Why I am that bad?

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Guugu
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Why I am that bad?

Beitrag von Guugu »

Hi friendly community,

I am new here, as you can see on my posting counter and I would like to start my first topic in this corner. When I have seen correctly, most of the posts are written in German in this corner, I hope, it is or right that I write in English. My first post is unfortunately a bit negative but this is how I feel at the moment in regard to that knowledge what the reason is for my registration.

I really have some serious issues in the language of English. I do not know how to start, because I am not pretty sure whether I have identified my problem or not. I have not been able to seen any advantage for the last years, you know?

When I was in school, my English was worse I was not able to say anything correctly nor I was able to write on a correct grammatical manner nor understand anything when I had listen to any movie; especially with an American accent. That changed. I improved my English a lot. Even I spent some months in England I had not any problems in communication at all. Of course I made a lot of mistakes and I was not pretty sure if all that guys were able to understand me. I made it a habit to apologise for my bad English, but I never have got any negative response. Many were actually denying that and confirming my English is good or at least not bad (probably they were too polite); it would be understandable. Honestly? This is not enough, not for me. I want to speak this language very nice, but it is hard. I had not any opportunity to socialise with British people because I was looking for a job, all the time. Unfortunately without any success. There were very hard times on job marked over there and I think I did the mistake to apply(x) for wrong jobs. At least I have been (correct tense, I do not know) invited to interviews some of them were negative and some of them very positive but I changed my mind and did not go to the second interview to what I was invited for, so that time on the other side of the English channel was not very helpful, although it helped to collect some new experiences.

I actually can understand when I see movies either (x) when there are a lot of terms that I am not able to understand but I understand. One of the problems are I am not able to use what I have heard! Another problem is I started to read English stuff and do it until now but there are some words, I would call them basic words, I am unable to memorise. This is really embarrassing (x) and frustrating. Even now I know that word 'embarrassing' but was not even able to manage to remember it within some seconds so I have had to check it up. The words above the same. (I set a x in Klammern after the word that I had to look up)

I am confused in different manners. I am confused in grammar, I do not use anything of it, when I write I do it on basis of feeling; and my feeling is not like a native speaker but I do not have to tell you, because you are reading my fourth paragraph, probably.

I am just frustrated, I even do not know how many vocabulary I have written down in the past two to three years. Do I know a fraction (x) of it? For sure NO! I use always the same words have no idea which tense I should use when I speak and do not know how I can break this cycle.

Can you help me out how I can expand my skills to achieve my aim to speak and write on a proper (exactly words like that I mean, I hear them not that often nor not really seldom but nonetheless I do not know the German translation or at least being able to extract the meaning of it and explain it in German) manner?

How can I develop a foundation?

I am sorry, it is late and I apologise for all mistakes that I made.

Thank you very much for reading that long text.




tiorthan
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Re: Why I am that bad?

Beitrag von tiorthan »

I did not write a correction because I simply don't have enough time for that.

Here's what I think:

Memorizing vocabulary and grammar is something you do in school when you try to build a theoretical foundation for a language. This is useful in school because you don't know how the language will be used in the future. Yet, it's also not a very effective method of learning a language if speaking and writing is your goal. For that ... well, you speak and write. Easy as pie.

There's a catch. Speaking and writing is only effective if you are corrected and if you then use the correction. Try out new patterns with the things you've just learned. It's important to keep it as simple as possible. If you get too much feedback, you won't be able to learn anything. Also, don't learn anything in isolation. When you want to learn a new word, use it in phrases. When you want to learn some grammar, use it in a sentence.
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Delfino
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Delfino
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Re: Why I am that bad?

Beitrag von Delfino »

Guugu hat geschrieben:Hi friendly community,

I am new here, as you can see on my posting counter, and I would like to start my first topic in this part of the forum.
Although I have noticed most of the posts here are written in German, I hope, it is alright that I write in English.

Yes, it is. Practise makes perfect. :)

Unfortunately, my first post is a bit sad, but this is how I feel at the moment in regard to my knowledge of English,
which is the reason for my registration.

I really have some serious issues using the English language. I do not know how to start, because I am not very sure
whether I have identified my problem or not. I have not been able to seen any improvement throughout the last years,
you know?

When I was in school, my English was worse. I was not able to say anything correctly nor was I able to write using correct grammatical structures.
I did not understand anything when I watched a movie; especially the ones with an American accent. That changed. I improved my English a lot.

I even spent a few months in England. I had no problems with communication at all. Of course I made a lot of mistakes, and I am not absolutly sure
that all the guys were able to understand me. I made it a habit to apologise for my bad English, but I never received any negative feedback.

Yes, the English are very polite in that regard, and most of them don't speak any foreign language very well either.

Honestly! Many were actually denying it and confirming my English is good or at least not hard to understand. They were probably too polite.
This is not enough for me. I want to speak this language very well, but it is hard. I didn't have any opportunity to socialise with British people,
because I was looking for a job, all the time. Unfortunately, without any success. There were very hard times on the job marked over there, and
I think, I made the mistake of applying for the wrong jobs. At least I have been invited to interviews. Some of them were negative and some of them very positive,
but I changed my mind and did not go to the second interview I was invited to. So that time on the other side of the English channel was not very helpful,
although it allowed me to gain new experience.

Now I can understand movies better. Although there are still a lot of terms that I am not able to understand directly, but I understand the general meaning.
One of my problems is that I am not able to use what I have heard!

The transition of the passive vocabulary into active vocabulary can take years without regular opportunities to practise.
I am speaking from personal experience here. So this is totaly normal. You need to be patient and practice (e.g. tandem learning).

I started to read English stuff. My problem is there are some words, I would call them basic words, that I am unable to memorise. This is really embarrassing and frustrating.
Even now! Although I know that word 'embarrassing', I was not able to remember it within some seconds, so I had to look it up.
It's the same with the other words above. I put an x in brackets after each word that I had to look up.

I am confused in different areas. I am confused by all the grammatical rules, I do not use any of them. When I write, I do it based on my gutt feeling;
and it is not as good as one of a native speaker, but I do not have to tell you that, because you are probably reading my fourth paragraph by now.
I am just frustrated, I do not even remember all the words I have written down in the past two to three years. Do I know a fraction of them? Maybe!
But I always use the same words, and I have no idea which tense I should use when I am speaking. I do not know how I can break this cycle.

Relax! Nobody can remember all the words they come accross. I also use online dictionaries on a daily basis.
I've seen several printed dictionaries on the desks and shelfs in the offices of native speakers.
People also do not think about the names of tenses or how to contruct them properly when speaking English.


Can you help me out?
H
ow I can expand my skills to achieve my aim to speak and write properly?
How can I develop a foundation?

I am sorry, it is late and I apologise for all mistakes that I made.

Thank you very much for reading my long text.
Yes, working in an English speaking professional environment can help people improve their English skills,
but it is rather ignorant to assume that any of your colleages would have the time to always correct you...
Therefore, you are at risk to assume that you are expressing yourself correctly and memorize mistakes as ok.
This will be a really hard problem to overcome in the future.

In addition, you won't be able to focus on doing your job well, when you are always distracted by doubts about your English.

So I would advice you improve your English before aiming for a proper job here.
Low level part-time jobs can provide the funds for daily life while taking the remaining time to improve your English.

Btw. I'd recommend you always follow the invitation to an interview. Don't feel to stressed about being able to get the job.
You need to use these rare opportunities as a chance to improve your interview technique and become familiar with the situation.
It will help you to be calmer next time.
Keep a journal with the questions you were asked and how you responded and then reflect on ways to improve your performance...

e.g. the English prefer shorter concise sentences which are easier to understand,
and you are also less likely to make mistakes in less complex structures :)

See also
http://portal.solent.ac.uk/careers/get- ... guide.aspx
...is supplied without liability.
IELTS 7 Good user: operational command, occasional inaccuracies

tiorthan
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Re: Why I am that bad?

Beitrag von tiorthan »

One of the things I noticed is that you wrote you had not made any progress. The thing is, though, after a certain point progress becomes slow and difficult to notice for oneself, unless you're autistic or have similar perception issues. This is especially true if you do not have a teacher, because learning on your own is very much more difficult. This can be overcome by structuring the lessons you teach yourself, limiting them to teaching one thing at a time (although you touch other subjects on the way). That kind of learning requires insight into the structure of the language. It's essentially the way linguists study unknown languages for the first time, although in the case of English the boring part (comparative studies, pattern analyses etc.) is readily available.

And, in your text I saw that you did not use contractions. That's not exactly a good thing. For one thing, contractions are part of the English language and they are important. Not using a contraction where it would normally be used puts emphasis on the word. Take for example the initial sentence of this paragraph: "... did not use..." instead of "didn't use". This reads somewhat like that: "... did not use...". If you avoid contractions, you're robbing yourself of a rhetoric device and you're also not using the language as it is used by native speakers, which, if I undestand you correctly, is your goal. That being said, there are some kinds of texts that like essays, theses, newspaper articles etc. in which you should not use contractions ... or at least not use too many of them.
And if that isn't enough, not everything that looks like a contraction is one, too. The gentive -'s certainly, but also -n't which has developed into a proper suffix.
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Delfino
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commissiona
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Re: Why I am that bad?

Beitrag von commissiona »

Hello,



When you say it's difficult to track one's progress 'unless' you are autistic or have similar perception issues, do you mean 'especially?' I apologize if that's off-topic, but I was just curious if you had any clarification or insight in the matter. Both myself and my son are autistic, and I've been wondering lately how that may effect my ability to learn, in particular, foreign languages. I'm not terribly worried about it and think I'm doing fine with German with the little time I have to spend learning, but please elaborate on this if you've seen such difficulties before.


Thanks in advance!


-commissiona

tiorthan
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Re: Why I am that bad?

Beitrag von tiorthan »

No, I meant that autistic people might have an easier time noticing their own progress and that it requires a perception similar to theirs to even be able to do so.

Some autistic people can detect small changes over very long times in much more detail than neurotypicals can without using the help of records. The reason is mainly the weak central coherence autistic people display, they are focused on details but do not see the big picture. That ability can also apply to language processing and language learning which becomes very slow at some point, especially when learned without a teacher. It does not mean that every autistic person notices improvement in their own language abilities. Often they are concerned with other details thus obscuring their self-assessment or they notice the occasional improvement but fail to set it into perspective in the long run.

I'm not sure how it might affect your ability to learn languages. For me it means that there is no difference in processing German or Polish or my secondary languages. Even though German is the language in which I have the largest vocabulary and practise (not surprising since I have been living in this country all my life) I still use it with about the same lack of subconscious processing as English or even Irish. It also means that there are usually next to no textbooks or courses I could effectively use. I need to see the structures in a language but courses usually focus on traditional vocabulary and grammar. In most languages these things have surprisingly little to do with the actual structure of a language. Courses that use an "immersive" approach are better suited but usually use topics that I cannot relate to.
You're never too old to learn something stupid.
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Guugu
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Re: Why I am that bad?

Beitrag von Guugu »

Hi there!

I really have to apologize, it has been 10 days and I postponed to answer all your responses. I reconsidered everything and come to a conclusion, I assume. But firstly I want to comment every of your posts individually:

@tiorthan: Thanks for your thoughts, I think it contains a lot of truth.

@Delfino: I think it has been a misunderstanding, I am not in England any more else have been back home for some years. When I was in the land of the queen I had not any chance - as I wrote in my first post - to built up any contact with British people at all, at least not on a private basis. And THANKS for your correction, I know it takes time, thanks for that.
And, in your text I saw that you did not use contractions.
That's interesting!!! I always have done that deliberately because I was convinced: when you write you have to not use contractions and when you speak you have to. Thank you very much for that advise!!

I don't think I am autistic; my problem is more my perfection, I believe. I want to do everything as perfect as possible. I go to much into detail. When I read something, sometimes I think I don't try to understand the context, more to analyse grammatical structures. I think this is counterproductive. When I am honest I don't even know every single detail of German grammar and I have no problem in the German language at all and I think it shouldn't be my aim to focus on to understand grammar, I should start to write; speaking is difficult in Germany.

Probably the secret is to take it easy, I am not a native speaker I'll do mistakes and maybe I haven't seen any process in my learning (way) because I didn't do any process in the last time. Wrong learning strategy? Have I studied English at all or have I just read some stuff and got frustrated because I wasn't able to understand every single DETAIL of the text or movie that I saw. Honestly? That might be the case.

In future I will not read a text in the sake of understanding every detail, I will read just articles that I am interested in; without any force. I think my main problem is also to differentiate between the tenses and my inactive vocabulary. Vocabulary could be solved my starting to write; the bigger challenge might be the tenses. Will see how to work it out. But everything is cool, isn't it? I mean it makes no sense to stress your self out. Just having fun when learning. After all, nobody will be able to learn EVERYTHING in a week - it should be pretty much enough to learn from time to time some new aspects.

Hope you're able to understand that without any misunderstandings because some super-duper confusing...bla bla, wouldn't I stop that? Just kidding.

Cheers, guys!

Guugu
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Re: Why I am that bad?

Beitrag von Guugu »

Guugu hat geschrieben:Hi there!

That's interesting!!! I always have done that deliberately because I was convinced: when you write you have to not use contractions and when you speak you have to. Thank you very much for that advise!!

I don't think I am autistic; my problem is more my perfection, I believe. I want to do everything as perfect as possible. I go to much into detail. When I read something, sometimes I think I don't try to understand the context, more, to analyse grammatical structures. I think this is counterproductive. When I am honest I don't even know every single detail of German grammar and I have no problem in the German language at all and I think it shouldn't be my aim to focus on, to understand grammar, I should start to write; speaking is difficult in Germany.

Probably the secret is to take it easy, I am not a native speaker I'll do mistakes and maybe I haven't seen any process progress in my learning (way) curve because I didn't do any process progress in the last time. Wrong learning strategy? Have I studied English at all or have I just read some stuff and got frustrated because I wasn't able to understand every single DETAIL of the text or movie that I saw. Honestly? That might be the case.

In future I will not won't read a text in the sake of understanding every detail, I will read just articles that I am interested in; without any force. I think my main problem is also to differentiate between the tenses and my inactive vocabulary. Vocabulary could be solved my by starting to write; the bigger challenge might be the tenses. Will see how to work it out. But everything is cool, isn't it? I mean it makes no sense to stress your self out. Just having fun when learning. After all, nobody will be able to learn EVERYTHING in a week - it should be pretty much enough to learn from time to time some new aspects.

Hope you're able to understand that, without any misunderstandings because some super-duper confusing...bla bla, wouldn't I stop that? Just kidding.

Cheers, guys!
That's funny. I was reading my text to seek for mistakes and I found some. Marked them in my quote. :redface: God knows how many I haven't seen yet.

commissiona
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Re: Why I am that bad?

Beitrag von commissiona »

@tiorthan
I think you are right on the money. My deficiency in 'big picture' thinking is obvious to me and everyone who knows me. I believe I am getting better at identifying when I go astray, yet, getting back on track proves to be just as difficult, if not more so, than the main issue at hand. I enjoy learning, in general, and I'm attracted to complication. However, I find it very difficult to learn even some of the simpler concepts of many subjects, so I keep finding myself in situations where I question whether I am getting into something that's over my head or getting ahead of myself.



Der OPs Text[sub]1[/sub] gut verständlich ist, so dass ich davon ausgehe, dass sein Englisch noch besser ist[sub]2[/sub], als mein Deutsch. Ich nur einmal gelesen worden, um sie in gewissem (or einige?) Details zu verstehen.
Ich denke, also OP auf dem richtigen Weg sind. Das wäre meine Überzeugung von dieser einzigen Beitrag[sub]3[/sub].


. . .I don't know much about German grammar, tiorthan, but it is my responsibility to work on anything I don't understand. So, I very much appreciate your corrections! . . .

Quote from Guugu:
That's interesting!!! I always have done that deliberately because I was convinced: when you write you have to not use contractions and when you speak you have to.

[Clarification: You don’t have to nor have to use contractions in either context, it’s more like you will use less contractions in (formal) writing and more contractions in speaking. Here's a quote from an academic textbook on programming I’m reading:


As long as you can keep track of the order of the variables needed as subscripts, and as long as you don’t exhaust your computer’s memory, C# lets you create arrays of any size.


Here, ‘don’t’ is used frequently through the book and is not at all an unusual usage in technical writing (or any other type of writing for that matter). It would still be acceptable to replace every instance of ‘don’t’ with ‘do not’, but the author chooses to use many contractions in order to make the sentences flow better; than is, it is easier to read with contractions.

In speaking to a friend, I can say “Don’t drink the water” if, say, I think my friend would find the taste of our local running water undesirable, and I’ll offer him a bottled water instead. If our water is for some reason unsafe to drink, then I may say “Do NOT drink the water!” Here, not using a contraction in this case adds an emphasis to my concern that I think the water would harm him in some way. Still, saying ‘do not’ in the benign scenario would not be that unusual, but I am (or I’m . . . doesn’t matter) more likely to say ‘don’t’.’ ]


Thank you very much for that advise!!

I don't think I am autistic [don’t worry, this was never implied, tiorthan just made an aside in which I brought further attention to with my post]; my problem is more my perfection [suggested: ‘more or less perfection, more about perfection’], I believe. I want to do everything as perfect as possible. I go into much detail. When I read something, sometimes I think I don't try to understand the context or analyze [Analysis(n.), analyze (v.), analyzing] grammatical structures. I think this is counterproductive. When I am honest I don't even know every single detail of German grammar, and I have no problem in the German language at all. and I think it shouldn't be my aim to focus on it [Here, I just split a run-on sentence into two sentences]. To understand grammar, I should start to write; speaking is difficult in Germany.

Probably the secret is to take it easy, I am not a native speaker. I'll make mistakes and maybe I haven't seen any process progress in my learning (way) curve because I didn't make any process progress in the last time. Wrong learning strategy [sentence fragment, but OK and perfectly intelligible in conversation]? Have I studied English at all or have I just read some stuff and got frustrated because I wasn't able to understand every single DETAIL of the text or movie that I saw. Honestly, that might be the case.

@Guugu

From your first post:
We say 'develop' or 'developing a foundation' a lot in our culture, and we have a general idea of what is meant by it. Your usage is correct. However, I have a difficult time grasping precisely what it means with regard to any context other than 'developing foundations' for, say, constructing buildings. For learning something, and regardless of my expertise in any given subject area, I can't define exactly what a foundation is or would be. I speak English well because that is my native tongue; but what is my foundation in speaking English other than decades of experience?

If such an idea exists, if I remove it will it crumble to the ground? Unless I receive a serious head injury, I suspect my experience will always be there. If you enjoy it enough that you have fun working on your English everyday, then proficiency should improve over time. 'Foundation', then, although not a silver bullet, is established along with it. From your most recent post, I see that you probably have the right idea, anyhow.

I'm glad to see you back, Guugu, and keep in touch to let us know how you are doing!


Regards

Guugu
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Re: Why I am that bad?

Beitrag von Guugu »

commissiona hat geschrieben: Der OPs Text ist gut verständlich ist, so dass ich davon ausgehe, dass sein Englisch noch besser ist, als mein Deutsch. Ich habe den Text nur einmal gelesen worden, um sie ihn in gewissem (or einige?) Details (einigermaßen gut?) zu verstehen.
commissiona hat geschrieben:
Ich denke, also dass der OP auf dem richtigen Weg sind ist. Das wäre meine Überzeugung von dieser diesem einzigen Beitrag.
It has to be really diffucult to learn German. I am very glad haven't had that problem to learn German like learning English. Although English is not easy either, but I assume better than to learn German.

commissiona hat geschrieben: . . .I don't know much about German grammar, tiorthan, but it is my responsibility to work on anything I don't understand. So, I very much appreciate your corrections! . . .
Sorry, I hope it is or right and you accept my correction as well. Maybe there is a better version than mine and it will be corrected as well?!
commissiona hat geschrieben: [Clarification: You don’t have to nor have to use contractions in either context, it’s more like you will use less contractions in (formal) writing and more contractions in speaking. Here's a quote from an academic textbook on programming I’m reading:


As long as you can keep track of the order of the variables needed as subscripts, and as long as you don’t exhaust your computer’s memory, C# lets you create arrays of any size.


Here, ‘don’t’ is used frequently through the book and is not at all an unusual usage in technical writing (or any other type of writing for that matter). It would still be acceptable to replace every instance of ‘don’t’ with ‘do not’, but the author chooses to use many contractions in order to make the sentences flow better; than is, it is easier to read with contractions.

In speaking to a friend, I can say “Don’t drink the water” if, say, I think my friend would find the taste of our local running water undesirable, and I’ll offer him a bottled water instead. If our water is for some reason unsafe to drink, then I may say “Do NOT drink the water!” Here, not using a contraction in this case adds an emphasis to my concern that I think the water would harm him in some way. Still, saying ‘do not’ in the benign scenario would not be that unusual, but I am (or I’m . . . doesn’t matter) more likely to say ‘don’t’.’ ]

Yes, thanks for your clarification. I actually knew that, but some aspects are new, so I will try to use contractions with more awareness.
Guugu hat geschrieben: Probably the secret is to take it easy, I am not a native speaker. I'll make mistakes and maybe I haven't seen any process progress in my learning (way) curve because I didn't make any process progress in the last time.
When I strike "in the" doesn't that mean I haven't made any progress last time so just at a particular learning session in the past referring to one specific time. I was more to mention a period of time.

commissiona hat geschrieben: From your first post:
We say 'develop' or 'developing a foundation' a lot in our culture, and we have a general idea of what is meant by it. Your usage is correct. However, I have a difficult time grasping precisely what it means with regard to any context other than 'developing foundations' for, say, constructing buildings. For learning something, and regardless of my expertise in any given subject area, I can't define exactly what a foundation is or would be. I speak English well because that is my native tongue; but what is my foundation in speaking English other than decades of experience?

If such an idea exists, if I remove it will it crumble to the ground? Unless I receive a serious head injury, I suspect my experience will always be there. If you enjoy it enough that you have fun working on your English everyday, then proficiency should improve over time. 'Foundation', then, although not a silver bullet, is established along with it. From your most recent post, I see that you probably have the right idea, anyhow.

I'm glad to see you back, Guugu, and keep in touch to let us know how you are doing!
Probably you're right. I intended more to use it as a metaphor. With foundations in the English language I meant something like basis grammar and sentence structure skills, you know? For instance you need pillars to build a building and for language you need some pillars as well e.g Grammar etc. Hope I could explain intelligibly (adverb before or after explain, not sure) what I mean.

Nice day!

commissiona
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Re: Why I am that bad?

Beitrag von commissiona »

Guugu hat geschrieben: It has to be really difficult to learn German. I am very glad haven't had that problem to learn German like learning English. Although English is not easy either, but I assume German is still harder to learn.
German is difficult - the more I learn the harder it seems to become. To put it into perspective, I have spent about 5 times as much learning German than French, yet I know far more French than I do German.


I have no idea how hard it is to learn English, and I may never really know. I hear some people say it's really easy; despite, I have family that have lived in the US (Texas) all their life, and they still only speak Spanish. Some have really tried, while others are comfortable speaking one language.
Guugu hat geschrieben: Sorry, I hope it is or right and you accept my correction as well. Maybe there is a better version than mine and it will be corrected as well?!
Of course, corrections are always welcome! However, this is an English learning forum, so I'll try to keep my German to a minimum, at least until I get better. Thanks!
Guugu hat geschrieben: When I strike "in the", it doesn't that mean I haven't made any progress last time, but just at a particular learning session in the past referring to one specific time. It was more to mention a period of time.
Gotcha (coll. I understand), I see what you mean now.
Guugu hat geschrieben: Probably you're right. I intended more to use it as a metaphor. With foundations in the English language I meant something like basis grammar and sentence structure skills, you know? For instance, you need pillars to build a building and for language you need some pillars as well e.g Grammar etc. Hope I could explain intelligibly (adverb before or after explain, not sure) what I mean.
That all makes perfect sense. I noticed how quick your response was to my post, so it seems that your English may be better than you think! It takes me a very,very long time to construct German sentences, but these are some of my very first attempts.


Also, in all honesty, it took you less time to write your English response than it normally takes me to write an intelligible response in my own language! If I don't spend the time that I do to write something, my posts tend to sound rather bizarre and not make much sense to even English readers. But that's just me. . ..
Guugu hat geschrieben: Have a nice day!
Have a nice day as well!

commissiona
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Re: Why I am that bad?

Beitrag von commissiona »

. . .(or einige?) Details (einigermaßen gut?) zu verstehen. . .


. . . einigermaßen gut, sehr gut!


-Danke

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