How do/did you overcome your own sunk cost fallacy in language learning?

Ask specific questions about your target languages. Beginner questions welcome!
Online
User avatar
Xenops
Brown Belt
Posts: 1222
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2015 10:33 pm
Location: Boston
Languages: English (N), Japanese (approx. N5), Norwegian (A1), Nansha (constructing).
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=16797
x 2490
Contact:

Re: How do/did you overcome your own sunk cost fallacy in language learning?

Postby Xenops » Sat Jul 31, 2021 2:25 pm

For the sake of completeness: Learning a Language You Don't Love

As I learn more Japanese, the more I understand why it's considered the hardest language for native-English speakers. :shock: Honestly, unless I had the drive, I wouldn't bother--almost any other major language would give quicker results than Japanese. There are words that use one kanji, there are words that can use one or another kanji, and then there are words can be written in kanji, but more often than not they are written in hiragana. I recently learned you can find the words for animals written in katakana! And that is just one aspect.

I'm of the opinion that if you wanted to punish someone, force them to learn Japanese. :D Especially if they aren't interested.
8 x
Check out my comic at: https://atannan.com/

Lawyer&Mom
Blue Belt
Posts: 639
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:08 am
Languages: English (N), German (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7786
x 1863

Re: How do/did you overcome your own sunk cost fallacy in language learning?

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Sat Jul 31, 2021 4:44 pm

Every three to four years I study Chinese for three to four months. And I love it. And then I realize/remember how much time it would take to make any real progress with Chinese and how I would rather invest that time in French and German. But I don’t regret my time with Chinese. It’s fun. It refreshes my language learning. It reminds me of my childhood. (My mom spoke Chinese, her foreign language, with Chinese small business owners in my CA hometown.) Mastery isn’t the only reason to spend time with a language. Hopefully you enjoyed (parts) of your time with Japanese, and now you can move on. And maybe visit it again in the future.
11 x
Le Francais Par La Methode Nature
18/50
: 18 / 50

Clozemaster French Fluency Fast Track Sentences Mastered 883/19,949
: 883 / 19949

白田龍
Orange Belt
Posts: 221
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:54 pm
Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, French, Persian, Arabic, Mandarin, Japanese.
x 393

Re: How do/did you overcome your own sunk cost fallacy in language learning?

Postby 白田龍 » Sun Aug 01, 2021 1:13 pm

Just think how much worse your sunk cost will be if you go on learning for more ten years.

I have spent years learning Chinese, only to realise that due to other language priorities and other priorities in life, I will never (in the next few decades) have the time to work on it in any meaningful way. And surely I feel that having learned a language to a low intermediate level to have been a huge waste of time (it was fun, entretaining and educational, but not worth the great time investment). I would only feel that the investment have paid off if I had reached a level where I can understand native speech and read books.

But I didn't fall for the sunken cost fallacy, I just left it behind, and invested my time in other languages more useful in the short term, and other activites.

I guess the way to avoid the sunken cost fallacy is to think of the cost of continuing learning. For me the cost of sticking to Chinese was not learning language X, which I had a more concrete interest on, so the switch was an easy decision.
9 x

User avatar
einzelne
Green Belt
Posts: 289
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:33 pm
Languages: Russan (N), English (Working knowledge), French (Reading), German (Reading)
x 955

Re: How do/did you overcome your own sunk cost fallacy in language learning?

Postby einzelne » Sun Aug 01, 2021 7:16 pm

Learning languages is a quest of self exploration. As Spinoza said, we don’t know what a body can do. By that he meant that we don’t know what we are capable of until we try it. It’s a common experience among language learners that they paint an idealistic picture of ‘being fluent in X’ and then it doesn’t quite fit to the brutal reality when they actually start learning a language.

From what you’re describing, it doesn’t look like you need Japanese, at least not at this moment of your life. Drop it for now and don’t regret about it. Your time wasn’t wasted since now you know from your own experience what learning Japanese means for you. Maybe you were seduced initially but actually there’s no chemistry between you and Japanese. And it’s totally fine. You tied it, it didn’t work but at least now you won’t have any regrets later in your life (“I wish I tied to learn Japanese!”).

Language learning is an exercise in modesty, especially when it come to harder languages. And it takes a lot of effort before you can rip any intellectual benefit from it, even with easier languages. So it doesn’t seem very wise to learn a language because you find it challenging or, for instance, beautiful. You really need to be connected with its culture to the point that you can stand the drudgery of cramming and mechanical repetition. Yes, there’s nothing intellectual or creative in language learning per se. It can be a tool for intellectual or creative development but in its core language learning is all about mechanical memorization. Reading sophisticated fiction or demanding non-fiction in English, playing music, or learning how to code will give you way more for intellectual development than cramming kanji.
7 x

User avatar
rdearman
Site Admin
Posts: 5871
Joined: Thu May 14, 2015 4:18 pm
Location: United Kingdom
Languages: English (N)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1836
x 16166
Contact:

Re: How do/did you overcome your own sunk cost fallacy in language learning?

Postby rdearman » Sun Aug 01, 2021 8:51 pm

OK, I am the :twisted: devil's advocate :twisted: , so I'll carry on. Everyone is telling you to wimp out and quit, well I'm not. Stop giving up! You lack perseverance. Anything worthwhile is hard to get, so suck it up. Someone told Arnold Schwarzenegger that they couldn't get to the gym and still get 8 hours sleep, he told them to "Sleep Faster". In other words, stop making excuses. Remember that guy that gave up? Neither does anyone else.

Habit trump willpower every time! EVERY TIME.

So cultivate a habit of studying Japanese. Do you assume you have to be in the mood to go to work? Does your employer? Must you be in the mood to feed your family? Do they assume this when their stomachs growl for dinner?

Once you renounce the pretext that you must be in the mood to study, you've accepted studying as your daily business. As many have observed, this is the only way to complete your projects and reach your goals. Professional athletes train daily, whatever the weather, their muscle aches or moods. Concert pianists practice incessantly, whether their fingers are warm, cold, stiff, or relaxed. Without regular, if not daily, study, your zeal fades, you forget where you were, and you lose touch with your learnings.

So I recommend that you don't even think about not studying, you just make it a habit that you do, make it part of your life.

How?:
  1. Cue
    A cue triggers the brain to initiate behaviour and acts as a bit of information to predict the reward. It indicates to the brain about the location of a reward. It can be a location, a specific smell, a particular time of the day, and an emotional state of a person, or any preceding action. So anchour your new study habit to something like first coffee of the day, or when you get on the train for the commute, or whatever you do that happens each day.
  2. Routine
    A routine refers to the action part of a habit that one takes immediately following the cue. It is the actual behaviour or action that one wants to change or enforce. STUDY!
  3. Reward
    The routine delivers a reward, but it doesn’t need to be a tangible compensation for completing the routine. The reward is considered to be the goal of every habit. Give yourself a reward, even if it is just standing up and saying, "Good Job!" (but a bit of chocolate might help too)

Some other things to do that will help:

  • Schedule realistic times to study. Make Study Time a Part of Your Daily Routine
  • Mark your calendar. Make and appointment with Japanese
  • The night before, plan exactly what to work on.
  • Start with something easy to study and wind up the difficulty as the session continues.
  • Make a list of things you need to study.
  • Choose one thing from your master list.
  • Keep a log of your study time. Use it for troubleshooting.
    - It helps you see what days you miss. Is there a pattern? Do you take weekends off? Do they slide into Monday?
    - The log helps you become more conscious of where you're choosing to spend your time.
    - The log shows you when you prefer to study -- morning, afternoon, or dead of night.
    - The log helps you practice forgiving yourself for not studying as much as you think you should.
  • Make small steps and reward yourself for them
  • Find a good studying spot.
  • Avoid social media and stay away from your phone.

That little voice that says you don't need to learn Japanese, and it is too hard? Tell it to shut the hell up. Unless that little voice is speaking Fluent Japanese and can defend its position with a verbal and written presentation about the pros and cons of quitting in Japanese, then it just needs to shut the hell up and get out of your way. Are you going to be the person who won or the "also ran"?

Let me leave you with some quotes:
You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. -- Wayne Gretzky

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily. -- Zig Ziglar.

Motivation gets you going and habit gets you there. -- Zig Ziglar.

It always seems impossible until it’s done. – Nelson Mandela

If you’re going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit. -- anon
17 x
: 14 / 22 22 French Paperbacks Read: 7736 pages

The Autodidactic Podcast
The Lollygagging Podcast

I often post on this forum using mobile devices, so please excuse short messages and typos.

User avatar
einzelne
Green Belt
Posts: 289
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:33 pm
Languages: Russan (N), English (Working knowledge), French (Reading), German (Reading)
x 955

Re: How do/did you overcome your own sunk cost fallacy in language learning?

Postby einzelne » Sun Aug 01, 2021 9:36 pm

No offense but all these slogans and success stories suffer from the survivorship bias. You won't go very far with them if you don't have a deep and strong affinity with the culture of L2. And as the OP says: "I have no investment in the culture--not anymore at least, I don't know any Japanese people, I don't watch much anime and have never touched a manga book in my life, I do not enjoy learning to read it and find the ardent defenders of Kanji to be so grating and have the shallowest of arguments in its favor."
7 x

User avatar
rdearman
Site Admin
Posts: 5871
Joined: Thu May 14, 2015 4:18 pm
Location: United Kingdom
Languages: English (N)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1836
x 16166
Contact:

Re: How do/did you overcome your own sunk cost fallacy in language learning?

Postby rdearman » Mon Aug 02, 2021 6:22 am

einzelne wrote:No offense but all these slogans and success stories suffer from the survivorship bias. You won't go very far with them if you don't have a deep and strong affinity with the culture of L2. And as the OP says: "I have no investment in the culture--not anymore at least, I don't know any Japanese people, I don't watch much anime and have never touched a manga book in my life, I do not enjoy learning to read it and find the ardent defenders of Kanji to be so grating and have the shallowest of arguments in its favor."

Devil's advocate: a person who expresses a contentious opinion in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments.
7 x
: 14 / 22 22 French Paperbacks Read: 7736 pages

The Autodidactic Podcast
The Lollygagging Podcast

I often post on this forum using mobile devices, so please excuse short messages and typos.

User avatar
lingua
Blue Belt
Posts: 842
Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2016 11:23 pm
Languages: English (N)
Maintaining italiano (B2ish)
Studying português, Deutsch, français
Dabbling in siciliano, Latina, piemontèis
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=12257
x 1584

Re: How do/did you overcome your own sunk cost fallacy in language learning?

Postby lingua » Mon Aug 02, 2021 6:51 am

I have some experience in this as I spent over a year learning Thai. At a certain point my reasons for learning Thai no longer were in play so there was no point in continuing with it. Even so it was hard to give up at first because of the amount of time and money I had spent on it. At first I stopped actively studying it but sometimes reviewed for a while but eventually that stopped too. The older I get the more likely I am to do only things I enjoy or things that have a positive benefit for me now or later. That's how I overcome it.

Personally, I would give it a rest and spend more time on your other languages rather than adding another language. If you find you miss Japanese you can always return to it or you can add a new language when you are sure you aren't returning to it.
3 x
Super Challenge 2020-21:
film: 12075 / 9000 books: 6993 / 5000 IT
film: 10353 / 9000 books: 177 / 5000 DE
film: 9400 / 9226 books: 3996 / 5000 FR, PT, PMS, SCN

Output Challenge 2021:
IT: wrote: 824 / 50000 recorded: 782 / 3000
PT: wrote: 5585 / 50000 recorded: 22 / 3000

PT: Read 100 books: 15 / 100

bolaobo
White Belt
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2021 5:48 pm
Languages: English (N). Mandarin Chinese (fluent), German (high intermediate), French (low intermediate), Hindi (low intermediate, on hold), Japanese (beginner)
x 48

Re: How do/did you overcome your own sunk cost fallacy in language learning?

Postby bolaobo » Mon Aug 02, 2021 1:06 pm

You seem to be struggling with a lot, and I can't address everything in your post, but here are a few thoughts.

1. Sunk cost fallacy is real. If you really aren't enjoying it, I would advise just giving it up.
2. If you think you might take it up again, reviewing shouldn't be that time-consuming. Spending 5 minutes a day should be enough to retain most of your knowledge. I would advise using an SRS program to minimize time spent reviewing.
3. You seem to have irrational, angry feelings regarding Kanji. It's part of the language, and hundreds of million people across China and Japan learn them over the course of many years. Every language has aspects that feel pointless or illogical, and for Japanese it's the writing system. In the long run, reading Kanji is much more comfortable than reading the same word in Hiragana.
3 x
Assimil Progress
New French with Ease: 107 / 113 French Without Toil: 78 / 140
Hindi ohne Mühe: 30 / 54
Le Japonais Sans Peine: 46 / 99

User avatar
einzelne
Green Belt
Posts: 289
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:33 pm
Languages: Russan (N), English (Working knowledge), French (Reading), German (Reading)
x 955

Re: How do/did you overcome your own sunk cost fallacy in language learning?

Postby einzelne » Mon Aug 02, 2021 7:55 pm

rdearman wrote:Devil's advocate: a person who expresses a contentious opinion in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments.


I know the definition, thanks:) But notice that so far your ostensibly 'contentious' opinion gathered the most likes in this thread. Actually, it's a very wise and solid recommendation provided that someone is interested in the culture of L2. Otherwise for all such devil's advocates God provided a special place in Hell: a classroom where they will be learning Category III and IV languages of the cultures they have zero investment for the rest of their afterlife :twisted: Or, worse yet, they will be memorizing the digits of Pi (infernal laughter)
Last edited by einzelne on Mon Aug 09, 2021 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
4 x


Return to “Practical Questions and Advice”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests