You have studied numerous textbooks and taken many tests. You have listened to English podcasts, watched English movies, and taken many lessons from teachers. You feel confident in your ability to understand English and are able to have basic conversations with English speakers.
Then, one day, you have a conversation with a native English speaker and realize you have absolutely no idea what they are saying. They are speaking so fast and you are only able to understand a handful of the words they are saying. You find yourself becoming discouraged and frustrated, thinking you have wasted all of your studying for nothing. What good are all the textbooks and apps on your phone if you still can't understand English?
It's important to remember that this will inevitably happen to all of us when learning a new language. We will get excellent grades on an English test or fly through our workbooks, which in turn boosts our confidence and makes us think we are finally mastering our new language. So why all of a sudden do we feel completely clueless?
As a native English speaker, I will be the first to tell you that my language is WEIRD. We have words that are pronounced completely different than how they are spelled. We have figures of speech that make absolutely no logical sense, but they are used on a daily basis. We have many rules, yet we often times don't even follow our own rules!
No matter your level, don't get discouraged. You have to fail your way to fluency, and the fastest way to learning the English language is by making mistakes. Push yourselves outside your comfort zone, try new words, and attempt to construct new sentences. Don't take yourself too serious! Learning a new language can be fun once you let go of all control and just trust in the process. Consistency is key.
So go out there and make as many mistakes as you can! Mistakes don't make you look stupid - they make you look like you're trying and actually care about learning English.
So what are you waiting for? Go make some mistakes (and don't be afraid to laugh at yourself while you do it)!
** And for those of you who just had to "copy and paste" this article into Google translate - GOOD! Be proud of yourself for taking the extra step towards reading comprehension.