On Quitting languages.
How do you know the difference between "getting past the honeymoon phase" and just TRULY losing interest in a language? Can you really lose interest in a language you were passionate about just a couple of years ago or are you just frustrated?
Here's the thing: I was really passionate about a certain language a couple of years ago and I wanted to move to the speaking country for a year. I did keep going on and off with the language till I realized, a couple of months ago, that I either lost interest or I was never really that passionate about it. But I was just so scared it was because I'm past the honeymoon phase and that I'm simply just giving myself excuses to quit.. so i decided to get back and really commit to it this time. And now I just can't stand it. Like, I force myself to listen to my daily share of it. I don't even enjoy watching movies and videos in said language and I just feel like I don't even really like the sound of it that much. and I don't know if it's the language or if its me. And I'm so worried I'd do the same with every other language I try to learn.
Have you ever quit a language? how deep where you into it, did you regret it, and did you manage to actually learn other languages or you felt the same about all others once you got "past the honeymoon phase"?
Do you think it's because I tried to take on multiple languages at the same time that I lost my connection to all of them? But a lot of people are learning 3-4 languages at the same time and they seem to be doing great.
I'm highly considering taking a break from language learning in general as I'm so conflicted that I feel pressured and frustrated with all languages at the moment. (I try and fail to take it easy!) What do you guys think?
You are asking a very tough question but you are not alone! People go through a crisis for different reasons. The honeymoon-over, midlife crisis type of syndromes apply to many areas in life. I suggest:
- Figure out what motivated you in the first place.
- Figure out if and why that motivation is gone.
- Decide whether the motivation is still valid and/or if there is another way to validate it.
- If not, decide whether some other motivation would induce you to pursue language learning.
- If not, try something else that makes you happy and consider coming back later when you find the renewed interest!
- I was in love with the idea of moving there for sometime. And I liked the people in general.
- I don't anymore.want to move there. I still love the people of course And to be honest, I think i was never really that in love. It was a language I studied in school and then decided to continue on with it after graduating. I think being fluent or even great in this language isn't a priority for me, at least not at this time of my life. I don't regret my time with it at all. I'm just not interested in totally immersing myself in it.
God, organizing my thoughts in lists always works with me. Thank you! :)
Do what you gotta do if you're truly not motivated. If you force yourself, you'll only demotivate yourself further. Maybe decrease your learning to only occasional practice or focus on just maintaining your current level.
I quit actively learning Portuguese, Italian, and French all at the same time, which was about 9 months into working very hard on Portuguese and just dabbling in Italian and French. I just realized that increasing my abilities in those languages wasn't a priority for me. I do frequently run into text written in Portuguese and Italian. When that happens, I use it as a chance to practice a little bit and see how much I've retained, but I don't maintain those trees anymore nor do I seek out opportunities to practice.
"increasing my abilities in those languages wasn't a priority for me." is exactly how I feel. I just need to remind myself of it everyday and make sure I remember I'm doing it because I WANT to and not because I have to.
Thank you so much. Seeing you so easygoing and mature about it really helps. :)
Life happens. Think back to what created your passion for the language. You indicate that you wanted to move to that country for a year. My guess is that your passion may have continued if you had actually realized that dream or still saw it as a possibility. I'm curious as to whether the country is France or Israel, but that is really none of my business. If you no longer have the desire and don't foresee traveling there, it seems eminently logical to devote your time to something more enjoyable. It's easy to get caught up into looking backward,, not wanting to "waste" all the time you devoted to the language in the past, but looking forward, devoting yourself to enjoyable pursuits now and in the future, is much healthier and more satisfying.
It was France. It doesn't make much difference though as I won't/can't move to either one for different reasons. I don't regret the time I spent with French because it was what I needed at some point in my life. but I'm so ready to focus more on Hebrew and Russian now while visiting french from time to time. It's just that guilty feeling you keep making yourself feel. "It's easy to get caught up into looking backward,, not wanting to "waste" all the time you devoted to the language in the past, but looking forward, devoting yourself to enjoyable pursuits now and in the future, is much healthier and more satisfying." I need to copy this quote to my sticky notes to always remind myself of it. :)
I have started and quit languages multiple times in my life.
Just like you, for some languages I imagined moving to the country, and I learned really intensively. But then other things happened in my life, and I started doing something else.
I did feel frustrated at these points, and I do feel some guilt when I look around me and see all the studying material that I bought at the time (Internet wasn't around then).
But sometimes, my interest in a language gets revived. And then I can just take the books and flashcards that I already have, and continue as far as I want to go / can go at that new point in time. (This is currently happening with Latin because I want to join my nephew on his Latin-learning journey ... ;-)).
Overall, I think that it is not a binary decision, which would mean that you either learn the language, or you will use it never again in your life.
Rather, it's a decision for a particular moment in time. You may come back to it later, when it feels appropriate and logical for you to resume your studies. All doors are open.
The important thing, for me, is that you have created that door to a new world of knowledge by having started to learn the language. If you hadn't got to the point in the language where you are now, you wouldn't know anything about that language. So, even if you let it rest for now, the material you've learned, and the strategies you've developed along the way will be useful to you in your future endeavors.
I agree about it not being a binary decision. Sometimes we just forget it's not now or never. I think it's partly because I keep comparing myself to other people who are "in love with this language" and put too much effort and time into it when I LIKE a lot of different languages and different cultures so It feels like I'm all over the place lol You're totally right. The time you put into a language you loved is never a waste of time .. at the very least, it helped you understand HOW languages are learned. :)
Here is a perspective: I am better at learning languages than I have interest. I know how to learn, and learn languages, at a very fast pace. Earlier today I gave some advice to someone who just started the Italian course, stating I have no interest in learning another language quickly, but I gave various ideas.
And I have quite a few good strategies that work for me, but one thing I believe is that the interaction and tangible use of the language is one of the most valuable parts. Here is an example.
I know a good amount of Arabic for someone who has studied the language for a year. I can say a lot of what I think, and I could give a more in depth description of what I know. I do not love speaking in it or learning it. I have spent a lot of time making flash cards, which I still have hundreds of, listening to shows in arabic, and a lot of study hours invested. A lot of how I have learned this language does not include the emotional weight that comes with learning language from context. So I have stopped, but I still have a good amount of knowledge of the language, and if—and this is a big if—I travel to Arabic speaking countries in the future, I am going to use it. Here is another perspective. Last week I started the Czech course upon learning the Languages connection with Slovak. I spent two weeks working on a farm in the West Bank where I spent a lot of time with two slovaks, one of whom, Jan, spoke no english. We were able to communicate, and I learned a few slovak words. When I started the course and the word Dobré came up, I got so excited because I remember the meaning of it. How it was used, and the memories I have from that experience. I don't have a strong desire to learn Czech, but I have a smaller one to learn a few Slovak words, but this is not my point.
The joy I get from language learning is actually being able to tangibly use a language and interact with other people. Sure, I can spend massive amounts of time exposing myself to a language on my own with flashcards, grammar study, etc, but I like actually being able to use it and the social process of learning it.
I spent two months in Spain a little over a year ago learning Spanish. There are still a lot of Spanish expressions and words that I don't know the translation for, but there are times when it just feels right to say. And I have a lot of memories associated with the language. There is a fairly strong emotional connection I have associated with the times I have used that language.
My point with all this is that if you do not have motivation of a drive to learn a language, and this also applies to most things in life, I do not believe one should pursue that (and listen, I get the short term investment in something verse long term payout analogy, it is just that there needs to be enough meaning to be willing to do something/get joy, to continue doing). I could have taken a 3rd year college Arabic and Portuguese class this year, but I didn't because I didn't want to spend so much time being forced to learn a language for a grade; it was not for me.
I think you should do what feels right for you, that if you are not interested in how you are learning this language, with the daily listening and exposure to videos and movies, you should not continue to do that if it does not feel good even though those are good language learning habits. Even with me, I think it is in some senses bad that I am still doing Duolingo even though I do not have a strong interest in learning the languages on here, and at the same time I know that if I do it every day I will get a lot better and develope a much higher profficiency—my capacity to learn exceeds my motivation, but more importantly what I feel is good for me.
What language is it?
And in the past, I used to like languages for the social aspect of talking and learning. But for me, I have been better actualizing what I feel makes me happy, and frankly it doesn't come from languages, but part of it can (but absolutely not completely) come from interactions from people who happen to Speak different languages. I should probably stop using Duolingo haha. I'll be interested in hearing your response.
Wow! I really really REALLY enjoyed reading this. I believe I'm good at learning languages too and I think my problem really lies with falling for a language hard enough to actually commit to it. I totally agree with you about the joy being in USING the language. And that has always been my main reason for learning a language and it's probably why I'm feeling a bit depressed with the languages I'm learning. "If I don't plan to EVER live in a french speaking country then whats the point? Who am I gonna speak hebrew with?" and so on. Language for me are all about communication. I wont lie, since I started learning hebrew and saw how much in common it has with Arabic, I have been very interested in how languages work in general. But I don't think I'd ever learn a language just for this reason. Languages, as much as they're fun and interesting, require a lot of work and patience and most importantly PASSION. and I think thats exactly what I need. To be obsessed with a language.
Again, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this and I'll probably be coming back to reread it when I need to again. :)
And here is a sub-point. A lot of this is not language specific. Language is just a verbal or written manifestation of sounds or characters, which our feelings and actions come through (I have read that the part of our Brain that is related to feeling—and keep in mind, it is much more complicated than this—has not capacity for language, yet so many people feel differently, myself included, when they communicate in other languages. And while that feeling is real, I think the technical explanation for that is more complicated, and is related how that language was learned, what is associated with physically and psychologically, and how it is and has been used.). What I have liked about languages is mostly not from the language itself, but from the value I have gotten when I am using it and through the other things I listed in parenthesis that I think are what the value from language learning come from . And that just falls under my view that people should do what they find value in, and if you stop learning a language because you are sick of the process, you may slow down, but forced learning is likely less efficient than purpose, fulfilled learning, but more importantly, the latter is just better in how it feels. And if we are not on Earth to like what we do, I say ❤❤❤❤ anyone who thinks the contrary (with some notable exceptions, that are complicated, but obvious, and some contrarian might want to bring it up......)
I thought I commented here earlier. But, it is not appearing. Your post reminded me of a discussion I had in my draft folder from a couple of weeks ago, yet had forgotten to post. So, I put it up this evening. It is called Are your language goals holding you back?
I found myself in a similar place as it seems you are finding yourself. And, I've since reassessed my goals and created new ones that I was more confident I could achieve, and it gave me momentum. I have now done the Spanish course more than once, done the reverse course, read a book in Spanish, and completed the Japanese tree while it was till in beta. These goals were all much more achievable than fluency. So, instead of a sense of failure, I felt a sense of accomplishment. Now, when I take a break from language, I am confident I will return because I'm not leaving in failure, but with many successes.
I just checked and definitely followed your discussion. :)
Yes, I think it's all about setting realistic goals so not to feel overwhelmed. I'm just obsessed with the idea of giving each language a certain time as to be fully immersed in it. So I wanted to finish French and Hebrew so I can fully focus the upcoming year on Russian. And that is obviously where my problem lies. I think I need to just remind myself it's not a race and I'm doing it because I like it and there's not such thing as "finishing" a complete language. I still learn new words in Arabic and English from time to time! Thank you by the way. You just gave me a push. :)
yousraserry, you already sound more up beat. You have accomplished many things already with language. I'm glad you are recognizing than now. :)
I will say, walking away from Spanish I felt some sadness later, realizing how much I forgot. When I found Duolingo, I discovered it comes back more quickly each time I pick it up again. Once I realized that, I felt relieved.
I'm glad you feel some inspiration again. ^_^
When I was a kid I tried learning Irish and Icelandic, and failed miserably. In high school I did Spanish, but didn't like the language so never really learned anything. In college I reached a conversational level in French and German and enjoyed them immensely. Then I traveled to France and Switzerland for a few weeks. When I got home I stopped learning them because I naively thought that I reached a level where I couldn't forget them. It's been over 10 years since then and well, predictably I forgot most of it.
For myself at least, I think that if I jump in and do one or two languages with lots of enthusiasm, I will have the same thing happen: I'll get to a conversational level, visit the country, and then never use it again and forget it all. Now I'm learning all of the languages I've ever had any interest in at a slow pace. Will I ever get fluent in them? Maybe, maybe not. Spending a year or two or three to get fluent in one language for a few weeks of travel doesn't seem worth the effort. But now there is more access to their cultures online, so its easier to maintain. I'm enjoying the tortoise approach as opposed to the hare this time around. I think its easier to maintain interest when their isn't an immediacy to a language. Its easy to burn out when you get obsessive. Fluency isn't even on my mind.
I'm not aiming for fluency either. And it's really restored my enjoyment of language learning. I can spend as much or as little time as I want just enjoying learning whatever it is I want to learn and for whatever amount of time I want and for other reasons than fluency. :)