Posted by: janecronin | February 14, 2016

Feeling Stupid


Probably nobody ever told you that part of the language learning process is feeling stupid, and it doesn´t usually make a good selling point for Spanish classes either.  However, I bet you have felt just like that quite a few times and I’d be prepared to bet as well that some of the language you remember best was learnt or reinforced in a situation where you felt stupid.

If you think about it, it goes back to early childhood.  We smile indulgently at children who say things in a cute way, but I distinctly remember a feeling of discomfort when I said something wrong as a child which caused great amusement amongst the adults, whilst I wasn´t aware of what I had said wrong.   Those kinds of events stick in our minds as we can feel isolated or even persecuted as a result of our lack of understanding.

Sometimes when we’re trying out our Spanish we inevitably make mistakes and feel foolish.  This can produce a variety of reactions from others, varying from complete incomprehension to the polite ignoring of our mistake.  However, such incidents can nag at the back of our minds, sometimes over a period of days, until we work out what we said wrong and what we should have said.  This process is often accompanied by a negative feeling of foolishness or annoyance with ourselves.  It is this emotional response that stops us making the same mistake again and therefore reinforces our learning.

Sometimes of course our reaction is one of hilarity, especially when we stray into using embarrassing words by mistake, but this is also useful as we are likely to recount the incident to friends, family and classmates, again reinforcing our memory of the correct language (and of the rude words too!).

Some people give up learning Spanish because they are not prepared to go through this process of emotional turmoil.  They want to get everything right at once and come across as sensible, dignified and intelligent individuals in all situations, but unfortunately this is simply not possible.   If we want to make progress with our Spanish we have to go through the pain barrier of foolishness, awkwardness and at times frustration.   Sorry!

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