2 November 2012

Failure and success in language learning

I did not become fluent in five days in Prague. However, I improved tremendously. I am comfortable in Czech. I read, I listen and understand. I can take part in a conversation but stumble here and there. I will post a video of an interview next week if I can.

Yet I feel that my whole fluent in five days experiment was a success. I have acquired a new language. I am not far from fluency. If I had the chance to live in the Czech Republic for a month or two I would certainly be fluent. If I had stayed there a few weeks instead of just four days I would have consolidated my hold on Czech.

As it was I left Prague and did not speak the language for the following month. Not ideal. But it does not matter. I falied to achieve fluency but I succeeded in becoming much more comfortable in Czech. I am now going to try to do the same in Korean.

Ultimately, fluency requires lots of interaction in the language. Once I have built up the base through my reading, listening and LingQing, I can easily move to fluency if I have enough exposure in real situations. And of course, the main thing is to enjoy the process.

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  1. Posted November 2, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I think what you did amounted to a massive success, most people couldn’t do that in the same amount of time. Congratulations to you. It’s a real shame you couldn’t stay there longer, it’s one of my places I hope to visit and live in for at least a few months one day, it looks so pretty in the pictures (plus the girls are pretty, the beer is great, and I hear most of the country is agnostic/atheist which is a nice contrast to other EE countries like Poland that can be heavily religious). Would you say these stereotypes are true based on your visit? :DI look forward to seeing what you do with Korean.Cheers,Andrew

  2. synthpaintann
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    It is always a real pleasure to listen to your perspective. What an interesting challenge you set yourself, by going to Prague for 5 days .. and then speaking for 8b hours a day! You mentioned that you also visited Portugal for a few days. Since this is where I live, I am most interested in your experiences there. Best regards, Ana

  3. Steve Kaufmann
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    Anna, Portugal is one of our favourite places, (my wife and I) and largely because of the people who are amongst the friendliest and most genuine in Europe. We had a great time in Obidos, and Cascais, although in the past we have have spent time in Lisbon, Braga and the Minho, Guardia, Viseu, Santarem, the Algarve, Evora and elsewhere.I have listened a lot to the podcasts put out by RTP and this gives me a bit of an insight into the country. I want to learn more.I am glad you have joined LingQ and look forward to getting to know you better there.Steve

  4. Steve Kaufmann
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    Sorry Ana, I misspelled your name.

  5. Le Canadien errant
    Posted November 4, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    When you put so much pressure on yourself, its hard to relax. Maybe the results would have been better if all the experience had not been broadcasted on the Internet. I admire your courage though. And your example inspires me…

  6. Kevin
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    This post gives me a lot of encouragement. I tried this recently on a trip to the Quebec City area and I found initially that I was very nervous speaking to native speakers of French. I wasn’t totally comfortable with the Quebecois accent and I found that some people were just outright refusing to acknowledge me. After I decided to relax a bit and accepted and embraced the notion that perfection was an unreasonable goal, I felt more at ease.

  7. Steve Kaufmann
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Le Canadien errant, no real pressure, just some clear goals. Kevin, you are quite right, perfectionism is counterproductive in language learning.

  8. Steve Kaufmann
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Ana,I just read and listened to the wonderful lesson you created for LingQ in European Portuguese. The content, the sound, and the way you read it twice, once at normal speed and once slowly, make it wonderful for beginner and intermediate learners. Thank you.

  9. Steve Kaufmann
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Ana, I now realize that this lessons was created by Miguel, and you shared it with me. It is a great lesson though. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Frank
    Posted November 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    How inspiring to read about someone who can speak so many languages! And 5 days is impressive. Although I am assume that some previous basic knowledge existed as surely one cannot become fluent in the proper sense of the term in just five days? If you ever need a high-standard, certified Czech translation, do not hesitate to use a <a href="http://www.rosettatranslation.com/&quot; >professional translation company</a> who will ensure a more-than-satisfactory result!

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