Why it’s OK to make mistakes when learning a language

David WoodBlog, Language Training

No doubt you will have heard teachers and parents say to you “Just give it a go” and “don’t worry about making mistakes or getting it wrong”. In language learning having a positive attitude towards making mistakes is one of the common attributes of a successful learner.

Do you remember when you learnt how to ride a bike?

You probably watched an older sibling or friend ride theirs, and thought “oh I’d love to be able to do that”, you probably also saw them fall off, scrape their knees and get back on again.

Each time they fall off, they appear to be teaching themselves something, because they get better and better each time they ride their bike. Some of your friends took greater risks than others, some suffer more injuries in the process, but risk taking is a necessary part of learning.

This is absolutely the case with language learning. You will never get off the starting blocks with learning a language if you don’t take the risk to try to communicate.

Imagine learning Japanese for example, a language which most westerners would have little knowledge of.

  • We can’t read the language easily, and therefore can’t guess at the meaning of the words.
  • We can’t easily reproduce the sounds either, and therefore forming the words and sentences is at best tricky, at worst almost impossible.

So we can decide against doing it altogether, or we can decide to give it a go and take the risk of getting it wrong. If you take the risk of getting it wrong, guess what? You might also get it right, or nearly right, or make a noise that’s almost intelligible! It’s the giving it a go that’s important.

So how does that relate to your business?

Imagine being left alone in a lift with your most important Japanese client, imagine he/she cannot speak English, but you have a few words of Japanese. What are you going to do? Say nothing or give it a go? Try to communicate, or appear to be uninterested in making a connection? You could try that one important word you remember from your first Japanese lesson “Konichiwa”. Imagine the smile on your client’s face as you try something in their language.

So we say ‘take risks’ in language learning

As specialists of English language learning, we firmly believe in risk taking, and provide simulated experiences where risks can be taken in a safe environment, and the necessary feedback is given to correct and enhance the language. “I want to give it a go” is the attitude we develop in our learners from day one, and taking a chance, taking risks and valuing mistakes is all part of our daily routine.

Whether you are learning a language or something else, go-ahead and try, see what happens. I bet you will have a lot of fun and make new friends in the process.

You might also like our blog ‘Language training abroad – why it’s the best way to learn’. Alternatively, please get in touch if you would like to know more about learning English in the UK.

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