discussed developing good habits here at MosaLingua in the past. But even after you’ve understood the importance of developing good learning and studying habits, there are still a few pitfalls you need to be aware of.

To give you a heads up in your foreign language learning, here are the top 5 most common mistakes:

  1. Not listening

We all wish we could learn as easily as children. (Even though it’s somewhat of a myth that kids have an advantage over adults when it comes to learning languages.)

Well, there is one way to help and that is to listen. Listening to and mimicking sounds is the natural way that babies and young children learn a language. After prolonged listening to a language, we start to hear patterns, intonation, vocabulary, and sentence structures.

The most effective way to practice listening is in a situation where you are fully immersed in the language. This is not possible for many people, so the next best option is to listen to podcasts, music, TV shows, movies, etc. in your target languages, as much and as often as possible.

  1. Not having a good enough reason to keep you motivated

Studies have shown that the more interest you have in the culture and background of the language you are learning, the better you will be at learning that language. One of the most common mistakes when learning a language is getting caught up in the “what” and “how” but not the “why.” Why are you motivated to learn this language?

Engage your curiosity and learn more about the countries where your target language is spoken. What is it about that language and the culture associated with it that intrigues you? It could be music, film, politics, festivals, beliefs, religion, literature… basically, anything that interests you personally.

Building this connection on a more personal level will make you more receptive to the language, more highly motivated, and more open to connecting with native speakers.

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  1. Being too hard on yourself

There are certain things in life we can’t control, and with that comes a sense of uncertainty. With language learning, it helps a lot to be flexible. You won’t always know the answer right away but you have to be open to not knowing, finding the answer, or waiting until that moment when it clicks.

You may study a conversation template until you have it memorized but not everyone will follow that script in real life, so you have to be on your toes and not panic.

There will almost always be exceptions to the rule, irregular verbs, or something new that throws you for a loop. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Language learning takes time but your dedication will pay off in the end.

  1. Falling victim to monotonous foreign language learning

Monotonous means dull and lacking variety. If your learning methods fit that description, you are making one of the most common mistakes when learning a language.

While you may be very comfortable with one learning method, like grammar exercises or “listen and repeat” drills, you might not be getting much out of your learning. It serves us well to challenge our minds and ourselves and push the limits of what is comfortable.

Those who implement multiple methods for learning practice different skills (listening, speaking, reading, etc.) and understand concepts from different perspectives. For instance, instead of looking up rules in a grammar textbook, you could pick them up by reading and seeing them in use.

All of this is why MosaLingua doesn’t just encourage you to use our apps. We recommend multiple tools and techniques that complement the app – listen to podcasts, watch movies with and without subtitles, find a language partner, etc.

Abbe goes into more detail about the virtues of multi-tool learning in the video below. She gives specific examples for English learners, but the main ideas apply to any language! You can watch it right here or on our YouTube channel.

While you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe for more language-learning tips!

  1. Letting fear get the best of you

If this sounds like you, that’s okay! It is scary knowing that you’re more than likely going to make mistakes, sound silly or embarrass yourself. Many, many learners face this obstacle. This common mistake when learning a language is a tough one to get over, but it’s critical. Swallow your pride and speak up!

The best way to really learn and improve upon everything you’ve studied is to speak. By doing so, you or your language partner or teacher can correct you before you develop bad habits in pronunciation. You really do learn best from your mistakes!

Plus, if you’re learning a language, no one will expect you to speak it perfectly. You can simply preface a conversation or written exchange with the fact that you’re learning, and ask to be corrected. This way you will know exactly what you need to focus your energy on.


Now that you know where many students go wrong in foreign language learning, you can make better decisions. Audit your learning methods and patterns and identify where you may be making some of these 5 common mistakes.

Have you ever fallen into a trap that has impacted the effectiveness of your foreign language learning? It happens to all of us, so it’s helpful to know and learn from each other’s experiences. If you feel comfortable doing so (don’t be shy!), share the mistakes you’ve made during the learning process in the comments below for the benefit of the whole community.