Embarrassing language mistakes

Image 3One of the things which holds us back when practising a new language is making mistakes. We’ve all done it! Everyone makes mistakes when they’re learning, and (less often) even when they are fluent. The most notorious example is mixing up the Spanish word for “embarrassing” and saying “estoy embarazada” (I’m pregnant!) instead of “estoy avergonzada.”

My most cringe-worthy story is from when I was on holiday in Venice, Italy. I needed to send some postcards so asked the cutest guy I could find “Dov’è l’ufficio postale più vicino?” (Where is the nearest post office?) He raised his eyebrows and pointed behind me! Even though I’d made sure I had the phrase and even the pronunciation correct, I was standing in front of the post office!

The important things to note are that:

  • Each mistake is a learning process. Often, you can remember words because of a mistake you’ve made and the subsequent correction that your audience has given you.
  • People are very likely to understand and forgive you for a mistake, as long as you try!
  • Laughter is a universal language. If you make a huge mistake, at least the person talking to you will have a great story to tell their friends!

What’s the most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in when speaking another language?