Negative Experiences in Language Learning

General discussion about learning languages
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Xenops
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Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby Xenops » Mon Jan 11, 2021 5:32 pm

First of all, let's keep this as respectful as possible. ;) We often share positive breakthroughs in a language: chances to speak with native speakers, a grammatical concept finally clicking, improved accent, etc. What isn't talked about so much in the language learning community is the negative experiences we might have, sometimes negative enough to discourage us or to make us quit altogether.

So I have some questions for you:

1. What is a negative learning experience you want to share? What language?
2. How did you process the experience?
3. What was the outcome? Were you able to continue on your TL, or did you choose to move on?

I was watching this video from Youtube Polyglot Lindie Botes and her friend Angela, and I could relate a lot to what Angela was saying: it could very well be that I had traumatic experiences with Spanish. I'll share more on that when others get a chance to post. :)

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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby tactical_buddhist » Mon Jan 11, 2021 6:22 pm

1. What is a negative learning experience you want to share? What language?

When I was visiting friends in Winnipeg, they had a French couchsurfer. At that point I was about 20 lessons into Assimil French with Ease and it was my first real attempt at speaking French. After a few tries, she said something to the effect of: "Please stop. You are ruining my language." Anyway, I think that is what she said. The irony was that her English pronunciation was pretty atrocious, even for a young well-traveled European.

2. How did you process the experience?
It was amusing more than anything. Usually when I have attempted to speak a TL in the past, the other person will appreciate the effort or at least encourage you a bit.

3. What was the outcome? Were you able to continue on your TL, or did you choose to move on?
I gave up on French. I was originally only learning so I could read some authors in the original (Montaigne) and access the Assimil books written in that, so it wasn't a big deal.
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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby Iversen » Mon Jan 11, 2021 7:43 pm

The most negative thing for me has been that there are languages like Scots and New Norwegian where it is almost impossible to buy books, even in areas where they are supposed to be spoken. And there are a few wordbooks and grammars which I haven't found yet - like an Estonian-something dictionary. And then there is the language gathering of 2019 ... well, let the persons I'm thinking of burn in hell. But that's history now - like a closed book which you have thrown into the garbage bin.
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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby Gustav Aschenbach » Mon Jan 11, 2021 8:03 pm

Iversen wrote:And then there is the language gathering of 2019 ... well, let the persons I'm thinking of burn in hell. But that's history now - like a closed book.


Come on, now we are curious! :lol:

My worst experience was a Japanese evening class 15-16 years ago which was way over my had level-wise. The description of the course said it was (old) JLPT 3, but in reality the participants already spoke fluent Japanese, at least one of them said she was planning to sit for the JLPT 1, long story short I was the student with the weakest Japanese and all the other students were so much better (I didn't understand a lot of what the teacher and the other students were saying) and when I did my self-introduction I saw that two of the students were laughing at me. Very traumatizing experience.
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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby Cèid Donn » Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:44 pm

Gustav Aschenbach wrote:
Iversen wrote:And then there is the language gathering of 2019 ... well, let the persons I'm thinking of burn in hell. But that's history now - like a closed book.


Come on, now we are curious! :lol:



I believe I recall the situation that Iversen is referring to--he talked about it to some extent in one of his posts at the time. Unless he's removed or edited the posts, you could likely still find it. I recall it because I'm just generally very wary of such organizations, and hearing about people being treated like that does not improve their reputation with me.

Xenops wrote:
1. What is a negative learning experience you want to share? What language?
2. How did you process the experience?
3. What was the outcome? Were you able to continue on your TL, or did you choose to move on?


I've been through the wars, so to speak, when it comes to language learning. How much time do you got? :lol:

But among my various stories, this is probably the one that hurt the most:

The Canadian organization that I took online Scottish Gaelic classes with treated me terribly over the course of my 4th and last class with them, which derailed my progress and future plans with Gaelic, and it shut a lot of doors for me in terms of what I could do with my Gaelic skills. This is in part why I study a gazillion languages now--I had invested 4-5 years into Gaelic when these people napalmed my plans and I had to do something to help me recover from that betrayal of trust and faith.

After 8 years, I still don't know why they did it, although I have some strong hunches. There wasn't any benefit to them doing what they did--instead, they lost a dedicated student who has in the years since told other Gaelic learners what they did. But I definitely shouldered the most harm from it. I spent 4 years and over a thousand dollars with them, I had wanted to continue with them, and now I have virtually nothing to show for it. No certification, no references, no recommendations, no connections to that community to help me do anything with my skills. It's very negatively colored my opinion of the Gaelic community in North America, and it doesn't help that I see parallel things happen in the Gaelic community in Scotland/UK, who aren't really that open to learners/speakers like me to begin with--I've had more than a few negative experiences with them as well, although nothing as profoundly damaging to my progress and plans. And I try, very earnestly, to keep my anger over all of this in check and try not to let a lot of it show, because I love Gaelic so much, I don't want my negativity to discourage anyone from study it. I hope other people never have to deal with what I have dealt with.

Studying other languages has helped me process what I feel I've lost and with what I feel is inaccessible to me now with Gaelic. I did get really depressed and angry for a time. I still can fall into a bout of that if I let myself (I'm crying at this point in writing this). Learning Gaelic to the level that I have is such a major accomplishment for anyone that I resent that I have this horrible experience that accompanies it. I continue with Gaelic--a part of me wishes I could just quit it, but I love it too much. I just continue with it in without any real ambition and just try to make my peace with being isolated learner and speaker, as sad as that sounds.
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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:07 pm

Cèid Donn wrote:
Gustav Aschenbach wrote:
Iversen wrote:And then there is the language gathering of 2019 ... well, let the persons I'm thinking of burn in hell. But that's history now - like a closed book.


Come on, now we are curious! :lol:



I believe I recall the situation that Iversen is referring to--he talked about it to some extent in one of his posts at the time. Unless he's removed or edited the posts, you could likely still find it. I recall it because I'm just generally very wary of such organizations, and hearing about people being treated like that does not improve their reputation with me.


This:
https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 50#p134850 (Iversen's log - 28 Feb 2019, 15:01)
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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby devilyoudont » Tue Jan 12, 2021 3:37 am

1. What is a negative learning experience you want to share?
For me, in some sense, hell is opposite sex language learners. Whether it's constantly messaging me on chat apps and disregarding when I say I'm married, or just generally acting inappropriately on general language learner sites until I am forced to block them... It's not all guys... in fact, most of the people in the language learning community I am closest to are guys. There's just this minority of people who can't handle themselves around the opposite sex. I'm sure it's that way for men too but in reverse. Most recently some dude on a different website just started sending me weird specific violent fantasies about Elsa from Frozen. Yeah, that gets a block. Sometimes I miss social clues, so it's possible that I don't set a boundary soon enough and that causes it.

2. How did you process the experience?
I've gotten to a point where if things seem to be getting weird, I just block. I worry about if I hurt the other person's feelings. But honestly, I can't let someone chase me out of the community. In the past, I've stopped using websites or apps because of one other user. But these days I'm over it.

3. What was the outcome? Were you able to continue on your TL, or did you choose to move on?
This has never prevented me from studying a language, but it has caused me to leave websites in the past.
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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby garyb » Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:35 am

I've been writing about my negative experiences in language learning for about ten years now, it's all in my log :lol: Unlike the typical language learning bloggers or Youtubers or even many forum posters, I've never been afraid to show the bad sides as well as the good and have a good rant when appropriate.

I won't go into details here but most of mine have been with native speakers of my languages who have often been unreceptive if not downright rude and insulting about my attempts at speaking their language, even (and especially!) in cases where my level in it was much higher than their English level. That said though, I did tend to take things much more personally when I was a bit younger than I do now, especially other people's reactions and judgements, and I did have a bit of a sense of entitlement and at some level felt that just because I had spent years learning someone's language they should be willing to use it with me. Plus I was too influenced by certain online polyglots who over-emphasised the importance of speaking practice and painted rosy pictures of going out and speaking with natives, so I had messed up priorities and unrealistic expectations. I'm sure that all shows in my old writing. Doesn't change the fact that many people have acted in ways that I still feel were completely unfair and inappropriate just because I dared speak their langauge, though.

Look up Cavesa's log too; I'll let her speak for herself when she gets to this thread, but she has also described lots of similar real-world experiences of using her languages not only for travel but also in work, with many people not being at all receptive or supportive, plus plenty accounts of bad teaching and tutors. We discussed it in her log recently and I've always admired her for being very open and honest about her negative experiences yet still staying extremely motivated and celebrating successes.
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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby Kamlari » Tue Jan 12, 2021 11:40 am

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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby rdearman » Tue Jan 12, 2021 12:27 pm

Xenops wrote:1. What is a negative learning experience you want to share? What language?
2. How did you process the experience?
3. What was the outcome? Were you able to continue on your TL, or did you choose to move on?


I used to work for a company which was owned by the French, with all the senior management being French, except for myself and a couple of others. These people were the most horrible, scummy, vile examples of humans I have ever had the misfortune to meet. They are all lying, backstabbing, scumbags, a couple of whom were prosecuted and jailed for dodgy dealings, the rest simply were not caught. I learned French not to understand what they were saying, but rather to understand what they were saying about me. They frequently spoke among themselves talking about "the stupid American" (me), and "the fat Englishman", and I won't bother to repeat the offensive conversations about the various female members of staff. They are the reason for my hatred of the French language and all things French. I will not even buy anything made in France. I processed the experience by getting as far away from those jerks as quickly as possible. I know French people who are not like that and I try to stop myself from making sweeping generalizations, but I certainly wouldn't ever work again for any French company. Some people here have expressed a desire to live and work in France, but for me that would be the closest definition of hell and I couldn't think of a worse thing. I have since worked for and with a couple of French people, and they were actually very kind, but I didn't engage much with them since I still have an underlying suspicion that they are two-faced.

I have not continued to "learn" French, although I continue to use it for reading or conversation exchange.

This is probably an example of the "stick" rather than the "carrot" method of language learning. I had to learn French to try and find out if I was going to be demoted, made redundant, made the scapegoat for some dodgy stunt the CEO pulled, etc.. BTW, the "fat Englishman" who I worked with had a degree in French literature and spoke perfect French. But he never told the scumbags, and he used to just sit in these meetings listening to them talk about him and for the entire 10 years he worked for them, they didn't know. :lol:
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