Monday, October 20, 2008

Emotional Rejection

Jasmine's TEFL (teaching English as a Foreign language) course was much better than mine.  She says there's a thing in language learning called "emotional rejection"- this might be a weird translation of a Chinese phrase- but it accurately describes the fact that your brain just kind of shuts down when confronted with certain things you're learning in a foreign language.

The most dramatic form is people deciding they just couldn't learn a language:  "I can't learn Chinese; all those tones" or a kid who's totally capable of learning just refusing to learn English- just not letting anything sink in.

But I think most people who study another language reject some words or grammar to a certain extent.  I think I somewhat reject learning characters as too time-consuming, and anyways I have a bad memory, so my character recognition isn't what it could be.

I've struggled over-much with a couple of grammar concepts because they seem too hard, or because I don't think they'll be useful.  (One- ba, a particle used to switch the order of direct and indirect objects in a sentence, turns out to be used all the time.)  There are a few words- like camera and post office- I didn't remember when I first encountered them because I didn't think they were important, and of course they are, but I can never quite remember them to this day.

It also happens sometimes when I feel information overload.  I think I will write a different post about why that happens in Chinese, but if someone presents me with a couple of related words at once, I'm like, awesome, 2-for-1!  But much more than that and I'm like, forget it, I can't remember any of them.

I think this must happen more with adults, who make more conscious decisions about what to learn.  I could be wrong.

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