Anyone learning a foreign language might find the prospect to be a difficult one, especially if the grammar and pronunciation is widely different from what they’re used to with their native tongue.
For many English learners, there are several significant mistakes that are quite common, and have been pointed out by teachers as some of the most well-known mistakes that their students have made.
1. “For” and “Since”
One of the more common mistakes that beginners make is to mistake “for” for “since” or use the two words interchangeably. It’s important to note, then, that “I have been here since 5 hours” is not correct. “Since” has to talk about a definite time reference, such as “10 PM”, “5 hours ago” or “last Tuesday.”
When it comes to “for” we can only refer to periods of time, such as “15 minutes” or “a long time”. The correct use of “for” is saying, for instance, that you “were at school for the past 2 hours.”
2. Using “The” with Indefinite Nouns
Indefinite plural nouns are often a nightmare for non-native English speakers who are just starting out in learning to speak the language at a conversational level, especially when it comes to determining when to use and not to use “the.”
“The” is not a word that’s commonly found in all languages, so many English learners end up using sentences like “I went to buy the clothes” instead of the correct form, “I went to buy clothes.”
3. For Spanish Speakers: Subject-Verb Agreement
One of the most common grammar mistakes is the misuse of subject-verb agreement. A simple example would be to say “Everyone love the girl’s new dress.” Since collective nouns normally refer to a single collection of objects or people taken as a whole, the correct sentence would use the singular form of the word “love” which is “loves”.
4. Frustrated at Native English Speakers
When listening to native English speakers speak, many learners get frustrated for several reasons: either the accent makes understanding some of the words difficult, the person is speaking at lightning speed, or some of the words just “flow together” with others, so it’s hard to make out what was really said.
Instead of giving in to frustration, however, it’s important to continue practicing listening intently, since the ear will take some time (usually a few weeks, or even months) to get used to properly identifying the words.
5. Heavy Study – It “Has” to Be Hard!
Finally, more of a misconception than a mistake – although it can be both – many students have the false idea that studying has to be difficult, and that without stressing oneself out with complex grammar exercises, it will be impossible to learn a foreign language like English.
This is not only a grave mistake, but oftentimes the opposite is actually true. Lighthearted, fun practice and the integration of the new language into your daily life often has a much more positive effect than heavy study.
These are just five of the many common mistakes English learners – even those who are somewhat more advanced with their studies – usually tend to make. If you want to make significant progress with your English, it’s important to pay close attention to details such as these, as they are just as important, both in the classroom and in real life, as some of the more basic grammar and pronunciation lessons.