Negative Experiences in Language Learning

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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:41 pm

Xenops wrote:Though remembering the old code-switching thread (I can't find it on the search), it could be very dependent on the language learner and their skill. Perhaps how the learner presents themselves determines how the native will respond--either with code-switching or speaking in the target language.


This?

What do you think about code-switching? (5 Nov 2017)
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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby Cavesa » Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:13 pm

tungemål wrote:Hi, I found this story interesting, and as a Scandinavian I feel the need to "defend" the employee. It might be that you misinterpreted the remark by that person?

It's odd that a Scandinavian book fair wouldn't bring originals, only translations. But I can't imagine the reason would be that they view the Czechs as poor. Rather I think we Scandinavians don't expect anyone to speak our languages, so translations were probably seen as a natural way of presenting Scandinavian authors.

I remember one time I visited Poland, and the young hostel receptionist spoke Norwegian with me! That really impressed me. She hadn't even been to Norway as far as I remember, but had just learnt Norwegian by herself.


No, I didn't misinterpret anything at all. It's an almost precise quote, translated to English: "No, the original books would be too expensive for you." It's slightly offensive to assume I just misinterpreted something.

It wasn't a scandinavian book fair. It is the largest czech bookfair, with books in some languages available every year (their publishers or representatives participate), and one foreign literary tradition is always picked as the main guest and offering something new. It always gets a lot of space, it is one of the main subjects of all the program (lectures, discussions with authors, even exhibitions, etc). Usually more publishers from the country (or countries in some cases) participate, sometimes they bring more to sell in the language, sometimes less, but they always bring also a lot to show in the language. Not the scandinavian year. This arrogant attitude was way bellow the usual standard upheld by the other guests together with the organisers.

Yes, the scandinavians don't expect people to learn their languages, or to buy their stuff (unless it gets damaged by translation). And that's a part of the problem. But the Swedes are profiting for example from the Polish healthcare workers coming to the country (the Czechs mostly haven't noticed the opportunity yet). And your example with Norwegian being used in Poland simply fits into that image, the hostel receptionist was clearly making a rational choice to learn the language of an important group of the guests (or may have just liked the language). The scandinavians profit from others learning a language, but make it hard without any reason, blaming our supposed poverty. It's not a fault of any individual, I don't mean to offend you, but it is extreme hypocrisy on the level of the countries.

I think this whole thread is about the fact we shouldn't expect to be glorified for learning a language and that's absolutely fine. Neutrality of the natives is still more than ok. Unpleasant individuals can be dealt with in most cases. But this kind of systemic prejudice and "artificial obstacle creation" towards the learners (unless the learners want to abandon everything, move abroad, and work for you, save your lives or care for your elders) is simply not something I want to deal with.
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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby Cavesa » Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:29 pm

Thanks, Xenops, it is great to hear different experience!
It is indeed possible that various factors played a role, you might be a better Japanese speaker (that's the simplest explanation), or you might have been in vastly different situations. Experience like yours is indeed a good example for the Japanese learners.


Emphasis mine--I do think we see this in the U.S. I'm not proud of this prejudice, but we do perceive English, French and German as "prestige" languages, but not Spanish. I'd say we don't even have the romantic notions about Spain as we do of other European countries. Actually, it might be fair to say that this is also the case with Portuguese, but maybe to a lesser extent.


Well, then some of the "negative learner experiences" (like CarlyD's) would make sense, even though that doesn't take away the harm they do to the learners. A defensive reaction of the natives sounds rather logical. Also, the hispanophones might be consciously or subconsciously protecting also their opportunities and an advantage on a job market. They have to learn English to succeed, but can still profit from being bilingual and therefore a bridge for the majority to an important segment of the market. But if they encourage the non native Spanish speakers and use their services, they'll just help create bilinguals from the privileged group and lose their advantage.

I'd say it's one of the things to change within our lifetimes. Probably to more groups than just the Spanish natives in the US, but they are a very important example. If they get more rights and respect, some of the defensive reactions will be rarer and rarer, as there will be no need for them.

What might be a tiny drop of helpful action: learning Spanish well and deconstructing the "it's an easy language" myth. It is setting learners up for failure (as they give up as soon as they find out it is actually not that easy), and it is disrespectful towards the language, cultures, and natives. We might all find it dumb that many natives of any language take pride in their language being "one of the hardest languages on earth", as if it proved superior intelligence. There have been a few discussions about that on the forum. But imagine what it must be like to hear the opposite all the time, like "your language is super easy, here: yo tener uno manzana".
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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby lusan » Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:12 pm

Cavesa wrote: But imagine what it must be like to hear the opposite all the time, like "your language is super easy, here: yo tener uno manzana".


ja ja ja.... o oir... "un cervezo por favore"
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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby Xenops » Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:22 pm

jeff_lindqvist wrote:
Xenops wrote:Though remembering the old code-switching thread (I can't find it on the search), it could be very dependent on the language learner and their skill. Perhaps how the learner presents themselves determines how the native will respond--either with code-switching or speaking in the target language.


This?

What do you think about code-switching? (5 Nov 2017)


It wasn't the one I was thinking of, but thank you. :) It could be my memory created a thread that doesn't exist, or it was about another topic. I also found Annoyance at switching languages?, but that isn't it either. The thread I remember was where Cavesa and garyb were talking in detail about their frustrations with native speakers code-switching, and that despite their high language skills, the natives would perceive them to be beginners and still switch to English.
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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby garyb » Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:25 pm

Cavesa wrote:Some of the experiences with "what words can you say" felt like mansplaining, but I cannot be sure whether it was really that, it seems to be happening not only to us (any guy with first hand experience can weigh in, please?).
Happened to me, more than once. From women and men, but I've never read any more into it than it just being a general case of people being patronising to learners. I have sometimes wondered (and others have suggested when I've described them) if some of the bad experiences I've had with TL-speaking women have been because they thought that I as a solo young guy was trying to chat them up so they were just finding a reason to be rude to me, but that's also pure speculation.

Cavesa wrote:Thanks for the tip, I'll look up Jhumpa Lahiri online, sounds like experience worth reading. Especially as I have very limited experience with Italy, I've had more opportunity to observe people in France and Spain reacting to various learners.
Her book in Italian (In altre parole) is mostly introspection about languages, culture, and identity, but the gist of the part I was referring to is that many shopkeepers would happily speak Italian with her Southern-looking and Spanish-speaking husband yet always reply to her in English even though her Italian was far better than his (whether they were together or she was alone, IIRC), and she concluded that it was because of her Indian looks. Normally I'd be a bit sceptical and wonder if that was the only factor, but knowing Italian culture well enough to be familiar with the widespread xenophobia and sense of superiority, I can believe it.

About 98% of my Spanish experiences are with people from Spain so I can't comment on Latin Americans, but it's interesting to read. Most of the Latin Americans I've met have spoken English so well that I've not even bothered to speak Spanish with them unless they've been curious to hear me.
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Re: Negative Experiences in Language Learning

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Mon Jan 18, 2021 10:00 pm

Xenops wrote:It wasn't the one I was thinking of, but thank you. :) It could be my memory created a thread that doesn't exist, or it was about another topic. I also found Annoyance at switching languages?, but that isn't it either. The thread I remember was where Cavesa and garyb were talking in detail about their frustrations with native speakers code-switching, and that despite their high language skills, the natives would perceive them to be beginners and still switch to English.


Ah, then I think it's Languages and life.
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