While looking through Street Smart Brazil’s blog archives, I rediscovered the article on Tips to Overcome Language Learning Frustration. In it, there’s the phrase, “Tell your Brazilian friends that they don’t need to correct every detail of what you say.” As it happens, it evoked memories of my own experience learning Portuguese from mistakes I made.
While living in Brazil, I had a friend and flatmate who decided it was their mission to correct every little thing I said. We’re not talking whether my statements were logical or meaningful, but rather the linguistic sense they made in Brazilian Portuguese. Needless to say, it was extremely annoying and I let my facial expressions communicate what I was thinking every time I was corrected.
So, after months of being subjected to this, on a daily basis, I said “enough is enough!” and I moved out (there were other reasons for my move, but having my language efforts take a constant beating was definitely one of them). As the days and months passed me by, I began to slowly forget about the experience, especially while being surrounded by many Brazilians whose main mission wasn’t to annoy me with detalhezinhos. It was refreshing, to say the least.
The funny thing is, I started to notice a change in me, or rather in my Portuguese. It was, “all of a sudden”,…better. And the interesting part is I didn’t have to put in hours and hours with grammar books, and the like. The reason? A person, my old flatmate, had taken over that role for the six months we lived together.
All that being said, I’ve had enough experience doing one-on-one tandem exchanges that I’ve been able to understand the difference, or rather the balance, between handing out corrections and giving them a pass. With the latter, the other person can actually get the message they wish to convey out, and with it, they feel heard.
If your friends are correcting every detail of what you say, then they’re effectively acting as your drill sergeant, and you’re essentially being placed in a linguistic bootcamp. If this is your goal, that’s great. But if it’s not, it’s best to let it be known. A good friend, like a good teacher, will be able to find the kind of balance you seek and help you get closer to your goal of speaking another language!
Having a regular practice with a trained instructor is very helpful. It is important to receive feedback in a timely manner, and it is also important to be able to speak freely because this is how you develop fluency. A well trained instructor knows how to help you learn without annoying you or making you feel blocked. Book a Trial Lesson with a Street Smart Brazil instructor and see for yourself the difference it will make in your Portuguese.