Perfect is the Enemy of Good


Some students are patient and others are very impatient. Some students are diligent and others want to communicate as much as possible and as quickly as possible. The ones I see improve most quickly are the impatient ones. Why?

Hungry for language

Impatient students are hungry for language and they will try to soak up as much as they can in any way possible. Books, radio, podcasts, DVDs, making friends, joining organisations.

Urge to communicate

Impatient students need to communicate and this need comes from their heart. They want to talk to people and use the language they are learning and share the passion they have in their lives with someone.

They are not ‘good at studying’

Impatient students don’t study grammar with books very often unless someone has told them that their grammar stops them being understood. They don’t sit down with books they don’t enjoy. They don’t always do their homework but they come to lessons prepared to talk.

They don’t care about being perfect, they care about being good enough.

On they other hand, students who try to be perfect and diligent usually take a long time to speak, but their grammar is perfect. They are nervous about mistakes. However, if you make a mistake, nobody will cry; in fact, nobody cares about the mistake but you. You can’t communicate outside the classroom by taking one minute or more per sentence because people will walk away.

Be good enough. Perfect is an unrealistic goal. Native speakers are not perfect all of the time. Try to be as natural as possible and be understood, because what is language for? It is for communication.

If you want to be quicker at speaking here are some things to try:

  • reading aloud;
  • mimicking television shows, DVDs and podcasts (using the pause and rewind buttons if you need to use them); and
  • talking to yourself, perhaps even recording yourself.