I know a lot of English learners who are afraid to speak because they don’t want to make English mistakes. I completely understand that – You don’t want people to have to correct you, you don’t want people to laugh at you. But actually making mistakes when you are speaking English is one of the best ways to learn and improve.
How can making English mistakes improve your English?
Well, if somebody corrects you, you are much more likely to remember how to say that particularly sentence next time because you will associate it with that moment. Instead of getting embarrassed, ask your listener for more information. I assure you, they will be more than happy to help!
Can they explain the correction in more detail? Is there a more natural way to say that sentence? Can you say it again in 5 minutes and check if it’s correct this time?
And if somebody laughs at you, that’s even better!
First of all, remember that they are not laughing to be nasty, some language mistakes are just funny. Years ago, I lived in Germany and, in German, the words for cherry (Kirsche) and church (Kirche) sound very similar. I said something like “I’m really enjoying my church icecream.” Of course everyone laughed and I went bright red but I have never forgotten the difference since! And they weren’t being horrible, it’s just a funny mistake so now when I make mistakes in German, I laugh along.
I had a student once who, when asked why he was entering the UK, told officials that he was a ‘terrorist’. Obviously it was a pronunciation mistake and he meant ‘tourist’!
When he made it to the classroom (finally!) and told all of us, we were hysterical with laughter and he was happy to make us laugh. We then spent the whole lesson working on pronunciation. All of my students can say these two words perfectly now! So you see, that English mistake actually helped him to improve his pronunciation.
So should you worry about your English mistakes?
Absolutely not! My advice is cherish your English mistakes, use them to improve and make sure you are ready to laugh along with your listeners because learning a language is supposed to be fun!
Have you ever made any funny English mistakes? I’d love to hear them – Let me know in the comments below.