Weekly Tip – 2/20/15

Weekly Tip: Make mistakes 🙂

Yep, you read it correctly, we want you to make mistakes!

Here’s the thing, studying a language and then using it correctly are 2 very different animals. When you study something, all of your effort is going into that one topic, making it much easier to get it all out correctly. When you’re using something you learned, in this case speaking a foreign language, you cannot possibly avoid all vocabulary and grammar that you do not know, because in conversation it is a mixture of every tense and all kinds of vocabulary. If you want to learn to communicate, you just have to put yourself out there and do your best, which means making a lot of mistakes.

For some of us perfectionists, like myself, it is very difficult to put yourself out there and make mistake after mistake. This is the reason why Pura Buena Onda exists. When I started teaching Spanish, using traditional methods, I realized that most students just wanted to communicate, but were terrified to do so. I wanted to provide a fun, un-intimidating environment, where they could practice their Spanish and eventually become comfortable enough to go out into the world and use it. So please, do not be afraid to make mistakes in class, this is the entire reason why PBO was created!!!

One thing I would like to note, is that we are not encouraging you not to learn to speak properly or not to learn grammar. Grammar is an important part of learning a language. So here’s my philosophy:

  • Once you get to a high intermediate or advanced level, revisit grammar. At this stage you communicate very well and now all you need to do is refine your skills.
  • Make an effort to speak properly. For those of you that only know the present tense, make an effort to learn the other tenses, if you don’t use the subjunctive, make an effort to learn it. When we say “make mistakes” we don’t mean that you should not care about grammar, we mean that during the learning process you should not be afraid to get it wrong. It means trying to use what you have learned, but no being afraid to get it wrong.
  • As Lalo would say, you have a 50/50 chance of getting it right, so go for it. If you get it wrong, so be it. Your teacher will correct you, you will repeat the correction and life goes on.

So if you’re considering keeping your mouth shut because what comes out of it might be wrong, we highly encourage you to give it a shot. What’s the worst that can happen? Your teacher and all the other students point and laugh? Just kidding! The worst that can happen is that you get corrected and learn something from it. I would say that’s a pretty good trade 🙂