The value of mistakes

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Posts158Likes42Joined19/9/2019LocationSão Paulo / BR
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Learning English, French, Italian, Spanish

I've been a teacher of English, Portuguese and History for 27 years. Actually, I used to play being a teacher when I was a kid and helped many of my friends to learn writing, or to get better grades at school. After all those years, I've got more and more convinced that mistakes are the greatest opportunity to learn anything. As a teacher, when I spot a mistake, it helps me understand how the students mind is operating. As an eternal student, when I get aware of a mistake, I feel I climbed one more step. Sometimes I realize it had been on my face, but I was totally blinded, and that's a definite change. Let's not see mistakes as failures! They're the very core of learning!

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#1
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Posts14Likes8Joined16/10/2019LocationUS
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That is awesome! I totally agree! Failure is good! that is a sign of progression. Not making mistakes is a failure. That just mean that a person will never learn the thing. And also as toddlers we failed thousands of times before we learned how to walk. Failure is success in disguise! :) And also research show that correcting "mistakes" dosent facilitate learning and is redundant and wont stick. But enough exposure to the correct way of saying the expression is how our brain naturally picks up on the mistakes and over time the "mistakes" ratio will be substantially reduced, effortlessly.

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#2
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Posts1180Likes761Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
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Learning Tagalog
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I think of mistakes as unavoidable side effects of learning. However I think statements like the following, which are quite popular these days for some reason, can actually encourage people to attempt to make mistakes: 

Valeria.Fontes wrote:
They're the very core of learning!

Peter.Jensen wrote:
Not making mistakes is a failure.

The goal should not be to make mistakes; we should encourage people to be bold in producing language, know that they will definitely make mistakes and not be discouraged by them.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

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#3
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Posts158Likes42Joined19/9/2019LocationSão Paulo / BR
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leosmith, thank you for your comment. I was actually thinking about classroom situations, and I don't think schools encourage mistakes, quite the opposite, they end up making people anxious when they have to expose themselves in a lesson. I see that's what you meant when you said "be bold in producing language". I've never assumed mistakes as a goal, but as an opportunity.

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#4
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Posts48Likes49Joined23/9/2019LocationNovi Sad / RS
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Learning Danish, English, Russian

Yep, in total agreement with you guys. I guess there might be some person out there in the world that is capable of learning something and then putting it into use perfectly every time, but most of us will make a ton of mistakes when trying to use a new language. And that's alright, I mean, if someone corrects us, then it's a net positive, right?


I'm actually always a bit surprised when I see fellow language students at my uni sit silent for an entire class because they're afraid they'll sound stupid if they try to speak the language they're learning, and they try to learn only by listening to others speaking and the professors correcting them. Why make the learning process so much harder for yourself?


And honestly, this doesn't only apply to languages, but to basically any skill humans can learn, stuff like programming, playing an instrument, drawing or playing sports is incredibly hard to be good at if you haven't first spent a good portion of time sucking at it and trying hard to improve.

JEG KAN IKKE FORSTÅ

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#5
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Posts1Likes1Joined18/5/2020LocationAU
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Learning Russian

I know this is an old topic but i am very curious. If corrections are redundant how do we learn? 

I ask because I would like to improve my learning process.

 I feel much more comfortable in russian when I am allowed to say a sentence in baby speak with incorrect grammar and pronunciation etc and then the person repeats it with the right grammar and pronunciation and then I repeat what they say --- is this detrimental to the learning process?

I don't like when im in the middle of taking and trying to create a sentence and someone is instantly correcting something I just said, or interrupting me, and making me repeat everything, or trying to help me before Ive completed the thought.


Anyway thanks for your advice

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#6
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Posts1180Likes761Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
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Gregory.Aus wrote:
If corrections are redundant how do we learn?

Welcome to the forum Gregory! I think how useful corrections are, or what type of corrections we should use, depends mostly on our individual learning plans. 

For example, I learn every facet of a language by myself, with the exception of conversation. My plan requires me to take responsibility for my own learning. To make progress using this method, I had to accept that I actually need to learn – knowledge will not be bestowed upon me. Amongst other things, this requires self-correction; I am constantly aware of (some of) my errors. So when I converse, I don’t like to be corrected. I’m already aware of errors I’m making, and having someone pointing out even more, or the same errors, doesn’t help me. However, sometimes we truly don’t understand each other, or I’m curious about some word or grammar, so I ask questions and take notes. In summary, self-correction and questions during conversation are all the corrections I need. More would be less efficient.

wrote:
say a sentence in baby speak with incorrect grammar and pronunciation etc and then the person repeats it with the right grammar and pronunciation and then I repeat what they say

wrote:
create a sentence and someone is instantly correcting something I just said, or interrupting me, and making me repeat everything

I dislike the first correction method you mention, and absolutely hate the second. But the first one may be really good for you, depending on your language plan. That correction method fits someone relying on another person to teach them vocabulary and grammar, or someone who doesn’t do/isn’t interested in self-correcting. I think most people like the first method; I’m an oddball haha.


I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

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