12 Myths About Learning English

At some point, you may have thought, “I can’t learn English.”

But I can tell you right now: You’re definitely wrong.

The very idea that you—or anyone else—can’t learn English is a myth .

A myth is something that many people believe is true but is actually not true.

Ideas like “I’m not smart enough” and “It’s impossible for me to learn English” are myths.

They’re also obstacles (things that stand between you and the place you want to go). The good news is that many non-native English speakers have already gotten past these obstacles.

We’re here to help you learn about the most common myths about learning English. Follow our tips, and you too can get past any obstacles in your language learning journey.


Myth 1: I’m Not Good With Foreign Languages

It’s not true that you’ll never understand English just because it’s not your native language.

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Even though we develop native language maps in our brain from a young age, our brains can still absorb new knowledge. Every day, we collect new information.

It’s no different when you’re learning a new language. Simply changing your  mindset (the way you think) gives you the best chance to learn something new.

Top Tip: Find blogs, articles or short stories in your native language, and rewrite them in English.

Myth 2: I’m Embarrassed to Speak English

The famous poet James Joyce once said, “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” This means that every mistake you make helps you learn something new. (By the way, a  portal is an entrance that leads from one place to another.)

There’s no reason to feel embarrassed if you say the wrong word, or get the pronunciation wrong. Everyone has been a beginner at some point in their lives! When you accept that you’re a learner, you can look at mistakes as things you can learn from, instead of things to be ashamed of.

Still feel silly when you say the wrong word? Tell people that you’re learning English. That can help take the pressure off. It’s also a great way to find new learning opportunities, because others might want to help you.

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Top Tip: Record yourself having your own English conversations. This is a great way to build your confidence when speaking. You can also listen for things that you could improve.

Myth 3: I’m Too Old to Learn English

Yes, younger people learn languages more easily, but that doesn’t mean older people can’t learn English. After all, adults are more knowledgeable and experienced, which means they have more tools to solve problems.

Instead of believing your age is stopping you, take a closer look at your learning. What is it about learning English that’s difficult, exactly? Is it the content you’re learning? The methods you’re using? Could it be the place, people or learning environment in your English class?

After you’ve identified the real obstacles, you can start to introduce some changes to make learning easier and a lot more pleasant (something that makes you feel good).

Top Tip: Write difficult English words on flashcards, and study them daily. This simple exercise can boost your confidence and make you feel happy about your improvements.

Myth 4: I Don’t Have Enough Time

We get it: You’re busy. There are too many things to do and too little time to do all of them.

But think about it: Everyone gets 24 hours in a day. If you see people who seem to be learning English faster than you, it’s probably because they chose to  prioritize learning English. To “prioritize” means to make something more important than other things.

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How important is learning English to you? Your answer to that question will determine how much (or how little) time you can spend studying the language.

To manage your time when learning English:

  • Think about what time of day you learn best. What part of the day do you feel like you’re most alert (aware of what’s happening around you)? When your focus is sharp and learning feels easy, this is the time you need to use for language learning.
  • Create a block of time within your day within which you’ll study English. It doesn’t matter how long it is—half an hour or three hours. What’s important is that this time will allow you to learn as much English as you can. Be consistent and study at this time every day. If you do that often enough, it will become a habit—meaning you’ll keep doing it even if you don’t  consciously (knowingly) think about it!
  • Find ways to make it easier to study. Lay out your books and resources for easy access. Download your videos and audio so they’re ready to play. Create a space in your home to study, so you’re always ready to learn!

Top Tips: Use your breaks to get in some quick learning lessons. For example, you can listen to English podcasts as you stand in line at a store. Or play with English learning apps while riding the bus. Turn every spare moment into a learning opportunity!

Myth 5: I Need to Visit an English-speaking Country

In the past, learning a new language was difficult because it was harder to travel to other countries. But thanks to the internet, we can now bring foreign languages into our homes with the click of a button.

To improve your knowledge, you need to actively look for learning opportunities. Choose food from English menus. Read English instructions and follow English signs. You can discover ways to learn and practice English in your own life, without having to pay for a plane ticket.

Top Tip: Surround yourself with English speakers, and simply listen. This way, you can recreate the experience of traveling to an English-speaking country by immersing yourself in others’ conversations. You can also use the language learning program FluentU to help you with this.

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Myth 6: I Can’t Afford It

You may think that you don’t have enough money to buy textbooks or that an online course is too expensive. Well, I’ve got some great news for you: You can learn English for free!

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Reach out to (Contact) English speakers in your area to practice real conversations in English. Stay updated on what’s going on in the English-speaking world using online newspapers, magazines and blogs. With the help of these resources, you can improve your English without spending a single dollar.

Top Tip: Label the objects in your house using these Vocabulary Stickers. Seeing and saying the words every time you pass them will transform any household task into an English lesson!

Myth 7: I’ll Never Get the Accent Right

Yes, having a good accent (whether in American or British English) can help you be better understood by native speakers. But you can still communicate even if your accent doesn’t sound like a native’s!

It takes time to learn how to say difficult words, so make sure you listen to spoken English as much as you can. Practice as much as you can, but set realistic goals, too.

Top Tip: Watch English YouTube videos and subscribe to English learning channels. The more you listen to spoken English, the more you’ll learn the right accent and pronunciation. Remember, even if you don’t get all of it right, your message will probably still be understood!

Myth 8: Learning English Isn’t Engaging

Some people give up on learning English because they don’t find it engaging (interesting) enough. They may believe the effort, time and energy they put into it isn’t worth the trouble. If you’re one of those people, you’re likely to get stuck and give up.

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To make learning English something you really want to do, you need to have a  proactive attitude. “Proactive” comes from the English prefix “pro-” (which means “for) and “active” , which means “something that keeps moving.” So, “proactive” means to make something happen rather than waiting for something to happen to you.

See? I managed to insert a mini-English lesson here, and you didn’t even notice!

That’s how you make things interesting. Do something new. Do something different and unpredictable. Do something that forces you to use your English skills and knowledge. This helps you set bigger goals and makes you excited to reach them.

You have the power to learn the way you want to, so make it fun and interesting!

Top Tip: Call or video chat with friends who speak English. This is a great way to put yourself into situations that require you to use all of your English skills. Video chats are a fun and challenging way to improve your listening and speaking skills, as well as your understanding of vocal cues and body language.

Myth 9: My English Skills Don’t Develop Naturally

It’s true that learning English requires effort. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just means that to learn English, you need a good plan.

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Planning is all about figuring out your purpose (why you’re doing something) and goals. Thinking about your learning in this way will help you achieve what you want to achieve.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why am I learning English?
  • What parts of the English language do I want to learn about?
  • What do I need to learn to reach my goals?

Questions like these help you understand your motives, organize your lessons and give you the momentum (strength gained through movement) to learn successfully.

Top Tip: Think about the most  urgent (something that needs to be resolved as soon as possible) reason you need to know English. If you’re meeting your sweetheart’s family in a week, for example, you can learn about English greetings other than “hello” and “how are you” or how to talk about family in English.

Myth 10: Learning English Is Pointless

You might be thinking that learning a language like English isn’t really worth the effort. After all, you can just put words into Google Translate and stop there, right?

However, you can’t always depend on translators. As they are now, they’re often inaccurate or even erroneous (full of mistakes). Besides, English is the most spoken language in the world, so whether you like it or not, you have to be able to communicate in it.

Top Tip: It might help to learn some interesting facts about the English language. When you have some context for what you’re studying, you’ll feel like everything you’re learning is connected to each other. You might even think learning English is enjoyable!

Myth 11: English Is Very Different From My Native Language

Okay, this one is a bit difficult to  debunk (prove that something is not true). If your native language is, say, Dutch, it might be easier for you to learn English than if you grew up speaking Chinese or Japanese, for example.

But English, like all languages, follows rules. Like your native language, English has its own grammar. It has concepts like nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs

At the same time, there will always be parts of English that won’t easily translate into other languages.

To overcome these  hurdles (obstacles or things that get in your way), stop the habit of translating between your native language and English. Instead, develop the habit of thinking in English.

Top Tip: To start thinking in English, change the language settings on your phone or device. This way, you’ll get used to reading and doing things in English. Soon, you won’t even have to force yourself to think in English—you’re just doing it naturally!

Myth 12: I Will Never Be Good at English

Right now, you’re probably looking at other people learning English and thinking “Wow, they’re having it so much easier than me.”

I know it’s easier said than done, but stop comparing yourself to others. They have nothing to do with how or whether you’re learning English.

The most important thing is that you’re learning English to achieve your goals.

Everyone learns at different speeds and in different ways. Instead of wishing you’re as good as someone else, start rewarding yourself for your achievements. Not only will you help your skills and knowledge this way, but your happiness levels will also improve dramatically.

The best way to keep your personal goals and happiness in mind is to:

  • Regularly review your learning.
  • Find your weaknesses, and focus on improving them.
  • Discover the things you find easy, and make them more challenging.
  • Look back at all you’ve learned, and appreciate how far you’ve come!

Top Tip: Carry a small notebook to write down any new words you see or hear when you go out. This is a great way to change your perspective from “That person knows so many more English words than I do” to “Awesome, I have so many new words I can try out!”


We all have our good days and bad days. Learning English can feel like a roller coaster, but you’re more in control of your learning than you may think.

Don’t believe the myths about learning English you hear because they’ll only hold you back. Believe in yourself, create a fun learning environment that works with your learning style and start reaching your goals!

And One More Thing...

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:


If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.


FluentU lets you learn engaging content with world famous celebrities.

For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:


FluentU lets you tap to look up any word.

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.


FluentU helps you learn fast with useful questions and multiple examples. Learn more.

The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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