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How do you get over your frustration In language learning?

[deactivated user]

    Hello everyone, I just thought I would start a discussion about this to get some tips from you to see how to deal with this, and to feel not alone I guess. I have been learning French for about a year and a half now. I've finished the Duolingo,Linguist and Memrise french courses. I feel that I can express myself fairly well (I have a vocabulary of maybe 4000-5000 words). Whenever I try to watch a French tv show for kids or read simple French texts online, I feel that I don't know French at all and I look up a lot of words. This has led me to be frustrated and avoid doing anything related to French to forget about it, I feel like an idiot, because I feel that I should understand this by now.

    Anyone experienced frustration?mind mentioning the cause and how you dealt with it, Thanks:).

    April 27, 2017



    Of course. Becoming frustrated is a common and natural part of gaining proficiency in any complex skill.

    I hit a wall in my Esperanto studies after about four months. It seemed like I was making no progress, and it made me feel stupid because everyone said it was an easy language. I had similar problems with French in high school - I never learned it enough to use it. What is so backwards is that I didn't break through this wall until I started actively using the language.

    When I made the decision to try to read more in Esperanto, it sucked. Honestly, I hated it. I would give up halfway through most articles because I was constantly checking a dictionary. I saw that as cheating, because it felt like I wasn't really using the language. Anyone can use Google Translate to get the gist of an article, and I could have given up at that point. But I kept at it. Slowly, and it felt glacially slow, I started to pick up more and more vocabulary. Not just definitions, but I started to see patterns in how words were being used. These small breakthroughs in seeing how the words were really used meant that, over time, I could start to figure out words in context. Then, I was only really double-checking my guesses with a dictionary. Until, one day, I read through a whole article without checking a dictionary even once. That was a huge moment for me, as it proved that I could learn another language.

    Now, I'm pushing through the same way with spoken Esperanto. At first, I was only getting every fifth word or something. However, after doing that for a few months now, and fighting through the frustration, I am starting to catch more and more. Now, if I focus on what is being said, I can usually catch the vast majority of words and understand the gist of what is being said in almost any context. I used to need to use Esperanto subtitles on videos, and it felt like cheating again, but various language resources suggested using them, so I kept them. Now I realize that they weren't cheating or some sort of crutch - they were training wheels! I was learning how to listen and they just helped keep me on track so that I could focus more on listening and less on remembering what was said. Until one day, I watched 8 Esperanto videos in a row with no subtitles and understood most of what was said. Still not everything - but it's real progress.

    If your current studies don't involve reading, writing, listening, and speaking (even if only to yourself) the language every single day, I think you need to add those in. Use French on Facebook, think and speak French to yourself, and definitely keep trying to listen. And don't see using a dictionary as a bad thing - you'll never learn unless you learn. I never learned French - even after four years! - but I learned Esperanto in one. (And not just because it's an easier language.) Yeah, I "cheated" by using a dictionary and subtitles, but I can see that very soon I won't need them.

    And having gained this knowledge and confidence from Esperanto, I'm hoping to finally, after all these years, learn French as well. And I'll "cheat" until I understand that too.


    Yes, very much so. I've only been studying for 3 weeks, but I'm already very close to finishing the course. I can read and write quite well already, and if I don't know a word I just look it up. There's no shame in not knowing a word you've never seen before. My spoken French is a little behind... however, when I watch a French video, I understand almost as little as I do Arabic. It's very frustrating indeed, also very daunting. I'm yet to find how to overcome it.


    I get frustrated when I watch Norwegian videos. I understand about a tenth of the words so I have to use subtitles. My speaking is even worse since I have no one to converse with. I can't use online chatting (my parents wouldn't approve and I don't have time) and I don't know any one personally that speaks Norwegian. I am pretty good at reading it though. I guess the only thing anyone can do is keep trying.

    • 1879

    YES, I call this "numbers and names phase" ... that is when you watch a movie you can only understand numbers and names :-) ... or at least that is my experience. The only way to deal with this (and I have proven it with two languages so far) is just stick with it. Keep watching and eventually it will sink in. Pick a TV show that you know in your own language so you at least know what's going on... and keep watching, with every episode the number of words you pick up will grow. Trust me. What's happening is that you already know those words .. now you have to give your brain a chance to learn picking up those words by hearing them. You might speed up your learning process by reading a book or some texts on internet.. that way you will get used to sentences structures. The reading might be even more frustrating and it works pretty much the same... first you feel like blind, but later you will start to recognise certain patterns in the language and read more smoothly. Good luck and don't give up. The feeling when you are able to watch a movie or show in a different language is like being reborn :-)


    At some point we all get frustrated. It's normal. And, it means that you are probably about to get to a higher learning level. I recommend language exchanges through Skype. At first you are gonna sound so stupid but it does get better with time. I have some tips for language exchanges if you are interested.


    Yeah. Still stuck in the beginning stretch for Mandarin, despite multiple efforts. I think due to not having used it enough in a setting where my brain associates it with useful memories. Plan to use a vacation some day to deal with that in an immersive environment.


    Yes, I absolutely have experienced frustration while learning a language, and I suspect almost everyone else has as well.

    I find it goes in phases; I feel like I've progressed, then I encounter the new thing I'm working on, whether that's new material or aiming to improve my listening skills. When I'm feeling frustrated, it helps to remind myself that's how it goes.

    In short, when frustrated, take a deep breath and keep going :)


    You get over it by getting over it. Hope this helped!


    If you've only tried to read things that you think should be simple, I think you might actually benefit from trying to read things you think should be harder.

    Articles about politics / economics / religion / history in French can have loads more familiar vocab than e.g. children's stories.


    As long as your passive vocabulary isn't 10K+ this will continue. Even at 10K you'll still encounter new words fairly often.

    It isn't necessarily because you're learning poorly. It's simply normal to encounter new words when your vocabulary is limited. And even if it's in a kids show, if that kids show features, for example, a raccoon (raton laveur), it's normal that you don't understand it.

    It's a good idea to write down those words and study them, or at least the important ones. In English (not my native language) my vocabulary is as wide as those of natives, I do know many "unimportant" words in English. But I don't plan on learning them nor care about them in any way when it comes to other languages. I don't care what a raccoon is called in Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, Italian or Mandarin. What's the point? It's almost completely useless to know. Thus when you encounter new words don't be discouraged just for having encountered a new word. If it's an important one, take it as an opportunity to learn from (save it, write it down, put it in a word list to study), if it's not an important one: move on (repeat unimportant ones in your head just once, if you remember it, it's a bonus, else /care).

    [deactivated user]

      There really isn't a way to determine where you "should" be in a language, and it doesn't help if you think you should be better by now. You are where you are. I became fully fluent in Spanish though only after talking daily to natives for almost two years! Did I feel stupid at times? Of course. But I got past it. If you want to learn to speak a language, STOP with passive activities! Speak it with actual people! This forces you to develop listening skills and forces your mind to place higher emphasis on learning this language as you force it to interact. You might even make a few new friends along the way!

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