As I’ve mentioned before, learning a language is really tough. You have to learn the grammar and vocabulary, memorize sentence structure, and get a grip on the different tenses (ugh)…that’s a lot. Even when you get to be pretty comfortable with the language, you still make a thousand mistakes that a five year old, native to that language, wouldn’t. That’s just the way it goes…so, why is making those mistakes such a big deal?
If someone’s talking to someone else whose first language isn’t the same and they make a few flubs, why do people get exasperated and complain about it to their friends and family or – worse – Facebook? I mean, if someone works in a store and someone else comes up to them asking for directions to the “sinkroom” instead of the “bathroom”, why do they roll their eyes and give them some kind of flip answer? Why is there so much anger and disdain in those kinds of situations?
Just think about it as if the roles are reversed (as I’m sure many know from firsthand experience when speaking a second language); You work up the courage to ask someone a question in a language that you’re still learning, only to be cast aside or maybe even laughed at if you make a mistake. It can make you angry, embarrassed, and deter you from practicing the language outside of the classroom again. Laughing at someone who is trying hard to communicate with you can be scarring for that other person.
There are many people out there that are understanding of the situation, of course, and they will be patient with someone struggling to get a question or comment out, but there are just as many people who are nasty and condescending.
So what if someone makes a mistake that creates a funny sentence? Once the speaker realizes the mistake, they’ll probably have a laugh too, and correct themselves. There’s no need to make them feel stupid or annoying for their mistake. It helps nobody to act that way.
Learning – and successfully using – a second language is a huge accomplishment, and the work that you put into creating a sentence should be applauded, not made into a nasty status on Facebook that highlights your failed attempt.
My personal feeling is that everyone should learn a second language at some point in their life. Even if you aren’t fluent in it, or you only use it a few times a year, it teaches you a lot about how language works and gives you an appreciation for the language skills that you do have.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Share them below!