I Failed :( In Public

So, I know this is typisch for a new German language learner but I need to get this off my chest. I don’t know any other language learners personally. I went out tonight to a German Meet Up with at least 30 German speakers. There is a monthly Meet Up, hosted on Meetup.com, at a bar and everyone speaks German. It is beautiful. However, I was not. I finally scrounged up the courage, along with some liquids forms of it, and went. Even though I have been studying on my own for a year, mostly listening and speaking, I couldn’t utter a $&%! word. I FAILED MISERABLY. SO EMBARRASSED. I want to bury my head in the sand for a week and then quit my job to study and practice for 15 hours a day for the next month. Before the next meet up.

The good thing is that I realized how lazy I have gotten, and has angrily inspired me. I just had to tell someone since I’ve never felt this kind of failure before. I don’t think I’ve worked on anything as hard as learning German.

Has anyone else had a similar experience that made you feel like a failure and inspired harder training.

Change name, change name !

Killbill is limiting and unlucky.

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But it’s my favorite movie?..

Go out and fail some more! It’s the fastest way to succeed!(… as long as your vocab is up to snuff, that is)

I’m half-joking, but seriously, if you can bear the shame of failure you just might want to take a few more whacks at it. I fail all the time and it feels great!..sort of. Failing is certainly a big motivation for me.

If you’ve mainly been listening and speaking then you may want to consider reading more often. In my experience lack of vocab can be crippling.

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I experience failures everyday. But they neither affect my motivation nor “inspire harder training”. I just see them as part of the process with no influence on my studies.

If you spent most of the last year listening and speaking German, your failure is not due to weak skills, but to a psychological problem.
These meetings are quite interesting, but if you are not psychologically ready, you can be overwhelmed very quickly !! Especially when you have more than 30 people around you …

Try to go to much smaller meetings (3-4 persons maximum), with natives speakers (I find natives speakers more lenient than other students when you make a mistake).
This should reduce the pressure and improve your performance ! :slight_smile:

Not speaking doesn’t make it a failure. Some questions for you:

  1. Did you understand what they were saying?
  2. Were you interested in what they were talking about?
  3. Did you like them?
  4. Did you think of things you could have said afterwards?
  5. Do you want to meet them again?

They may have been a bunch of very dull people who you wouldn’t hang out with if they were speaking your native language. In which case, not saying anything is perfectly natural behaviour.

The teapot makes some good points. I would also ask: were these guys native speakers of German? (If not, the reason you couldn’t interact with them may have been because they weren’t actually speaking “real” German…)

Either way, I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself - the only way you could be fluent in German after just one year would be if you had spent the entire time living in a German-speaking country.

A year (in German: Das ganze Jahr) is quite enough time to understand and to speak a new language well.
But the first conversation with a lot of people isn’t a good idea.
You have to try speaking with one person - your friend or your tutor- and not one time, but several times before a group discussion.
And you have not only to read but a lot of texts to listen before you start to speak.
Try to retell what you’ve read or listened. It helps greatly to start speaking.
But the reasons of Helen (skyblueteapot) are also very important.

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I haven’t had the courage to talk to anyone in Russian on Skype yet, and I’ve been “studying” for almost a year too. See, thing is: I know I’d screw it up. I’m not entirely frightened by the likelihood of that, but I do think it’s way too early to even bother trying.

I’d say I’ve been lazy as well. Yet I almost always find the time, once a day, to LingQ new words and have at least one flashcard session. Yes, even when I don’t want to (which is most of the time.) My listening hasn’t gotten much better, that’s for sure - but I am learning and retaining new words almost everyday, and sentences are becoming easier to read. This, alone, is more than enough to keep me going. It is progress, however slow that may be.

Don’t quit. Perhaps extend your “silent” period. Extend it for as long as you want. I don’t know when I’ll start feeling comfortable speaking Russian. I doubt I would remember the appropriate words to use in a conversation, let alone string them together in a grammatically sound, coherent way. No use in forcing yourself into uncomfortable situations, especially when you know you’re not ready. Even a few years of silence is fine, I believe. Whatever it takes.

Harder training can be good, but that can also lead to burn-out.

I say just keep at it for as long as possible, but also take it easy; do it the way you feel like, in a natural way that maximizes pleasure and minimizes annoyance and self-doubt. The rewards will come in droves someday… but it may take lots of time.

There’s no rush. I think it’s common for people to want to master a language way too early. Expectations must be realistic; otherwise there’s bound to be disappointment - which is hardly encouraging.

Making mistakes when you begin speaking is common. Now all you have to do is start making them, and you will be on your way to being a successful language learner. I’m not kidding.

Wow, thank you everyone. All of these comments were extremely encouraging and useful. And just to answer some questions, the majority of the speakers were natives. They were really fun and I would love to speak with them again. I might add that it was really loud inside. Anyways, I will definitely continue my vocab and speaking studies and go fail some more. Thank you everyone, again!!!

I’d still suggest you start in a one-on-one situation. Natives speak to a language learner quite differently when there are other natives present.