Fail Faster – Learn Faster

The title of this post really says it all. When learning a language it is inevitable that we will make mistakes. There is no avoiding it. This was something I really struggled to accept along the way. Don’t get me wrong, I am by ne means perfect. I make a lot of mistakes, every day, and I don’t like it. Which is why it was difficult for me when my first Spanish teacher told me, “fail faster, learn faster”. She wanted us to makes mistakes, out loud and in front of people! She was valid in her request, she wanted us to have an opportunity to be corrected and learn from our error

My struggle with her request was similar to many other students – I don’t want to sound stupid! I want others to think I am smart and that I know what I am talking about (even when I really don’t). I was convinced others would discredit my abilities if I made mistakes. So, instead of risking sounding stupid, I didn’t say anything at all. Which was of course ridiculous and extremely detrimental to my learning. It was hard for me to overcome this crazy idea I had that people would think I was unintelligent if I mixed up a word or used the wrong conjugation. It took me years to overcome this, and it is something I am still working on today. “Just say it” Luis tells us.

Ten years of studying Spanish and I have never had anyone get mad at me, scold me or scoff me for making a mistake regarding my Spanish abilities. My experiences have been the opposite, when I have slip-ups those I am speaking to are genuinely pleased with me for making the effort, especially if the person does not speak English. People have always been very empathetic and understanding that learning a new language is hard.

While everyone has been kind to me, there have definitely been a few laughs along the way. One example was when I was living in Ecuador I was talking with my host mother, in Spanish, about how my arm was sore from carrying a heavy bag home from school, “Mi arma tiene dolor ahora” I told her. She looked at me with a crooked smile and laughed (arma means weapon and brazo means arm). I can honestly say I never again forget the difference between arma and brazo. A learning experience I needed and was happy to have received.

Luis tells us, “there are no mistakes in Spanish, just say it”. The first time I heard him say this, it didn’t really sink in. The more I thought about it the more wonderful it sounded. There are no mistakes in Spanish – earth shattering – I can say whatever I feel is right and it will be okay. No one will judge me or ridicule me, I can speak freely and openly. Repeat it over and over, There are no mistakes in Spanish. Now get out there and make some mistakes today

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