December 14

Lack of support

There is something that has been puzzling me for a while. Why are people not supportive of language learning? Just yesterday I was talking to my mom and we were talking about the fact that I still have more free time than I want due to that shoulder (broken record I know…) and I said something to the effect that I’m spending much of the time with Portuguese and her answer is: ‘Oh… well, I guess if you enjoy that…’
I’ve gotten plenty of reactions like that and it really puzzles me. In this day and age where most people keep taking courses and completing degrees and part time certificates here and there, why is learning a language something to look down on? Wouldn’t a normal reaction be ‘hey, that’s great, might come in useful at some point and at least you keep your brain going’ or something to that effect. But no, the reaction from pretty much all my friends, colleagues and family is ‘uhm… why?’ and ‘well, if you don’t have anything better to do’.  Surely it’s better to learn some weird rules about Portuguese pronouns than watch TV all day. And I have to admit the lack of support kind of bothers me. That’s weird too, because I don’t usually care all that much what others think, but I think it’s that implication that I don’t have a life or something. I do have a life, thank you very much, I just choose to exercise my brain cells with something I find enjoyable.

I do have one very good friend who is very supportive and I’ve made some friends through conversation classes, so I do have people who support me, but I just feel that people who’ve known me the longest should be a tad more understanding or at the very least utter a ‘good for you’ every so often, even if they don’t really care. The lack of general support won’t stop me, but I can’t stop ponder why learning a language is almost frowned upon. In fact they’re almost actively trying to discourage me.
I kind of want to think that many are compensating for their own laziness or for not taking initiative, but I’m not sure that is really it. I think at least here, it might be more accurate to say that people simply don’t know the effort it takes to learn a language. They may have had a semester or two of French a long time ago, but judging by that very first Spanish course I took here and the utter confusion at the fact that verbs need to be conjugated, I don’t think much stuck. I’ve even had a co worker asking me why I don’t just stick to English with my Argentinian friend when we both speak English. I think that about sums it up really. They simply don’t get it.
In fact there is one friend of a friend who fancies herself a screenwriter and she told me in all seriousness that ‘I have to have this purse’ is not a correct sentence because we wouldn’t say ‘I eat to eat chicken for dinner’…. and… what do you say to that??

Language learning is a slog, that is a fact and it takes a lot of motivation and dedication to keep at it and to keep studying even if there is very little discernible improvement. I can’t help but think that a little pad on the back every so often, especially from close friends and family, would go a long way.