By Georgina Palencia.
When a child is learning to walk and falls, the mother applauds and lifts him up. And once the child stops crying, he stands up again and advances at least a couple of steps closer to what he wants to grab.
When a teenager goes to kiss for the first time, he is afraid of doing it wrong or right, but he does because his attraction to the other is so big that no fear stops him.
When a man, or a woman, is learning to cook and burns himself, it means that the risk of fire did not inhibit him from his desire to experiment with flavors, colors and smells, and to satisfy his hunger.
An individual runs into many daily and trascendental activities, to learn differentet skills neccesary to perform himself in the world.
Walking, kissing, cooking are just three regular verbs from the first conjugation (-AR) but there are hundreds more of this type, irregular and also ending in -ER and -IR. Hundreds of most successful actions for the first time and which we always approach with fear of failure.
But what makes us not stop is the urge to reach the goal. Only that. And the goal is not the step, but the object that the child wants to achieve. The goal is not the kiss but the conquest of the other. The goal is not cooking but the tasty food.
Errare humanum est is a Latin expression that literally means in Spanish: “To err is human”. Fortunately, we have heard it many times, because there are people who have told us this, showing support, at a time when we have erred.
Making mistakes is considered intrinsic to human nature, so you have to accept and learn from mistakes to avoid repeating them.
But it seems that we resist being human and think we are super powerful or divine. We continue frustrating and punishing ourselves when we make a mistake.
Well, that same philosophy and attitude that we have towards an error in life is applicable to learning a foreign language.
Although there is a big difference between the student of a language and the natural growth of a human being. The language learner goes through “the first time” many times each day, even in the same class.
Every time you know a new word and then use it, a structure, a way to derive one word from another, it’s a first time. They are many first times in what for a native is a simple sentence like:
Anteayer fui a ver una película que me encantó.
The day before yesterday I went to see a movie that I loved.
Anteayer (the day before yesterday) is a compound word: new learning.
Fui a ver (I went to see) is a verbal periphrasis, verbal phrase in the past opposed to the future structure: new learning.
Que (that) is a relative pronoun depending on the subject: new learning.
Me encantó (I loved) is a verb of psychic affection and then it does not follow the regular order of the syntactic structure: new learning.
Although this is not the case, broken down into categories and grammatical functions, how do we acquire each new sentence. What I am trying to say is that behind it there are a minimum of 4 errors announced when trying to build this sentence.
But the truth is there are many more, because each of those elements brings falls and rises, yes, in plural.
And like the mother to the child, each fall and lift deserves applause.
The applause in this case is a symbol that expresses how the teacher is empowering the student. Filling him with positive energy, power and courage to face new falls and learning.
We give you three tips to keep in mind whenever you are wrong, in life and, above all, in the language:
- Put some humor. Laugh together, teachers and students, at mistakes. Look what your
words sound like, what it could mean, recognize how creative your brain has been in putting together that word. If you say inventación instead of invento. There is a creative linguistic logic behind that is worth praising. Or the typical me amo viajar, it is true that it is not a correct sentence, but making an internal journey is always necessary. Play with your attempts.
- See the lesson in each mistake. Realize that if you don’t make a mistake there would be no possibility for your teacher to break down the knowledge around what you have said. The previous breakdown, for example, could have come from an attempt like: Yo encantó la película pasado ayer. A small mistake opens the door to a great lesson.
- Praise every hit even in when is wrong. Linguistic self-esteem in the process is very
important, it helps to overcome stressful situations. Take the case of listening comprehension, for example, which often frustrates the student before hearing the first sentence. Praise what you have understood. You understood 10%, so praise yourself. Don’t destroy your intent by focusing on the remaining 90.
You learn from each mistake:
First, to understand why you did it;
Second, to more easily find a way to avoid it;
Third, to value other people help.
Let’s not be afraid to make mistakes, in life, in class, as children, adolescents or adults, as students or professionals, rather we learn to learn from mistakes.
A lot of companies choose their employees once they have made many mistakes, because that means they have a lot of experience and the ability to overcome.
There are mistakes and MISTAKES, of course. It is not the same to get wrong conjugating a verb or choosing a medical treatment to heal a sick person. Fortunately, our classes do not save lives, although they do improve them.
Errors are welcome, whether due to lack of experience and practice, lack of knowledge, or lack of self-control.
In any case, to err is human, and in language class it is perfect. To us, you are a bird learning how to fly. When a bird makes its first flight attempts, on the same day of birth, it barely makes land jumps. His first flight is awkward but his falls, from the first to the last, are always standing.