“Mistakes ‘Grow’ Your Brain” – Jo Boaler

One of my biggest questions as a NeuroLanguage Coach® is to know when and how to correct my Language Coachees when needed. Over-correcting might result in them losing motivation and the destruction of the session flow.

For me, the best solution is to always ask them about error correction and discuss when and how they would like to be corrected. Thanks to their inputs I now know what they prefer:

1. Instant Correction: Some learners want to be corrected immediately, but as I do not want to break the session’s flow, I do some hand gestures previously agreed to indicate the mistake. Coachees are amazed at how much they can correct themselves without my direct action.
2. Correction Time. We agree beforehand to dedicate some time to deal with corrections that arise during our session. I write the phrases and the coachees correct the mistakes on their own.
3. Peer Correction. In a group session, I am also not seen as the only source of correction and my role is to create a positive and collaborative atmosphere where these types of corrections are done by some other coachees and not by myself.

I feel my mission is to create the perfect learning state where my language coachees are openly discussing mistakes and see them as powerful assets to learn, improve and succeed. Keeping a growth mindset is vital to see mistakes as a path to learning rather than disgrace. Therefore, my goal is always to create a mistake friendly environment in our sessions. Mistakes are valued as they are connected to my coachees’ thoughts and mother tongue. Analyzing them together in a brain-friendly way enhances my coachees’ understanding of where their mistakes come from while detaching them from their personal failure. Once this step is reached I explain that “mistakes grow their brain”, meaning that they have greater brain activity and connectivity when they make mistakes or feel struggling to learn from them.

In my sessions, mistakes are not to be avoided but encouraged, so my coachees take advantage of my NeuroLanguage Coaching® feedback (always positive) to become more effective, skilled and willing to take risks in the name of language learning. Positive mistake encouragement has a huge impact on my coachees, who then share their ideas without the fear of being wrong, criticized or judged. Making mistakes is acceptable and they feel they are very close to the right answer which they reach on their own. When this happens they are not focusing their energy on their mistake but on their attempt to find the right language solution.

My coachees feel they are the one and only drivers of their learning path and this makes them try harder to succeed in a more personal and empowering way. As a NeuroLanguage Coach® I work in a brain-friendly way, handling the critical power of mistakes and the often terrible feeling when making a mistake, so my coachees are in full control and responsible for their achievements.

When my coachees see their mistakes as gems, they become a blessing in their learning path. Embracing our failures teaches us a powerful lesson and makes us who we truly are – makes us unique.

As a trainer, how do you deal with this topic with your coachees?
As a learner, how do you prefer to be corrected?
It would be great to know.