I say “I can” because I feel entitled. English will never be my native language, but I have been studying it for a lifetime and I did learn the alphabet in English first! But I still make mistakes in English and all other 10 languages I speak. Including Portuguese. Native mistakes, mind you!

Making mistakes has bothered my perfectionist nature more in the past. Still, they are crucial for language learning and making progress. Imagine you always choose the formal form of sorry in Portuguese, “desculpe”. You are happy, and even proud of yourself. Until you steer away from the touristic uses of the language and start making friends. Then using “desculpe” might still be a safe choice, but if you say it to children, it might sound odd, because being informal towards children is more common.

This is a simple example of how you used something correctly, without realizing it could be “wrong” too, and should have used “desculpa” instead.

Mistakes are important, but it’s paramount you don’t get too attached, and please listen to corrections. Mistakes can be annoying for native speakers (and even physically painful, if you say “desculpa” at a restaurant), but that is our problem!

Try making sense of why you made a mistake: perhaps it reveals what is normal in another language you speak; put it in perspective – if you weren’t talking to the president, and made yourself understood, then…; laugh at it – I personally find mistakes very clever.

Then you might start relaxing and enjoying the art of communicating in different sounds, structures and codes.

If you have enjoyed this quick lesson and would like to learn more Portuguese outside of the box, then please contact Catarina from The Language Unschool - catarina@thelanguageunschool.com