One of the major benefits of taking a Japanese class is having a teacher who corrects your mistakes. An ideal teacher is aggressive, makes sure you don’t develop bad habits, and constantly fixes what you say. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t contain this kind of teacher. It’s not that great teachers don’t exist. Regardless of how good a teacher is, he has to be lenient sometimes and let mistakes go regardless of whether you are in a large class or in a private lesson. If he is a good teacher, he is trying hard to maintain the mistake balance.
The mistake balance is the balance that must be made between correcting mistakes and letting them go. If the balance is tipped too much in one direction, one of two results occurs:
1) All mistakes are corrected
This destroys your confidence and motivation. You can’t go through a conversation. You get frustrated. You start disliking Japanese.
2) No mistakes are corrected
Bad habits are formed that may be eventually very hard to fix (think of “fluent speakers” of English you have met who always make the same annoying grammar mistakes). You also gain false confidence which will eventually be exposed.
Are mistakes okay and not to be feared like so many language teachers say who are trying to maintain the mistake balance?
No, mistakes are bad. You want the mistakes that you will inevitably make to all be corrected. You need a way to destroy the mistake balance and replace it with something else. The solution to this is surprisingly simple.
Become Your Own Teacher.
If you are your own teacher, you can at any moment freely correct every mistake you make and be as strict as you want.
How do you become your own teacher?
If you are following the Japanese Level Up immersion method, you are already working towards this ability without even having to try. While the process will take some time, there is a strange and valuable skill that you are unconsciously developing. With the immersion method, you are constantly listening to and reading Japanese every day for hours on end. Your skills develop unbalanced with reading and listening reigning supreme. This imbalance will result in the ability to become your own teacher.
Whenever you hear Japanese come out of your mouth, you will start to know if it sounds right or wrong, and will be able to pick out your own mistakes. You will have listened to so much Japanese that if your own spoken Japanese doesn’t match what you are used to hearing, your mind will subconsciously tell you it is wrong.
The result is the destruction of the mistake balance, because you will be constantly judging yourself wherever you go, self-correcting every mistake possible, and not developing bad habits. At the same time, this also doesn’t cause the mistake balance problem of correcting too many mistakes. It feels different. Since you are the one correcting your own mistakes, you are not really discouraged or slowing yourself down, because you know what is right. You have the knowledge. You are the one in control. And this makes all the difference.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.