Senseilance   Thursday, November 18, 2004, 04:57 GMT
The inventor of the lightbulb was asked how he invented it.

he replied that he made 9,999 mistakes before he got the final version.

Good luck!
Tom   Friday, November 19, 2004, 01:35 GMT
And this is relevant to languages because .... ?
Ed   Friday, November 19, 2004, 04:14 GMT
Because Senseilance knows how to count to 9,999 maybe
Sanja   Friday, November 19, 2004, 18:15 GMT
Or because whatever you do, it takes a lot of mistakes before you get it right. And I guess it's the same with learning foreign languages.
Ed   Friday, November 19, 2004, 18:28 GMT
Sanja, what you said makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up :-P
Steve K   Friday, November 19, 2004, 18:34 GMT
Agreed Sanja
Xatufan   Friday, November 19, 2004, 19:47 GMT
Easterner   Saturday, November 20, 2004, 00:56 GMT
Not just that, any of you ever counted how many bumps and bruises you got before you could walk or ride a bike properly? So why should it be different with using a language (though it is less likely to get actual bumps there, except if you are at doing it at the wrong place and the wrong time... the world is full of nasty surprises nowadays).
egg   Saturday, November 20, 2004, 01:38 GMT
You could get killed by using the language incorrectly.

You could accidentally say "Spank you" instead of "Thank you" and the person you said it to could be crazy and decide to kill you because of your small mistake. By the way, learning to ride a bike is a synch, i never got any bruises.
Sanja   Saturday, November 20, 2004, 15:03 GMT
It's not very likely that someone would say "Spank you" instead of "Thank you".... LOL :) And the person who decides to kill you for that must be really crazy. :))
Tom   Saturday, November 20, 2004, 15:29 GMT
The analogy between learning a language and inventing the light bulb is a false one.

Thomas Edison had to invent something that nobody had made before.
Nobody is expecting learners to invent a new language. They merely have to copy the language that millions of people are using.

If you were to make a light bulb today, would you make 9,999 mistakes or would you look at the light bulbs that are out there and copy the design?
Sanja   Saturday, November 20, 2004, 17:25 GMT
Yes, but you make mistakes when you try to achieve anything new, and learning a foreign language is a new thing for a learner.
Boy   Monday, November 22, 2004, 21:54 GMT
Sanja, I wanna say that "don't make mistakes principle of Tom" makes me nervous all the time. I have cut down on writing all day to day emails for the last 6 months and has not spoken an English sentence just because I was totally scared of making mistakes. You see, I went to see an exhibition at a local hotel where a local-American born guy was speaking in English and I was just in awe-struck when I saw someone speaking the language with the right pronunciation and accent. I was unable to speak what I wanted to speak. I acted like a lonely stone. What's the purpose of learning the language when I can't talk when I need and it really pissess me off. I felt like someone strangled my throat just before I wanted to say something to him but at the end I didn't. Speaking is a tough job, to be honest and only 24/7practice, can make one a perfect speaker and I'm totally discouraged when I feel myself a failure in a real life situtaion. The reaction time is too short for thinking and producing a correct thought into a form of a correct line/sentence and I want Tom to write a detailed write up on this weakness of being freaked out when I have to confront with someone who knows the language like 1-2-3-4!
Tom   Monday, November 22, 2004, 22:19 GMT
If you don't feel ready to speak, don't speak.
Sanja   Tuesday, November 23, 2004, 16:47 GMT
I totally agree with Boy and disagree with Tom. You can't learn a foreign language perfectly right away, even learning your own language perfectly takes some time. You just can't learn anything without making mistakes, but with practice you make fewer and fewer mistakes. No offence, Tom, but I would like to know (in case English is your native language) if you speak any foreign language and if you learnt it right away without making any mistakes at all. Because I think that's quite impossible for the most people. I personally was never afraid of making mistakes in everyday communication, it is more important to me that people can understand me when I speak English, than to speak it perfectly. Of course if I needed something for school or something official, I always made sure there were no mistakes in it. When I read things I wrote in English 4 years ago, now I think my English was atrocious. I still make mistakes, but I'm still improving. How would I be able to improve if I didn't actually use the language and make mistakes? We learn from our mistakes.
I think it's rude to say something like "If you don't feel ready to speak, don't speak". It's completely understandable that foreigners don't speak perfectly and no one can expect that. I started chatting with the native English speakers when my English was terrible, but I wasn't afraid of making mistakes because if I hadn't talked with them my English would have never improved.