How to handle English mistakes like a champion

March 12, 2015

How to handle language mistakes

How to handle language mistakes

Do you remember what went through your mind the last time you made a mistake in your foreign language? If you're anything like me your first reaction is panic. Ok, panic may be too harsh of a word but most people speaking their second language do have a mental reaction that has a negative impact on the conversation and themselves. What are these reactions? 

1. Mental block - Once the mistake has been made and granted, depending on the severity of it, your mind blocks because you immediately try to repair.

2. Self awareness - The dreaded self awareness sets in. You become conscious of the mistake and from that moment on you watch and think every word very carefully before it comes out.

3. Doubt - This one is a killer. It can ruin your train of thought, flow and ego in a second. 

As you can see making a mistake in a foreign language especially when talking to a native speaker can cause a waterfall of reactions that can make matters worse. 

You see it's all about confidence and letting things slide. In a sense, not taking yourself too seriously. This is not to say that you should say the first thing that comes to your mind causing an unwanted faux pas. it just means when you catch yourself making a mistake get used to giving yourself enough leeway that you keep the conversation going.

It is easy to imagine that people are judging you and catching you on every mistake you make. It is easy and it is natural, but it is not where you want your mind to be in a conversation.

Have you noticed how children express themselves when they are just learning to talk? It's mistake-land all day. But they are acquiring the language and they don't know that they are making mistakes. Just look at how they keep the conversation going so non-chalantly. This should be you. Children can teach us quite a few things about learning languages and confidence. No apologies, no self awareness, just flow.

Before I upset some of you by what some would call an "unorthodox" approach to learning let me just clarify this is a state of mind I propose you put yourself in. I am not suggesting you stop caring about what you say.

The more you talk the better you will get. Fact. Especially if you are sorrounded by the target language - you also want to enjoy speaking, have fun doing so, give yourself a break and let things slide. Stop yourself mid-conversation or not you know you will think about that mistake once the conversation is over. Correct it next time. Be a child in learning, act like one!

Are there any techniques you employ to help you overcome fear, anxiety or panic in a foreign language conversation? let us know below. 

Until next time!