The Benefits of Mistakes, part 2 by Lynn Hailey

Mistakes Lead to Personal Growth

Mistakes are instances where we can look at our choices and see which ones work and which ones do not. Self-correction is the best teacher there is. The experience of recognizing a mistake shows you where to place your effort and what you should practice. Listening to a presentation while reading along can help develop the “eye” and “ear” to check our own grammar. Ted Talks ( ) are excellent for this and lessons only take 20 minutes.

It’s good practice to look at sentences with mistakes in them and try to correct them. There are many exceptions to English grammar rules that must be learned by practice and experienced in context. If we find a teacher or conversation partner who helpfully corrects, every error can become a learning opportunity. It’s good to vary the rate and amount of correction at the beginning of the lesson. Ask your conversation partner for lessons with no correction, some correction or as much correction as possible. Also, ask your teacher to write down any incorrect speech and correct it together as you go or at the end of the lesson.

Correcting Our Own Mistakes Builds Our Problem-Solving Skills

When we correct ourselves, discover our errors, or are helped to see mistakes by a helpful conversation partner, we can learn about our personal decision paths, learn informal or colloquial rules and idioms. There is no single correct way to express yourself or a particular thought in English. When you ask a knowledgeable teacher or partner how to say something, repeat out loud what they tell you. See if it sounds right or feels correct. Maybe it doesn’t quite capture all that you are trying to say. Try to keep working with it. Try different words. Find methods that work best for you. This practice will help you in real-world conversations when you are having trouble being understood.

Actually trying out new phrases and words can make for a more memorable and fun learning experience. Correcting your own mistakes out loud also leads to better long-term memory of how to say specific things. This practice is essential to training the ear and mouth to English. Feedback is key to understanding and it is available in every moment of a conversation. You can know whether you are being understood or not by the physical and verbal cues your partner is giving you. The whole body is practicing listening and speaking when you do this in conversation. Practice asking questions about things others say as well. Try out phrases and words they used that you don’t understand or that are new.

Correcting Our Own Mistakes Is Necessary To Conscious Learning

It is necessary to bolster your self-confidence and self assurance in order to make use of verbal and written mistakes. Get a trustworthy teacher or conversation group. Enjoy the people you converse with. If it feels wrong or you are consistently ashamed and embarrassed, try another group or teacher. It may sound silly, but your comfort is really important. You are building your ability to deal with challenges, make choices and try new things. You need a safe environment with people you trust not to shame you. If you feel fear, you won’t speak and to learn the language, you need to both speak and listen.

A good teacher can give you all the tools that you need to discover something you did not know before, but you are ultimately responsible for your own understanding and practice. It is important to decide early on that you are learning to use English and not learning how to take a test English. Only by using the language and correcting your errors can you commit English to your long term memory. No one and nothing else can do this for you.

In order to allow the benefits of mistakes in learning English we must accept that mistakes lead to personal growth. Correcting written and verbal errors builds problem solving skills and gives us insight into where we should focus our effort. A comfortable and safe learning environment of English conversation is the best place to experience conscious learning.

When we feel good, we learn well. Traditional learning with coursebooks is not for everyone, so try a conversation lesson today and see if it works for you to start learning from your mistakes.

Sources of Ideas
“English Without Books”
 6 Ways To Use Mistake-Driven Learning By Srividya Kumar November 21, 2016

How do you learn from you mistakes?

Have you ever made a mistake in English or life that has taught you an important lesson?

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