While practice speaking a foreign language, I often find myself make a mistake during the speech and correct it immediately. The mistakes usually come from grammar, which I rarely do in writing. For example (French):


Quand je étudie, ... je ai étudiais, ..., j'ai, ... j'étudiais en Chine, je...

article (for gender)

Je pense que tu dois prendre un, ... une phote.


J'ai vécu ici pour trois, ... depuis trois mois.

In this case, for the purpose of improving my speaking skill, is it advisable to bother to correcting the mistakes or simply ignoring it?

I think if I notice the mistakes but keep ignoring them, I'm getting accustomed to the mistakes and it is more difficult to fix the bad habit later.

However, if I bother to correcting the mistakes, I cannot speak as much, and I feel I'm more concentrated on the grammar than speaking itself. The amount of speaking is less than when I ignore them, since additional thinking takes more time before issuing the words.

This is not a question of making a mistake on word itself, which I believe I should always correct it.

Hier je suis allé à la balange, ... boulangerie.

  • I think it depends on your level. If there are few mistakes, then you are in a situation close to natives: aim for perfection. Otherwise, (i) you may spot a problem without knowing how to solve it, then what to do? (ii) you lose momentum if there are too many issues in a given sentence and you may end up not saying anything. Jun 21, 2019 at 8:54

2 Answers 2


Even native speakers correct themselves when speaking.

If you say (in English or French for that matter), "when I study x" you are not saying "when I studied x". So, if your sentence is supposed to be in the past, you should make the correction if you want to say what you intended to say.

The same point is true in French for: J'ai vécu ici pour trois, ... depuis trois mois.

Depuis and pour will be two completely different meanings. If you do not correct it, you will not be saying what you want to say.

Those types of corrections are made by native speakers all the time since even a native speaker could have a lapse of the tongue and say pour instead of depuis or use the wrong verb tense.

Now, the other mistake in French: un photo instead of une photo is the kind of mistake a native speaker does not generally make. But even when a French speaker does make a masculine/feminine article error, they correct it right away.

Frankly, I don't buy the idea in the question of "not speaking as much" versus "speaking a lot". One doesn't speak in quantities.

Speech occurs in time. Speech occurs in a range of speeds going from slow(er) or fast(er). The better one knows a language, the faster one can speak without making errors. That said, speaking too fast can be good or bad depending on whom one is speaking to and why.

That said, the goal is not fast speech. The goal is to produce speech that sounds good (natural). So, it's better to slow down in general and correct mistakes as one goes along.

The more proficient one becomes, the faster one can speak. The goal is to internalize a language so one is not translating as one speaks. If you can think in another language (which comes at an advanced level), you most definitely should correct yourself just like any native speaker. And, overall, you might want to slow your speech down if you are not yet at a very advanced level. If you correct your own mistakes, once you have done that once, you are likely not to make that mistake again, all things being equal.

Addition to answer: When speaking with a nice person in an L2 (second language), you have the option of asking that person to correct you.


Without any claim to completeness, here are some subjective reasons why I think one should strive to correct their mistakes, once noticed:

  1. As a language learner, you make more mistakes than you notice; they slip unnoticed and thus stay not corrected. The mistakes have cumulative effect, rendering what you say incomprehensible. Correcting a mistake, instead, may salvage the meaning of what you say;
  2. A habit of correcting yourself will aid memorizing the correct tenses/articles/prepositions etc. Yes, in the beginning you concentrate on grammar rules (e.g. "this noun is Feminine, what is the correct case ending for Accusative?"), but with the course of your L2 development, the correct case ending will be coming to your mind automatically, without recalling the entire Case Table.

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