Languages and relationships

One thing I’ve always found a bit awkward with friends who are learning English is the part where they ask me to correct their English whenever they make a mistake.  I always feel a bit weird about this, not least because I notice pretty much every mistake anybody makes (especially me).  I have no problem at all answering direct questions, or checking particular pieces of work, but if someone asks me to correct them while they’re speaking, I feel quite uncomfortable.

I’ve come up against this problem from the other side as well, where I both want and don’t want people to directly correct my speaking.  I want to improve, of course, but I also think it interferes with the flow of communication and can change the dynamic in a friendship or working relationship (and if we’re going to be totally honest, I don’t really like being corrected).

For these reasons, I’ve been loathe to ask friends and co-workers to help me with my language studies, either as tutors or language exchange partners.  I prefer to keep my teacher as a separate role from my friends.  I don’t know if it’s just me not wanting to look like an idiot in front of people I know (and am not paying for the privilege), or if I have a valid point.  I think a good way to do it is to wait for a while to notice the regular (and larger) errors, and then mention them, but I wonder how receptive I would be if someone did that to me.  Then again, I wonder how annoyed I would be to independently find out that people hadn’t been correcting huge mistakes in my speaking.

Do you have any particularly positive or negative experiences of getting people besides a teacher to correct your spoken (or written) language?