Mistakes are good when learning a new language. By English wth Stephen

Learning Strategies: Mistakes are Good!

This is the transcript for the English with Stephen podcast episode looking at why mistakes are good and a natural part of learning English.

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Hello again and welcome to English with Stephen, the podcast that gives you everything you need to learn English in under 10 minutes. My name is Stephen Greene and today we are going to talk about making mistakes and how making mistakes is a good thing.

How do you learn? I don’t just mean English, but how do you learn anything?

It is easy to be correct in English. After only a little bit of study, most people can say something like this…

“Hello, my name is Stephen. I come from England. I like pizza. My favourite football team is Birmingham City. I make podcasts that help people learn English.”

Seriously, that is a piece of cake.

However, it is also very boring, and communication is extremely limited. If you want to go beyond this, you need to make mistakes.

I’ll be talking about why, after this.

All of the episodes from the English with Stephen podcast are short, under 10 minutes in fact. The reason for this is that I know what it is like to concentrate in a second language. You can get tired very quickly and lose focus. Also, for many people, we don’t have much more than 10 minutes at a time to devote to studying English. If you would like to hear more short episodes in English, with a transcript you can read to help you understand and learn new vocabulary, you can find all of them on my site EnglishwithStephen.com

And now, back to making mistakes.

Think about how you learned to read and write in your first language, or how you learned to cook or drive. Think about practically any learning experience and you will see that mistakes were a part of the learning process. Indeed, we sometimes continue to make mistakes even after we have learned how to read, write, cook, or drive.

What probably happened was that you tried to do something, made a mistake, and then somebody, probably a teacher, gave you feedback about the mistake and how to improve. If you were lucky, or very talented, you immediately made the change and never made that mistake again. More likely, though, you had to practise a lot and make the same mistake many times, before you were able to master it.

The same thing happens when learning English. If you try something new and you make a mistake, hopefully, your teacher will provide some feedback by correcting you. You might never make that mistake again, or you might need to practise a bit before you feel comfortable with it.

This all means that you should try to experiment with your language in the classroom so that your teacher can help you. If you play safe and never make a mistake, then your teacher cannot help you cannot improve.

And never, ever, apologise for making a mistake. You have nothing to be sorry for. You apologise when you do something wrong. If you stand on somebody’s foot on a packed train, say sorry. If you forget your mother’s birthday, say sorry. If you burn somebody’s dinner, say sorry.

But making a mistake in language learning is not wrong. It is good. Embrace your mistakes. Be happy with your mistakes. Feel excited when you have made a mistake because this is an opportunity to learn and to improve.

But it is not just inside the classroom where mistakes are good. Out in the real world, we get feedback all the time. If you attempt to say something and the listener doesn’t understand, this is feedback telling you there has been a problem with communication. It is your job to realise that your language did not work for some reason and find an alternative way that does work.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that you should try to use new language all the time. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to be good, you just need to be good enough.

That’s all from me today. Remember you can find me on my site EnglishwithStephen.com where I have all of the past episodes as well as information about how you can have online classes with me, links to Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, so be sure to look me up.

If you have enjoyed this podcast, please tell a friend and help spread the word.

Goodbye and look after yourself!

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