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#12. There’s no such thing as perfect sentences

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

And isn’t that the best piece of news?

You would think so, especially coming from a language teacher, but when I remind my students of that fact, they look at me in disbelief.

Why? Because school has drilled into our heads that nothing short of perfection is acceptable, that mistakes are embarrassing, that being wrong is simply… wrong.

But contrary to theoretical topics, which can be studied in the privacy of one’s own study or quietly in a library, language learning requires regular interaction with other human beings, and therefore inevitably implies making mistakes on a regular basis, because you’re putting in practice what you’ve learned in theory, with guided exercises in your grammar book or prepared for you by your teacher.

The only thing that happens when you make a mistake, is learning! If only we had all been told that fact from a very early age…

What matters, is to convey your idea as clearly as possible. When you speak, whether it is to ask for directions to a castle, your hotel, a restaurant, or simply to chat, your interlocutor isn’t judging your every word, because you’re not taking an exam!

In fact, they are focusing on what you’re saying and will help you refine your sentences, because they know what it’s like to learn their language. They’ve been there already! And if they’re French native speakers, they know how tricky grammar can get and will be impressed.

The process of learning a language would be infinitely easier and more pleasurable for students, were they to truly understand that fact. Children learn languages faster than adults, not just because their brains are more malleable, but because they’re not judging themselves. They’re focused on speaking, not on achieving perfection, until school introduces the notion with exams, marks, and rankings.

The beauty of learning a language as an adult, is that you can let go of it all and shape your learning process according to your own interests and needs. So… what are you waiting for?

Don't hesitate to send me your questions.

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