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makemusic
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Today I had a special privilege of getting to speak with a man from Germany, who was visiting the U.S.

My father was the one who originally met him, and he introduced me to Franz. Franz was fluent in English, but had a strong accent. After a little while of my dad raving about how much German I had been learning from this website (I'm sure my cheeks were quite red), Franz and started speaking some in German. At first I completely flunked (much to my embarrassment) and had to ask the kind sir multiple times to repeat the question in German, for I had caught some words, but didn't know completely what he was saying. After that, I really didn't want to speak with him in German anymore, but I knew that this was a special opportunity so continued with Franz and asked him back a question in German. We talked on for quite some time, I asked questions in German and English, and learned a ton from speaking with the gentleman. It's amazing what you can learn from these experiences! These are three good points to keep in mind:

Don't let your embarrassment hinder you from learning. Don't feel embarrassed when you feel you are failing at speaking another language with a native or someone who is fluent, for if it is their native language, they are probably enjoying hearing someone learning their language, and if you are speaking with someone who is fluent in that language, it is likely they have been in a similar situation.

Don't be shy. Be bold. Some of us are naturally more social than others, but have courage. Keep the mindset that to make the most of this opportunity, you need to initiate the learning, and chances are, you'll have great fun in doing so. :-)

Always keep on trying. Even if you feel like you are failing, are completely confused, or just am not having the most fun in your learning, remember that the only way you can fail is if you quit trying.

All right! That is my little pep talk for today! I'm glad for such a great community here on Duolingo where we can share our stories, learn from each other's experiences, give our input, and share our passion for languages. :-)

4 years ago

36 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/FrankySka
FrankySka
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of course he was called Franz. The only other option would have been Hans. Maybe Fritz. But that is about it. :) LOL

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IrisPatricia

:) Fritz and Franz are names you mainly hear with elderly or old men. Johannes, too, is an old name, but it became modern again some years ago. And not every German woman is called Heidi or Gretchen. Gretchen is very old and actually a form of Margarete and I never met any Gretchen here in Germany, even though I am 46 years old and a German citizen. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FrankySka
FrankySka
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She was talking about an acquaintance of her father, thus I assumed I should pick old-fashinoned names. And of course not every German is called Franz, HAns or Gretchen. I was just joking being German myself. And for what it is worth, my first name is FRANZiska. D'oh. Haha :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mptmpt
mptmpt
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Well, Clara is in high school, so her parents aren't necessarily 100 years old! Why would you associate the word father with old-fashioned...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FrankySka
FrankySka
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I was not talking about her father being old-fashioned, just about names being old-fashioned. To me old-fashioned names are any names not currently in fashion. I just told you that I myself have an old fashioned name, and I am not (that) old :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mptmpt
mptmpt
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I know, I was kiding ;-)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dagrooms

I know a German guy. His name is Johannes.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Onoszko

An old classmate of mine is called Johannes Fritz. DOUBLE GERMAN! Funny thing, he is actually 0% German.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FJoyB

Going out on a limb here, but if you are subtly implying a line from "What's Up, Doc?" you win major cool points. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kristinemc

Thanks, Clarabouch for sharing this!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Samsta
Samsta
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That's great! These are the kind of things that motivate us most in my opinion :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lolaphilologist
lolaphilologist
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Absolutely. You can learn to read a language without humiliating yourself a little, but it's much harder to learn how to speak fluently with another person without making a few errors here and there. I like apologizing first for the errors I will make, and then people are generally pretty helpful and encouraging. Set low expectations and be charming!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/smearedink

I have sometimes thought about apologizing for my French, but I think it's best not to apologize and just to go for it. I wouldn't really want someone who spoke very little English to apologize for their English before trying to talk to me. This is a minor point and clearly a matter of personal opinion, though! I figure I set low enough expectations the moment the letter 'r' comes out of my mouth. ;-)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jeffk42
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Never have I felt so self-conscious speaking as when I come up to an "rr" in Spanish. I just can't do it. It will be the same when I start French, I'm sure!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Samsta
Samsta
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Don't worry about it so much! They've heard the incorrect pronunciations so many times that it most likely won't bother them. There are even some Spanish natives (especially children) who can't trill their R's (similarly to how many children can't pronounce the English R). And I'm sure it's the same way in French!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jeffk42
jeffk42
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I am shy and generally too embarrassed to try to speak a foreign language in front of people at all, let alone to a native speaker. I remember in high school when I had to take the AP exam for Spanish, I was pretty comfortable with the written portions, but the verbal portion (we had to tape record ourselves at our desk verbally answering an open-ended question for a minute or two) was a complete and utter failure. Even a MACHINE was too embarrassing for me to talk to, and I ended up with a tape full of "um" and "ah". Same thing when I went to Germany, after three weeks cramming as much into my head as I could leading up to the trip. I almost never used it, and to this day (9 years later) I regret letting that learning opportunity pass me by.

Of course, somewhere down in there I realize that it's just my own insecurity causing the problem, but it's still good to hear these reminders occasionally, even if you think you already know them.

So thanks for this post! To everyone else -- don't be like me! :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Roddy_

I was waiting for " then we got married and lived happily ever after." or "that's how I met my soul mate".

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pdquinn1
pdquinn1
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This is some of the simplest but best advice anyone can give another. You can apply these 3 points, not just in your language learning, but in anything you are doing in life. Always push through and push on. Defeat becomes reality only after you stop.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mptmpt
mptmpt
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You have just discovered one of the secrets of language learning (sssshhhhhhh!!! people are in general happy to interact with you in their native language, and every time you use the language they will try to help you to understand as much as they can, so your skills will improve).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Levi
Levi
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Excellent pep talk clarabouch ! The first two points you made are definitely something I need to overcome.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Christine1999

This is really amazing, Clara, just the fact that you are able to speak or to understand, even just a little bit BUT YOU ARE ABLE TO DO IT. This shows you that you are on the good way. That your learning on Duolingo wasn't wasting time. Well, I have to admit that I am a little bit jealous ;). I would also love to try out something like this :).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Preusser

Thank you Clarabouch I enjoy your insights.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BenTheGeek

My youth group leader's wife is Mexican, so I can practice my Spanish every week! AWESOME!!!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/makemusic
makemusic
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That is awesome! :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BenTheGeek

Yup!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SavRoyal

nice!!!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Douglas-Merlini

You are wise saying this Clara, to learn languages is all about will power. You want, you will make it real

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Astrodan
Astrodan
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That's a thing I kinda miss about duolingo. With todays technology (Skype, G+, probably facebook?) audio- and videochats are easily possible. I would be more than happy if I could just talk to other people, helping them with german (which would be my native language) or getting help in e.g. spanish.

But as far as I see, there is no option to contact someone privately (I don't have facebook), and duolingo even discourages sharing this stuff publicly (with good reason).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/diagramchaser
diagramchaser
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I strongly recommend Verbling - a website that arranges conversation exchanges over the internet; so you'll tell the site that you speak English and are learning German and the site will pair you with a German speaker who wants to practice his or her English and you'll talk for a few minutes in each language. I find it much easier to not be self-conscious when you're talking to someone on another continent that you don't necessarily ever have to talk to again. Then eventually you get used to talking in your second language and it becomes less awkward talking to people in real life.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BenTheGeek

Yes!! Verbling is very cool!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Daniel-in-BC

There are language exchange groups in my city. (The ones I know about are English/Spanish and English/French.) Native speakers of the two languages get together to practice the other language. It's a win-win. Folks can look for similar groups near them or start a group. (meetup.com is a good resource)

If there aren't any native speakers of your target language nearby, it is still helpful to get together with other learners to practice (imho).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Music4Ever15

I had a friend who is German and she learned to speak English by listening to other kids speaking English.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thoughtdiva

Very well said, Clara. It could be that these are the most important skills for learning a language (embrace embarrassment, be bold and persevere).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ezattack123

I live in Bogota, Colombia and I get these experiences all the time. It really helps me a lot develop in my Spanish! Thanks for the encouragement clarabouch!!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Karenschatz

so brave~bravo for u

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Chopinfan

That's great advice clarabouch! Thanks for sharing this story. :)

4 years ago