(I didn't want to post a too long quote, but the whole post was very informative)aaleks wrote: ...The story I'm going to tell happened about a year and a half later. At that time I wasn't so scared of writing in English anymore. I didn't feel really confident but I was moving in that direction, so to speak. That was probably why I got myself in a potentially harmful situation. Language-learning-wise harmful, of course. I won't tell the whole story, I'm not sure if it really matters or not. (It happened two years ago). Anyway, at some point of some discussion on efl.ru another user wrote this to me:
"alanta, try to avoid starting your sentences with Because and And.
Your writing is ok in general. There are some minor mistakes and slips but it’s not the issue. The main trouble is that it has totally Russian syntax and rather big problems with composition. I could say that those are the aspects you should pay more attention."
(alanta is me )
IMO, this text is a great example of a mean remark, among other things, because it was disguised as advice. Unsolicited advice. I wasn't asking how I could improve my writing or anything like that. I was asking a quite specific question about a quite particular phrase. But this text not only didn't answer my question, it didn't provide any helpful information at all.
Thus, "your writing has totally Russian syntax" is just a fancy way to say that I write in Runglish. And this is the worst possible insult for a native Russian speaker learning English. And then she says that I should pay more attention to this and that's it. No examples, no practical advice. The person who wrote that mean post is a teacher/tutor of English (but she's a native speaker of Russian, not English), so she's kind of supposed to know how to deal with this, how I could improve my English, etc. If I really had "totally Russian syntax", trying to improve that with paying more attention would be like putting a plaster on gangrene.
Basically, that person said that I'd achieved nothing. This was the point, especially in the context of the whole story that started when I disagreed that C2 was a native-like level, and then tried to prove that one could learn a language without teachers.
...But sometimes I recall those words about "totally Russian syntax" and that makes me self-conscious about my writing. Recently I left efl.ru, maybe it'll help (?) . ...
This story totally explains your reply to my remark about not avoiding the unpleasant people. I was mostly talking about the regular life, not other learners or teachers (even though they definitely matter. A lot.).
I agree with others that this person clearly had some selfish intentions. Either she hoped you'd go like "oh, I am such a loser, will you please please please teach me?" or at least she could have gotten an ego boost.
Is it a quote of her post to you? If it is, there are some imperfections I would definitely not want to write, if I was an English teacher. (I wouldn't care much otherwise)
Yes, the blow is very harsh and strong. The "Runglish" is actually something known not only to the Russians. You can offend people with the alternatives "Czenglish" or "Franglais". It is totally not cool to do that to an advanced and good writer.
I understand what you mean, it is easy to be self-conscious due to a mean teacher. Honestly, I have a similar problem in Czech. I am not an objectively bad writer, I am actually well above the average (more and more people become lazy writers these days, it is painful to read even their emails). But a mean teacher with too high standards has left a trace I can't get rid of. She was enforcing university level in highschool, but without actually teaching how to do that (well, a part of the class was solving it by buying their homework from one of the few people capable of writing well enough). I can still remember the bad grades and totally useless big red comments like "Style!!!". I am nervous whenever I write something in Czech. I keep fighting though.
What I meant by my post: it is important to prepare for various types of mean people and for verbal self defence. For some solid argumentation, for reacting well, quickly, appropriately, and while expressing or suppressing a negative and well founded emotion. Building your self-confidence is definitely a part of that. After a certain moment, you can no longer hide behind "I'm just a learner", nor do you want to (probably). Some people will try to use that for their advantage and will try use the uneven ground to pretend you are wrong, your arguments are weak, or that you are less intelligent. Only solid language and communication skills can help. (But it always reminds me of that meme "Do you know how clever I am in Spanish?!", it is so real!).
You took the mean person's comment the best way possible. You used it to fuel your own learning passion, and your desire to prove you can do much better than people expect. And you've succeeded! That's admirable. You are a successful learner. That teacher is just a mean person trying to get customers by lowering their confidence, which is a shameful tactic.