Steve and Alex – More English Proverbs and Language Learning (Part 2)

Alex: And we’ll just apologize if there’s any external noise.

There’s a couple of construction guys moving around outside, but yeah, bear with us.

So, let’s look down the list.

We have “Every picture tells a story.” This one, I mean, I think it’s applicable in many different situations, but if we say in language learning every language learner — if we take it to the person — has a different experience, a different story that they can tell of their language learning experience, I think that’s what a lot of what brings the value to it.

It’s through that experience that that person develops.

You have this blog post that you wrote several years ago: Having a Love Affair with a Language.

I think that’s one of the things where you see someone who’s very passionate about a language, spending a lot of time, devoting time to it, and I think the reason behind that is not because it’s not always a fiscal incentive, you know the desire to make more money, but in fact that they’re passionate about that language and passionate about that culture or some aspect of it that really gets them hooked.

I think that’s critical.

Steve: I agree and, as you say, every picture tells a story and every learner has their own story and their own sort of passion for the language.

And it’s certainly true just to say oh well, you know, if you learn this language we’re going to pay you X-amount more money.

I mean if it’s a small amount of money it has a limited impact.

On the other hand, if you said I will give you $1 million.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: Yes, I think that would, but you’ll get $1,000 more a year or something, I think that has limited impact; whereas, the passion certainly is important.

Here’s one.

“Faith will move mountains.” This really applies to language learning.

Your confidence in yourself, your confidence that you will achieve your language goal, your determination to achieve that goal, has a tremendous influence on your results for a number of reasons; first of all, because I’m convinced that it influences the functioning of the neurons.

I’ve read a book on this, that you can influence your brain.

Now, people will say that it’s all one in the same.

How can your brain influence your brain, right, because it’s kind of all there?

But, in fact, you can force yourself.

You can have this strong sense of determination.

I want this to happen.

I want this to happen.

I believe it will happen.

I believe it will happen.

That improves the efficiency of your learning process.

Part of the reason is what Krashen talks about.

Is that, therefore, there is no anxiety.

There’s not what he calls the Effective Filter.

If you are afraid, if you’re constantly afraid of making a mistake, if you don’t think you’re going to succeed, if you’re leafing through your grammar rules to figure out which one applies here, these are all filters that prevent you from improving, but if you believe in yourself, you have that confidence, that determination, faith will move mountains.

Alex: I can speak about that in my own personal experiences with my foreign languages that I’m learning.

Is that sometimes when I doubt my ability, I find those are the times that I perform the worst, but when I have the confidence and the faith that I’m able to do it then I surprise myself a lot of the time.

Steve: And it is true that we surprise ourselves.

When we go in there and it’s like we’re just going to do it, you know, we just jump on that diving board.

We’re going to do our triple flip, half gainer or whatever, land in the water and, just totally, without any sense of anxiety, we’re surprised.


I said that?

Where did that phrase come from?

Where did that word come from?

So, yeah, I think we are all capable of speaking better and doing better and we all have a degree of anxiety.

There is no language learner without anxiety.

I feel much more comfortable speaking English then speaking any other language.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: So there is always a level of anxiety, but the lower, the more we can keep that level of anxiety down, the better we’re going to perform.

Okay, your turn.

Alex: Yes.

Okay, we have quite a few here looking through.

Steve: How about this, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” You don’t want that one?

Alex: Ah, you can take that one.

Steve: All right. I always think we need fools.

We need fools.

We don’t want angels fearing to tread, okay?

If you’re a language learner you rush in.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: That’s mine, all right.

Alex: So here’s one.

“First impressions are the most lasting.” A lot of the time this is true in your relationships with people, but I think at that the same time in your relationship with a language.

Whereas, if your first experience with a language isn’t a very positive environment then that really sets the mood and motivates you to then learn that language, right?

Steve: Okay.

Alex: And, alternatively…

Steve: Yeah?

Alex: …if it’s a negative experience then I think that it can be detrimental too.

Steve: I think we have to be a little careful there, because sometimes some languages may sound to us not very attractive and I’ve had this experience.

And, yet, when you start to learn that language, the more you learn that language, the more you start to enjoy it, because there’s almost a sensual enjoyment as you start hearing the language and hearing how these strange sounds have meaning and so forth.

So, yeah, I mean Cantonese.

Some people say Cantonese doesn’t sound very nice compared to say Mandarin and there are people who think Dutch doesn’t sound very nice, but I tell you, if I get into Dutch and I enjoy it… Once I got into Cantonese I enjoyed it and if I do Dutch I’ll enjoy it.

So I think, yeah, first impressions can be important, but if you give the language a chance, the more you get into it very often the more you like it.

Oh, here’s one.

“Great minds think alike.” Okay.

This is an extremely arrogant proverb.

It means that anybody who agrees with me has a great mind.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: We’ll pass on that one, all right? Okay.

Oh, here’s one.

Alex: But I think that…

Steve: You try.

Alex: To take that “Great minds think alike”…

Steve: Yeah?

Alex: …I think to take it on the converse…

Steve: Yeah?

Alex: …I think, in fact, great minds often think differently.

Steve: Right.

Alex: …because they bring a lot of different attributes to the table.

Steve: Right or different perspectives.

Alex: Exactly.

Steve: And if every time we had a discussion everybody agreed we wouldn’t have much of a discussion, right?

Now, here’s one we want to stay away from.

“He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.” We’ll pass on that one.

Alex: Okay.

Steve: I should say that, in fact, that is not true.

I was at a conference of language teachers in San Diego a couple of years ago and some of those people were –and these were non-native speakers — extremely competent in the languages that they were teaching and very dedicated.

So, I think in any profession you can find those who can and those who can’t.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: All right.

Alex: Okay. If we go back up a bit there’s one that says “Give credit where credit is due.”

Steve: Okay.

Alex: I see this one in the sense that in some people’s minds language learning is a competition with other people.

Steve: Right.

Alex: Right?

But I think that it’s important in this process of learning languages if you see someone else learning the same language as you are to give them credit.

Steve: Right.

Alex: You know to compliment them, recognize their abilities and, in fact, encourage them…

Steve: Right.

Alex: …and to have this positive relationship with people.

Not see it as they’re infringing upon what you see as my language or my characteristic, something that sets me apart, but to have this positive outlook upon other people who are doing the same thing.

Steve: Right and it’s not a matter just of saying it.

I think it’s also a matter of actually feeling it.

I think that any real, genuine language keener is just delighted.

I mean I’m always so impressed when I hear other people who speak whatever other language well.

I mean that’s tremendous, you know?

We’ve said it before; language learning is not a competition.

Hirohito said it very well in Japan.

There’s no finish line.

It’s something we all enjoy doing in our way.

It’s not a competition and everybody we meet along the way, like Pilgrims on their way to whatever, they’re out buddies and so we wish them well, absolutely.

Well, we’ve kind of gone on for quite a while here.

Alex: Yes.

Steve: I think that’s going to do for now.

Like there’s this great long list.

If people like this kind of stuff we can keep doing it.

So, let us know if you enjoy these and we can do some more.

Alex: Sure. We look forward to your comments and thanks for listening.

Steve: Okay. Thank you, bye-bye.

Alex: Bye.

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