Thursday, December 14, 2006

Praise When Bad, Putdown When Better

When studying a foreign language you will notice an interesting phenomenon- people in the countries you are living in now will immediately comment on how well you speak it. You may be saying a few phrases but some will even start jumping up and down and clapping their hands in delight. Especially, if you are in an Asian country.

The fact that a rich foreigner like you is taking time to learn the language is truly a miracle. You deserve to be praised. However, as your study gets deeper and deeper, and your command of the language improves, the praises become fewer and fewer until a day arrives when people start telling you that you speak the language badly and even make fun of your pronunciation.

Now, they are no longer comparing you to other foreigners who are not learning the language, to native speakers, such as themselves and, compared to those, you still sound like a mental retard. Hence, the giggles and frowns, grimaces and put downs.

Take heart! That type of behaviour indicates that your language is, in fact, getting better. Keep learning. Get as many materials with dialogues in that language as you can and practice the dialogues by yourself. You will soon be fluent. When people stop making any kind of comments about your language, be they good or bad, and just talk to you normally, that means that you have really mastered it.

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