Friday, 27 December 2013

3 reasons why trying to finish a language is a bad idea

Some people here in Greece share various assumptions about language learning which I find particularly disturbing. One of these assumptions has to do with the idea of 'finishing' a language. And these people usually mean that if you have managed to attain some certificate (some refer to them as 'degrees', which I find particularly annoying) you have 'finished' the language in question.

I believe that trying to finish a language is totally a bad idea, even dangerous, I’d say, mainly for three reasons:


The idea that language is somewhat finite is completely absurd. A language can never be finished: even native speakers have to study it again and again if they want to use it smoothly. That is why this idea can lead to perfectionism, and perfectionism in language learning is a motivation killer. Since the finishing line can never be visible, the task of language learning becomes both vague and unreachable.


During your course of learning a language, it’s possible that at some point you’ll just feel like exploring other languages. That means you’d like to check whether you like them, and if you do, you’d really like to start learning them. However, the idea of finishing a language makes this forbidden: you think you should try to finish what you have started first, whatever this is supposed to mean! So, you end up feeling somewhat deprived, even angry towards your new language, which just refuses to finish in order for you to move on.


Finally, it is possible that sometimes we just get stuck in our learning and we need a break. When this had happened to me, I thought this time could be used on a new language. But then I felt I just had to finish the first language in order to pick a new one. And when I forced myself to go on with the first, it just didn’t work, and guess what happened: I stopped studying altogether!

Instead of trying to fit into others’ expectations and try to ‘finish’ a language, it is important to be able to create your own personal milestones to look forward to. In other words, to pinpoint certain moments that from that point onwards you will regard as milestones, and which will give you the courage and the strength to move on with your language learning, which never finishes, of course.

One such milestone for me was the moment I finished reading the first English book I ever read. Since then my English is much better, but at that precise moment I felt I had really made much progress, and I still look back to that moment with feelings of pride and accomplishment.

Thanks for reading! 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

How many things you love can you share in 10 minutes?

Olga Arakelyan was the first to share in ten minutes the things she loves.

Then, her blog post inspired Alina Cincan from Inbox Translation to ask a group of fellow translators to do exactly the same. I feel so happy that she included me in this group as well. And I have to say, after reading Alina’s post I feel I know her on a more personal level.

Hopefully the same will happen to you with me and my list.

It is great to be able to connect like this through blogging, and I'm grateful to have met all of you.

So, how many of these things can I share in just ten minutes?

1. Books. I read a lot of books. Around forty a year. And I’m buying more books than my bookcases can hold.
2. Language learning materials and dictionaries. I am addicted to them!
3. Good food, preferably exotic and difficult to pronounce. I also love trying new recipes!
4. The Acropolis. If I don’t go downtown to see the Acropolis from afar at least once a month, something’s not quite right with me.
5. Walking in Athens. In this respect, I’m a flâneur… love to stroll about, catching glimpses of this ever-changing city.
6. All things English.
8. Christmas decorations. One can never have too many!
9. Travelling and exploring new places.
10. The sea.
11. Snow.
12. Cats.
13. Maps and geography. Since I was a kid, I was always on the lookout for the most faraway places and said: I shall go there one day!
14. Icelandic mythology… trolls, giants, Loki, etc.
15. Antique surveying instruments.
16. Astronomy.
18. Birdwatching.
19. Gardening.
20. Baking bread.

Thank you so much Alina for having such a wonderful idea. Looking forward to your next one!