Why making mistakes is good

Why making mistakes is goodMany people are worried about making mistakes. This is just as true in general as it is when it comes to learning Italian, or any other language.

After all, while growing up we are often told that making mistakes is bad. For example, in school it often seems everything depends on how well we score on tests, not on our willingness to learn new things. And at work mistakes have to be avoided at all costs or there’s a very high possibility that we get fired.

However, very few people, or no one at all, will tell you that it isn’t always so. Mistakes can also be good – an interesting book about changing our mindset is Mindset by Carol Dweck.

This is widely known in science where mistakes can lead to new discoveries and possibilities –X rays, penicillin, microwave ovens are all life-changing inventions that were made by mistake – but for some reasons it’s not so widely known when language learning is involved.


Research has found out that our brain can respond to mistakes in two different ways: shutting down or paying more attention.

When our brain shuts down it feels the pressure of failure, it remembers that mistakes are bad. By contrast, when our brain pays more attention, it realizes that mistakes can be good: they can be an opportunity to learn more.

The first brain won’t learn from mistakes, the second will.

It might sound strange but this fact is also linked to one of the reasons why children learn languages so easily. Indeed, children are not afraid of mistakes yet. They consider learning a new language a game. They’re not afraid of feeling awkward if they don’t pronounce a word right, and they don’t feel ashamed if they make a mistake.

And the same would happen to us adults if we just persuade ourselves that mistakes in language learning can be good.


So, as the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Mistakes allow us to learn and improve Italian better – or any other language – provided we can change our attitude towards them, persuading ourselves that mistakes can be good, an opportunity to learn.

So, give you a target: try not to be perfect and make at least 10 or more mistakes per day. Then, take your time to study them and learn why you made them. Finally, thank your mistakes because thanks to them you can realize what can be improved, and so you can learn more.

Finally, always remember that mistakes are the keys to language proficiency.


Original image by lukasbieri

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