Even fluent French speakers make mistakes.
We’re going to discuss perceived expectations when learning French and then touch base on the reality.
I’m an American French-English bilingual.
I’ll be the first to proudly tell you – I make mistakes in both French AND English.
But it’s funny, because I occasionally find myself correcting actual French people too. They’ll conjugate French verbs with incorrect endings or fail to make proper agreement on nouns according number or gender.
I admit, as a writer for FrenchCrazy.com I’m under more scrutiny than the typical French adolescent. You know, the ones who murder French through internet slang and endless abbreviations?
I’m held to a higher standard because I publish to hundreds of thousands of monthly readers. I’m held to a higher standard because my goal here is to TEACH others – and we all know teachers NEVER make mistakes.
No. Even the best of teachers make mistakes because that’s a part of being HUMAN.
In the language-learning realm, mistakes set you free. Worrying too much about making mistakes only holds you back.
My Qualm? The 0.1%
My problem isn’t that I’m held to a higher standard nor is it that I still make mistakes in French (despite learning it since 2004). If you point out a mistake on one of my articles, 99.9% of the time I’m grateful. I realize I made a boo-boo and one quick edit resolves the problem!
Nobody died, the Earth still spins on its axis, gravity works, and rainstorms will grace London. All is well.
It’s the 0.1% of people who correct you in a condescending way. The 0.1% who insinuate that making a typo or omitting a word automatically disqualifies you from calling yourself “fluent” in your second language.
Keep in mind, 83% of statistics on the internet are fake, but that’s not the point.
To those 0.1% people, I say “get stuffed“.
Find me a second language learner who became fluent without ever making an error.
No, let’s up the ante.
Find me one French person who has never made a mistake in French. I mean, native-born French speakers should NEVER make mistakes… they’re fluent!
Hurr hurr hurr.
The 0.1% exist solely to harm you. They prey on your tears and don’t care whether you actually improve your French skills or not. The 0.1% are there not only to point out your mistakes but to make you pay for them.
They’re not a kind bunch.
Sure, I’m not finding a cure for cancer, but my inbox shows that I’m nonetheless helping people out there. I won’t let the 0.1% jeopardize that for you guys.
But as a simple warning, I guarantee that you’ll meet somebody like this during your time learning French. What can you do about it? Well, I certainly don’t recommend writing angry articles about them at 4:27AM. Yes, it’s 4 o’clock in the morning here in France and a recent interaction compelled me to craft this masterpiece.
Just Make FEWER Mistakes
Never making mistakes would eradicate the 0.1% because they need a special environment to thrive.
As you progress in French you’ll notice that mistakes become less frequent. It’s a good thing. However, this reduction of frequency also amplifies the “severity” of minor mistakes since they are now a rare phenomenon.
Did you catch my drift? If you make 50 mistakes a minute then no one error holds any weight. If you go days without a slip up, then even using the incorrect gender can bother you.
It’s the same thing with publishing online.
Admittedly, my last article (50 French Expressions and Slang to Sound More Fluent in French) had many more typos and errors than usual. The problem compounded due to its propagation across social media. Imagine the horror on my face, days later, when I revisited the article and found it full of typos. There was even an unfinished sentence!
La honte !
The good thing (or bad thing?) was that most of the mishaps were in English. It’s thoroughly edited to be a solid article now.
In a perfect world I wouldn’t hit that “publish” button without being absolutely certain that my writing is perfect. Also in a perfect world FrenchCrazy would have a vast team of editors, writers, video-producers, and contact staff.
For the time being you guys are just stuck with me. It’s certainly not your job to report typos via the comment section but it helps me immensely. For every one person who takes the time to write a comment there are 1,000 who simply hit the “back” button.
With traffic picking up, a team is almost a necessity to keep producing great, typo-free content for the masses. Stay tuned.