Some poster in the How To Learn Any Language forum linked to me, specifically this post. I love the HTLAL forum and though I don’t have an account, I have spent quite a bit of time browsing discussions there.
Now, was my post a tad mean-spirited? I honestly did not intend it to be, though I can understand someone interpreting it that way. I have very strong opinions about certain issues, and language learning is one of those issues. I just want to make a few things clear:
- Polyglots exist. There are people who speak multiple languages at a very high level.
- There’s nothing wrong with dipping your toes in a language, so to speak. (I believe one of the posters on the forum used this phrase.) I personally have done that with Ukrainian and Serbian. What annoys me is when people who dip their toes in a language insist that they speak it fluently, or at a high degree. I would never assert that I speak Ukrainian or Serbian, because I absolutely do not.
- The reason why I am annoyed by people who claim false fluency is I feel it diminishes my (and other language learners’) accomplishments. I have put an incredible amount of work into learning Russian and I am proud of my skill level. I speak Russian well – but that is because I have spent so much time working on it. It’s like playing a musical instrument really well, or an Olympic athlete: a lot of practice and hard work goes into it.
- If someone claims to speak Russian with near-native fluency, but has a terrible accent and makes rampant grammatical errors, I have no qualms calling out said individual’s exaggeration of language ability.
- There is no one “right” way to learn a language. I use flashcards. Some people hate them and do not. That does not bother me at all. Flashcards help me, so I use them. If they do not help you, then I certainly understand why you do not use them.
Anyway, I hope that clears things up. Thanks for reading!