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Have you ever felt under serious pressure to learn a new language? My husband and I moved to my country Botswana (from the UK)  2 years ago, and there are people out there who feel he ought to have learnt to speak it by now. I think it's a little too much to ask because even before we moved, I'd taught him some phrases. My language is very difficult and far removed from Western languages. In fact, I know a lot of people who've lived here for decades and have yet to speak it fluently. By contrast, my husband can speak some, can understand and often shows off by churning out a few expressions/phrases LOL. But this still doesn't seem enough for some people.

Have you ever been in this situation, where people around you are putting you under pressure to learn a foreign language faster than you feel you can? Can you share your experiences of how you felt and what you did to tackle this? TIA :)

 

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I was in Japan for a couple of months a while back and it's really hard (but entertaining) to communicate given the language barrier. I find that while the Japanese do not speak perfect English, most of those I met were happy to teach me Japanese in exchange with English lessons. Although I've heard from people who have been there longer that there is indeed pressure on learning the language especially if you want to be taken seriously at work. Knowing the Japanese work ethic, it's very important that you know their language.

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I haven't felt pressure, but I have defended those who do.  The area where I live is mostly white and rural.  That means a lot of closed minds.  Most people say, "If you come to this country, you should learn English" or "You need to speak English better."  Whenever I hear this said to someone, I tell the person saying it that it's not as easy as you would think to learn a new language.  Most high school students fail Spanish where I come from.  I also tell them that many people try to learn a new language but can't always succeed.  To some, I tell them that if speaking English properly is a requirement to be an American, then THEY should be deported.  You would not believe how many native English speakers make huge grammar and spelling mistakes.  My favorite is, "You don't speak English so good." 

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I think in today’s society there is a lot of pressure to learn a new foreign languages. In the business world it makes you more attractive to a potential employee.  Also, the internet has sped up globalization and communication between people in different countries.  Although it isn’t possible to learn every language I strongly believe knowing several languages makes you a competitive candidate.

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I hate being under pressure for whatever reason.
If I am, I normally slack off any way.

Instead, I prefer learning a language (or anything else) at my own pace.
At the beginning it'll take forever, but after that it can eventually skyrocket at the speed of light.

This video eventually proves me right:

 

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I hate being under pressure for whatever reason.
If I am, I normally slack off any way.

I feel exactly the same way. Whenever someone is forcing me to do whatever it is they think is "appropriate", I feel like doing the opposite.

My dad really insisted on my learning German when I was at school. I agreed and went with it for several years but eventually dropped it because I felt it was not really my own choice. I've decided to get back to German this year, and I know I won't drop it this time because the decision is mine and only mine.

I've also had a kind of "counter" pressure, when people were commenting on my choice of a certain language as "useless", "silly" or commented it with "Why would anyone want to study THAT language? It's so ugly/boring/unpopular." Those comments always have the opposite effect, of course :)

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Pressure to do anything is always a bad thing, much more so when you are pressured to learn something. Studying anything is hard enough as it is, and if you are set under pressure, it is even harder. I have to agree with @anna3101 that I also tend to do exactly the opposite, if someone pressures me to do anything.

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I can't imagine living in another country and not learning the language. I know many people do this, but it's not for me. I would feel a lot of pressure if I was constantly surrounded by people and media that I didn't understand.

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I haven't felt pressure, but I have defended those who do.  The area where I live is mostly white and rural.  That means a lot of closed minds.  Most people say, "If you come to this country, you should learn English" or "You need to speak English better."  Whenever I hear this said to someone, I tell the person saying it that it's not as easy as you would think to learn a new language.  Most high school students fail Spanish where I come from.  I also tell them that many people try to learn a new language but can't always succeed.  To some, I tell them that if speaking English properly is a requirement to be an American, then THEY should be deported.  You would not believe how many native English speakers make huge grammar and spelling mistakes.  My favorite is, "You don't speak English so good." 

Hehe I know exactly what you mean! Having lived in the UK for many years, I can definitely relate to what you're saying. I guess because I went over already speaking the language, I never felt the pressure as those words were never directed at me. I really like what you said in your last but one sentence, because it really is true! Sometimes I feel like some native speakers don't actually realise that they do speak some of the most broken English out there, maybe because it's colloquial and that's all they know. I often have a private giggle, observing that some of them would fail a formal English test outright LOL

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I feel exactly the same way. Whenever someone is forcing me to do whatever it is they think is "appropriate", I feel like doing the opposite.

My dad really insisted on my learning German when I was at school. I agreed and went with it for several years but eventually dropped it because I felt it was not really my own choice. I've decided to get back to German this year, and I know I won't drop it this time because the decision is mine and only mine.

I've also had a kind of "counter" pressure, when people were commenting on my choice of a certain language as "useless", "silly" or commented it with "Why would anyone want to study THAT language? It's so ugly/boring/unpopular." Those comments always have the opposite effect, of course

I totally agree with you, anna! I think this is just human nature, whenever people feel like they're backed into a corner and forced to do something, even if they did initially have some interest, it takes the shine off and instead encourages them to go the opposite way. I don't think people realise how damaging it can be when they pile pressure on others in this fashion. 

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I've felt the pressure of learning the Arabic language during my elementary years all the way to first year high school, as I lived in Saudi Arabia during that time.  I think it was in Grade 2 or 3 when we were required to study the Arabic alphabet, and eventually we moved on to learning vocabulary, grammar, reading, and Islamic studies.  Sometimes learning some sections of the Arabic language can be easy, but the truth is I never got used to liking Arabic at all.  I only studied Arabic only because it was a requirement.  However, when I entered second year high school, I studied in a local school in the Philippines.  I was relieved of the fact that I no longer lived in a foreign country.

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  • I also give you a lot of credit!  I couldn't imagine living in a county where I was unable to speak the language.  Are you able to get by at least?  I would think immersing yourself in the country continuously speaking the language will help you learn it faster.  Are there language programs or groups you can join to help you learn it faster?  
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I can't imagine living in another country and not learning the language. I know many people do this, but it's not for me. I would feel a lot of pressure if I was constantly surrounded by people and media that I didn't understand.

Same here, and actually, my husband feels the same way. That's why he started learning my language before we made the move. He's very eager to learn and likes to show off what he knows. He's not at all shy to try. What I don't get is people expecting for him to be fluent within 2 years. Setswana is a very difficult that even native speakers struggle with themselves, with some younger people not even being able to speak it. So I find it a little much that some people put him under so much pressure. I mean, I could understand if he didn't care at all, and there are people out there who don't bother at all., and that's such a shame.

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Pressure to do anything is always a bad thing, much more so when you are pressured to learn something. Studying anything is hard enough as it is, and if you are set under pressure, it is even harder. I have to agree with @anna3101 that I also tend to do exactly the opposite, if someone pressures me to do anything.

I totally agree, Chris_A! I could never put someone else under that sort of pressure because I know it can also give them a complex, or at worst, put them right off learning!

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What I don't get is people expecting for him to be fluent within 2 years. 

What do you mean by "fluent"? I don't doubt that it's a difficult language, but 5 hrs/week for 2 years should make one a strong B1 in any language, and a strong B1 can converse one-to-one quite well. If he can't put in 1 hr per day, 5 days per week, for an extended period of time, then it's unlikely that he'll ever reach B1. I'm just stating the facts; it has nothing to do with how fair peoples' criticism of his level is, so please don't take offense.

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I totally agree, Chris_A! I could never put someone else under that sort of pressure because I know it can also give them a complex, or at worst, put them right off learning!

That is true. Better let someone learn and study at their own pace and in their own time and he or she will be much more successful then being forced to study X hours/day. Also, language learning at once own pace is more fun, for sure. :D

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That is true. Better let someone learn and study at their own pace and in their own time and he or she will be much more successful then being forced to study X hours/day. Also, language learning at once own pace is more fun, for sure. :D

That's the thing, @Chris_A! I just feel that as long as they're trying, that should be enough. I just don't see the point of putting people under pressure at all. The ironic thing is that some of the people who do this don't make much of an effort themselves. I know they're locals and probably feel that even though English is the official language of Botswana, they shouldn't have to learn it if they don't want to, which is fair enough. But I still feel we could all do with being a little more understanding and accommodating, and understand that everyone learns at different paces. I love to teach and help people with both English and Setswana, whenever they approach me.

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On 11/23/2015, 10:44:16, lushlala said:

That's the thing, @Chris_A! I just feel that as long as they're trying, that should be enough. I just don't see the point of putting people under pressure at all. The ironic thing is that some of the people who do this don't make much of an effort themselves. I know they're locals and probably feel that even though English is the official language of Botswana, they shouldn't have to learn it if they don't want to, which is fair enough. But I still feel we could all do with being a little more understanding and accommodating, and understand that everyone learns at different paces. I love to teach and help people with both English and Setswana, whenever they approach me.

The same thing is true for me, as well. Many people approached me and asked me to teach them Hungarian or German, for example. And they came all prepared with books and crash courses and stuff. And I just told them to take their time, learn at their own pace and just be relaxed about it. No handbook will teach you a new language in a month, that is for sure.

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