Recently, with the amount of people telling me about the languages they are learning and regarding my last post on the languages I know, I was thinking of the act of giving up the learning of a language. It sounds like a failure, am I right?
Even up to these days, many people still tell me that I made a mistake with stopping to learn German since it is an important language these days and its role in today’s world, especially considering the part of the world I am interested in. Or they ask me “are you going to take back German next semester?” Curiously, I am more than happy with Polish right now. Strangely, I am also approaching the same amount of time I spent learning German with Polish and I personally feel like I have achieved more things with Polish than with German. I can communicate with others in Polish and not stay there and talk about the weather or silly things, but also ellaborate on opinions regarding history, music or current events in Poland and the world. Things I couldn’t feel comfortable with doing in German, despite the good feedback I received from my teachers or random contacts with foreigners who speak German as a native language. Has it been a failure to quit a language and move on to another one?
How come? I learned a lot about myself in that process and how I learn more effectively. One of my biggest issues while learning German was the lack of practice after classes. It was so hard to look for tandem partners online or offline, or even interesting media to watch or listen. I felt like I could only use it in classes and learn certain vocabulary with it. Truth to be told, I had no deep motivation to learn German. However, why it wasn’t a complete failure to learn German? First of all, it did help me with Polish grammar and learning that there are things called cases and words do get declensions with them. I also learned about Spanish grammar in the meantime.
Then, I also learned about how an effective language learning method works for me. Classes are good tools, yet using the language you are learning must be like the most important thing for me. Actually applying that knowledge I worked hard to get in different situations. Listen to good music while cleaning or showering, voice messages with tandem partners, among other situations make me take a small step every day towards fluency in a language. It was a similar thing I had to do with English (except that I was living in an English speaking environment, then), but it was something that I had problems to do with German.
I didn’t feel like I had wasted time, money and knowledge with German classes. I didn’t feel that German was hard or so. I met wonderful people in my classes, for sure. And right now, after reading experiences of people that after years of not practicing, they had no issues with taking back a language they though they had forgot about it, it motivates to consider German, not in the short term future though.
Language learning is also a process of self discovery, especially when you are already at a certain period of your life in which you have other responsibilities at home, with loved ones or such. This should be also a matter of consideration. You have a life and health to take care of (especially now that I am coming out of a quite rebel flu). Do not burn your eyebrows by learning and instead, rest well, do what you have to do first and if you have time to spare, enjoy your learning.
Have you given up on a language? How did you feel?