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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

"Just Be Yourself" and Languages

Everyone I have met, in situations of public speaking, performances, or presentations, has been told to "just be themselves." And it works, usually, and my success rate in those things using that logic has been high. But not so with my on-the-ground language experiences. I have begun to do the opposite, in fact....

When I have to speak to someone in their native tongue, or am asked to translate something out loud, I pretend I am someone else who speaks that language as a native. Sometimes I pick a specific person to mimic. It works. In fact, multilingual people, in a study, have shown slight personality changes for each language they speak.

Does anyone else do this? How does it work for you?

(Ps. To my most honest friends, is this profile picture better than my last or should I swap back?)

February 25, 2018

25 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MariyanaVo

Hi! I think everyone who's fluent in 2+ languages and especially who has worked/lived/studied in 2+ countries can testify that yes, their attitude changes slightly, mimicking the natives around. It's not very discernible with languages and cultures that are related, but it really stands out if, for example, a "westerner" lives in Japan for some time, or vice versa.

I think you cannot become really fluent in a language without absorbing at least a little of the culture, and to become fluent, you cannot help passing through an "imitating the natives" stage. So you unconsciously pick up things - modulating your tone or pitch, using different body language, being more forthcoming or more covert, maintaining the right "distance" from the other (physically and metaphorically), etc. All this doesn't really change who you are as a person, but it leaves the illusion of a personality change.

So, no worries, you're not alone. In fact, if you search youtube for videos of polyglots talking about personality and attitude, you'll find plenty, and they all confirm this. Good luck with your studies!

February 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

Very, very well-written comment of yours. Thank you for sharing the wisdom you gleaned from your experiences:). Best to you as well!

February 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ppelk

I think the correct attitude and confidence is the key, and it can be difficult for some personalities.

It's important to just throw yourself to it (speaking the foreign language), remain relaxed and concentrate hard. Accept that you might not get all or even most of what is being said to you. Stop the speaker occasionally to ask for clarification, but not constantly.

Speaking, not getting stuck on grammatical perfection helps, and it's good to avoid complete stalls by for example ending the sentence in English or a non-verbal expression if you can't find the word.

Facing a foreign language situation, it can be helpful to think "OK, this is going to be a great learning experience, no matter what fool I make myself look like. Let's make the most out of it".

February 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

Good comment; thank you for sharing your input!

February 26, 2018

[deactivated user]

    Just as a note of how important a profile pic is, I only noticed this post was yours when I read your last question and went to checked who was the author of the post was to see if I qualified as a "honest friend". "Hey, it's Lauriana after all". My small eureka moment.

    I like this picture... is that you with a Nintendo Switch by the lake?

    My vote is keep it.

    (cut our discussion in half as not to spoil your thread with too much ramble)

    February 25, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

    It's a picture of me taking a picture of a sunset on a lake:). It seems to go for summer; a bit brighter...

    February 25, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andresb_UY

    I like this picture. I hope you receive notifications of this post.

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

    Thank you, Andres! :)

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andresb_UY

    i think you can get a better one, even flying. I used to be skydiver, flyied many time in old "machines" all kind of.

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

    Nice!

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andresb_UY

    Crazy

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Corinnebelle

    Super interesting! Are all us aspiring language learners going to end up with multi-personalities now? Multiples (people with DID) are supposed to be very smart. It actually makes sense to put yourself into the culture and the style of the language (when in Rome, do as the Romans do) in order to communicate better. It generally is the case that we act different in different situations aka slight personality change.

    I like the picture, whether I know you well as a friend or not. I don't think I figured the other one out.

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

    I do notice that my attitudes change between languages and thought myself strange until reading those articles:). Thank you for your input!

    My previous photo was me in the process of piloting a plane. Apparently it was hard to understand at such a small size, however. I think this one will make more sense;).

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Corinnebelle

    Oh, in real life?

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

    Yes, I did it sort of as an experience endeavor:).

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Corinnebelle

    Cool!

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FrenchCamille

    Can't say I've ever done that. Unfortunately, I've never gotten the chance to use languages IRL except for my native language of course.

    I like that new profile pic. You should keep it(:

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

    Thanks, Camille!

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_Kirari_

    I don't know if you can really compare these things, but this works extremly good for acting too. Like 1 month ago we were filming a video at school, it was a ridiculous one. I played some old man giving the main character his quest, to save the world. After 3 times of bursting out in laughter, I imagined actually being an old man who thinks this quest is serious. I did great and felt absolutely no need to laugh anymore. I'll try that method the next time I'm speaking to someone over Skype, maybe that will boost my confidence.

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

    How interesting! Thank you for sharing your story and input on this. I'm glad it worked for you:).

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MelvilQ

    I totally agree with you that mimicking is a very good language learning strategy. Mimicking means: being a good listener, being attentive to details, but also forgetting who you are, how you usually define yourself and are defined by others. Inventing a totally new "I". For me, this kind of escapism is one of the biggest joys of language learning.

    Just one thing about the "Be yourself" strategy. You can be yourself when interacting with people on eye level, with family and friends. But in situations when people have power over you (e.g. teachers, professors, bosses, etc.) , you'll have more success when you're able to anticipate their expectations and act like that. Trying to "be yourself" is useless effort, because you already are yourself, but you want to get better, right? This goes especially to public speaking or performing on a stage. Nobody is him-/herself on stage. Singers and professional speakers have found ways to cover this up, so it seems like they are just themselves, but they aren't. What they learned is control over themselves. They have the superpower to be like the people who watch them expect them to be. That's why they are successful. So again, your intuition about mimicking to be a good strategy is totally correct.

    February 27, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

    Ah, yes, this is all spot-on. Thank you for your comment; I enjoyed it!

    February 27, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedheadedRogue

    I haven't had enough experience in conversation to know about personality changes, but I verily believe that my voice differs with each language. It's higher for French, lower for Spanish, graver for Latin, and smoother for Italian.

    February 26, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

    Interesting! Best of luck to you in your studies;).

    February 27, 2018
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