[Just posted this on Facebook - the first in what I’m thinking will be a series of posts about the emotions in language learning - based largely on what I’ve seen on intensive courses and other learning environments over the years. Thought it would be nice to have it on the forum as well - and I’ve love to know if you find it helpful at all… ]
Do you get frustrated when you can’t remember a Welsh word you’ve been trying to learn?
It’s an incredibly common feeling…
You’re trying to remember it, you know it’s not far off (you might even say 'It’s on the tip of my tongue!) - and then someone else says it, and you feel like kicking yourself - you were SO close!
Here’s the thing…
Some people get so tired of feeling that frustration, they end up losing momentum - and their journey towards Welsh gets interrupted (or even, sometimes, just stops).
But that frustration is based on a misunderstanding.
It starts at school.
You’re told that you’ve either learnt something, or you haven’t.
If you haven’t, you’re meant to revise it over and over until you ‘learn’ it.
Here’s the problem with that…
Memories aren’t formed all in one go. [Apart from memories of particularly emotional events, which don’t usually include Welsh vocabulary - unless you get ‘rhiw’ or ‘rhew’ and ‘rhyw’ mixed up!].
Each time you meet a Welsh word, you encode more information about it.
You might start by recognising how many syllables it has.
Then you might remember some of the vowel sounds - then some of the consonant sounds.
Eventually, after you’ve been exposed to it often enough, you can recognise it when you hear it - and some time after that, you can say it when you want to.
It’s only when you can say it whenever you want that you feel as though you’ve LEARNT it.
All the other stuff - recognising syllables, adding vowels, adding consonants - happens under the level of your conscious mind.
You can’t tell that you’re getting closer to a long-term successful memory for that word - so you either feel bad about yourself, or you believe you need to do lots of extra practice.
But there’s ONE clue that you’re learning…
ONE clue that you’re getting closer and closer to success…
What is that ONE clue?
It’s the FRUSTRATION you feel when you can’t quite remember the word - when it’s on ‘the tip of your tongue’!
If I ask you the Welsh for a word you’ve never heard, you don’t feel any frustration - you just say ‘Nope, sorry, don’t know that’.
If I ask you the Welsh for a word you’ve ALMOST finished learning, you can’t quite get it, and you feel that sense of frustration - of PAIN! - which looks a bit as though someone is sticking a needle in you.
WHEN YOU FEEL THE PAIN…
It means you’ve almost succeeded.
It’s the ONE sign that you’re nearly there.
The next time you feel the pain - the next time you want to kick yourself - pause for a moment.
Read the sign.
Understand that it means you’re ALMOST there.
And your frustration should turn into pride.
You should be PROUD of yourself for being so close to forming a successful long term memory.
Does this ring a bell for you?
Have you had this sense of frustration?
What impact does it have on you?
Do you think you’ll be able to switch off the frustration and switch on the pride now you’ve read this?