Burned out / Not learning

EricR31

EricR31

I've stopped doing the lessons for a couple of days now. I'm sick of being stuck at home and burned out with my lack of any progress. I was going through the motions of getting points for several days just to keep my toe in the water, but I wasn't learning anything. It hasn't gotten any better and I found myself dreading the computer.

Any ideas for recovering from this? And how long it might take? I feel like I've hit a dead end.

 
EricR31

EricR31

? I got points for that? Who knew?
Liss-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Liss-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Salut EricR31 !

Burnout is a common problem for people who are studying any topic long-term. If people follow the same pattern over and over, their brains tend to get bored and to disconnect. Happily, a simple solution often works: to shake things up a bit! There are a lot of ways in which you can do this.

You might try changing the order in which you go through the lessons, or switching back and forth between Interactive Audio lessons and Language & Culture lessons in a different pattern from what you've been following, just to make the way you use the course a little less predictable for your brain.

Another thing you can do is change the setting: you can take yourself away from the computer for a bit by using the app in a different room, or by bringing a laptop with you to another desk or table in your house. You can also go for a run or a walk, or go work in the yard, and listen to the Interactive Audio lessons as you move. You can take your learning into a new context and area by writing new vocabulary on cards or bits of paper and sticking it all over the house as well, for you to practice as you see it.

Another option is to mix in other learning elements, such as playing a French radio station while you cook supper, watching a French movie when it's time to relax, or reading a French newspaper when you want to tune in to what's going on in the rest of the world. This helps to free your brain from the idea that French is only found in one context, and it'll make the lessons come alive a little more when you do them because of the new voices and words that you're exposed to.

Any or all of these methods might be helpful for you. The important thing is not to give up, because it's hard to get momentum back once you've stopped something altogether!

I hope that this is useful. If you have any other questions or need any more help, don't hesitate to ask!

Bon courage,

Liss
EricR31

EricR31

Thanks for the advice. I hadn't been able to bring myself to look at this for a few days. But I don't think I'm going to give up yet. 

In my case, the problem is more frustration than boredom. I had started to feel like I wasn't learning anything. Whatever I did seemed to be forgotten the next day. Also, I never seem to get some of the pronunciations no matter how hard I try and that is frustrating, too. I sometimes do better when I deliberately say it wrong (i.e. differently than the rocket example).

My French isn't good enough to read a newspaper, but I have tried French movies, TV shows and music with French subtitles. I've found some things I really liked. They can be very interesting and enjoyable, but it is not relaxing since I have to pay close attention to understand any of it.
Liss-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Liss-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Salut EricR31,

If you're feeling frustrated and like you're not progressing, it may be that you are trying to move forward too quickly. Often we see progress as items ticked off on a list - we get the feeling that the more lessons we can mark as "done" in a course, the farther ahead we should be in our learning. However, our brains can have trouble holding on to what we're learning if we only keep pushing ourselves forward - it needs practice and reinforcement to make things stick. 

I might recommend breaking your learning into smaller chunks - your brain can only learn so many new things at a time - and then making sure to go back and reinforce these chunks. For example, you could go through a lesson once, and then go back just to 15 or 20 phrases (or less, if that seems overwhelming) that were new or difficult and work on understanding and practicing them. Then, when you've been through everything in the lesson, quiz yourself and get more practice by making your way through all of the Rocket Reinforcement activities (again, take them in chunks to make them more manageable).

It's also helpful to keep in mind that you don't have to get everything down pat in one day. You can go through a lesson one day, review a chunk of it, and then come back the next day and see how much you remember of that chunk. Your brain can often retain new information better if you give it a bit of a break and come back later.

You'll work through the course more slowly this way, but you should be able to retain what you're learning much better if you use a reinforcement system like this.

As for not being able to get the pronunciation down, don't worry: when you first start out with a language, your tongue isn't used to shaping the sounds and your ears aren't used to hearing them either! I would recommend using the playback feature: listen to the native speaker, record yourself, and then listen to yourself speaking. Get your speaking to sound as close to the native speaker as you can, and if you're not getting 100%, that's okay: you've done the best you can, and you can move on to the next one. In a few days or maybe after a week , you can come back and try the phrases you were having trouble with again. Your pronunciation will improve over time, the more you hear and the more you practice. 

That's great that you're able to incorporate French movies, TV, and music into your learning. If you'd like to make things more relaxing, something that I've found helpful in learning new languages is to start by finding a band I liked in that language, and then looking up the lyrics to some of their songs. You can try your hand at reading the lyrics (it's okay if you don't understand them - you don't need to for this exercise) and you can look up a few of the words that you don't know that are repeated often in the song. Then, you can play the music in the background when you're busy - walking, doing chores, etc. After a while, you can try singing along. Even though you don't understand most of the song, you'll still end up reinforcing those new words that you looked up (and as you learn more French, you'll find yourself understanding more and more of the song). At the same time, you'll be hearing and practicing French sounds, whether you understand them or not - that alone can be very helpful with your pronunciation. 

I hope that this is useful! If you have any more questions, just let me know.

À la prochaine,

Liss
Peter--252

Peter--252

Hi, I've been away for a few days and missed Eric's post originally, but I have a suggestion (which sometimes works for me).
Depending how far you are through the course, have you tried going back to an earlier lesson (say a previous module) and going through the "play it" section, with and without alternate words?

I found the following:
a. I usually find it much easier than it did when I first used it, and it helps to get into a "thinking in French" mode;  hence it has an encouraging effect to see how much I have learned;
b. There will be words and phrases that I'd forgotten -  coming across them again helps consolidate them.

Since review and revision are an important part of learning, it helps to fulfill that, and a brief break from learning new material while consolidating old stuff gives your brain a bit of a rest, I imagine. (As the old saying has it "a change is as good as a rest"!)

I hope it works for you, but remember everyone learns differently!
EricR31

EricR31

Here is what I have done - I've given up on trying to speak French for now. I still go through the rocket vocabulary, lesson flash cards and etc. to learn words and phrases. But I'm not trying to advance at speaking, I'm focused on just learning words and phrases. I still try to repeat the sounds, but that is just parroting. I hope that this rote learning will help me later on when it starts to make sense. Sometimes I attempt a word or a phrase without first hearing the example. That is amazingly much harder, but It feels good when I get one right once in awhile.

But mostly, the major issue as I see it is that I lack understanding of what others are saying. There's not much point in speaking when you don't understand what others are saying. So I just listen to a lot of French: Netflix, tv shows, documentaries and whatever I can find on YouTube. I use French subtitles, never English, and do my best to make some sense out of the content (without subtitles it would be almost impossible to understand anything). My current goal is to understand some actual French without subtitles. I am not going to concern myself with speaking it right now. 
Liss-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Liss-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Salut EricR31 !

Best of luck with your new learning strategy! I hope that it's going well. If you need any more pointers or help, don't hesitate to come back and ask us on the forum!

À la prochaine,

Liss

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