Loneliness in Language Learning
That, I'm convinced, puts some kind of a psychological pressure on us and it can feel lonely at times.
Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here. Today I'm going to talk about a subject that doesn't come up very often. It's loneliness, loneliness and language learning. Remember if you like these videos, please subscribe, click on the bell for notifications.
If you follow me on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or other podcast services, I'd appreciate it if you could leave a review. So, first of all, I have received some comments to the effect that my sound is too low. So I've worked on the orientation of my microphone here, and hopefully this is better. Uh, loneliness. So it's a subject that never comes up.
We think of language learning. We're learning to communicate with people. We're gonna make new friends, we're going to connect with new cultures. So it's, it's, it's wonderful. And, and of course, language is, is not only a means of communicating meaning. Language is a means of connecting with people. I've even seen the theory that the first humanoids developed language as a means of sort of social grooming.
It almost doesn't matter what we're saying. We just want to hear other people's voices. We say something so they can hear our voices and we're just connecting. And that serves a need, a social need that we have to connect with other people. Now when we're learning languages, of course we can be in a classroom with other people where we are connecting socially, but at some point to learn the language we have to connect with the language we have to listen and read.
As I always say, even if we're listening to someone or speaking with someone we're having trouble getting the meaning because we're working in a new language, a language that we're trying to learn. And I have had the experience, particularly when I learn a language very intensively like I did with Chinese, where I was like seven hours a day in this Chinese world.
Not just casually connecting with people, not watching movies that I understood easily in my own language, not being with friends and family, but sitting there trying to get my brain cells to get used to this new language. And sometimes, and I can remember in Hong Kong that when I would come out from that and I would just communicate with people,
sometimes I felt a certain awkwardness that the, um, this sort of intensive interaction with a strange language, forcing the brain to get used to new language can, you know, create a sense of loneliness. You are alone with something that you don't understand very well. And like, even now, for example, you know, my wife might be watching a movie on Netflix in English or French a language where, which we understand and where in any case there are subtitles for the French.
And it would be nice to just sit there and enjoy the movie. But I at some level, I want to work on my Arabic or my Persian. And so I go downstairs by myself and I work on these, uh, whatever they might be, podcasts or other lessons in our LingQ library, where I'm saving words and phrases, and gradually trying to get used to the language. I wander around the house with my AirPods in my ears, uh, so that I can take advantage of whatever time I have that I'm cleaning up or something to get more of the language in me, I want to sort of force a change of transformation of my brain so that I can easily deal with this language. That, I'm convinced, puts some kind of a psychological pressure on us and it can feel lonely at times.
And so there are these ways in which sort of intensive language learning affects us. Now that's no different than any other pursuit that we go at sort of intensively, and there was a movie called The Loneliness of the Long Distance R,unner. I don't know much about the movie I gathered it had to do with social classes in English, but anything you do, you know, with intensity, whether it be as a piano player or as a, uh, you know, a performance athlete or whether you're pursuing, you know, a science or whatever.
You as an individual sort of striving to acquire knowledge or skills in a particular field, and you're shutting yourself off from other people that can create a sense of loneliness. Now, there are many ways that we can, you know, interact with other people, whether we're in science class or whether we have teammates or language class, or the people I talk to online.
And I cherish the uh, sessions that I have, I was with, uh, Adel Samy of Egypt this morning, and he's taking me through Egyptian Arabic and those are wonderful moments and those are social moments, but there's also a lot of time when it's, it's lonely. It's just the learner and the language. And I just want to mention that because it's something people should be aware of.
They shouldn't consider it strange that at times they feel lonely in their pursuit of the language. And it's important to remember that ultimately the reward is great. So I now communicate comfortably in Chinese, Japanese, French, Russian, languages that I learned a while ago. And, uh, I even finding now that I'm able to communicate fairly comfortably in Persian with, with Sahra, Persian being easier than Arabic.
Now I've completely confused myself in Arabic because I've started into Egyptian Arabic, which is fun because it's a, it's a country where they speak the language, egypt is. Whereas there is no country that speaks Standard Arabic, but it has kind of caused both of them to get further confused. And so I got a struggle with that and I'm struggling with it, uh, you know, on my own.
So there is a certain loneliness attached to language learning. Until you get to a stage where we are comfortable communicating and we kind of rejoin the world around us. So just a thought that I had that I wanted to share with you. Bye for now.