More on making mistakes
We now have another comment on making mistakes supporting Pako’s view that we should not make mistakes. I suspect we are not really in disagreement.
The important points are:
1) You should not be afraid to speak for fear of making mistakes. Your main goal has to be to communicate. You should communicate whenever you have the opportunity, without fear. But you have to build up your ability to communicate, and just communicating, by itself, will not do that. You need to practice. You need to train, just like in sports.
2) If you only communicate in the language without training, in other words without putting effort into improving (like ESL Learner’s brother in the comment below), you will not improve. The conversation club approach to language learning does not work.
3) You need to focus on input. You need to deliberately save new words and phrases. You need to be conscious of what words and concepts you were unable to express when you spoke, and go back to your input to acquire them. Input should be 75% of your time spent studying the language, as we say at The Linguist website. Some immigrants to Canada seem to think that if they only get a job in an English speaking environment they will achieve English fluency. This is not true. Those people never achieve their English language potential.
4) You should work on pronunciation, deliberately and consistently. Yet you should avoid being self-conscious about your pronunciation.
5) You should write and have your writing corrected.
6) You should meet with a native speaker coach or tutor around once a week. This and the writing will be enough to identify key errors in structure, use of words, and pronunciation.
The rest you need to do on your own. This is the approach we use at The Linguist and it is efficient and cost effective.