Going through some old files the other day, I came across a bunch of Icelandic MP3 recordings I’d made for an old 30 Day Speaking Challenge. A long time ago.
Needless to say, when I played them back, I didn’t feel too impressed. The accent, the grammatical errors, the stoppy-starty delivery. Not my finest work I tut-tutted.
But, listening on through gritted teeth, something started to happen. I found myself silently correcting the mistakes. I was almost willing handy hints for improvement back in time to that previous version of myself.
Fine to Be At Fault!
Old, imperfect language learning work is never anything to feel shame or embarrassment over. Most obviously, it shows us how far we’ve come.
But as ‘faulty’ resources, they’re actually far from useless. They give us chance to review and remedy mistakes that we were prone to in the past. Yes, they do crystallise errors. But as such, they also serve as great anti-examples of language use, as well as remind us that we no longer make them.
The same goes for non-language material, too. Some years ago, I made some ‘talking revision notes’ for a social science module I was taking with the Open University. Listening back to them, beyond the initial cringe, I ended up in a kind of mental conversation with myself: lots of “yes, but what about…” and “that’s one way to look at it, but…“. It is such a great way to interrogate past knowledge with a present outlook.
Finding Fault : A Do-Over
Something you can do, if your previous faults annoy you too much, is a do-over. Rerecord your speaking challenges. Rewrite your previous notes. Create fresh summaries of your learning material including everything you’ve learnt since. But keep both old and new handy as a testament to your progress.
If you’re tempted to delete your old recordings, or trash your old notebooks, pause to think: what can I still learn about my journey from these? Be generous to yourself – to a fault.