Communication is our target when studying a new language; at least it should be our main priority. But why do most language learners feel discouraged at the first hurdle they encounter: making mistakes.
Since preschool years, we've been conditioned and the term mistake has been associated in our sub-conscience with a derogatory action or judgement which is wrong, misguided, an error or fault.
We usually don't receive full marks if we have a paper with mistakes, or if we make a mistake in life, we might fail.
We transfer the same premises to language learning. We want to be able to build perfect sentences, have a perfect pronunciation, memorise the whole grammar book,before we even dare think to start a conversation in our target language.
The truth is that perfection does not exists. Even native speakers make mistakes. If we are perfectionists we will end by never try to talk and start communicating in any language. Perfection is not your ally but your enemy.
You need a mindset shift.
In Language learning, as in life, you should stop seeing mistakes as something that's negative but as an opportunity to learn.
You've been chatting with that native girl ( or boy), you're conversing very lively and suddenly you use the wrong word. She kindly makes you realise there's a mix-up. She tells you the right word. You make a mental note to revise it when opportunity arises. Did the world end? Certainly not. Instead, you made a new friend and you're learning something new. It's either a word you were aware of but didn't know how to use it, or you simply forgot it. I'm pretty sure that next time it won't happen again.
You should see things under a positive light; You're challenging yourself and from every mistake you make, you are taking a step forward towards your ultimate goal. you're growing in confidence and learning something new.
Your mistakes are propelling you forward. They are turning you away from complacency and showing you that there's room for improvement. This is an excellent way to stay motivated.
Don't intensify your mistakes.
Sometimes we tend to blame ourselves with sentences like these: " I should take my language learning more seriously" or " I don't spend enough time studying" or " " This is too hard, I won't be able to succeed". These thoughts are counterproductive and will only derail your efforts. Don't let it happen.
Remember you're learning to improve in the future.
The best thing to do is to analyse your mistakes.
Try to identify the reasons why you made that particular mistake. Do you have to pay more attention to some grammar rules? Read them again and again until you understand them. Practice writing down some sentences using what you've just learned.
You might need to improve your vocabulary. Make some time in your busy schedule to learn them, either the traditional way with a vocabulary notebook or with the help of memory apps
You might have some time in the morning during the commute to work, or 15 minutes in the evenings or even at weekends. Remember " Where there's a wish..."
I'm sure you see what I mean. These mistakes have given you the opportunity to revise points that would have been more difficult to be aware of if you weren't bold and determine to express yourself in your target language.
Your aim should be to get your message across and remember that communication is one of the stepping stone to your ultimate goal: fluency.
What do you usually do when you make mistakes in your target language? feel free to leave a comment.