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Filed Under: Mistakes in English

Why You Shouldn’t Try to Forget Your Embarrassing Mistakes in English

December 31, 2020

By Dr Julian Northbrook

One of the mistakes people make is trying to forget their mistakes in English.

What do I mean?

Let’s say you have a conversation that goes horribly wrong. It could be a conversation, a presentation or whatever.

You mess up.

You say something stupid.

The person you’re talking to looks at you like you’re a dumbass idiot.

It’s embarrassing.


It really is.

And yeah, I’ve been there. And not just in my second language.

(Actually, Japanese in a way was easier for me because it gave me an excuse to say stupid cringeworthy shit, but that’s another story.)

Time is a good healer.

This is a good thing.

You don’t want to be stuck beating yourself up about the embarrassing things you said forever. And if you do that, that’s a whole other issue that you need to fix.

But you also don’t want to completely forget about the mistake. Because it’s imperative you learn from it. Every screw-up, every messed up conversation you have, and every mistake, every failed situation, is valuable because it’s a learning experience. And if you’re consistently making the same mistakes, screwing up and never changing it… that’s going to reflect very badly on you.

So yes, you should hold on to your mistakes.

But only if you use it properly to learn from.

So how do you do this?

I use a technique called ‘Retrodictive Learning’, which while difficult sounding is actually very easy. It allows you to use your mistakes as a springboard for improvement. My MEFAs start this right from Week 1 and learn all about (and practise) the technique in Week 6.

You can learn all about MEFA here:


Julian Northbrook

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