What made you wary of language learning?

General discussion about learning languages
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rdearman
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby rdearman » Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:50 am

PeterMollenburg wrote:
rdearman wrote:perfection is the enemy of the good.


I don’t think it’s as clear-cut as that. Whether perfection gets in the way of achieving one’s language learning goal(s) or not depends on how much time (and patience) you have to devote to your language learning endeavour(s), how quickly you want to get there, how you prefer to study and how you would like to sound.

What is the chance of being perfect in your own native language? Even with a huge advantage perfection isn't a realistic goal. I agree you should strive to be the best, but not strive for perfection.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby PeterMollenburg » Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:07 pm

rdearman wrote:
PeterMollenburg wrote:
rdearman wrote:perfection is the enemy of the good.


I don’t think it’s as clear-cut as that. Whether perfection gets in the way of achieving one’s language learning goal(s) or not depends on how much time (and patience) you have to devote to your language learning endeavour(s), how quickly you want to get there, how you prefer to study and how you would like to sound.

What is the chance of being perfect in your own native language? Even with a huge advantage perfection isn't a realistic goal. I agree you should strive to be the best, but not strive for perfection.


Depends on the individual. I personally see no harm in while learning something, attempting to learn it as best you can, by perfecting it as you go. In the end I’m not likely to be near-native even after 1000s of hours of learning, but with each study session, month, year, I hope I’m getting closer.

Long-term it’s not unrealistic. Plenty of people sound very close to native Australian English speakers who I’ve come across during the course of my life. Plenty I’ve met sound awful. Aside from innate gifts or abilities, putting in the time and effort can make a huge difference. If in the end one doesn’t sound exactly native but is close, well to me that’s better than near enough is good enough.

If you’re swimming daily and want to do well, working on efficient/good technique throughout your training can’t hurt, imo, IF you want to/are willing to spend the time doing so. For me, it’s well worth while, for others not at all, and for others yet again, some dedicated time on improving technique is worthwhile, but not constantly. In my mind, if you’re going to swim (to become very good)/ learn a language, might as well continuously seek to improve your speech as an integral part of all your other language learning activities.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby rdearman » Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:18 pm

We appear to be in violet violent agreement.
PeterMollenburg wrote:attempting to learn it as best you can

PeterMollenburg wrote: sound very close to native


Perfection - the state or quality of being perfect.
synonyms: flawlessness, perfectness, faultlessness, impeccability

So perfection is without flaw, and this isn't possible even for native speakers. So I agree work toward the good, best, better, but perfection isn't going to happen so no point losing sleep over it.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby PeterMollenburg » Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:31 pm

rdearman wrote:We appear to be in violet violent agreement.
PeterMollenburg wrote:attempting to learn it as best you can

PeterMollenburg wrote: sound very close to native


Perfection - the state or quality of being perfect.
synonyms: flawlessness, perfectness, faultlessness, impeccability

So perfection is without flaw, and this isn't possible even for native speakers. So I agree work toward the good, best, better, but perfection isn't going to happen so no point losing sleep over it.


agreed ;)

Edit:
In the following list of definitions, I think where we were getting our wires crossed, was that you were considering perfection as the final (we agreed on ‘unachievable’) state (1 through 5 below), while I was considering the process of perfecting one’s (language) abilities as one progresses through learning (point 6 below and point 1 if ‘becoming’ is considered). Taken from app ‘The Free Dictionary’:

The Free Dictionary - By Farlex wrote:per•fec•tion ( pərˈfɛk ʃən )
n.
1. the state or quality of being or becoming perfect.
2. the highest degree of proficiency, skill, or excellence, as in an art.
3. a perfect embodiment of something.
4. a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence.
5. the highest or most nearly perfect degree of a quality or trait.
6. the act or fact of perfecting.


So like many a word, perfection can mean different things. I certainly see no harm in ‘perfection’ - that is, the act of perfecting, but yes I agree that in the strict definition of the end state that is perfection, this is not realistic, but to perfect, and aim to improve, even aiming for native-like, well, how much time and patience do you want/can you put into it?
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby Iversen » Thu Jun 13, 2019 1:01 pm

I always hated the forced and strictly controlled mini conversations with my classmates. It was OK to discuss something with the teacher in one of the languages we were supposed to learn in school, but being forced to participate in those awkward parodies on amateur theater with people who couldn't even speak the relevant languages yet went totally against every grain in my soul.

Luckily we also had grammar and translations and - hurray - the obligation sometimes to write free compositions. Actually I don't remember any of my essays from the foreign language classes in public school, but I think my masterstroke in Danish was an essay that explained the Biafra war as a system of mathematical equations, and one of my class mates wrote something like twenty pages on pigeon navigation and upkeep. My attempts to write in English, german and (later) French were probably equally weird, though at a significantly lower skill level.

So in other words, the thing that kept me from becoming wary of language learning was doing things according to my own ideas and not those prevailing in the pedagogical community at the time.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby chove » Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:58 pm

I was always more interested in the sciences at school, languages are a "late" interest for me in my 30s. It didn't help that I didn't know how to study as I was mostly able to wing it through school with minimal effort. I don't know that I was wary so much as I didn't think of languages as a thing I would be able to learn.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby Ogrim » Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:00 pm

rdearman wrote:So perfection is without flaw, and this isn't possible even for native speakers. So I agree work toward the good, best, better, but perfection isn't going to happen so no point losing sleep over it.


This is why in France it is just impossible to get the top grade (20/20), because that would be perfection. :D

I was never wary of language learning, I enjoyed it as a four-year old when according to my mother I followed a German course on Norwegian TV (can't remember that myself), I enjoyed learning it in school and I continued enjoying it at university and thereafter. Sure, some teachers were better than others, some were really bad, but even the worst didn't manage to kill my motivation for learning languages.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby sherbert » Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:35 pm

For me, it was intimidation and self-doubt, particularly regarding Asian languages, because the one student who I was aware of who was super skilled in this area, and actually became a Japanese translator, was among the smartest students in school, and I was a million miles away from that in terms of intelligence, or so I thought.

And I was also wary because of the unpleasant experience of studying French for one year in the 4th grade, made all the more difficult by the fact that neither the teacher, nor her assistant, could have even a basic conversation in French.
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby SophiaMerlin_II » Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:49 pm

I didn't want to learn Spanish because I don't like the Spanish speaking half of my family.

And what do you know, it's the most popular second language in the US! (for obvious reasons)
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Re: What made you wary of language learning?

Postby Xenops » Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:05 am

One is self-inflicted, the other due to external forces:

1. Personal Perfectionism--"Hello, I'm Xenops, and I'm a perfectionist." I had the view that unless I had certain information beaten into my brain, unless I could answer 100% correctly, I would never move on to new material. This lead to hundreds of Anki Cloze cards from just a couple of French in Action chapters to my tedious studying of Genki. I still struggle with telling where something is in relation to something else ("the hat is under the table") in Japanese, but I finally decided that instead of being stuck in chapter 4 forever, I would move on. Now I will finish the first textbook this summer, for the first time (woot!)

2. Pressure to focus on Spanish--mainly from my family, but also the American culture in general, and to the exclusion of all other languages. I don't know if I will ever pick up this language again.
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