Today I was having coffee with one of my most successful students, and we were talking about her approach to improving her fluency in English. In my opinion, her success is related to the following things:
1. She believes that communication is her first priority.
2. She listens and pays attention.
3. She reads and watches TV series and films.
4. She takes advantage of opportunities to speak.
5. She works to incorporate new grammar and vocabulary immediately.
All of these practices are key to her success, but I think the first one is absolutely the most important one. Because she believes this, the other ones follow more easily. If using English "perfectly" were her objective, it would be much more difficult for her to improve, because the idea of "perfection" would be a barrier. She would probably feel less disposed to speak, and it would be harder for her to listen and pay attention, because she would be distracted by her idea of being "perfect".
In education and business today, people are talking a lot about the value of making mistakes and taking risks. It's easy to talk about it but difficult to do it. When I see a student taking risks in order to communicate, I'm very impressed, and I know that she or he will learn and improve a lot!
It would be very interesting for me to hear other ideas about this, from students or teachers...