After reading and listening to “The Linguist Manifesto” several times in French, it finally hit me that a language learner must never give up. Sure, the words were clear and the message entirely accessible, but the meaning contained within the manifesto did not hit home until very recently–this morning in fact. Last night after studying on LingQ here, I worked on my French paper. Nothing was going right: I could not find the words or the phrases needed, I could not muster up a way to express my thoughts on paper. In short, I gave up and went to bed. This morning, upon awakening, I thought, “I can’t do this, I can’t get French–the language is too difficult.” Then, the following phrase from the manifesto popped into my mind, “Pas de problème!” Needless to say, I let the phrase repeat itself in my mind. I think that at that moment I really understood that no matter how rough it gets with language learning; no matter how many mistakes I make, and no matter how much I forget, I have to let the wave of difficultly pass. I have to stay committed to my language goals, and more importantly perhaps, I have to be kind to myself in the process. Amazing, the power of words.
Right on Yvette! As I say, we can never be perfect but we can always improve.
We do improve even if we do not always notice it. And, even in the languages that I speak well, there are always words I do not know, and moments when I have trouble expressing myself the way I want. Just keep going and good luck to you.
Truer words were never spoken. In the past with learning Spanish I gave up when things didn’t come easily to me, when I couldn’t understand or speak. Now I just continue on, getting encouragement when I feel down. I realize that continuing with my studies is the only way to get fluent.
“Be kind to yourself.” This is something else I need to remember. Thanks Yvette.
Thank you Steve for your words of encouragement, and thank you for “The Linguist Manifesto.” Angela, your words are equally inspiring, and you set such a great example for me. Thank you!
I have just started reading a book by the Portuguese neuroscientist Antonio Damasio called “Ao Encontro de Espinosa”
In it Damasio says
Spinoza recommended that we fight a negative emotion with an even stronger but positive emotion brought about by reasoning and intellectual effort. Central to his thinking was the notion that the subduing of the passions should be accomplished by reason-induced emotion and not by pure reason alone. This is by no means easy to achieve, but Spinoza saw little merit in anything easy.
Think positive thoughts about your language learning to overcome the negative thoughts. (Easier said than done)
Reason-induced emotion…yes this is quite an undertaking, but I suppose if one were to reframe and refocus, then, one could replace negative thoughts with stronger positive ones.
By my prior thinking, I dare say that it is easy enough to fall into the trap of wallowing in negative emotions. This is a mistaken mind-set to cradle, to be sure. The real work, the real challenge lies in thinking more constructively with stronger positivity as Spinoza suggests. I absolutely agree with this notion. I will remember this message. I think that if I apply it’s meaning to the journey I’m on, then, every step in the process will be worth embracing, even the most trying steps.
I’ve long focused on the difficult aspects of learning French while sometimes forgetting the love I have for it, particularly in the classroom. This is due in part to a tremendous amount of pressure to perform in the language at university. But dutiful performance, in my case, has to be replaced somehow with a mindful approach, whereby learning French becomes the joy it originally was. Or the joy I have when learning on my own terms. I most enjoy French when I learn at my own pace, when I am outside of the classroom, and when the homework is done. Studying French outside of the academic bubble brings me the greatest joy. Indeed it does. Perhaps I can adopt Spinoza’s notion with the aim of carrying my independent passion and study of French into the classroom; somehow reconcile the two in an effort to carry my love of the language at all times. I think I’ve divided up the process (good vs bad), which gave birth to negative emotions, negative thinking, lack of confidence and such about dealing with difficulties in language learning; hence the threat of giving up.
I thank you for this message! This notion of stronger positive emotions in an effort to overcome negative emotions/thinking is a powerful one. From this moment forward I will heed its wisdom. “Easier said than done”–well, I’ll give it a shot, one thought at a time.
I wonder if there’s an English translation available of Ao Encontro de Espinosa… Sounds like a cerebral read!
Here is an article on the book in English. Damasio teaches in the US.
Thanks for the link! Interesting…I may just give this book a read!
I posted some additional thoughts on this subject at my blog.
If anybody looks for the mentioned book in German:
“Der Spinoza-Effekt: Wie Gefühle unser Leben bestimmen” von Antonio R. Damasio