jump to navigation

Learn from the Learners February 23, 2007

Posted by Edwin in Motivation.

A major cause of people giving up language learning is the lack of motivation. I believe one way to constantly get motivated while acquiring a language is to talk to those who have acquired it.

A native speaker speaks the language well, but usually he cannot share with you his experience or struggles in learning that language. Not all native speakers can motivate you either. Some may even discourage you either intentionally or unintentionally (Lingual Bee has more to share on this). On the other hand, you will learn a lot and receive motivation at the same time from learners who have made it through, at least to the advanced level.

I had a chance to talk to 2 language learners on Skype in the past few days. Both are Mandarin native speakers and both are at the advanced levels of their targeted languages. One has been studying in Montreal for 2 and a half years. She has no problem reading, writing, or listening to French, though she told me she still needs to perfect her conversational skill. The other is from Beijing. He has acquired Cantonese in only a year time, and I could tell by conversing with him that his Cantonese is fluent enough.

Not only did they share many valuable tips with me, they have also motivated me a lot just by sharing their own experiences in their language learning journeys. I could feel their tremendous love and passion in the targeted languages. After talking to them, I feel motivated and I am ready to carry on with my own study.

Whenever people want to arrange an English practice session with me, I always inform them in advance that I am not a native English speaker. Apart from one incident, they usually don’t mind that at all. When I converse with them, I usually spend most of the time sharing my own experience in learning English, and resources I have gathered from the Internet. I also want to share my Mandarin learning experience with others, but I have not had anyone approaching me yet.

The bottom line is: you don’t have to be a native speaker or expert in a language to share your learning experience with others. Sharing your learning experience is a wonderful way to contribute back to the language community.



1. 米蘭 - February 23, 2007

Hi Edwin,

I like to read other people’s experiences, however, I need to control the amount of time I spend reading. Otherwise, you can realise that the time could have been spent learning the language further.

I think I spoke to the same Beijing guy who has been learning for 1 year just a few days ago too. I’ve been learning Cantonese for 1 year from an English background, and he has been learning for 1 year from a Mandarin background. I was quite comfortable to talk to him for 1.5 hours without much difficulties. No english was required nor was any translations done.


2. edwinlaw - February 23, 2007

Interesting. Did he tell you that he learned to speak without learning the Cantonese tones?

3. 米蘭 - February 24, 2007

Hi Edwin. I asked him today and he said he spoke to you, its the same guy. Yes he said he didn’t learn the tones.

But he made mistakes in regards to teng1/ting1, seng1/sing1 etc.

I think he is a little bit better than me though.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: