What made you wary of language learning?

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eido
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What made you wary of language learning?

Postby eido » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:48 pm

So I'm a fan of sharing stories.

Let's share some.

My mom often says that people "hate" or just aren't interested in language learning. She completely avoided it as a high school student (and could, because she didn't go to college). I thought that was a big generalization to make, but all the same had some merit to it. A lot of people from my observation (both in class and on the Internet that I've read about) seem to never take to language learning (as was the case with a fair portion of my fellow students) or start up the process many years after their years of compulsory education have ended (as was the case with the people I've read about).

I personally never hated language learning in school, but I believe I'm among the minority. I stand to be corrected, though.

What about you? Did you actually like learning (like I did), or did you quit and curse the teacher and rise again like a phoenix to go in a completely different direction? Or maybe you liked the language, but hated the method? Combine any of those situations as fits your personal story, of course.

I'm trying to see what goes wrong in instruction and what could go right.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby Hank » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:35 pm

I took the minimum language requirement in both high school and college. If it wasn't mandatory I doubt I would have even considered it. I took a semester (or maybe a year...I can't remember) of French in high school. The only other option at the time was Spanish. I chose French because Spanish was sooooo boring. :lol: The class was ok, but it didn't really excite me. In college I took a year of German. My second semester teacher was fantastic and obviously had a passion for German and/or teaching. The class was fun. By the end of the semester he was speaking only in German. It was obviously extremely simple German, but it was really exciting. That was all my language learning activity for many years.

I don't remember an exact point when the desire to learn another language hit me. I know I had been thinking about it for years. I remember occasionally turning to the Spanish language channels on TV and wishing I knew what they were saying. My issue was that I thought you had to go to school to learn a language and with my work schedule that wasn't an option. I would have missed too many classes to make it worthwhile. Thankfully one day I saw a commercial for some internet language learning site. As they say, the rest is history. I have thought about getting a degree in Spanish, either online or when I retire in a few years. Just for fun.

I have a couple of co-workers that are interested in learning Spanish. They often ask about my progress and I try to encourage them to go for it. I think they realize that it's quite a time commitment and aren't ready or willing to commit.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby tastyonions » Thu Jun 13, 2019 1:01 am

The belief that if I could never speak exactly like a native speaker down to the last little micro-intonation and detail of idiomatic usage, there was no point to it.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby eido » Thu Jun 13, 2019 1:51 am

tastyonions wrote:The belief that if I could never speak exactly like a native speaker down to the last little micro-intonation and detail of idiomatic usage, there was no point to it.

And I would make it clear to my students, should I choose to go the route of perfecting every little last detail, that pursuing that avenue was neither good nor bad, just a choice.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby rdearman » Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:26 am

perfection is the enemy of the good.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby sporedandroid » Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:28 am

tastyonions wrote:The belief that if I could never speak exactly like a native speaker down to the last little micro-intonation and detail of idiomatic usage, there was no point to it.

I’m like this as well. I’m crazy. Luckily I enjoy analyzing every little micro-intonation. I honestly didn’t know if I would enjoy it.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby aaleks » Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:52 am

School. The way langauges were taught at school. We started learning, or more like studying, foreign languages when I was 10 year old. I'd been looking forward to those lessons right up to the moment they started. Then I found out how we were supposed to learn a language - grammar rules and word lists. That killed all the interest I'd had for language learning. Besides I thought that it was a wrong way to learn a langauge - how was it even possible to speak a language if you had to think about words' order and other srange things? And after all I wasn't thinking about all those rules speaking in my native language. That was my line of thought at the moment. From my 10-year-old point of view it was either a wrong way, or learning a language was such an enormous task that it just wasn't worth it. So as it seemed most of my classmates I didn't really try to learn something. And the way we were taught German in school turned learning a live language into studying a dead language. I didn't even remember if we ever tried to speak the language, or listened to audio. So to me German felt really more like a dead language existing only in the form of a textbook (as far as I remember the main character of the textbooks was reporter Schreibikus :roll: ).
Last edited by aaleks on Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby garyb » Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:28 am

Even as a perfectionist myself I'm quite surprised that people are saying that feeling a need to speak perfectly has put them off. Maybe it's a US thing? Here in the UK at least, the prevailing attitude is that even knowing a few words of a foreign language is a great thing and if you can muddle through a conversation you must be some kind of genius. I doubt that many people here even believe that perfection is possible, never mind a desirable goal.

I do think however that this very low standard is a problem in itself and discourages people who do have higher ambitions: reaching a high level either seems impossible or at least, based on the typical pace of school and evening classes, a lifetime commitment. "If it took five years of study at high school just to learn the very basics, how much longer would it take to be able to understand and converse?" And of course there's the idea endemic in English-speaking cultures that learning a language requires some sort of innate talent and that if you were bad at it at school you don't have that talent.

This discourages many people, and was one reason it took me a long time to go from the typical person who would like to learn a language to actually doing it. The main thing that pushed me to do it was when I was on a trip to France and I saw a few other English-speakers converse in French, having learnt it as adults. This showed me that it was actually possible.

A balance between the attitude here and the perfectionism others describe would be nice! Understanding that learning a language does take a lot of work, but that it is possible and that even a basic ability is worthwhile.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby PeterMollenburg » Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:41 am

rdearman wrote:perfection is the enemy of the good.


I don’t think it’s as clear-cut as that. Whether perfection gets in the way of achieving one’s language learning goal(s) or not depends on how much time (and patience) you have to devote to your language learning endeavour(s), how quickly you want to get there, how you prefer to study and how you would like to sound.

On the original question..

I was not bothered by methods, I was just so excited to be able to learn a FL, German at my first high school, and was super keen to learn lots!

What became a hinderance was my own arrogance when we moved and I left my old high school behind with German as well and in the new high school I decided I hated French (basically because it wasn’t German), and I treated the French classes as one big joke.

I ran into my old French teacher some years ago. Needless to say she did not care too much for my newly found appreciation of French as an adult. That was before I got real serious. Would love cross paths with her again and have a decent chat with her in French.
Last edited by PeterMollenburg on Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby tarvos » Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:49 am

I enjoyed language learning even at school and my friends and I made our mixed up con-lang which was somewhere between Dutch, English, French, German and Latin, the only languages we really knew.

Never was wary. I knew I wasn't perfect and this annoyed me but it just spurred me on to get better as I had practical reasons to do so at the time, especially considering French.
Last edited by tarvos on Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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