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7 myths about foreign language teaching

In order to attract students, some offers in the field of foreign languages ​​promise the blue of the sky - and it is not always clear whether the lessons can really do justice to this. In this article we would like to introduce you to seven of the best-known myths about foreign language teaching and clarify which of them correspond to reality and which are nothing more than hot air.

Myth # 1: "With us you learn a language in your sleep"

If foreign language offers advertise such and similar statements, then they want to suggest to the potential student: With us you will reach your goal in the shortest possible time.

Yes, learning a foreign language "on the side" or even "in your sleep" sounds like paradise - but this rarely has anything to do with reality. Language trainers who promise something like this and promise guaranteed success can usually not be classified as serious. It is much more likely that they will consciously avoid complicated grammar rules or deliberately not torment their students with learning vocabulary. Because only in this way can you really save time.

Myth # 2: "Adults find it much harder to learn a foreign language"

We have actually dealt with this myth more extensively here in the language magazine. The bottom line of the article, which you can read in its full length here: Adults do not learn worse than children, they learn differently.

Of course, there are times when some people have great problems learning a foreign language. However, it can just as well happen that even in adulthood it is astonishingly easy for a person to internalize grammar, pronunciation, syntax and the like.


Myth # 3: "Language travel is the best way to learn"

There are still those who believe that no foreign language course is as effective as going abroad. Language trips are definitely a very good opportunity to consolidate and deepen the basics you have learned, but it must also be made clear at this point:

Those who are still at the very beginning of foreign language lessons should not go directly abroad. Without any knowledge, the language student is quickly overwhelmed and therefore not even able to process the new input properly.

That is why it is always better to start with a classic foreign language course (in Germany) and then later dare to look beyond the notorious bigger picture. Anything else can usually be counted as a waste of time.

Myth # 4: "You should never learn several languages ​​at the same time"

Whether this is actually a myth or a reality cannot be said across the board. There are of course people who have to concentrate fully on a foreign language in order to achieve the desired results. But there are also people who have no problems learning several languages ​​at the same time.

This multilingual language course is particularly useful if the two languages ​​come from the same family, for example:

  • Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian (Romance languages)
  • English, Danish, Dutch, Swedish and Norwegian (Germanic languages)

Languages ​​of the same language family often have interesting parallels that even simplify teaching as a whole. It can even make sense to learn two or more languages ​​(from the same family) at the same time.

Myth # 5: "Learning a foreign language requires a lot of discipline"

When someone announces that they want to learn a foreign language, they often only get sympathetic looks. In the minds of many people, foreign language teaching is stupid memorization of vocabulary and endless repetition of grammar rules - and requires a tremendous amount of discipline and ambition.

Indeed, every student must have the will to invest time and energy in teaching. But it is simply wrong to portray this as a never-ending learning marathon.

Modern foreign language lessons are flexible, creative and offer enough freedom for individual development. Of course, discipline is important in order to stay on the ball in the long term, but it should never be forgotten that learning a foreign language can also be fun.

Myth # 6: "Foreign language skills rust quickly"

Speaking of “staying on the ball”: A myth that is particularly persistent is that foreign language skills suddenly rust if you don't refresh them again and again.

It doesn't happen that fast, but there is actually something to this claim. If you do not use your knowledge again and again after the foreign language class, at some point you will notice that formulations that were once mastered in your sleep suddenly come out rather bumpy. So it's true: foreign language skills can rust - sooner for some, later for others.


Myth # 7: "In foreign language lessons you have to leave your comfort zone"

There is definitely some truth to this myth! Because a new language always also means: facing new challenges and ideally mastering them with flying colors.

The good thing about it: Once you've gotten out of your comfort zone, it's a success that feels really great.