How to turn mistakes into lessons?

Posted on October 05 2018

The title might be a bit confusing for a lot of readers. Mistakes are usually seen as something negative, that we should try our best to avoid in order not to get told off by our parents, ridiculed and so on.
But the truth is that mistakes are some of the best tools a language learner got in order to improve. This is a something that most successful students have understood and are utilizing every day.
So let’s step back for a bit and consider what makes a person seem fluent in a language?

It’s to a large extent the ability to use the right word for the context, knowing common phrases, using correct grammar and so on. And all this comes from experience. Listening and trying to create your own sentences.

How do we gain experience?

By being active, listening carefully to native speakers and trying to create your own sentences.
It would be close to impossible to figure out in what situations a particular word or phrase can be used and when it’s not suitable without some trial and error. Try to use it and see how people react. If they don’t understand you or maybe look at you with a funny face, then you know it’s wrong and it would be a good time to ask the person what would be a more appropriate way of saying it. Don’t forget to write it down somewhere so that you can rehearse it later on again.

So why is it that we are so afraid of making mistakes?

Ever since we were kids we have gotten used to that making mistakes equals bad grades, people laughing at you, a teacher shouting or worse. This teaches us already at a young age that it’s better to stay silent than making a mistake.

“When you are not doing anything, you also can’t be doing anything wrong.
Unknown author”

However, being wrong isn't at all such a bad thing like they teach you in school -
It's an opportunity to learn something new.