Mispronouncing words out loud and getting corrected by someone can be one of the most embarrassing situations we can experience.
We all have been there – you say a word, phrase, or a whole sentence that you’ve said many times before in a foreign language with such confidence only to suddenly hear a native speaker correct you. It can be in writing or a face to face situation, it doesn’t matter. Some of us will take it easy, correct ourselves, and move on quickly, even laugh out loud and thank the person who corrected us. But most of us will probably want the ground to swallow us.
I had some awful mistakes myself. I was sitting in front of a student, teaching her and using a word that I used many times before when I taught that subject, when suddenly she corrected me. What? I thought I hadn’t heard well, but there it was – in front of a student! What a shame!
The first thing you feel is stupidity. You feel stupid. you can’t believe it just happened to you.
Then comes the embarrassment – ‘But I’ve been using this word for years! Why did no one tell me?’
You might even blush for a few seconds. I’m a great supporter of experiencing all the rainbow of feelings, these feelings included. This is why Inside Out is one of the most important movies in my opinion. I won’t try to give you tips on how to turn your embarrassment into an amusing situation. But I will offer you an opportunity to see these situations that will keep happening to you as a blessing.
So why is this great? Because learning a language is a process and part of it is to be in the learning mode at all times. The faster you embrace the fact that there will always be more to learn, the better your learning will be.
Also, forget about feeling stupid. Your intellect has nothing to do with making mistakes in a language that is not your native one. And if someone around you speaks it better, it’s not because he’s smarter, but because he had more opportunities to learn. So all you really need is MORE opportunities.
By not putting your focus on the embarrassment that you’ve experienced you see it as an opportunity. Not only will you know better in future, but the element of surprise and the impact of the embarrassment will make this knowledge so firm that you’ll probably never forget it.