Don’t ask people to correct your French
I know this might sound like a strange piece of advice, but I’ve been there … You have some French acquaintances, and you think it would be great to practice your French with them.
But then you add “Oh! and please, correct my mistakes!”
Why? Because this might destroy any self-confidence you have in French. Especially if you are a beginner or intermediate student.
Learning a language is tough. It takes time. You cannot be perfect right away and it’s likely that you’ll make mistakes. Many mistakes. You want the basic ones to be corrected, but it’s a rare skill to be able to know which mistakes are bad and which ones can fly, according to the student’s level and ability.
Most people are very bad at making this distinction. They can end up being over-zealous, demanding teachers, correcting your every word, spending hours on the pronunciation of one single sound…
Furthermore, your acquaintances are your friends. You want to relax with them, not be in ‘classroom mode’.
It might put you both in an uncomfortable place: you being constantly reminded of your mistakes, and them being embarrassed because they will not always be able to explain why it is a mistake. They are not teachers after all, but may feel that they ‘should’ know.
I have witnessed people guessing (usually incorrectly), or inventing reasons when they don’t know why it should be said like that. This is useless and frustrating for both parties: you may learn wrong things, or end up feeling there are absolutely no rules behind the French language (and actually, there are many).
Believe me, if you want to practice your French with friends, OK, it can be a great idea, and a good way to progress, but choose wisely who you decide to practice with. It’s not for everybody. Your friends don’t need the hassle of correcting you, nor do you need the constant embarrassment.
If you want someone to correct you in a constructive way, take a lesson!
1. Parlez-vous français, via Beauty* in Everything
2. French class, Sarah Blood
3. Man, via French Today