Don’t be neither perfectionist nor lazy to speak French

Don’t be neither perfectionist nor lazy to speak French

Learning French

Are you too conscious and too attentive to errors?

Some students pay too much attention to themselves when they speak French and want to express their ideas in perfect sentences. They become shy when they make mistakes or take a lot of time to say something, as they look for the right word. At the extreme of this tendency, such students prefer not to speak if they can’t produce perfect phrases.

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Errors are, however, a part of the learning process and they are necessary to make progress.

Expect to make them! As the proverb says, “Practice makes perfect.” Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and let words flow out of your mouth. You will not be able to produce consistently perfect sentences until you have studied French for quite awhile, so don’t make perfection your standard before you speak, and there is no reason to be embarrassed by mistakes. You are learning!

OR, do you pay little attention to errors when you speak French?

At the other extreme, some students pay little attention to the errors that they make when they speak. Such students often have learned to communicate in French principally by listening, even though they haven’t learned grammar as thoroughly as necessary. These students are sometimes quite good at holding conversations thanks to their large vocabularies and good listening comprehension, and they might even be capable of speaking about various topics with certain rapidity.

However, the more they speak, the more they repeat errors, especially if their conversation partners do not correct them. If they are not made aware of these errors or never work to correct them, they can become fossilized mistakes, particularly in the areas of pronunciation and grammar.

As a result, the French skills of these students remain unbalanced, having oral ability at a B2 level but making errors at an A1/A2 level, for example. Fossilized and/or neglected grammatical and pronunciation mistakes can be painfully difficult to correct as bad habits become ingrained and mouth muscles are trained.

It’s not easy to express your thoughts and feelings spontaneously and correctly in a foreign language. If you are too self-conscious and cautious, you don’t end up speaking much. If you are too careless and inattentive to grammatical details when you speak, you will repeat the same errors and fail to progress in oral communication. The best advice is to find a balance between these two extremes.