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3 types of English mistakes and how they help your fluency

You’ve heard that making mistakes are bad…but what if I told you that making mistakes can actually improve your English and get you closer to your fluency goals?

In today’s episode, we’re talking about three different types of mistakes in English, and how you can use each mistake to learn from it and identify what you need to work on to overcome those challenges. 

Practice your English through daily, effective fun repetitions using my SPRINTS! Grab them here for free.

Transcribe your speech using Descript https://www.descript.com/ 

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Podcast intro:

Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 369. And today we are going to talk about how to learn from your mistakes.

Hey everyone. Thank you so much for joining me again. So if you have been following me for a while, you already know that I always say that mistakes is the only way to learn, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. And that’s true, I stand behind it. But I never really talk about how you can actually learn from your mistakes. Well, that’s a lie, I do talk about it, but I don’t talk about it in the general sense, not just when working on something specific.

So today I wanted to actually take a minute, or a few minutes actually, to talk about how to learn from your mistakes, how to identify your mistake, the different types of mistakes that we usually have when we speak a second language, and how to learn from them and how to practice so you can stop making those mistakes. And that is all going to be discussed today. So I’m excited about it, and I hope you are too. So let’s go ahead and listen to today’s episode.

Video transcript:

Did you know that making mistakes is one of the best ways to improve your English? And yet making mistakes is one of the biggest causes for fear and anxiety and avoidance altogether when speaking a second language. However, in this video, I’m going to talk about the three types of mistakes that we make as speakers of English as a second language.

And I’m also going to give you a strategy on how to learn from those mistakes. And I’m going to give you a strategy for each type of mistake so you can understand your mistake and improve so you never repeat that mistake again.

So like I said, there are three types of mistakes. The first type of mistake is mistakes that you are fully aware of that you’re making when you’re making them. Okay? So that means that you say it, and as you say it, you’re like, “No, this is a mistake”. For example, I have a lot of students who might just say ‘she’ when they talk about ‘he’, so they know that it’s not supposed to be ‘she’, but ‘she’ comes out. Or maybe when they don’t stick the tongue out for the TH and they say ‘thank you’ and they feel that they didn’t pronounce the TH fully, especially after maybe they have practiced it for a little bit. So, these are conscious mistakes.

The second type of mistake is mistakes that you theoretically know that you are incorrect, you just don’t notice that you’re making those mistakes. So, it’s the type of mistake that people point out and you are like, “Oh, did I really say that?” For example, you used ‘have’ instead of ‘has’, and you haven’t noticed it. It wasn’t like you were conscious of it as you were making it, you were told afterwards. Or you listen to yourself and you’re like, “Why did I use ‘have’ here? It’s supposed to be has’”. Or vice versa.

So these are unconscious mistakes, but you are aware of the rule, right? So you’re not aware of it when you’re speaking, but you know the rule. So, if you were to write an email, you would never make that mistake. Okay? So, here there is a question of just like being conscious of it while you’re speaking.

And the third type of mistake is mistakes that you’re not even aware that you’re making a mistake. Okay? You’re speaking and you think that you’re right, and then someone would point it out and you’re like, “Oh, really, why?” And you would have to learn more about it. Here we can talk about pronunciation mistakes, where you are convinced that you are supposed to say ‘Operations’, but then you learn that it’s actually ‘opeRAtions’. Or a certain grammar form that you were completely unaware of, okay, that you haven’t used. So these are the three types of mistakes.

Now, remember: mistakes are a natural part of speaking a second language. There is nothing wrong about making mistakes. In fact, it’s impossible to speak a second language without making mistakes. But this is why I’m saying that making mistakes is the best opportunity to learn if you do something about it. And this is where the problem starts, because people usually hate making mistakes. And then the moment they make a mistake, they just either shut down, or they kind of like block it out.

And they don’t want to deal with it, and they don’t want to think about it because it makes them feel crappy. But it’s not productive! Because if you’re not doing anything about it, you are likely to repeat the same mistakes. If you just feel bad about it – great, who’s winning, right? No one’s winning here. Not your English, not your listeners, and definitely not you.

So we want to be proactive. You need to be light about the mistakes. And again, it’s like putting a spotlight on what you need to learn. And think about it. Really, I want you to have a mindset shift here. Because think about this idea of learning a second language and all the things that you need to learn. It’s a lot. And no one has the capacity or time to learn all the things about speaking a language.

And if you’re an intermediate speaker, you already know how to communicate in English. And focusing on the mistakes is basically focusing on the areas in the language that are unclear and are not intuitive just yet. Because when you make mistakes, it means that the habit is not rooted – the right form, the right pronunciation, the right words. Okay? So it just means that you haven’t used it enough. You haven’t understood it fully for you to be able to use it seamlessly.

And when you recognize the mistakes without shying away from it or avoiding it completely, but you just like decide to put a spotlight on it, it’s really learning what your 20 percent is. And by 20%, I mean the 20 percent that would get you 80 percent of the results, the 20 percent that you need to focus on and learn so you can achieve 80 percent of your fluency goals. So instead of going and learning and pursuing all that knowledge out there, sometimes all you need is just a focus on your freaking mistakes. That’s it. And this is why you don’t need to feel bad about making mistakes, because then you’re like, “Hey, I’m just learning here”, or “Hey, this is a golden opportunity for me to learn”. Okay? Remember that.

All right. So now let’s talk about strategies, because yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it, mindset and all of that. But what do I do? So, when it comes to the first type of mistake, do you remember what that is? The first type of mistake is mistakes that you make and you’re fully aware of them. You’re aware of them as you’re making those mistakes.

So, first of all, you have to start logging those mistakes. What do I mean by that? Let’s say you have a conversation and then you say something and either you correct yourself, which I recommend for you to do. Don’t, you know, it’s okay to repeat yourself with the right form, especially if it’s an informal conversation. But you don’t have to, it really depends on you what you prefer.

Or if you mispronounce something, you can say it again. It’s kind of like you’re establishing the new habit. So it’s good to repeat yourself if you are mispronouncing something. But even if you don’t, after that interaction or after the conversation, take your notes on your phone and write down all the places where you got stuck, all the words that were not available to you, and all the mistakes that you’ve made, that you noticed. Okay?

So try to remember them and write them down right after. Okay? So you start logging those conscious mistakes. These are the easiest mistakes to fix because practically, you know what you need to do. You don’t need to learn the theory behind it, you don’t need to learn what’s the right form, you just need to implement it. And here, again, it’s all about building habits.

So, to be able to use the right form consistently and confidently, you need to think about it like any other habit that you’re trying to integrate into your life and definitely into your speaking, which means repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition. Because if you repeat the right form enough times, it will overpower the mistake.

And this is why I love Sprints, which is something that I created, this idea of intentional repetition. Where, let’s say there is a phrase you always use – “It makes no sense”. And when you say it, it always comes out as “It’s make no sense”. Now, you know that the S needs to come after the ‘make’ – “It makes no sense”. You know the grammar behind it. But for some reason, your tongue wants to pronounce the S first – “It’s make no sense”. And then it’s a grammar mistake. But you’re aware of it, you’re conscious of it.

So what you can do after writing it down in your notebook is to either write this word in front of you or make it a part of a longer sentence.

And then repeat it again and again and again accurately: “It makes no sense. It makes, it makes, it makes. It makes no sense. It makes no sense. It makes no sense”. Right? Same thing with ‘she’ or ‘he’ if you’re confusing them, or ‘have’ and ‘has’ if you’re confusing them and you’re aware of it, or any pronunciation mistake. Repetition, repetition, repetition of the correct form. That is the best way to improve.

And then, of course, there is intentional practice where you practice speaking intentionally, using intentionally those phrases or tenses, making sure that you’re using the correct form. So that’s what you need to do with conscious mistakes.

Then let’s talk about unconscious mistakes that you are aware of, which means that you know the right form, you just don’t notice that you are making that mistake. Okay? And for you to find out those mistakes, unlike with the conscious mistakes, is that you have to reflect on your speaking. You have to listen to yourself. You have to record yourself. And I know that some of you are cringing right now and you’re saying to yourself, “No, Hadar, just please don’t tell me to record myself. I don’t want to do that. I would do everything. I would write long, long documents, just don’t make me record myself.”

Listen, it works, what can I say? Get comfortable with your voice, do it enough times, and then it won’t be an issue anymore. I know because I’ve been there. And I know because most of my students have been there, and I can tell you that most of them were able to overcome the cringe of recording yourself.

So, speaking freely, whether it’s when you’re in a meeting, okay, and you’re recording yourself in a meeting, or whether it’s you practicing speaking to yourself about any type of subject, and you record yourself and then you listen back to it – this is the best way to start noticing things that you don’t notice when you’re speaking. Okay?

So record yourself, or use voice to text so you can have the computer type what you say, and then you listen back to it. So there was a little bit more work involved here. But again, like I said, it helps you focus on what you need to improve.

So then you just either read the text – by the way, we use Descript, I highly recommend it for transcribing your audio, I’m going to link to it, don’t worry, in the description – or just record yourself. And then you listen to it and then you start noticing. And then you pay attention to see if there are places where you can recognize that you’ve made a grammar mistake, pronunciation mistake, you used the wrong word, or you used the wrong structure of the sentence. But sometimes we can only recognize such mistakes if we listen back to it.

But sometimes it happens, as a speaker of a second language, that you are very much involved in speaking, so you’re not aware of small, tiny things that you can only become aware of, or you can only notice when you listen back to yourself. And then, you start collecting the data. Collect the data, it’s really important.

You start collecting the data, you start collecting the mistakes. And if you need to learn more of the theory behind it, go and learn the theory behind it. The internet is filled with information that you can just, you know, only learn about the specific things that you need help with. And then, like I said, create lists of sentences with the specific structure or the specific mistake that you constantly make. And then say it out loud again and again and again, and then try to use it intentionally without memorizing or without reading from a script.

The third type of mistake is mistakes that you are not even aware that they’re mistakes. Now here, this is a little hard to notice or to recognize without feedback, but I have a solution for this. So like I said, in the second type of mistake that you can actually speak or record a meeting and then transcribe your speech and turn it into words.

Once you have the script of your speaking, whether it’s speaking to yourself or to a friend or to colleagues, you can then take it to ChatGPT. ChatGPT is an AI writing assistant. I have made an entire episode just about how you can use ChatGPT for learning and practicing English. It’s great, and this is where it can help you as well.

So you take the entire script and you put it into ChatGPT. And you just give it the prompt – ‘Can you point out my grammar mistakes?’ Or, ‘Can you fix grammar and explain?’ The prompts can be super, super simple. Okay? And then you would get a list of mistakes that you might have not been aware of.

Now, this is going to be a little humbling because, you know, ChatGPT is going to pick on a lot of things, OK? So, first of all, yes, great feedback. But also take it with a grain of salt. Not every mistake is critical. And sometimes there are things that it’s okay to say, but you probably wouldn’t want to write. So, you don’t have to work on everything, you can just choose two or three things that you really weren’t aware of, and also that you feel like they’re important.

And then you need to learn why that is. You can actually use ChatGPT to ask why. Why is this a mistake? You can, you know, take the sentence and ask, ‘Why is this a mistake?’ And again, I have an entire guide on how to use ChatGPT to improve your speaking and writing, so I’m going to link to it below. Okay? But once you understand the theory behind it, ’cause you have to understand it first, then follow the same process of creating sentences and repetition and intentional practice. Okay?

Now, whether it’s a conscious mistake or an unconscious mistake that you’re aware of or not aware of, it’s really important that you prioritize, that you understand what is critical. What is preventing me from sounding clear, or from sounding confident, or for communicating my message properly? And this is how you can actually benefit from your mistakes. But you can only benefit from your mistakes if you do something about it.

All right, my friends, that’s it. Now tell me in the comments below, what else do you do when you make a mistake? How does it make you feel? And do you usually do something about it? Be honest, let me know in the comments.

Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day. Thank you so much for being here with me. If you liked this video, please consider subscribing to my channel and sharing it with your friends. You can also check out hadarshemesh.com, my website, for a ton of other resources and lessons designed to help you speak English with clarity, confidence, and freedom. Take care, and I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.

The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
369. 3 types of English mistakes and how they HELP your fluency

What else do you do when you make a mistake? How does it make you feel, do you usually do something about it? Let me know!

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3 Responses

  1. To improve my English speaking, I started practicing sprint, speaking out loud the words that hard to speak so that next time I easily and confidently speak that words, and practicing constructing sentences correctly.

  2. Hi hadar

    You are absolutely brilliant, I am trying to correct my English but when I want to talk it make very nervous and I feel that I am under pressure, I live now in UK but want to learn English fluently, please advice me and let me know what to do.

    Many thanks


    1. Hi Mir. just found your mistake and here are the correct forms: 1. “It makes me nervous.” and 2.”Advice” is a noun. “Advise” is the verb. you should say: “advise me..”

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