My English is pretty advanced, yet I still make mistakes (not many, but some).

I am constantly talking to native speakers and always tell them to correct my mistakes.

My problem is that in most cases they just won't do that! The keep telling me that my English is so advanced that they always understand what I am up to and I keep telling them that I still feel embarrassed when I find out afterwards that I made a mistake.

Obviously this is some combination of misconceived politeness and laziness.

My question
How can you encourage persons to correct the mistakes you make?

closed as off topic by tchrist, Bravo, user19148, Robusto, MetaEd Mar 17 '13 at 14:17

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  • 1
    I sympathize with your plight, but I do not know how this question can lead a single correct answer rather than discussion and debate. – tchrist Mar 17 '13 at 12:07
  • @tchrist: Thank you. Let's just wait and see. I found Bill's answer helpful already. – vonjd Mar 17 '13 at 12:24
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    If I were to correct my non-native speaker colleagues whenever they made a "mistake" in English, I wouldn't get any work done. Moreover, I would look like a jerk to people who weren't in on the system. – Robusto Mar 17 '13 at 13:07
  • @Robusto: Thank you. This is true, yet when you ask for it and people still won't do it it is a different story. – vonjd Mar 17 '13 at 13:14
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    @vonjd: The point assumes my being asked to do it. – Robusto Mar 17 '13 at 13:35

As a long-time EFL teacher who's often been asked to correct students' speaking and writing mistakes, let me assure you that it's an onerous task that gets in the way of communication. Only holier-than-thou jerks go around correcting everyone's linguistic lapses all the time.

Native speakers will usually let you know when you've made a howler or said something that will offend or anger or insult or confuse someone else, but don't ask for more unless you're willing to consider correction a class and not a conversation.

Your English doesn't have to be perfect to be understood: it merely has to be clear. My wife speaks Chinese English to me. I make corrections maybe once a day. If I made more, she'd never talk to me again.


English is a language - not a knowledge. Asking your English speaking friends to point out your mistakes is not a good technique. It would rather discourage your brain to reach the level of competence.

Just speak English, no matter right or wrong. But gradually, just like a baby, your English will get better. Humans are the most advanced animals whose linguistic power is tremendously enormous. So relax and quit the unnatural way of learning English. :)

  • I am not convinced because especially kids learning a language are being corrected all the time (by their parents, teachers etc.)! – vonjd Mar 17 '13 at 17:41
  • Parents and teachers correct the kids only when they make obvious mistakes. The fact is, the kids themselves learn their native language by mimicking their parents, their teachers, their favorite comic characters etc. Good language learning starts only when you mimic the native speakers... just like kids! :) – Mithun Mar 17 '13 at 19:34

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