Making mistakes is a normal and necessary part of learning a new language. We want you to feel super comfortable making mistakes and learning from them. Here are some excellent language learners and some of the funny mistakes they have made in their language learning process. We hope you enjoy their stories and take courage knowing you are in good company! If you would like to submit your own language learner story for review please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be notified if your story is accepted.
I have made lots of funny mistakes learning English and have seen my learners and trainees make a lot of funny mistakes as well. Let's talk about one of my funny mistakes. I once said to my teacher, "I will get you eaten" rather than "I will get you to eat" and the teacher burst into laughter and said "who by?" Later, he clarified the meaning to me. Now let me share a story about a student. I remember a student using the phrase "expose myself" as a way of introduction (expose as in exposition). The sentence he went with was, "let me expose myself in front of you." I was shocked hearing it.
I would like to share my experience learning French. As a project in class we had to sing a song so I decided to sing "Chaque Jour." I practiced, but in the class when I started singing I pronounced it in Spanish (it sounded like chalk whore) not at all like the French (shock zhour). My classmates tried to correct me but I was so focused that I didn't notice. I thought they were laughing because I was not a good singer, but they were laughing at my terrible accent. My lovely classmates started calling me "Chalk Whore," complete with my exaggerated Spanish pronunciation, from that day on.
I remember this as if it was yesterday, one of my relatives had to see a nurse, an American nurse who didn't speak French (our native language) so she asked me to assist her since I'm a good English speaker. The nurse asked her what the matter was. I translated what she said by saying, she had "acid reflex." The nurse said "What?" I repeated, "acid reflex." Finally, the nurse said okay. I guess she understood because of the word "acid." The nurse came back with pills and asked me to translate instructions my relative should follow. I was embarrassed to hear the nurse say,"acid reflux." I snuck around a corner to take out my phone, opened a dictionary app and learned all about "acid reflux." I will never forget those two words again.
When my parents and I first arrived in the U.S., I learned English faster than my mother. One day we were at a store in our new neighborhood and the owner asked where we lived. My mother told me to tell her, "A la vuelta de la manzana," a colloquial Spanish expression for "around the corner." I told the woman we lived "around the apple," since manzana means apple. I still remember her puzzled face.
When I started learning Spanish I wished a friend of mine happy birthday in Spanish using the word ano instead of año but without the very important tilde. Without it, the word means "anus." You can imagine my embarrassment!
During my first month in Argentina as a new missionary struggling mightily to learn the language I had the opportunity to teach part of a lesson concerning the baptism of the Savior. With all the sincerity I could muster, I told the family we were teaching, in my very best Spanish...."After the Savior came up out of the water, the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a grapefruit." I knew it was the form of a dove, but the word for dove is paloma; I said pomelo. You can see where I got lost, right? No one said anything about my mistake until my companion and I were walking down the street later and he told me of my mistake. I was totally embarassed!
This wasn't me, but one of the other missionaries in our mission. While separating to classes after opening exercises on Sunday morning he said, "The youth will meet in room three, the adulterers will remain in the Chapel. He meant to say "adults" (in Spanish, adultos"), but he went with adulterios. Kinda close.