Four Ways to Embrace Your Mistakes


Learning a new language is a journey filled with many highs and lows. Some days will feel effortless and others will be riddled with mistakes. Some of those mistakes might even be a little embarrassing. No mistake should stop you from achieving your language learning goal. In fact, with the right frame of mind, you can turn these language mishaps into learning opportunities.

Read on for four ways to embrace your mistakes when learning a new language.

1. Practise self-reflection

So you’ve made a mistake while speaking the language you are learning. You may have used the wrong word or conjugated a verb incorrectly. Once the dust settles, it’s time for a little self-reflection.

Can you think of what might have caused you to make this particular mistake? Perhaps you speak another language, or several other languages, and you mixed up some words in conversation. You may have been tired or distracted. You may need to brush up on your vocabulary. 

Now that you have determined what may have caused the mistake, there are ways to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Take the time to research your error to find the correct word meaning and use. Some people find it helpful to take notes or draw a picture to help visualize and memorize the correct word or phrasing.

2. Be open to feedback

It’s not uncommon to want to remove yourself from a situation where you’ve just made a mistake. Fight the urge to crawl under a rock! Instead use the people around you to help you learn. Their feedback can be very valuable.

People may correct you without you asking. Try your best not to take it personally. Take note of the correction, continue your exchange and get on with your day.

If you’re comfortable, ask the person you are conversing with to correct you. This could be a friend, a neighbour or even your child’s teacher. Most people will happily take the time to correct and explain the mistake, as well as encourage you to keep speaking in the language you are learning.

3. Repeat what you meant

Correcting yourself in the moment is one of the best ways to learn from your mistakes. The error is fresh and so is the motivation. This only works if you realize your mistake or someone else points it out to you.

Practise saying or writing down what you were trying to communicate. For example, you’ve just said “Je suis 30 ans”…oops! Find a natural pause in the conversation and correct yourself:  “J’ai 30 ans.” You can repeat it several times out loud or in your head. Let it sink in.

There’s nothing wrong with correcting yourself in the moment. In fact, it’s pretty admirable! It will help the learning settle into your memory.

4. Laugh it off

As in so many situations in life, a little laughter goes a long way. Approach your language learning journey with a sense of humour. The truth is, even native speakers make mistakes. In fact, mistakes can be very funny.

You may find it very liberating to share and make light of your language learning mistakes with family, friends or colleagues. Go ahead and laugh in the moment. Talk about your mistake at your next dinner party. You may be surprised by how many people have similar stories. This may sound frivolous, but by turning your mistakes into anecdotes, you have a greater chance of not making the same mistakes again.

Mistakes will always be part of your language learning journey, but with the right attitude, mistakes can strengthen the way you learn! Find tons of other tips and tricks for learning a new language on the Mauril blog.

Tips & Tricks
Tips & Tricks
23 février 2023
Losing steam? Stay motivated with these 3 tips
Tips & Tricks
Tips & Tricks
26 janvier 2023
New Year, New Language: Find the tools and the time
Tips & Tricks
Tips & Tricks
12 janvier 2023
New Year, New Language: Break goals down and be specific
Tips & Tricks
Tips & Tricks
31 décembre 2022
New Year, New Language: Identify your “why”