Three Tips for Turning Mistakes Into Opportunities

Learn to speak English confidently at Language Link Vietnam
Is it necessary to get English correct every time?

The short answer is NO! Speaking English correctly every time is a great goal, but it can give students a problem – especially when speaking English.

The problem is that too many students are scared of getting something wrong and this shuts them up. Bad move. Don’t be scared of making mistakes when you speak. You don’t have to be right all the time – you only need to communicate.

Here are three tips that will help you speak with confidence, even if your English skills are not 100%.

Tip #1: Be Polite
Imagine you meet a tourist on the street, and he asks you the following question:

Bank is where, please?

Is the grammar correct? No, it is not. Do you understand what the man wants? Of course you do! Anybody listening to this man will be happy to tell him where the bank is – especially because the question was polite!

Tip Number One is BE POLITE. “Bank is where?” = not so good – “please” makes it fine. Don’t forget to smile!

Tip #2: Listen While You Speak
Let’s go back to our tourist for a minute.  He meets a woman on the street, and asks her, “Bank is where, please?” The woman answers like this:

Where’s the bank? Oh, it’s just over there, next to the post office.

Note TWO things about the woman’s response.

  1. She tells the man where the bank is
  2. She corrects the man’s question by saying, “Where’s the bank…?

This is a simple, free, on-the-street English class! But you have to listen to the woman so that you can learn. So Tip Number Two is LISTEN. When you are worried about speaking, you forget to listen. Listening is how we learn to get it right.

Tip #3: Laugh At Yourself
Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes our mistakes are funny. For example, I have a friend who has been learning Vietnamese. One time, his teacher asked him if there was a market near his house. He meant to say,

Có chợ trên đường.” (There is a market on the street.)

but instead, he said,

Có chợ trên giường.” (There is a market on my bed.)

This is funny! Of course, his teacher laughed. But my friend has a good sense of humour, and once he understood his mistake, he was able to laugh as well.

So, Tip Number Three is LAUGH AT YOURSELF.

Does it really matter is you make one or two little mistakes? Most of the time, no. Just don’t let mistakes get in the way of your communication.

What About You?
How do you handle speaking mistakes? Do you have any funny stories about speaking English that can give us a laugh? Share them in the comments section below!


3 thoughts on “Three Tips for Turning Mistakes Into Opportunities

  1. I also have a funny story to share. That’s about my boss.
    My boss has been studying Vietnamese. Sometimes, he uses Vietnamese together with English in his sentences.
    When he is angry & want to “Bạt tai _Slap someone’s face” but in stead he says “Bắt tay_Shake hands”. hixhix.
    And the first time when I heard he said “Giám đốc_Director” in Vietnamese, i just thought he said English words “Jump to”. So funny. :) .

  2. I think if students are confident and can laugh at themselves whenever they make mistakes, they will achieve success in not only studying English but also their lives. Laughing at your failures and continuing your business is one of the secrets to be successful in life.
    From my experience, sometimes I still make errors in using English. Each time when I realize that, although I feel a little ashamed of myself, I still can continue to using English later and try to keep in mind not to repeat that inaccuracy again.
    After all, making mistakes, then you learn from and will not repeat them anymore is much better than being afraid of them, doing nothing and you will never be able to use English genuinely.

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