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Brain rejects New Language


darkchild
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Hello everyone,

I need to know if anyone has experienced this before. You are trying to learn a new language, but your brain is just not retaining it no matter how much you try. The resources are there but the brain just rejects these information you are trying to retain.

What can you do in such a situation?

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It depends on how you're trying to learn the new language.

If you write out the same word/sentence over and over again until your hands bleed every day, then of course your brain will reject this information!
If you learn through spaced repetition and mnemonics, then stuff like this shouldn't happen.

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I don't think that the brain rejects the new information. Maybe your approach isn't the correct one. As a person who studied chemistry and biology, but also German and Hungarian from scratch, I can tell you that the brain is just like a sponge: it attracts a lot of information, but you need to find out how to do it to be more efficient. Maybe you lack discipline, maybe your resources aren't beginner friendly or maybe you have to change your way of learning a new language.

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Remember how many subjects you have to learn in school? I think the brain can accommodate them all but there are just those people like me who are having difficulty learning a new language. Just like how some people are very good at Math while others are not. I do not see anything different with language. I guess I need to rewire that part of my brain that focuses on language.

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4 hours ago, kurdapia said:

Remember how many subjects you have to learn in school? I think the brain can accommodate them all but there are just those people like me who are having difficulty learning a new language. Just like how some people are very good at Math while others are not. I do not see anything different with language. I guess I need to rewire that part of my brain that focuses on language.

That's a common myth actually.
There is no "language gene" or "maths gene".
However, it's possible people are better at one of the 2, but it doesn't mean they can't 'focus' on the other one, it means they need to work harder to 'focus' on the other one.

And as I said before, it all depends on the way you try to learn something: brain efficient learning, or purely rote memorisation?

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Sounds like a very aggravating predicament, OP.  As others have mentioned, it may be the way in which you are attempting to retain this new language of yours.  How dynamically are you using the language?  Are you merely trying to memorize grammar points but not using them in any way?  The best way to have a language sink in is to make use of it.  I'd hate to say it, but practice makes perfect. 

If you are trying different methods and getting the same result, you might want to consider other factors.  Stress, lack of sleep, or low levels of zinc or magnesium can cause concentration issues that prevent you from learning.  

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Happens to me with Swedish since it's a language we are forced to take. I think it has something to do with my unwillingness of learning it but I can be wrong since I've actually tried to get myself to understand. Over the years I caught some things by heart but not enough for me to understand it on a normal conversation. I've noticed that if I make learning fun I'll actually pick something and will be able to use the language more freely. The activities that I like to do are watching TV shows without subs and translating song lyrics. Those things make me remember at least somehow.

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I found it really difficult to learn French when I was in school. I had a French teacher that I just didn't get on very well with and she seemed to make it so much more difficult for me. I'd rather have things written down in front of me to learn them that way, too. And this particular teacher preferred we learned everything by speaking it. Without having anything really written down I found it very difficult to learn anything of the language. At that point I thought that languages simply weren't for me. 

Then I met a guy that's still one of my closest friends to this day. His first language is Spanish and he spoke very little English. I spoke next to no Spanish. He needed help with something and was getting upset with not being understood by anyone and between us we were able to sort out the issue he was having at the time. He then came to me for help with the language a few times after that and gradually I began to learn Spanish from him and he learned English from me. He also helped me with learning French. I found that his writing things down as well as speaking them was what I needed to learn languages better. 

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that sometimes it's the technique you're using to learn that's making it difficult for you. I need things written down to remember them and understand them. Some people may prefer to have things spoken and participate in conversations in that language. It's about finding what you need to be able to learn. And you can't rely on someone else showing you the way to learn either. Sometimes you have to seek out something that works for you if the methods you're being given don't work. 

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Sometimes if I'm in the wrong mood or wrong mindset this happens to me. Although to be fair I think when I'm in that mood it's difficult for any information to get through to my head and it's not just language, so whenever this happens I jus try and take a break whether it's just a couple of minutes or maybe even days or a week. I just try and not to prolong it too much as I tend to work best when I am able to gain momentum and if I stop for too long I tend to forget a bit of my previous lessons and that causes me to delay my progress since I have to review the past ones again before starting a new one. I think the methods employed also factor into it a lot so it's best to find a system that works for you so you know if you're just having an off day rather than working with a less effective method. 

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Oh dear....yes, i've had this happen to me when I was younger. My step dad is Danish, and I've always been fascinated by foreign languages. I'd listen to him and his Danish friends speaking Danish, and I wondered if I could learn. I thought for sure I could, how wrong I was haha Well, my poor dad tried to casually teach me, but I quickly lost interest, mainly out of frustration as i found it extremely hard to pronounce the words. To start with (sorry dad and all Danish people out there), I don't find Danish (and all Scandinavian languages for that matter) very 'attractive' languages. Danish was too far removed from anything I knew or had ever heard at the time. So i threw the towel in.

So in my case it was definitely not my brain rejecting the language, but me running scared hehe

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I've gone through this and the only way to make it through it is to PRACTICE every day, do it without a break and trust me you will be able to learn whatever language you have in mind but the key to it is practice

When I was learning english, the grammar couldn't stick to me and so I decided I would talk and talk and talk to my friends online to see how good I would develop withing a period of 1 month and I actually improved significantly just by chatting with them and playing games with them, that's a really good and interactive way to learn a language.77

Cheers.

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On 26/03/2016 at 5:44 PM, darkchild said:

Hello everyone,

I need to know if anyone has experienced this before. You are trying to learn a new language, but your brain is just not retaining it no matter how much you try. The resources are there but the brain just rejects these information you are trying to retain.

What can you do in such a situation?

The more you tell that to yourself, the more likely you are going to believe it.

The brain is the most amazing creation! It has the capacity to learn anything. How you go about learning is an altogether different matter. You should read up on neuroplasticity and learn how plastic the brain is! The sooner you "reject" the idea that the brain refuses to retain information no matter you much you try, the sooner you'll be able to learn the language you are learning. The power of the mind. What you conceive will likely happen.

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It could be some sort of a mental problem as you suggest, but that sort of thing is pretty rare. The 3 things everyone needs to learn a language are: 

1) motivation

2) time

3) resources

Unlike others here I don't think method is nearly as important as these three things. If I had to guess, I'd say you were lacking in one or more of these.

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Never.  Not to me at least, but according to my mom she could never learn french no matter how much she tried... I honestly think she wasn't being taught using the right method. Plus she wasn't even motivated, that is a huge factor.  It's like when I am reading a book, sometimes if I am distracted or just kind of tired and keep on reading that book... the information will just slide off, it won't stay.  It happens, when I start to notice that is happening I know it's time for me to stop and take a rest.  This happens to me also when I want to push myself and read more chapters! 

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Okay, first of all, your problem might be that you're not motivated enough to learn the language. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the language particularly interesting to you?
  • Will you have any use for it in the future?
  • What is your purpose for learning the language?

You need to find it within you to love what you're doing, or else it won't happen. Learning a new language is definitely hard. But if you want it, you need it and you have the motivation, nothing can stop you from doing so.

Second of all, what techniques and strategies have you tried so far? Have you exhausted all ways of trying to learn the language? Because if not, then do so. Your brain might be rejecting the language because your tactics aren't helpful enough. Find other ways that can help you learn the language.

Good luck and I hope you share with us your progress!

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  • 2 weeks later...

This happens when you are an adult starting form scratch. It is much easier if you are a child or a child adult like me. :) The first thing you need to know is that will to learn is the most important in this. If you don't have it your brain will react like this. It can be better if something depends on you learning the language but if you just doing it for the sake of it or just for some other and not important enough reason, you will not make too much of an improvement. My advice, set your mind to it.

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