“I suck at English! »
“I suck at English! shout many learners at the top of their lungs. But is that the reason why they didn’t succeed or is that more of an excuse? If you found this article, it means that you are no longer looking for excuses, but you want to find solutions.
After months or even years of trial and failure, practicing English becomes painful and frustrating . It’s normal to feel hopeless when we don’t get results, because what keeps us going is seeing our progress! That’s why we prepared this article for you: to regain your motivation and a little hope through established methods.
“I am not motivated to learn English”
If you feel demotivated, rely on the following principle:
Quality is better than quantity.
Many learners have the misconception that you have to study for hours every day to achieve satisfactory results. Certainly, there is a certain time that one must invest in one’s learning to become multilingual , but these two or three hours of study should not be your objective. Your goal is the result: to be able to understand and speak English. The way you are going to achieve this objective remains flexible and if traditional learning has not suited you so far, I suggest you change your perspective:
- Start slowly . Even 10 minutes a day is better than nothing. This is even more true when it comes to a new material. If you’re still a beginner in English, your ability to retain new information is still a bit limited. The more you become familiar with the language, the more your ability to use it will increase. After a while, you will be able to practice English all day!
- In the beginning, ONLY ENGAGE IN ACTIVITIES THAT MAKE YOU PLEASURE , such as singing your favorite songs and searching for its lyrics or with movies in English , for example. The rest can wait. Since the most important thing at this point is to start your English adventure, you have to find ways to practice that you are passionate about !
The beginning is half of everything!
“I don’t have time to learn English”
More often than not, it’s a matter of priorities rather than timing . Nobody is busy 24 hours a day. The problem is that we get bored when we study English and suddenly we find other ways to have fun.
This is related to the previous point, but it is essential that you personalize your learning to suit your needs and tastes. I invite you to discover a section entirely devoted to resources for practicing English in a fun way .
Why did others manage to learn English, while you still feel lost? I bet that wasn’t really their goal either! It’s just that they have found one (or more) way(s) of learning while having fun. Now that you know their secret, you can catch up!
And if you really feel like you don’t have enough time to practice English, I suggest you read our article How to find time to learn English where we talk about techniques to better manage your time, that will help you create a routine to practice daily!
Ah, grammar is really not my thing!
“I find it hard to concentrate to learn English”
Lack of focus can mean one thing: your approach isn’t right for you . If you feel like you’re doing a chore instead, it’s time for a change. You’ll know you’re using the right approach if you’re eager to start each session. Fortunately, when you learn English alone , you have the chance to adapt your approach according to your own interests and objectives.
If you are bored when learning English, use a medium that you find great: movies , series , songs , video games , comics , etc.
You’ve probably noticed by now that the top of the class are always the ones who love English and have found fun ways to practice (whether they’re looking for it or not).
Another big problem that cannot be denied is distractions . If the notifications on your phone catch your eye for 10 minutes instead of working on your English, then there’s a problem. Here are some tips to stop wasting your precious time on social media:
On Facebook: Use Newsfeed Eradicator to stop seeing news feeds. Unsubscribe from all groups you are currently in and turn off notifications .
On YouTube: Get rid of suggestions and watch English- speaking youtubers .
On Twitter: Unfollow all profiles you currently follow.
- On mobile: Disable ALL notifications for ALL apps. Hide your phone while you work.
“OK, one last episode and I’ll get back to it! »
“I can’t learn English grammar”
Learning a language is like doing puzzles . Sometimes it’s frustrating and difficult, but it’s also fun and interesting trying to find the solutions.
If you’re struggling to learn English grammar , I suggest you start by exposing yourself to English as much as possible. Even if you feel like you suck at English, you can’t deny that you don’t have to be a genius to, for example, listen to music ! All people are able to enjoy their favorite songs, find the French translation of the lyrics, repeat them and try to understand and reproduce them: it is by forging that one becomes a blacksmith!
Maybe you are wondering what this has to do with grammar? I would like to take a moment to talk to you about Krashen’s theory of Comprehensible Input . According to him, one can acquire the grammar of a foreign language naturally by exposing oneself to it and by using it. So it’s better to learn in context , rather than repeating dry theory all the time.
After accumulating experience with the language, one naturally becomes curious! We want to understand why things work the way they do. It is only after an immersion that it is worth studying grammar rules.
This is why our grammar articles have more examples than rules. Discover, for example, our lessons on phrasal verbs , modals or the differences between the Present Perfect and the past tense ! I’m sure you’ll find this approach much more effective.
Moreover, it is impossible to learn to speak English by studying grammar rules all the time: real practice is essential. If we compare this to how children learn their native language, we find that they spend thousands of hours speaking their first language before they start learning grammar in school.
In short, grammar is useful to understand why things are the way they are, but for that, you must already have accumulated experience and examples. Imagine wearing a magnifying glass to discover the world around you: you would only use it once in a while to understand the details, whereas if you use it all the time you will miss the beauty of the world!
Bull’s eye ! Find the balance between theory and practice.
“I don’t know how to construct sentences in English”
Starting from the previous paragraph, you can learn word order and how to build sentences in a natural and intuitive way! If you hear (and see) a lot of correct sentences, you will naturally remember these principles.
It’s of course possible to learn by using logic and working on grammar and then put the theory into practice, but if that hasn’t worked for you, maybe you could try exposing yourself to the language , find understandable and interesting materials and begin to reproduce English.
So there is a natural order to doing things: we need to have concrete examples, we need to be exposed to English and we need to put each grammar rule into context. If you have not respected this natural order, then it is normal that you feel lost. Fortunately, now you are using common sense!
“I’m afraid to speak English”
If you’re too shy or really afraid to speak English , you’re not alone! It’s such a common difficulty that we’ve dedicated an entire article on ways to overcome your fear of speaking English . You may be surprised when I show you a number of possibilities to deal with this difficulty:
- Prepare in advance ! Practice on your own, with a teacher, a conversation partner or even a friend. Think about the things you wish you could say in English and practice them on your own so you can express yourself more easily and don’t feel like you’re bad at your English the next time you talk.
- If the problem is that you’re ashamed of having bad pronunciation , check out our tips to regain your self-confidence and improve your accent !
- Learn whole sentences rather than isolated words. This is one of the most common mistakes that hold you back. If you focus your energy on ready-made sentences, you will no longer need to think about them and thus, you will no longer have any blockages in speaking English!
- Learn phrases you can use to break the ice . Often the beginning is the hardest part of the process. If you have an arsenal of ways to engage in conversation with others (like jokes , intriguing questions, or interesting facts), you won’t be afraid to speak English!
These are just some of our tips to help you if you are afraid to speak English. If you also have this difficulty, I invite you to discover our article How to overcome your fear of speaking English? !
Hey! Did you know French fries are actually Belgian?
“I get bored when I learn English”
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in learning English is being bored! There are so many exciting ways to practice English that it would be a shame to study grammar all day (unless you love grammar…)!
Here is a list of techniques to learn English while having fun :
- listen to music
- to sing
- to watch movies
- watch sitcoms
- watch series
- read books
- read comic books
- watch videos on youtube
- listen to the radio
- listen to podcasts
- Watch the television
- cook in english
- to play video games
… And that’s not all ! Everything you like to do in French, you can also do in English!
To give you an example, I’ve been learning French for years and I don’t even try to find new ways to practice it. What I do is to adapt my life to use French in my daily life as much as possible. I just started playing my favorite childhood video game ( Yu-Gi-Oh! ), but decided to do it in French. I started re-reading a series of American teen books ( Goosebumps ) that I really enjoyed when I was younger. I found them in French and like that, I kill two birds with one stone!
Changing your lifestyle and finding ways to practice English that you are passionate about is revolutionary in learning a foreign language. I strongly believe that the optimal way to reach 1000 hours of practice is to do things that you would normally do, but in English.
I imagine that you too can adapt your lifestyle and hobbies to practice English even more. It is not a question of limiting oneself so that one has time to do English, but rather of mixing business with pleasure! Tell us in the comments: what hobby could you start doing in English today?
” I do not understand English “
Listening difficulty is extremely common and you are not alone. The proof, our article How to improve your understanding of spoken English is among the most popular on our blog.
Why is it difficult to understand English speakers when they speak at natural speed? The lack of practice, the lack of vocabulary, the bad habit of translating everything in your head are among the main reasons why it is difficult to understand oral English.
So how could you fix this? Here are some ideas:
- Learn about English phonetics !
- Spend periods listening only to English without text, to get used to the differences between spoken and written language.
- Use phonetic transcriptions and audio recordings everywhere. This way you naturally get used to the spoken language. The more experience you gain doing something, the easier it becomes.
- Talk to natives, gain experience!
We discuss this problem in more detail in the article dedicated to this subject, so do not hesitate to read the complete article .
Here are some ideas to shorten the distance between you and real spoken English:
- Decode the lyrics of a song .
- Find an interesting podcast .
- Watch YouTube videos: whether they are videos for learners or for natives .
- Spend 5 minutes listening to a radio station in English : can you identify a few words?
- Learn a children’s song : they are simple, fun and lay the foundations for good pronunciation in English.
- Try dictating in English to better notice the differences between written and spoken language.
It’s going to be hard at first, but you have to start somewhere!
” I can’t speak English “
It is completely normal for you to have trouble expressing yourself in English . It’s not a simple task, it’s actually two things you need to do at the same time, namely:
- find your words in English , construct grammatically correct and understandable sentences and
- have a sufficiently correct pronunciation for your interlocutor to understand you.
So you have both the mental difficulty of choosing the correct words and the physical difficulty of articulating often new sounds.
Here’s how to tackle each of these challenges together:
“Words fail me in English”
If you find yourself stuck when speaking English or feel like you can’t find the right words, you may be learning vocabulary out of order . To optimize your efforts, learn the most used words first. There is a tendency, a natural law that more common words are used really all the time ( I , make , and , day ) while others are used less and therefore, less useful. If you’re trying to learn advanced vocabulary when you’re still struggling to introduce yourself in English , then you need to re-prioritize!
You can find the 5000 most used words in the English language on the FrequencyList.com website .
“I have a bad accent in English”
If you feel like you have poor pronunciation in English, you are most likely lacking practice. Fortunately, there are very clear and well-defined steps that you can follow to achieve an understandable and even natural accent.
What to learn to have a better English pronunciation:
- The sounds of English . Did you know that there are 39 in American English, 14 of which are absent from French? This is a gap that many learners have and that you can easily fill in by checking out our infographic for learning the sounds of English.
- The tonic accent : An essential aspect in English phonetics that does not exist in French. In short, you must always accentuate a syllable in each word in English and this is essential for correct pronunciation. There are few rules and the optimal way to acquire this melody of the language would be a combination of immersion (listening a lot paying attention to how English speakers stress words) and always checking the pronunciation of words that make you doubt.
- Phrase accent : A rather special element of English phonetics that I find fascinating! In short, in each sentence, you must always accentuate at least one word. These are the most important words in the sentence.
Improve your English pronunciation
Am I really bad at English?
The problem isn’t that you suck at English, it’s that your approach probably sucked . However, if you:
- find time to practice English every day ,
- are motivated by doing pleasant things for you ,
- practice regularly and invest enough time in your learning,
- choose the resources you use, so that they are interesting for YOU,
- find the balance between theory and practice,
- learn vocabulary in a smart and progressive way,
- learn about English phonetics ,
- learn english with audio everywhere ,
- expose you to understandable and interesting content ,
you will eventually succeed!
Some of our users certainly thought they were bad at English too, but after using a course that connects all the important aspects of effective English learning, they made their dream come true. They are now multilingual, they benefit from all the advantages of the English language!