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. You’ll find that the more you know going in to the learning process, the easier you’ll be able to avoid mistakes and make real progress!

foreign language learning

Foreign Language Learning and the 5 Most Common Mistakes

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. 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 can start to hear patterns, intonation, vocabulary and structures.

The best way to do the most effective listening is to be 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.

5 most common mistakes when learning a foreign language

2) Not having a good enough reason

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 open up the possibility of being more receptive to the language, more highly motivated and open to connecting with native speakers.

3) Being too hard on yourself

There are certain things in life we can’t control and with that comes a sense of uncertainty and ambiguity. 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 you ‘get it’.

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, an irregular verb or something new that will throw you for a loop. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Language learning takes time but your dedication will pay off in the end.

foreign language learning and the 5 most common mistakes

4) Being a Victim of Monotonous Learning

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

While you may be very comfortable with one learning method, like relying on grammar exercises or ‘listen and repeat’ drills, you may 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 or difficult.

Those who implement multiple methods for learning get to practice different skills (listening, speaking, reading, etc.) and understand concepts from a different perspective. For instance, instead of seeing a rule explained in a grammar textbook, you may ‘get it’ if you read enough and see the rule 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 learning done on the app – listen to podcasts, watch movies with and without subtitles, find a language partner, etc.

5) Being Scared!

It’s ok. It is scary knowing that you’re more than likely going to make mistakes, sound silly or embarrass yourself. Well, 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/teacher can correct you before you develop bad habits in pronunciation. You need to understand that you really do learn from your mistakes.

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


Now that you have a better understanding of where a lot of students go wrong in foreign language learning, you can make better decisions. Be aware of your learning methods and patterns and identify where you may be making some of these top 5 most common mistakes.

Have you ever fallen into a trap that has affected the effectiveness of your foreign language learning? It happens to all of us so it’s helpful to know and learn from each others experiences. Please share in the comments below for the benefit of the whole community.