Aiming for perfection: How well can you speak your second language?

Do you like making mistakes when you speak? Is that a big deal to you? In my case, even though I know making mistakes is part of the learning process, I don’t like it. Any tips to help me relax in this matter. Thank you.

Take making mistakes as an opportunity to get better at the language you are learning. When I speak in Russian, I sometimes make mistakes or forget a word completely, and when I ask how to say a word or look it up (if I am speaking/writing via internet), of course, I think/say “Oh I knew that”, but I just take it as a learning opportunity. When I first started with Russian I did take it more as a challenge to myself. A funny story- in my first semester of Russian in college I forgot a word in a vocabulary quiz. The word is холодильник (refrigerator), and I made it a point to never forget the word, and I haven’t! So my advice is to just take it as a chance to learn more and don’t beat yourself up too much.


Try to record something spontaneous, unprepasred in your native language - and you’ll notice with your big astonishment that you sometimes do some mistakes in your own mother language!..
Of course, you can immediately correct your mistakes to be understood correctly. But yet we all do mistakes in our native languages by the quick unprepared speech.

How can we be perfect in our second,third language?!..
The perfection is the way, not the result- the result is impossible.
Only if you speak more, you will make less mistakes with the time.
But some mistakes we will have till the end of our life.

Only God is perfect, not a man.
Who is afraid of doing mistakes that will always speak worse that the person who isn’t afraid of anything!
I know it from my 30-year teaching experience.


Nobody enjoys making mistakes, but I usually don’t care that much. My goal generally is being able to communicate and understand, if I can do it even with problems I’m happy. I’m struggling recently with my listening in french, which makes me more frustrated than all my mistakes in writing or speaking.
My tip is to understand that even native people make mistakes. Language is just like that, it is made out of mistakes, and will develop into mistakes, it’s literally the core of the thing and it’s its beauty too, how imperfect and comprehensible a language can be. Also, if you are worried people will be mean or anything like that cause you made a mistake, I have to say it is very unlikely, only idiots are like that, normally people will understand that learning a new whole way of expressing yourself is not that easy.

My rule of thumb: if you can go a year without making a mistake in your native language, then you can start worrying about mistakes in your target language :slight_smile: My guess is, not a whole lot a people can claim to have done that.


I don’t agree with those who claim that we ‘make mistakes in our native languages’. Of course we do, but they are either ‘accepted’ mistakes ‘i did good’ or are grammatical ‘mistakes’.

I don’t care if i make these types of ‘mistakes’ in a foreign language because they’re not ‘mistakes’. They just go against what grammarians write in books.

The kinds of mistakes i do care about are saying things like:

‘I didn’t care if i make a types of mistakes.’ Things that no native would ever, ever say.

Wow. This sounds so encouraging. Thanks for your words.

I don’t like making mistakes but with time, I learned that it’s part of the process…but, I still don’t like it. How I overcame this problem, initially I booked private lessons and didn’t feel bad because I was paying teachers to listen to my mistakes:). Eventually, I found language partners who I warned ahead of time to take the stress off. Also, I tested B2 in French but tell everybody that I am a B1 in the event I suck that day:). A little expectation management can go a long way.

I make mistakes speaking Spanish even though is my mother tongue. I make a lot of mistakes when I speak in English and many more when I speak French. It’s not something I bother about.

Yep, you’re just right. Thank you.