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English LingQ Podcast 1.0, #290 Steve and Alex - Language Learning Plateau

#290 Steve and Alex - Language Learning Plateau

Steve: Hi Alex.

Alex: Good afternoon, Steve.

Steve: Good afternoon.

You know, what I would like to talk about today is, do you know what the doldrums are?

Alex: I do not, no.

Steve: Well, the doldrums, apparently that's sort if you're in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in a sailboat and there's just no wind. You've got the trade winds and they're blowing in one direction or the other – I remember this from my high school geography or elementary school – but the doldrums is when there's no wind blowing. So you can imagine in the days of sailboats if the only thing you have moving you forward is wind and there's no wind, you aren't going anywhere.

Alex: Yes.

Steve: And people talk about I've got the doldrums. Maybe that's not used so much nowadays. There are all kinds of modern words that I don't know. But, anyway, I want to talk about the doldrums when it comes to language learning and the reason for that is I had a chat this morning with Angela, who is known as aybee77, I think, at LingQ.

Alex: Yes, I think so.

Steve: I think she's doing great in her Spanish, but she was saying well, you know, now I feel I'm not making any progress and I'm not as fluent as I would like to be and blah, blah, blah. This is quite a common complaint or feeling that language learners have. Have you had that feeling and, if so, how do you deal with it?

Alex: I would say absolutely I've had that feeling, first off, with French. When I was in high school I learned French. I took four years of French and didn't learn very much and I felt oh, I'm just wasting a lot of time because year after year it doesn't seem like I'm getting much better. I would say even recently with Korean, for instance, I've had moments where I feel like I'm not progressing. I'm not making much progress. I've already spent four years learning it and I'm not getting too far. It seems like I've hit a plateau.

One of the ways that I deal with it is I think something that people hate to do but is very valuable is to record themselves either speaking or doing a video of themselves at some point in their language learning in that language and watching it through your months later, six months later or something like that. I think it's very difficult to kind of feel these small improvements that you're making, but if you look back at a significant amount of time you can see wow, I really have improved since three months ago, even though it doesn't feel like it.

Steve: Okay. Now, the only thing I would say in that regard, first of all, I agree with you. I think that YouTube, even if you keep it private, to record yourself speaking in the language that you're learning is a tremendously useful thing to do. It's amazing how it sharpens your mind.

The first time you do it you end up having to do it quite a few times because you mess up, but then you finally do one. Okay. This is me after three months. It's like baby pictures, right? This is me after six months. This is me after a year. I think it is a good record of your progress.

However, what I have found was that when we speak, when we make a video, we tend to use a limited number of words, the words that we're very comfortable using. So if I look at the video that I did after six months versus a video that I might have done after two years, I don't see a big difference. The pronunciation is a little bit smoother, the flow is a little bit smoother, but I was kind of disappointed. In fact, I had the reaction gee, I did pretty well after six months, but now it's been four years and I haven't improved that much.

Now, of course, I know that I can read things now with no trouble that I couldn't read even two years ago and I understand so much better when I listen to audio books or radio. But, it is an unfortunate fact in language learning that we make the greatest deal of progress in the first six months. We go from like nothing to actually being able to communicate something and understand something and we have a sense of the language now and that the remaining period is a gradual, long-term struggle.

Alex: It's absolutely a long haul.

Steve: It's a protracted war. It's a long haul, yeah. How do you then encourage people? Do you feel right now that your Korean has hit a plateau?

Alex: Not at all. I would say one of the things that I've noticed is…I mean I talk about recording yourself speaking or whatever, but I think in the same vein you can do this with other areas, such as reading and such as listening.

Another thing that I would suggest that I've done is I've gotten a Korean movie and I've watched it all the way through and about six months later, nine months later or something, I watched the same movie again and I was amazed at how much more I understood.

Steve: Absolutely, the same with me.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: I had that experience with my Russian movies. Yeah, the comprehension is way up.

Alex: The second time I watched it I was like wow. There was so much that just went way over my head the first time I watched it.

Steve: It's as if that dialogue wasn't even in the movie then.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely.

Steve: You weren't even conscious of it even being there.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: You watched the movie and understood it at a certain level and then you watched the movie nine months later and you understand it at a whole different level. That's true. I often believe that movies are like the reward. Some people treat movies as a language-learning tool, medium. I don't, because I tend to spend most of my learning time just listening while doing other stuff.

Alex: Right.

Steve: Movie means I'm going to sit down and I'm stuck there for two hours or whatever. However, it is fun. So to me it's a reward and it's a particular reward if you do it like you've just described. You know, say six months later watch the movie again and you realize just how much more you can understand.

But Angela's complaint, she admitted that she understands more, but she just felt that she's not as fluent as she would like to be, which we all feel because we're never going to be as fluent as we would like to be.

Alex: Basically. I mean the thing is, like yesterday I tried recording a video in Korean and about three or four minutes in I'm like ah, I'm not really satisfied.

Steve: Right.

Alex: I feel like I'm rambling. I'm not really focused. I could do better. I think it's always this thing of we feel like we're bad at it and that in the future we'll get better. I mean there are a lot of people who are not very good at things. The fact of the matter is, the more you do it the better you're going to get and that's just the way it is.

Steve: Right.

And I'm sure, well, I can't speak for Angela, but if she met someone who spoke Spanish as well as she does, she'd be impressed.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely.

Steve: But because it's herself… I feel when I meet people who speak another language even moderately well I'm always impressed, like I'm impressed. I mean I appreciate the amount of effort that they've had to go through to achieve that level, but that person may feel not satisfied because they're not as good as they would like to be.

I mean, yeah, there's no question. I know in Japanese and French, which are my two best languages, I have no trouble. I'm comfortable. I don't even think about it. It's done. That's in the bag. That's in history.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: But, in all the other languages where I do claim to be fluent or fairly fluent or quite fluent, there are always moments when I struggle, when I end up kind of getting tongue tied because I couldn't quite express what I wanted to express and I know that all kinds of mistakes are flying out there, you know?

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: But, I mean, if I worried about it for every one of the languages that I speak I would really be tongue tied. I wouldn't speak them at all.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: It's only by speaking them that we really improve in speaking. Obviously, we can improve our comprehension by listening and reading, by increasing our vocabulary. But, ultimately, speaking is a specific skill so at some point you've got to speak a lot.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: So I'm sure when you went to Korea and you were there for a month, your speaking took a great…

Alex: Oh yeah. Less than a week in I did an interview with the guys that talked to me in Korean.

Steve: I saw that, yes.

Alex: What I was saying there was, basically, if we would have had this conversation two or three weeks ago I wouldn't have sounded anything like this.

Steve: Right.

Alex: It was the fact that I was speaking every day, that I was completely immersed in the language, using it constantly, that then brought my speaking back up to the level I was at.

Steve: Exactly. I think when you have one of these step ups you never lose it, I don't think, because I think what it does is there's such an intense language experience. Like I visualize these neuro connections sort of being welded then. There's this heat. There's this intense heat that causes certain connections to form and it becomes a permanent step up. You don't lose that.

Alex: Right.

Steve: You might get a little rusty and so, ultimately, yeah, you have to go there, I think. In fact, it raises an interesting point that I was asked on my YouTube channel. They asked me to do a video on this and that is, at what point should you go to the country where the language is spoken. Of course, as we know, there's the one extreme, those people who think you should start off by going there. I think that would be a mistake, because you could not achieve that intensity of language exchange. You would still be behind the eight ball.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: You'd still be, in fact, back listening and reading and trying to learn a few words. Going back to Angela's case, if Angela had the opportunity to go to Mexico or Honduras or Spain or somewhere for two months and from morning to night she was with native speakers, they were on a project, they were doing something together, she'd come away from that and she would be now ready. She'd be almost where my French and Japanese are. Obviously, I lived in France for three years. I lived in Japan for nine. So she wouldn't be at that level, but she would take a major step forward.

Alex: Yeah.

I mean just to, I guess, wrap it up, I think one of the things that, basically, we talked about and you said yourself, if you see someone else who's good in a language, even if they're not as good as you, you're impressed.

Steve: Right.

Alex: You say wow. They've done a good job. I think putting ourselves in other people's shoes and seeing it from an outsider's perspective it doesn't have that then pressure on ourselves.

Steve: Right.

Alex: We tend to be the hardest on ourselves. We set these goals for ourselves and when we don't reach them we're just ruthless, but if we look at it from an outsider's perspective it really changes the focus of it. It doesn't make it this kind of pessimistic “I'm not improving, I'm not doing anything well” mindset.

Steve: Well, exactly. I always say, too, you've got to enjoy the process. I mean it's a bit like golf. Golf is, first and foremost, I think a social game. You're out there with three other people. You're having a pleasant walk. If you don't enjoy that process you should quit. If you're only concern is to get your score down, to shave two-three points off your handicap, well you're going to be frustrated eight times out of 10, guaranteed.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: So, you've got to have the attitude that I want to enjoy the game and I think the same is true with language learning. I enjoy it immensely. That doesn't mean that I don't recognize my shortcomings say in Russian, not to mention Korean, but I enjoy the process. If I sit down tonight and do some Korean, listening, reading, linking, I know I'm going to enjoy it. I am very dissatisfied with the level of my Korean, but I enjoy the process so it doesn't matter.

Alex: Yup.

Steve: Okay. Well, there we dealt with the doldrums.

Alex: Yes, the doldrums.

Steve: Yeah. We'd be very interested in hearing what other people think. What do they do when they get in the doldrums or hit a plateau, as you described it?

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: Okay. Thank you for listening.

Alex: Okay. Have a nice day.


#290 Steve and Alex - Language Learning Plateau

Steve:    Hi Alex.

Alex:    Good afternoon, Steve.

Steve:    Good afternoon.

You know, what I would like to talk about today is, do you know what the doldrums are?

Alex:    I do not, no.

Steve:    Well, the doldrums, apparently that’s sort if you’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in a sailboat and there’s just no wind. You’ve got the trade winds and they’re blowing in one direction or the other – I remember this from my high school geography or elementary school – but the doldrums is when there’s no wind blowing. So you can imagine in the days of sailboats if the only thing you have moving you forward is wind and there’s no wind, you aren’t going anywhere.

Alex:    Yes.

Steve:    And people talk about I’ve got the doldrums. Maybe that’s not used so much nowadays. There are all kinds of modern words that I don’t know. But, anyway, I want to talk about the doldrums when it comes to language learning and the reason for that is I had a chat this morning with Angela, who is known as aybee77, I think, at LingQ.

Alex:    Yes, I think so.

Steve:    I think she’s doing great in her Spanish, but she was saying well, you know, now I feel I’m not making any progress and I’m not as fluent as I would like to be and blah, blah, blah. This is quite a common complaint or feeling that language learners have. Have you had that feeling and, if so, how do you deal with it?

Alex:    I would say absolutely I’ve had that feeling, first off, with French. When I was in high school I learned French. I took four years of French and didn’t learn very much and I felt oh, I’m just wasting a lot of time because year after year it doesn’t seem like I’m getting much better. I would say even recently with Korean, for instance, I’ve had moments where I feel like I’m not progressing. Je dirais même récemment avec le coréen par exemple, j'ai eu des moments où j'ai l'impression de ne pas progresser. I’m not making much progress. I’ve already spent four years learning it and I’m not getting too far. J'ai déjà passé quatre ans à l'apprendre et je ne vais pas trop loin. It seems like I’ve hit a plateau. Il semble que j'ai atteint un plateau. Кажется, я достиг плато.

One of the ways that I deal with it is I think something that people hate to do but is very valuable is to record themselves either speaking or doing a video of themselves at some point in their language learning in that language and watching it through your months later, six months later or something like that. L'une des façons dont je gère cela est que je pense que quelque chose que les gens détestent faire mais qui est très utile est de s'enregistrer en train de parler ou de faire une vidéo d'eux-mêmes à un moment donné de leur apprentissage de la langue dans cette langue et de la regarder pendant vos mois plus tard, six mois plus tard ou quelque chose comme ça. I think it’s very difficult to kind of feel these small improvements that you’re making, but if you look back at a significant amount of time you can see wow, I really have improved since three months ago, even though it doesn’t feel like it. Je pense qu'il est très difficile de ressentir ces petites améliorations que vous apportez, mais si vous regardez en arrière sur une période significative, vous pouvez voir wow, je me suis vraiment amélioré depuis trois mois, même si ça ne se sent pas J'aime ça.

Steve:    Okay. Now, the only thing I would say in that regard, first of all, I agree with you. Maintenant, la seule chose que je dirais à cet égard, tout d'abord, je suis d'accord avec vous. I think that YouTube, even if you keep it private, to record yourself speaking in the language that you’re learning is a tremendously useful thing to do. It’s amazing how it sharpens your mind.

The first time you do it you end up having to do it quite a few times because you mess up, but then you finally do one. La première fois que vous le faites, vous finissez par devoir le faire plusieurs fois parce que vous vous trompez, mais ensuite vous en faites finalement une. В первый раз, когда вы делаете это, вам приходится делать это несколько раз, потому что вы ошибаетесь, но затем вы, наконец, делаете один. Okay. This is me after three months. It’s like baby pictures, right? This is me after six months. This is me after a year. I think it is a good record of your progress.

However, what I have found was that when we speak, when we make a video, we tend to use a limited number of words, the words that we’re very comfortable using. Cependant, ce que j'ai constaté, c'est que lorsque nous parlons, lorsque nous faisons une vidéo, nous avons tendance à utiliser un nombre limité de mots, des mots avec lesquels nous sommes très à l'aise. So if I look at the video that I did after six months versus a video that I might have done after two years, I don’t see a big difference. Donc, si je regarde la vidéo que j'ai faite après six mois par rapport à une vidéo que j'aurais pu faire après deux ans, je ne vois pas une grande différence. The pronunciation is a little bit smoother, the flow is a little bit smoother, but I was kind of disappointed. In fact, I had the reaction gee, I did pretty well after six months, but now it’s been four years and I haven’t improved that much. En fait, j'ai eu la réaction gee, j'ai plutôt bien fait après six mois, mais maintenant cela fait quatre ans et je ne me suis pas beaucoup amélioré.

Now, of course, I know that I can read things now with no trouble that I couldn’t read even two years ago and I understand so much better when I listen to audio books or radio. But, it is an unfortunate fact in language learning that we make the greatest deal of progress in the first six months. Mais, c'est un fait malheureux dans l'apprentissage des langues que nous faisons le plus de progrès au cours des six premiers mois. We go from like nothing to actually being able to communicate something and understand something and we have a sense of the language now and that the remaining period is a gradual, long-term struggle. Nous passons de rien à être réellement capables de communiquer quelque chose et de comprendre quelque chose et nous avons un sens de la langue maintenant et que la période restante est une lutte graduelle et à long terme.

Alex:    It’s absolutely a long haul.

Steve:    It’s a protracted war. Steve : C'est une guerre prolongée. It’s a long haul, yeah. How do you then encourage people? Do you feel right now that your Korean has hit a plateau? Avez-vous l'impression en ce moment que votre coréen a atteint un plateau ?

Alex:    Not at all. I would say one of the things that I’ve noticed is…I mean I talk about recording yourself speaking or whatever, but I think in the same vein you can do this with other areas, such as reading and such as listening. Je dirais que l'une des choses que j'ai remarquées est… Je veux dire que je parle de s'enregistrer en train de parler ou quoi que ce soit, mais je pense que dans la même veine, vous pouvez le faire avec d'autres domaines, comme la lecture et l'écoute.

Another thing that I would suggest that I’ve done is I’ve gotten a Korean movie and I’ve watched it all the way through and about six months later, nine months later or something, I watched the same movie again and I was amazed at how much more I understood. Une autre chose que je suggérerais d'avoir faite, c'est que j'ai acheté un film coréen et que je l'ai regardé jusqu'au bout et environ six mois plus tard, neuf mois plus tard ou quelque chose comme ça, j'ai revu le même film et j'étais étonné de voir combien plus j'ai compris.

Steve:    Absolutely, the same with me.

Alex:    Yeah.

Steve:    I had that experience with my Russian movies. Yeah, the comprehension is way up. Ouais, la compréhension est en hausse.

Alex:    The second time I watched it I was like wow. There was so much that just went way over my head the first time I watched it. Il y avait tellement de choses qui m'ont dépassé la tête la première fois que je l'ai regardé.

Steve:    It’s as if that dialogue wasn’t even in the movie then. Steve : C'est comme si ce dialogue n'était même pas dans le film à l'époque.

Alex:    Yeah, absolutely.

Steve:    You weren’t even conscious of it even being there. Steve : Vous n'en étiez même pas conscient même en étant là.

Alex:    Yeah.

Steve:    You watched the movie and understood it at a certain level and then you watched the movie nine months later and you understand it at a whole different level. That’s true. I often believe that movies are like the reward. Je crois souvent que les films sont comme la récompense. Some people treat movies as a language-learning tool, medium. Certaines personnes traitent les films comme un outil d'apprentissage des langues, un médium. I don’t, because I tend to spend most of my learning time just listening while doing other stuff. Je ne le fais pas, parce que j'ai tendance à passer la plupart de mon temps d'apprentissage à écouter tout en faisant autre chose.

Alex:    Right.

Steve:    Movie means I’m going to sit down and I’m stuck there for two hours or whatever. Steve : Film signifie que je vais m'asseoir et que je suis coincé là pendant deux heures ou peu importe. However, it is fun. So to me it’s a reward and it’s a particular reward if you do it like you’ve just described. Donc pour moi, c'est une récompense et c'est une récompense particulière si vous le faites comme vous venez de le décrire. You know, say six months later watch the movie again and you realize just how much more you can understand.

But Angela’s complaint, she admitted that she understands more, but she just felt that she’s not as fluent as she would like to be, which we all feel because we’re never going to be as fluent as we would like to be.

Alex:    Basically. I mean the thing is, like yesterday I tried recording a video in Korean and about three or four minutes in I’m like ah, I’m not really satisfied.

Steve:    Right.

Alex:    I feel like I’m rambling. I’m not really focused. I could do better. I think it’s always this thing of we feel like we’re bad at it and that in the future we’ll get better. Je pense que c'est toujours ce truc où on a l'impression d'être mauvais et qu'à l'avenir on s'améliorera. I mean there are a lot of people who are not very good at things. Je veux dire qu'il y a beaucoup de gens qui ne sont pas très doués pour les choses. The fact of the matter is, the more you do it the better you’re going to get and that’s just the way it is. Le fait est que plus vous le ferez, mieux vous vous améliorerez et c'est comme ça.

Steve:    Right.

And I’m sure, well, I can’t speak for Angela, but if she met someone who spoke Spanish as well as she does, she’d be impressed. Et je suis sûr, eh bien, je ne peux pas parler pour Angela, mais si elle rencontrait quelqu'un qui parlait aussi bien l'espagnol qu'elle, elle serait impressionnée.

Alex:    Yeah, absolutely.

Steve:    But because it’s herself… I feel when I meet people who speak another language even moderately well I’m always impressed, like I’m impressed. Steve : Mais parce que c'est elle-même… J'ai l'impression que lorsque je rencontre des gens qui parlent une autre langue, même modérément bien, je suis toujours impressionné, comme si j'étais impressionné. I mean I appreciate the amount of effort that they’ve had to go through to achieve that level, but that person may feel not satisfied because they’re not as good as they would like to be.

I mean, yeah, there’s no question. Je veux dire, oui, il n'y a aucun doute. I know in Japanese and French, which are my two best languages, I have no trouble. Je sais en japonais et en français, qui sont mes deux meilleures langues, je n'ai aucun mal. I’m comfortable. I don’t even think about it. It’s done. C'est fait. That’s in the bag. That’s in history.

Alex:    Yeah.

Steve:    But, in all the other languages where I do claim to be fluent or fairly fluent or quite fluent, there are always moments when I struggle, when I end up kind of getting tongue tied because I couldn’t quite express what I wanted to express and I know that all kinds of mistakes are flying out there, you know? Steve : Mais, dans toutes les autres langues où je prétends parler couramment ou assez couramment ou assez couramment, il y a toujours des moments où je lutte, où je finis par avoir la langue liée parce que je ne pouvais pas tout à fait exprimer ce que je voulais exprimer et je sais que toutes sortes d'erreurs volent là-bas, vous savez?

Alex:    Yeah.

Steve:    But, I mean, if I worried about it for every one of the languages that I speak I would really be tongue tied. Steve : Mais, je veux dire, si je m'en inquiétais pour chacune des langues que je parle, je serais vraiment muet. I wouldn’t speak them at all. Je ne les parlerais pas du tout.

Alex:    Yeah.

Steve:    It’s only by speaking them that we really improve in speaking. Obviously, we can improve our comprehension by listening and reading, by increasing our vocabulary. But, ultimately, speaking is a specific skill so at some point you’ve got to speak a lot. Mais, en fin de compte, parler est une compétence spécifique, donc à un moment donné, vous devez parler beaucoup.

Alex:    Yeah.

Steve:    So I’m sure when you went to Korea and you were there for a month, your speaking took a great…

Alex:    Oh yeah. Less than a week in I did an interview with the guys that talked to me in Korean.

Steve:    I saw that, yes.

Alex:    What I was saying there was, basically, if we would have had this conversation two or three weeks ago I wouldn’t have sounded anything like this. Alex : Ce que je disais là, c'est que si nous avions eu cette conversation il y a deux ou trois semaines, je n'aurais pas ressemblé à ça.

Steve:    Right.

Alex:    It was the fact that I was speaking every day, that I was completely immersed in the language, using it constantly, that then brought my speaking back up to the level I was at.

Steve:    Exactly. I think when you have one of these step ups you never lose it, I don’t think, because I think what it does is there’s such an intense language experience. Je pense que lorsque vous avez une de ces étapes, vous ne la perdez jamais, je ne pense pas, parce que je pense que ce qu'elle fait, c'est qu'il y a une expérience linguistique tellement intense. Like I visualize these neuro connections sort of being welded then. Comme si je visualisais ces connexions neuro en quelque sorte soudées. There’s this heat. There’s this intense heat that causes certain connections to form and it becomes a permanent step up. You don’t lose that.

Alex:    Right.

Steve:    You might get a little rusty and so, ultimately, yeah, you have to go there, I think. Steve: Vous pourriez devenir un peu rouillé et donc, finalement, oui, vous devez y aller, je pense. In fact, it raises an interesting point that I was asked on my YouTube channel. En fait, cela soulève un point intéressant qui m'a été demandé sur ma chaîne YouTube. They asked me to do a video on this and that is, at what point should you go to the country where the language is spoken. Ils m'ont demandé de faire une vidéo à ce sujet et c'est-à-dire à quel moment faut-il aller dans le pays où la langue est parlée. Of course, as we know, there’s the one extreme, those people who think you should start off by going there. Bien sûr, comme nous le savons, il y a un extrême, ces gens qui pensent qu'il faut commencer par y aller. I think that would be a mistake, because you could not achieve that intensity of language exchange. You would still be behind the eight ball. Vous seriez toujours derrière la boule huit.

Alex:    Yeah.

Steve:    You’d still be, in fact, back listening and reading and trying to learn a few words. Steve : Vous seriez toujours, en fait, de retour en train d'écouter et de lire et d'essayer d'apprendre quelques mots. Going back to Angela’s case, if Angela had the opportunity to go to Mexico or Honduras or Spain or somewhere for two months and from morning to night she was with native speakers, they were on a project, they were doing something together, she’d come away from that and she would be now ready. Pour en revenir au cas d'Angela, si Angela avait l'occasion d'aller au Mexique, au Honduras, en Espagne ou ailleurs pendant deux mois et qu'elle était du matin au soir avec des locuteurs natifs, ils étaient sur un projet, ils faisaient quelque chose ensemble, elle s'éloigner de cela et elle serait maintenant prête. She’d be almost where my French and Japanese are. Elle serait presque là où sont mon français et mon japonais. Obviously, I lived in France for three years. I lived in Japan for nine. So she wouldn’t be at that level, but she would take a major step forward.

Alex:    Yeah.

I mean just to, I guess, wrap it up, I think one of the things that, basically, we talked about and you said yourself, if you see someone else who’s good in a language, even if they’re not as good as you, you’re impressed. Je veux dire juste pour, je suppose, conclure, je pense que l'une des choses dont nous avons parlé et que vous avez dit vous-même, si vous voyez quelqu'un d'autre qui est bon dans une langue, même s'il n'est pas aussi bon que toi, tu es impressionné.

Steve:    Right.

Alex:    You say wow. They’ve done a good job. I think putting ourselves in other people’s shoes and seeing it from an outsider’s perspective it doesn’t have that then pressure on ourselves. Je pense que nous mettre à la place des autres et le voir d'un point de vue extérieur n'a pas cette pression sur nous-mêmes.

Steve:    Right.

Alex:    We tend to be the hardest on ourselves. Alex : Nous avons tendance à être les plus durs avec nous-mêmes. We set these goals for ourselves and when we don’t reach them we’re just ruthless, but if we look at it from an outsider’s perspective it really changes the focus of it. Nous nous fixons ces objectifs et lorsque nous ne les atteignons pas, nous sommes tout simplement impitoyables, mais si nous regardons cela d'un point de vue extérieur, cela change vraiment l'orientation. It doesn’t make it this kind of pessimistic “I’m not improving, I’m not doing anything well” mindset. Cela n'en fait pas ce genre d'état d'esprit pessimiste « Je ne m'améliore pas, je ne fais rien de bien ».

Steve:    Well, exactly. I always say, too, you’ve got to enjoy the process. I mean it’s a bit like golf. Golf is, first and foremost, I think a social game. You’re out there with three other people. You’re having a pleasant walk. If you don’t enjoy that process you should quit. If you’re only concern is to get your score down, to shave two-three points off your handicap, well you’re going to be frustrated eight times out of 10, guaranteed.

Alex:    Yeah.

Steve:    So, you’ve got to have the attitude that I want to enjoy the game and I think the same is true with language learning. I enjoy it immensely. That doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize my shortcomings say in Russian, not to mention Korean, but I enjoy the process. Cela ne veut pas dire que je ne reconnais pas mes lacunes, disons en russe, sans parler du coréen, mais j'apprécie le processus. If I sit down tonight and do some Korean, listening, reading, linking, I know I’m going to enjoy it. I am very dissatisfied with the level of my Korean, but I enjoy the process so it doesn’t matter. Je suis très insatisfait du niveau de mon coréen, mais j'apprécie le processus donc ce n'est pas grave.

Alex:    Yup.

Steve:    Okay. Well, there we dealt with the doldrums.

Alex:    Yes, the doldrums.

Steve:    Yeah. We’d be very interested in hearing what other people think. What do they do when they get in the doldrums or hit a plateau, as you described it?

Alex:    Yeah.

Steve:    Okay. Thank you for listening.

Alex:    Okay. Have a nice day.