Chapter XI – Part 3

$ English and German were compulsory at school. And yes, my job requires the command of those languages. It’s funny to answer the question: ‘why have you decided to learn languages’ because I haven’t decided to learn languages. It has always been an imposition. If I were free to decide I would never ever take up a language course.

$ Do you mean, you don’t agree with the first point? Is it not useful to speak English and German?

$ What a pile of bullocks! Of course it is. The same as it is better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick. It’s better to be slim than fat etc. What I’m saying is that I find it out of my league. I have been learning for years and I can speak neither English nor German.

$ Is frustration the predominant feeling when you think of learning languages?

$ Frustration, impatience, helplessness, tension.

$ We need to get started with some tidying up then. Imagine that you are talking to a plastic surgeon. Picture your body and tell him or her what you want to change: wrinkles, belly, hips… Close your eyes and start fantasizing. Imagine that your surgeon also knows how to thicken your hair, whiten your teeth, even your nails. Sky is the limit. You can tell them to adjust the level of your hormones, bone mineral density, anything is possible. You haven’t closed your eyes.

$ No, I don’t find it necessary.

$ Trust is good, but control is better.

$ That’s one of my favorite sayings!

$ Wouldn’t I know it. Now think of everything that makes it impossible for you to master German and English. Think of your frustration, impatience, helplessness, tension. Imagine that your surgeon can also cut out, wash off, rub away all these obstacles. Take a sheet of paper and write down all factors that come to your mind. Maybe you want to add: control? Keep on writing during the today’s session and we’ll come back to this at the end. Next question.

3. What is your level in languages you learn?

1 – beginner, 2 – elementary, 3 – pre-intermediate, 4 – intermediate, 5 – upper-intermediate, 6 – advanced, 7 – proficiency

$ I am an eternal beginner.

$ Come on. Look at your Student’s Book. What does it say?

$ Intermediate. But I make mistakes in the most basic sentences.

$ I’m sure you make mistakes in your mother tongue, too. Does it mean you’re not more than proficient in this language: a native speaker? I suggest writing down something on your sheet of paper. What tells you to think of yourself as an eternal beginner? What makes you punish yourself mercilessly for every little mistake?

$ My perfectionism. Lack of self-confidence. Fear of people who’ll laugh at me. The fact that I don’t believe that one day I’ll be able to say: it’s good enough, people understand me, I understand them.

$ Congratulations on your insight! Let’s move on.

4. How do you learn languages? Mark YES or NO:

- I attend classes in a language centre.
- I attend 1 to 1 classes.
- I have sessions with a native speaker.
- I watch foreign TV channels.
- I listen to foreign radio stations.
- I read books / articles / newspapers / magazines in foreign languages.
- I search for information on foreign web portals.
- I write in foreign languages.
- I learn grammar.
- I put emphasis on learning new vocabulary.
- I travel abroad.
- I learn from songs and films.
- I learn together with my colleagues.
- At home I stick post-it notes with words and expressions I want to learn.
- I am interested in the culture  of the country whose language I learn.
- I create mind maps and learn by associations.
- I read a lot in foreign languages.
- I listen to texts in foreign languages while driving my car etc.
- I learn systematically.
Others – what?……………………………………………

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