Making mistakes is key to learning

Many Spanish people I talk to are worried about making mistakes when speaking English. To the point where they will not speak with me in English. If I had a […]


Jonathan Ballantine - 22 September, 2017 || English Golf Experience


Many Spanish people I talk to are worried about making mistakes when speaking English. To the point where they will not speak with me in English. If I had a euro for every time I have heard the phrase tengo verguenza I would be a very rich man. Where does this verguenza come from? Why? And does it affect how we learn other activities?

Did you have verguenza when you started learning to roller-skate?  Did it stop you from practising? Did your friends laugh at you when you fell on the floor? Many things we choose to learn (as adults) involve an incremental learning process (driving a car, swimming, musical instrument), nobody became perfect at any of these activities after the first lesson. In fact the word perfect probably didn´t exist and was not the goal.

Spanish people tell me they will look stupid or won´t be understood if they speak in English.  However, surely the reverse is true.

In some of my coaching work with Spanish people I encourage them to see that making mistakes is a critical part of the learning process. Firstly it helps me identify areas that we can work on for improving accuracy. For example, many of my students confuse the prepositions In and On. However, the real advantage of speaking English with mistakes is that it gets you moving and out of your own internal monologue. To make progress you have to Start.

Thomas Edison failed 9,999 times before succeeding to invent the light bulb.  However, he never viewed them as failures he saw them as successful ways of not making it work. He was moving.

It is important to see mistakes and successful ways of how not to say it and then learn the difference. You keep moving.

To overcome this fear of embarrassment it is important to understand that to speak English you do not need to speak perfectly. In fact, perfection is the enemy of good.


About Jonathan Ballantine

Jonathan has been living in Spain for over seven years. Previously he worked in the Consulting sector for companies based in London, Madrid and Sydney. Jonathan is passionate about personal development and coaching, and incorporates many coaching techniques in his teaching. He is also passionate about sports and outdoor activities.




You never forget a good teacher

English Golf Experience was founded by Jonathan Ballantine, a native English trainer, and certified by the University of Cambridge to teach English as a second language.

Jonathan has been living in Spain for over ten years. He is also passionate about sports and outdoor activities.




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