Chapter VII – Part 2

$ It’s September, I’m coming back to learning languages, as I promised.

$ If you hadn’t come back it would be all right, too. After all, you didn’t specify the year of your coming back to learning languages.

$ Anyway, I’m covered on all sides. Years of playing in defense did their best.

$ You played handball a lot and you didn’t make a carrier as a handball player. Are you sad about it?

$ What I could achieve, I did achieve. Nowadays, professional sport is reduced to drugs and bribes.

$ You’re a sportsman. In your opinion, to what extend learning a foreign language is similar to doing sports?

$ In both you need to be motivated. You need to be systematic.

$ With which I don’t agree, as you know.

$ Even in sports?

$ If I assume that one kind of sport equals one foreign language, then not even in sports. Look, what happens if I give up going jogging in autumn and winter? Nothing. I’ll come back to jogging when it gets warmer in spring and when days are longer. I emphasize: I’m not talking about professional sports. I’m not talking about such a mastering of a foreign language that allows me to write a book in this language and get a Nobel Prize for it.

$ If you stop going jogging for half a year, giant sour muscles are as sure as hackfire.

$ Even if I have giant sour muscles in March, I’ve plenty of time to get ready for the marathon in October. However, above all, if I don’t go jogging for half a year, I can do yoga, Tai Chi, go skiing, which means I can keep working on the consciousness of my body and on its shape. And that was the point I was making when I compared one kind of sports to one foreign language. If I experience a crisis in learning Chinese, I can decide to work on other languages, as long as I want, including my mother tongue, for the mere pleasure of using and nurturing languages: reading, listening, communicating.

$ I wish I could have a crisis in learning Chinese. I can’t get through English, which is a simple language, they say.

$ What other similarities between sports and languages can you see?

$ You get better results if you train 1 hour 7 days a week than 7 hours 1 day a week.

$ Uhm.

$ The worst part is getting down to work when you haven’t been able to see the effects of your work for a longer time.

$ A very important point! Can you see the effects of your trainings every time you train?

$ No, in my age you can’t talk about the effects anymore. In sports, I’m already old and what I can do now is to prevent from losing shape as slowly as possible.

$ What you say is what you get. So what mobilizes you to train? In other words: what do foreign languages lack that they don’t mobilize you to practice the way you do in sports?

$ If I haven’t trained for a week or longer, I put on weight at once. That is why regardless of what time I get back from work I must do sports: if I can’t make it to join my basket ball class, I go swimming; if the swimming pool is closed I go jogging.

$ How is it possible that somebody’s body mass increases only because they started omitting their trainings? Most people in our country avoid sports and there aren’t only fat people among our citizens.

$ I have this bad habit: all day long I remember that it serves me when I often eat small portions, i.e. about 5 portions a day. However, after the whole busy day when I land at home or in a hotel I have one beer or two and then I start a feast. I can be eating for hours, as if I were more hungry after having eaten more.

$ And if you go to the basket ball class or swimming you don’t think about having a feast anymore.

$ Exactly.

$ Both a training and a feast in the late evening do offer something similar since you can replace one with the other and be equally happy in both cases. What is it?

$ Relaxation. Disconnecting after a day full of work. Pleasure after the stress of the whole day.

$ That’s what you can’t get from learning a language.

$ At least I can’t. You certainly can. So far, learning a language is a torture for me; a torture with a rather undefined goal. I am much more skilled in doing sports. And in eating, of course, too. And I have much more good routine in sports.

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