Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    BIN is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Vietnamese
      • Home Country:
      • Vietnam
      • Current Location:
      • Singapore
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    3
    Post Thanks / Like

    Am I having a mental block?

    There is something that has been constantly bugging me. I'm a Vietnamese and has been studying in Singapore for more than 2 years. In my opinion, normally, two years are more than enough for someone to pick up a new language and to speak it fluently, and apparently it seems many of my friends did, which, while can't be compared to the natives in term of sophistication of language use, is still acceptable. However, it's not really the case for me. I talk to the natives quite a lot, I watch a lot of american Tv shows, in short I have tried my very best to become fluent in speaking english. I don't know why, but it is kind of strange. Half of the time I can speak fluent English with my friends albeit with a strange vietnamese accent, but other times, it seems to me that I can not even speak a full English sentence or can not pronounce a word properly. During those times I just feel awkward to speak english, and I dont know why. I have tried to explain this. At first, I thought it is because I dont feel comfortable with the person I am talking to, but it doesn't seem so, as alot of times I can't speak proper english with my friends while a lot of times I can do that with complete stranger, like when I went for interviews. The next thing I think of is that, because when I first came, and up until now, many of my friends still make fun of my accent. I think I dont mind that, but I think may be it has created a mental block in me that prevent me from speaking Englis properly sometimes.
    In short, I think I cant speak english properly and fluently when I feel awkward, but I dont know what cause the awkwardness. Can someone help me find out? I think I really need to tackle this problem.
    Sorry for the long post. I hope i didn't post it in the wrong place.

  2. #2
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    4,811
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Am I having a mental block?

    I had the same experience learning and speaking French. I went on to do a Ph.D. in French, but still feel the same self-doubt from time to time. It is unavoidable, and it is a fact we must learn to live with. I think it comes from the truth that some times, we enjoy being able to be treated like a native speaker, whereas at other times, it is evident that we have a different style and even make errors different from those of natives. We will always feel that, but just keep on learning and don't try to appear anything other than who you really are: a Vietnamese who knows very good English (or Singlish? :)

  3. #3
    iainmac is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Great Britain
      • Current Location:
      • Italy
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    10
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Am I having a mental block?

    Hello, Bin.
    Can I just ask you how long it took you to write your post? If it took less than an hour your English is pretty damned good. Who can account for the inconsistency you feel in your command of English? I feel the same about my own second language - most of the time I feel comfortable but there are times when I feel like I've got a pineapple in my mouth or in my brain - I listen to myself and everything sounds wrong. Sometimes I just think it's because I'm tired; other times it's definitely because the person I'm speaking to makes me feel slightly ill at ease.

  4. #4
    Searching for language is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • Canada
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    1,035
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Am I having a mental block?

    As far as speaking with an accent goes, some people, no matter how much they study and learn, will always retain the accent of their mother tongue. The ability to lean another language without an accent diminishes drastically after age 13, I am told. I came to Canada at age 11, and have no German accent. My sister was 15, and had some accent.

    My mother was 40, and her English became excellent. My father was the same age, and his was atrocious.

    I think that maybe you are trying too hard, and are possibly being too hard on yourself. Relax, and as was already posted, by your written post, you are doing well.

    I am not a teacher.

  5. #5
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,964
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Am I having a mental block?

    I think you're being overcritical- don't judge yourself by whether you are indistinguishable from a native speaker, but by how successfully you are using the language. At high level, people often feel they aren't making progress because it is hard to measure. At lower levels, it's easy because you start, say, by not knowing the past tense and then can see your progress. If your spoken English is as good as your written, then you really should be pleased rather than worried.

  6. #6
    BIN is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Vietnamese
      • Home Country:
      • Vietnam
      • Current Location:
      • Singapore
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    3
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Am I having a mental block?

    Thanks for your responses:). I wrote this in 10 minutes I think. Well, I'm studying for A level exams so I'm trying to improve my written English to meet the high standards:). Right now, I'm more concerned about my speaking ability, as you can write as many wonderful proses as you can but if you can't express yourself properly, you can't be taken serious. I'm afraid that it may never improve. I think you are right about me wanting to be indistinguishable from the natives but then can you tell me how I can relax? This is a mental thing, and it's quite hard to get rid of them:(.
    In addition, while I watch a lot of American DRAMA shows (as I believe these shows feature a lot of good writings and good expressions for me to learn), I never have the chance really use them extensively while talking to my native friends, as most of them use a form of colloquial English (Singlish) that is not really grammatically correct and kind of, well, unsophisticated in nature imo, so when I try to use those Tv expressions it comes off as goofy and strange, especially when sometimes they can't get my accent, so many times I found myself speaking very simplistically and that is when I started to feel awkward. It seems to be so, I dont know. When I have the chance to speak normally and not simplistically I found it easier to speak, like when I went for interviews as I stated in my previous post. Do you think I should just stop trying to sound American and just adopt the Singlish way?
    Another long post, sorry!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    36
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Am I having a mental block?

    Hi there!

    I think that you have very good written English. I found a few mistakes while reading your posts, but overall I find that you have a very good grasp on it.

    I don't really know if you'll ever be able to become indistinguishable from native English speakers unless you are fully immersed in English at a native level at all times. Furthermore, it is believed that after the age of 13 the chances of someone learning a foreign language being able to fully speak it without an accent decreases.

    I don't mean to say any of these things as discouragement, but maybe you are setting standards too high for yourself at the moment. Maybe you will always have a slight accent, but many native English speakers will admire that you speak and write so well. I think that for now you should focus more on enjoying what you are learning rather that stressing over your mistakes and setbacks too much.

    As for the case with the American dramas, many of the sayings are based on situations, or only appropriate in certain locations. This may be why you find that they are awkward. But nonetheless, keep trying!

  8. #8
    swedish meatball is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    27
    Post Thanks / Like
    For me, language is about communication. Your post was well written for someone who has ONLY been learning the language for two years! I have been learning Swedish and I face the same problems as you! It will come, if you are motivated to continue learning and improving, then you will eventually reap the rewards. It is hard not to compare yourself to your friends and others around you, you just need to remember that everyone is unique in their progress when learning a foreign language. The mental block is when you are unsure and maybe everything you have learnt is not yet fully secure in your memory. Repetition and practice will help you!
    Good luck in the future! You have the enthusiasm to succeed!!!

Similar Threads

  1. What is a mental marshmallow?
    By K_ENG in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 29-Dec-2007, 15:00
  2. Shot up on the block
    By Atefvinc in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 22-Sep-2007, 19:06
  3. The measure of mental health...
    By beeja in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-Jun-2007, 15:20
  4. writer's block
    By Progress in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 22-May-2007, 17:46
  5. went mental
    By piousoul in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 02-Feb-2007, 08:40

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •