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10 common mistakes in learning English and how to avoid them: the experience of successful Ukrainians

Knowledge of the English language is not a bonus for a long time, but a mandatory requirement for running a business and simply successful employment. Language is needed everywhere, from market research to negotiations with foreign partners, not to mention living and working in an English-speaking country. Few, graduating from high school and university, know him at least at a basic level.

Фото: Depositphotos

Редакция MC Today with the support of English Courses with international certificates of and the Center for International English Examinations asked successful Ukrainian entrepreneurs and managers what mistakes they made when learning English and how they coped with them.

1 Error. Defer learning english

Whatever profession you choose, wherever you go, sooner or later you will most likely need English. Because a big mistake - to postpone the study of English for later or not to learn it at all.

Ivan Pasechnik, the founder of Ecoisme startup:

Ivan Pasechnik, Ecoisme

At one of the first Ukrainian start-up conferences at IDCEE, I met Mike Butcher, the editor of TechCrunch, the largest global publication on the technology business. It seemed that she was lucky: you just need to tell him about my super startup, and he will probably write an article about it. But it was not there: I couldn’t really explain what we were working with the team on, because then I spoke very bad English. After this incident, I returned to learning the language and even started writing about interesting events in the Telegram channel “Kiev in English”.

  • Council from How to learn English if you have little time:

If you do not have time to delve into learning English, enroll in short specialized courses, for example, "business" or "legal English", or take a course aimed at developing conversational skills. Try to return to English daily - read news, watch movies or TV shows. The most difficult, but also useful - to develop the habit of using English every day.

2 Error. Lack of motivation

Learning a language is a regular work on yourself, which is more difficult to do if you do not have a specific goal, and you learn English just because "without it, nowhere" or "so fashionable."

Egor Avetisov, creative director of PrivatBank:

Yegor Avetisov, PrivatBank

In 2014, my manager called me and said: “Kid, if I were you, I would bring up English, you are going to New York in a month”! You must admit that such a phrase motivates better the standard "useful in the future" that we all heard in school.

In order to freely conduct business negotiations, it took me three years of active study and several months of living in another country.

  • Council from Why set a specific goal:

Before taking up the study of English, set a non-abstract, but a specific goal. Answer the question why you need English, figure out what level of English you need, and how much time you are willing to spend on training. The rule in our center is that during the first lesson the teacher helps each student in the group to formulate a learning goal.

3 Error. Incorrectly chosen teaching method

Before you take up the study of English, you must learn to learn. Understand how it is easier for you to perceive new information - visually or by ear, and only after that decide how and where you will learn.

Roman Dobronovsky, private entrepreneur, former marketing director

Roman Dobronovsky,

I first needed English when I got a job at a company that works only with English-speaking clients. Then I began to grasp at all possible methods of teaching, except for quite odious ones - like the Ilona Davydova method, when the language is supposedly not your learning, but your subconscious mind.

The best result I was given individual lessons with a tutor. If I took up the English language now, in just a year I would have mastered what I had been teaching for years.

I just didn’t know how to study properly, I grabbed everything at once, instead of first deciding on the method of training and going hard to the goal.

  • Council from What techniques should learn English:

Pay attention to the modern "communicative model" of language learning. According to this method, it is worth developing all speech skills at the same time — reading, writing, speaking, and listening (listening).

These are interrelated concepts, therefore it is wrong to concentrate on one thing. To speak well and fluently, you have to listen a lot. And in order to write well and competently, you just need to read a lot. By the way, there is a library at our center, where there are many adapted books in English, including those for beginners.

4 Error. Uninteresting textbooks and teachers

You should not dwell on the textbook that you don’t like and study with a teacher whose teaching style you don’t like. Learning is easy when it is fun.

Andrei Kovalev, ophthalmologist of the Kiev specialized center of the highest category on restoration of vision "AYLAZ":

Andrei Kovalev, "EILAS"

We have the most up-to-date certified equipment in the clinic, translated instructions for it are shortened, therefore the doctor is obliged to study the original manuals in English.

To get here, I had to go to language courses - knowledge of the language was one of the conditions for recruitment. I liked to study in a group, we had young teachers who are native speakers, and I still keep in touch with some of them.

One of them, Jake, came to visit me, we ate pizza and charlotte, which he called apple bread, and played computer games. It was the best practice of English.

  • Council from Why the perfect tutorial doesn't exist:

Do not look for the perfect English textbook, this does not exist. Our teachers carefully select several textbooks for each course, look at where this or that topic is better disclosed, and alternate them in work. That is, we take only the best of textbooks from various trusted publishers, such as Cambridge University Press, MacMillan, Pearson, Oxford University Press and others.

We also have courses for which we ourselves select training materials, because textbooks for such courses have not yet been developed. We do not want to go through any specific textbook, we want our students to finally speak in English.

5 Error. Fear of making a mistake

Errors are just a sign that we need to go back to the material covered, repeat it again. That is, learning a language is the case when we learn from our mistakes, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Alex Nesterenko, founder of ARTKB:

Alex Nesterenko, ARTKB

If you have something to say to the world, speak loudly and feel free to speak bad English. Start projects, build businesses, attract partners - do not stop in development just because you do not know English.

I practice language every day - business correspondence, Skype-conferences, meetings. I am mistaken, complex because of this, but it is necessary to work.

  • Council from The main thing is to say:

Speak English as often as possible. For example, arrange to communicate with your friends on a specific day of the week exclusively in English.

We have a rule: try to speak only English in class. Our teachers are able to adapt their speech to any level of knowledge, so even our 6-year-old students like to learn - they manage to keep up the conversation from the first lessons, they are confident in their abilities and therefore do not drop out.

And you will stop worrying about the fact that your English is imperfect, when you are convinced of your abilities - you will see in practice that you are able to maintain a dialogue, that they do understand you.

6 Error. Long pauses in training

The best results in studies are achieved by those who study a little bit, but every day, not long, but once a week. Practice English every day in any form you want - books, movies, conversations, lessons, meetings.

Kilina Bisher, founder of the Bookinbag PR agency:

Kilina Bisher, Bookinbag

Improving English every day is a good promise that is easy to fulfill by listening to interesting programs and podcasts in English. At first you will understand nothing of what has been said, then you will understand almost everything. My favorite projects:

Design Matters - about creative professionals, 99% Invisible - about architecture and design, and 100 $ MBA - short business lessons. I listen to podcasts every day while I massage my husband.

  • Council from How to learn a language every day a little bit:

If you do not have the opportunity to actively study and communicate with foreigners, read books in the original and listen to English-speaking podcasts, then at least translate your smartphone and social media pages into English and visit foreign news sites.

Thus, you will create a good habit - every day to interact with English. We especially recommend to follow the BBC where you can read, watch or listen to short news on any topic that interests you. Journalists do not use outdated phrases and obsolete slang, because by following the news in the English-language media, you are learning actual English.

7 Error. Do not learn yourself, and wait for what they will teach you

Do not shift the responsibility of the teacher and too much hope for his teaching talent. Even the best teacher in the world does not learn a foreign language for you.

Alexey Pavlenko, serial entrepreneur, founder of

Alexey Pavlenko,

I have been learning English for more than twenty years: at school, at the university, individually with tutors, at language courses in Kiev and Toronto, via Skype, in online schools.

What only I have not tried! From my own experience I will say that independent work is most important.

The teacher of the student only directs, but he himself has to learn.

  • Council from Why learn language faster in a group:

During individual training, the teacher adjusts to the pace of the student, often dwelling on one topic for a long time, which slows down the course of work and often leads to a loss of motivation.

To learn English quickly, it is worth studying in a group. Then you have to follow a specific training schedule and have time to learn along with fellow students. And this is a fundamentally different, systematic approach, involving dynamic learning and healthy competition.

8 Error. Lack of practice with native speakers

Listening exercises that accompany textbooks are often voiced by actors with good diction. Once abroad, you simply can’t understand what is being said to you if you haven’t been trained to perceive live English speech by ear.

Natalya Morozova, CEO of Havas Group Ukraine:

Natalya Morozova, Havas Group Ukraine

My story is not unique: English lessons in a regular school, tutor at home, evening courses. Already when I started working in advertising and began to communicate closely with the staff of the network and with international clients, in order to better understand and enrich my vocabulary, I began to watch shows and TV shows in English.

I am sure that, like a show with serials, a native speaker can give a lot of useful things that you don’t always get from a local teacher: you begin to understand slang, you can “fill up” with interesting phrases and expressions, you can even make a joke in a company of British or American - and humor we have a little different. I perceive English by ear easy, but I have to get used to accents.

For example, it is hard for me to communicate with the French in English as part of business meetings, perhaps because I know French well. The second in complexity for me is the Turkish accent of English. The main thing, I am not afraid to clarify and ask again, I think that this is normal.

  • Advice from

If you want to tighten the grammar, do not sign up for the group where the foreigner teaches. Ukrainian teachers often explain the rules more easily because they understand the differences between English and Ukrainian and Russian. But if you want to develop oral speech, then, of course, it is better to turn to "native speakers". For example, in our center there are special courses "Communication Skills" and "Pronunciation Clubs", which are exclusively foreigners.

9 Error. Do not go back to the material covered

Many techniques have been developed that facilitate memorization. They all boil down to repeating new information as often as possible.

Eldar Nagorny, Director of Marketing QArea Inc .:

Eldar Nagorny, QArea Inc

It became easier for me to learn English when I understood the structure of this language and learned about the “interval repetition” method.

I began to memorize according to the scheme: you teach the day, on the third and seventh day you repeat. And it gave good results.

  • Advice from

Do not cram the rules, develop associative thinking and figurative memory. Try to associate new words and expressions with the information you already know - with sensations, smells, sounds, tastes, visual images. This is how the “figurative memory” turns on and it is easier to remember the new material.

10 Error. Do not enjoy the learning process.

Learning English takes time, but it makes life easier - it gives you the opportunity to communicate with people all over the world and conduct business without needing a translator. How not to rejoice at it?

Maria Zhdanova, head of digital-projects for Vogue Ukraine:

Maria Zhdanova, Vogue Ukraine

It is very interesting for me to learn English, I have never perceived it as studying. I remember that physics and biology at school had to be crammed into, but English was easy.

Before, I even attended a Sunday school, where American Protestants preached. Just because I like English!

  • Advice from

Combine business with pleasure: your hobby with learning English. Interested in fashion? Read British Vogue. Do you like football? Watch football matches and programs about famous footballers on English-language channels. To make it more interesting for our students to study, we have not only Speaking Clubs, but also Book Clubs and Movie clubs. And in groups where young people study, sometimes we give creative activities to the home, for example, to make a video on a smartphone on a given topic.


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