Making A Mistake is Not A Failure

I find that many students of mine are unnecessarily hard on themselves whenever they make a mistake. So I’m here to tell you: making a mistake is not a failure. The only time making a mistake is ever a failure, is when we don’t learn anything from it. Mistakes and failures are a vital part of the learning process.

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If we take a look at the scientific community, they place a lot of emphasis on analysis and observation – not necessarily just getting the ‘correct’ results. If they have come to the realization that they are wrong, and need to go in a different direction, this is not considered a failure, this is considered a breakthrough! They are one step closer to getting the answer. Try to view your studies in the same way.

Sure, you may be disappointed if you didn’t get the right answer, but this is no reason to be discouraged. Don’t belittle yourself or make yourself feel bad. It’s actually a good thing you’re making a mistake, because this is how you learn. Nobody comes out knowing everything about the English language. Even Native English speakers who have been speaking English for 20 or more years are still learning! So the more mistakes you make, the more you will learn. Those students who don’t make any mistakes, aren’t actually learning anything because they’re not challenging themselves.

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Try to keep a positive attitude about your personal learning process. Your mistakes aren’t as bad as they may seem, and you’re the only critic. No doubt your teacher/tutor, friends or family are very happy with your progress, and your effort. After all, not everybody can learn another language. To keep a positive outlook on your studies, try to keep yourself motivated. With every single mistake, and failed attempt, you are that much closer to the level of English you wish to be at. So keep up the hard work!

Remember, there is no success without failure.

Don’t forget to check out my website English Expressions, and follow me on Twitter!

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6 thoughts on “Making A Mistake is Not A Failure

  1. How do you deal with adults’ fossilized mistakes? They keep repeating them no matter how hard you try to make them aware of such mistakes?

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    1. Although it can be harder for adults to learn a language, it’s not impossible! I’ve seen hundreds of adults make progress. It may take longer to fix the mistakes, it’s not be any means impossible. There are advantages and disadvantages to every age group.

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  2. Hi Katie! Enjoying your blog.

    Russian students are perhaps the most worried about this kind of thing. I think it stems from a rather authoritarian school system that installs a binary view of correct/incorrect. So I often try to avoid this in my classes. It seems that over my time working here, 50% of class time is spent calming students down.

    A point I always make to my student is that there is not necessarily a ‘correct’ version of the language in the first place, especially when we consider context and appropriacy. The other thing that I point out that accurate language shouldn’t be the first goal of a language learner, especially at lower levels. I’m sure we both can’t count the amount of advanced students that still omit the 3rd person -s to the verb. The thing I try to get across, albeit in a less obvious manner, is that it really doesn’t hinder communication!

    Anyway, congrats on the blog, I’m sure lots of students find it useful. All the best.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. 🙂 Yes, I agree with you. I find a lot of students who come from/live in countries with a tougher education system than here, are often quite hard on themselves. They usually take their education very seriously – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But like you, I don’t focus on the right and wrong. I like to focus more on making progress which includes making mistakes and learning from them, and not beating yourself up about the mistakes.

      Thanks for reading. 🙂

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