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How does your tendency affect your language learning?

I'm a big fan of the author and podcaster, Gretchen Rubin and she's come up with this framework most people fit into called the Four Tendencies (I think there's a book coming out soon). I'm discovering that the tendency you fall into plays a big role in habit formation and learning new things!

Here is a summary of the tendencies:

Upholders: respond readily to outer and inner expectations

Questioners: question all expectations; they'll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense

Rebels: resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

Obligers: meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves

Source: https://gretchenrubin.com/2013/10/what-kind-of-person-are-you-the-four-rubin-tendencies/

Which one are you and how do you work with this tendency to learn a language?

I'm a Questioner/Obliger (I think) so I either need to have a good reason to learn a new language (as a questioner) OR I find Duolingo to be an excellent external accountability source, particularly joining one of the language clubs. I'm constantly checking to see if I'm at the top of my leaderboard!

I'm not affiliated with Gretchen Rubin in anyway, I just thought this might be interesting for other language learners to know and chat about

September 13, 2017



If only life was really that simple.


It's about tendencies, not mutually exclusive classes. So of course, life is much more complicated. But I think it is worth knowing what drives us (and what puts us off). These tendencies can help get a grip on that.

For example, although I feel a strong "questioner" tendency within myself, I'm certainly more of an "obliger" and "upholder" in my professional environment. Otherwise, I would probably no longer be there. ;-)

Edit: Thinking about it, I like to be forced into a different tendency within my professional life. This is a challenge that helps me grow. And I bring in my "questioner" tendency if and when I can use it in a constructive way. I think this is really productive ...


As I understand this, I think I am an obliger. Even when other people praise my performance or that I rationally know that my results are good, I am constantly pushing myself because I think I do not do as good as I should.

As a result no matter how much I study/review each aspect of a language, I always need to go one step further. And it is still not enough.

(Unless I go through a procrastination moment. Which is kind of like "You'll never be perfect at this so why even try?". Thankfully with self-imposed routines and the help of stuff like duolingo this happens less and less)


Oh, I like Gretchen Rubin too. :-) I think I'm a questioner. Funnily, anything that should work as an "outside motivator" tends to spark rebellious behavior in me.

I saw this not in the context of language learning, but in the context of sports. I love doing my activities at my own pace. I thought that I could motivate me further by subscribing to a training scheme, but this actually led to my activities coming to a complete halt. I deactivated that app on my phone, and since then I've been doing my activities at my own pace again ...

That's why I'm also wary of the motivators on Duolingo. I break my streak regularly, just to avoid being drawn into some "outside motivation". As long as I learn my languages because I love learning languages, everything is perfect, and I move on, make my own progress, and am happy.


this is me to a t haha pretty sure this is the longest I have had of a streak. :)


My main objective now is to be able to play video games in French, as well as watch videos. I started off thinking one day I would hopefully speak very fluently, but I realized even if I did chances to speak are very rare, then I lost motivation and kind of scratched this goal. I feel like I have a clearer objective now though, and will be quite happy to just understand the language. I can listen and read and watch as much as I like in my spare time, but speaking opportunities are rare.

From this info, I will let you decide which one I am.


If there really was a way to describe my language learning, I'd have to say I'm an upholder.

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