Nobody is Perfect - Everyone Makes Mistakes
By Carlos Gontow
Of course your students want to speak English well, but it’s important for them to realize that they will never speak English perfectly. And it’s not their fault – or your fault. Nobody speaks perfectly, not even native speakers. Are you a native speaker of Portuguese? Do you speak it perfectly? Don’t you say, “Eu vou no cinema,” when the correct is, “Eu vou ao cinema?” Do you sometimes use the wrong word when you want to say something? Of course you do, but I bet you don’t keep saying to yourself, “Oh, my, I’ll never speak Portuguese well.” Or do you? So why do you do that when you speak English?
I have two kids, Bruna and Pedro, and I know very well who is who. However, sometimes I call Bruna Pedro and sometimes I call Pedro Bruna. Sometimes I correct myself half-way through the name and call them Pe-Bruna or Bru-Pedro. Mistakes happen, and it’s OK to make them. As a teacher it’s your job to make your students understand that.Many times we make mistakes and we’re able to correct ourselves. Sometimes we don’t even notice we’ve made one. Take this scene from the TV series "Brothers and Sisters," for example. When the mother, Nora (the great Sally Field) said, "Your brothers and sisters have confirmed." The daughter Kitty (played by Calista Flockhart) should have said, "They have?" Take a look at what she said:
Do you think after this scene the actress spent days criticizing herself and saying, “I’ll never know how to use the Present Perfect?” I don’t think so. By the way, this is a very common mistake among native speakers. They all speak like this – maybe this is not considered a mistake anymore.
Carlos Gontow is an English teacher and an actor and has been involved with teaching English through theater for more than twenty years. Carlos is a teacher at Associação Alumni, where he also writes and directs children’s plays. He’s the author of the book “The Classroom is a Stage – 40 Short Plays for English Students.”