Finding "your people" in the target language

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Sumisu
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Finding "your people" in the target language

Postby Sumisu » Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:14 am

I've been thinking a lot about motivation lately and I think a key factor is finding people you want to connect with in the target language. Of course, the tried-and-true method is to have a significant other who is a native speaker. But for me, these connections will be online, in message boards, comment sections, social media, etc.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has a success story finding an online community in their target language. Is this something you purposefully set out to do? How hard was it to find "your people" online? After finding this place you like, did it help and does it continue to help with your motivation to learn the target language?
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lysi
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Re: Finding "your people" in the target language

Postby lysi » Sun Mar 28, 2021 5:52 am

I know this topic was posted 47 days ago with no replies but this is a topic that I've thought about a bit and it's really too bad that nobody replied,

In a case where two people speak the same languages with varying levels of proficiency, the two people are going to use the language where they both have the greatest mutual aptitude, since communication is the goal and languages are the means. English is basically mastered by everybody my age with the same interests as me, so in my case, if my goal was purely to talk with other people, then I would naturally switch over to English with them. This might be different for you and I hope it is since I find it very unmotivating to never be able to use a language I'm learning with other people. It's definitely a greater problem for people learning Dutch or Swedish, for example. The entire idea of two people using the language with the highest mutual proficiency is actually not entirely accurate and in more cases than not people will naturally switch to English.

You could also ask the person to speak in the language you're learning with you or tell them that you're learning their language, but that's actually a really horrible idea if you want to keep talking with them for an extended period of time. You're saying 'I don't care about what you're saying, just how you're saying it', which isn't a great way to make people want to speak with you. If communication was your goal then you'd speak in English naturally, unless they don't speak English at all which is the best case overall. I've never seen had this happen to me before though. This is one of the reasons why I don't find having an SO who speaks your target language useful at all unless you've already basically mastered their language.

So how can you get people to speak to you in your target language? It requires a fairly good level in your target language but it's just to not say you're learning the language and pretend to be a native speaker. Doing this on message boards and forums is actually really easy since there's no time constraint so I would suggest doing this first, doing this in a live chat is extremely hard at the beginning in my experience since you constrain yourself to making no mistakes at all all while typing at an acceptably fast rate. The problem is that because you can make no errors (errors in the sense of things that native speakers won't ever say) you're forced to rely very heavily on the basic stuff that you're 100% sure of, which isn't a constraint when you're talking with someone who knows you're a learner.

The only errors that natives will ever make are spelling errors basically. You can actually be allowed some lee-way with some errors but other errors are totally off limits. I've never seen a French speaker not remember the gender of a noun (though there are a few nouns that people don't remember the gender of, such as 'disparate', 'apres-guerre', and 'palabre' being the main ones, but really, if native speakers don't remember the gender it just means that both genders are accepted or the gender of a word is changing, such as 'merlus' in latin having changed into masculine in some romance languages and not in others). If you want to do this in a live chat I would suggest joining it and then watching the chat for a bit to see how people speak in it before deciding to send a message.

This all probably seems pretty obvious but I've never seen someone suggest doing this before, the only ways to speak with natives that I see suggested is to do language exchanges (which are still good but time inefficient by nature), to find a native speaker to speak with (no idea how people do this), or to pay a tutor (if money wasn't an issue then tutors would be the best option). I will say this method actually does have some benefits, since you learn how people actually speak without any changes in vocabulary or register, and it's really fun when you get good at it, albeit pretty stressful since it can be pretty high stake. (though people do change their language to meet yours naturally in any language, like two people talking to each other will use each others vocabulary. There's been a few cases for me in French, since I don't typically drop the 'ne' in french negation, some people who always drop it will suddenly change to including it while speaking with me). It goes without saying that you can't do this on voice chat, or maybe you could and that would probably be one of the hardest things to do in a language.

Sorry for the long post, I tried to shorten it as much as possible. I will say that doing this hasn't helped my motivation in any particular way (since motivation isn't too great a factor for me), and I can't say if doing this has helped my language skills particularly when compared to doing other activities.
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Re: Finding "your people" in the target language

Postby Iversen » Sun Mar 28, 2021 12:47 pm

One reason that I haven't answered before is that I haven't solved the problem. When I'm abroad I don't find it difficult to find people to talk to (although mostly just short conversations, not hour long 'deep' discussions). I don't try to initiate such conversations before I can understand the answers, and therefore I have generally found that local people were happy to continue speaking their local language instead of switching to English.

It is harder at home. Last year I went to 'language cafés' at our local library, but there were normally just a few people there (less than half a dozen), and few who came more than once or twice. Besides deciding on a language was a problem since we never knew beforehand who would be there. For me that was not an insurmountable problem since I could speak most of the potential discussion languages (of course not local languages from Africa or Chinese or Urdu etc.) so I got some good long discussions in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Italian, German and in one case even Greek (until a jerk at the table beside us started to scream in English into her damned cellphone), but sometimes our only common language was English (with so few paticipants that we couldn't divide the group), and sometimes potential participants left because their preferred L2's weren't spoken at that time. By the way, there were as many native speakers of the languages I mentioned present as learners so in some cases I could really get my skills tested at full throttle. But alas then corona induced the library to limit the number of persons per table to two, which effectively killed the project, and from late December till now the libraries have been closed like Fort Knox.

OK, maybe there could be digital alternatives, and I know that many congresses and other meetings have for the time become purely virtual. But for me the relevant part of those things aren't the lectures, but meeting speakers of unexpected languages, and besides my antiquated computer might not be up to the task so I haven't participated in any of those events. And paying a tutor - I get sick just from thinking about that option!

So the only thing I can do now is basically to think and write in my languages until travelling becomes possible again.
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Re: Finding "your people" in the target language

Postby lysi » Sun Mar 28, 2021 1:11 pm

Iversen wrote:So the only thing I can do now is basically to think and write in my languages until travelling becomes possible again.


This may not be entirely the right place to mention this, but a while ago I was thinking about the weaknesses of thinking in a foreign language for practice, and the only thing that I could really come up with was that certain conjugations are never practiced or practiced very little, so I used to set aside days where I would consciously think using different pronouns. Some of these are fairly easy to do, some are a lot stranger, but once you get past that it's a good way to force yourself to recall conjugations of other pronouns than just the first person singular. So for example in English you would, for a day for example, replace 'I' with 'we', then another day 'I' with 'they', etc, until you've practiced all of them.
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Re: Finding "your people" in the target language

Postby Ogrim » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:26 am

If you have a particular interest or hobby, one way of finding like-minded people is searching for groups on Facebook. A few months ago I came across a group by chance which is all about German literature, and all posts are in German. Later I've found similar groups for French literature, Spanish language and literature, Russian music etc. Your best bet is using the search function entering the term(s) you are interested in in the TL. (So "música española" for example if that is your interest).

Facebook can be a bit hit and miss - but especially private groups are usually serious and can provide a good way to interact with like-minded people in your TL.
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Re: Finding "your people" in the target language

Postby Le Baron » Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:32 pm

I'll echo Lysi in saying that I tend to dip my toe into online forums in the target language. It takes time, you have to lurk for a while and read stuff.
Years ago I deliberately joined a German classical music forum for this reason. It's best to be discussing something you like and are familiar with because it helps with understanding. Unfortunately I kept accidentally breaking the forum rules because I couldn't read every single thing, and they banned me!

Nowadays I join in with discussions on you tube because they're casual and you actually learn a lot about how people talk informally. From a discussion on a YT Esperanto video I got a link to a local Duolingo Esperanto meetup group (currently mothballed due to Covid), which is really close to me so I went there and two people in that group speak French so I got that as well.

I'm actually lucky that I managed to get into the local Spanish community by twice having Spanish work colleagues with whom I made friends - which is usually easy as a fellow foreigner. It's bizarre how everyone seems to know everyone else. From there I got to hang out at the Instituto Cervantes.
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Sumisu
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Re: Finding "your people" in the target language

Postby Sumisu » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:25 pm

Ogrim wrote:If you have a particular interest or hobby, one way of finding like-minded people is searching for groups on Facebook. A few months ago I came across a group by chance which is all about German literature, and all posts are in German. Later I've found similar groups for French literature, Spanish language and literature, Russian music etc. Your best bet is using the search function entering the term(s) you are interested in in the TL. (So "música española" for example if that is your interest).

Facebook can be a bit hit and miss - but especially private groups are usually serious and can provide a good way to interact with like-minded people in your TL.


This is a great idea. I haven't been on Facebook in years so I wouldn't have thought of that. I may need to log in again to see what's out there.
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Re: Finding "your people" in the target language

Postby sporedandroid » Wed Mar 31, 2021 2:01 am

How do you even do that in English?
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Re: Finding "your people" in the target language

Postby jimmy » Sun Apr 04, 2021 12:59 pm

Sumisu wrote:
After finding this place you like, did it help and does it continue to help with your motivation to learn the target language?



somewhat yes and somewhat no.
I observed the english culture by that act.
and if I am right, I think they will suffer from education and management in next decades and will have problems on these topics
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