Are there any mistakes which you keep making over and over? Does it drive you crazy?! If this is you, don’t worry! You are not alone! Most language learners have the same problem. Keep reading for some tips on what to do about it.
1. Find out what they are
This is difficult to do on your own. If you have lessons, ask your teacher. Without a teacher it’s much more difficult but you might read or hear a sentence and think to yourself, “Oh! I always say that differently!” For this to work, you have to read or listen to a lot of English and really pay attention.
2. Understand it
It’s easier to stop making the mistake if you understand why it’s wrong. If it’s a grammar mistake, try to understand the rule. If it’s a vocabulary mistake, make sure you know what the correct and the incorrect words really mean. Or maybe you make the mistake because you are translating directly from your own language. When you understand why you make the mistake, it’s easier to change it.
3. Write it down
Write your mistake down and cross it out, with a red pen if possible! Write the correct sentence as well. Writing things down helps us to remember them.
4. Practise it
Every day, try to make a sentence, or two or three sentences, using the correct language. Write the sentences down if you can but even just making them in your head or saying to yourself will help. If you can relate them to your everyday life, that’s even better.
5. Focus on one mistake at a time
Don’t try to fix all your mistakes at once but just pick one and work on it for a few days or until you get it right.
For example, I once had a student who always said “in the internet” instead of “on the internet”. First, I had to point out the mistake to her. Then she had to understand that she was making the mistake because she was translating word for word from her own language. I got her to write it down and say “on the internet” as often as possible.
Mistakes like this are called “fossilised errors” because they are fixed like dinosaur bones in rock! The longer you have been making the mistake, the harder it will be to correct it but, with hard work and determination, it is possible!
Click the button to download this free worksheet containing some common mistakes and see if you can fix them!
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