How to Make English a Part of Your Life: Lesson 4

Making Mistakes

Welcome to Lesson 4 of the How to Make English a Part of Your Life mini-course! 

Today, we’re going to continue with more psychological aspects of learning a language. Today we’re talking all about making mistakes!

Is one of your main problems in learning a language making mistakes? Are you afraid people will laugh at you, or not even want to talk to you if you can’t speak perfectly?

Well let’s turn around these ideas, or better said, these misconceptions. Let’s talk about why mistakes aren’t a bad thing, and, in fact, are a key aspect of learning a language effectively, and why the answer won’t be found in a textbook or by studying grammar.


Hey this is Ethan from RealLife English, and I want to welcome you to lesson four of Make English a part of Your Life.

Mistakes are the portals of discovery –James Joyce

Practically anywhere you go, schools teach by making students memorize information and then take tests to prove that they can properly regurgitate it.

Now, although this may work with classes like mathematics, science, and history, language is simply NOT a school subject, and therefore it should not be learned in the same way.

The problem is that we’ve become accustomed to learning with these tests where we are punished for our mistakes. Your teacher returns your exam and you see those awful red marks for every mistake you made. Rather than giving you positive reinforcement on what you already know and inspiring you to continue learning, this feedback naturally gives you a bad feeling associated with making mistakes when you speak English.

But when it comes to language learning, mistakes are a very good thing! Only by making a lot of mistakes can you identify your weak points in English, correct them, and improve!

I probably don’t have to tell you that learning a foreign language isn’t easy. But this means that no matter what your level is, you should be proud of what you already know. You’ve been learning for months or years, and I’m sure you’ve devoted many hours to be able to understand what I’m saying to you now. So stop suffering because your English isn’t “perfect” and be happy that you can understand some part of a complex foreign language (by the way, I’m a native speaker who’s been learning English for the last 25 years and I would still say my English is far from perfect).

What’s the worst thing that will happen if you challenge yourself and make an effort to start speaking English at every opportunity? You’ll definitely make a lot of mistakes, and people may even laugh sometimes. But it’s no reason to feel bad, learn to laugh at your mistakes, too, and more importantly, learn from them and continue to improve!

Make it fun!

playThink about how children learn their first language. They make tons and tons of mistakes without ever worrying. They play with it. They have fun.

This is exactly how you should be learning–the same way you learned your first language. If you want to be really successful, surround yourself with the language. Use the tools we talked about in lesson two.

And don’t just view the language as something to learn. English forms a part of the everyday lives of hundreds of millions people worldwide, so fall in love with the culture. Learn to cook the food, listen to the music, learn popular dances, celebrate the typical holidays! The culture is a source of motivation for you and will make learning English infinitely easier and more enjoyable.

Lastly, do what you already enjoy, but in English. It’s simple to find ways to connect your learning to your life, we’ve already mentioned several. “Studying” English can often to be boring, and honestly, English isn’t something that should be considered studying. English is a means of communication–it’s meant to be heard, to be spoken, and enjoyed.

If you take away one thing from lesson four, it’s to remember this:

English is a tool to understand and connect entire peoples and cultures, not a school subject.

Previous Lessons

  • Hi Ethan, I completely agree with you that English is not a school subject. English is a world language. It is one of the options to eliminate the language barrier. English allows me to make my life more enjoyable.

  • Couldn’t agree more Ethan..

    You can’t learn just the language with learning about the cultural of this country, both sides work together..

    Now commenting about the food point ( learn how to cook) Sorry Ethan, but I don’t love to cook.. What about buying food which represents this country?! I love to taste dishes from different countries. I can’t cook but I can eat hehe ????

    Thankssss a bunch Ethan Zinho.

    • Ethan says:

      Hahaha Rawda,

      I think buying and trying the food is also a great option! I have no problem with eating French food at a restaurant 😉