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Introverts and Extroverts

 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
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Splog
Diglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
anthonylauder.c
Joined 3660 days ago

1062 posts - 3262 votes 
Speaks: English*, Czech
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 1 of 59
17 November 2010 at 7:25am | IP Logged 
I made a short video last night about introverted and
extroverted language learners
, but the video doesn't come up with any
conclusions. Rather, it opens up a question to which I simply don't have a good answer.

The issue is that a lot of the advice we give to people on how to "activate" their
passive vocabulary seems best suited to extroverts. That is, to people who enjoy social
interaction. For example, recommending that they get out and talk to strangers; join
on-line chat communities; etc.

However, for introverts, this "be social" advice doesn't seem helpful. That is, if we
accept that introverts are people who prefer to be alone, or discuss ideas in very
small groups, rather than idle chatter at parties with strangers. Introverts are not
necessarily shy, so there is rarely any shyness to "get over". Rather, they tend to
simply prefer internal stimulation (contemplation of ideas, which they find energising)
rather than external stimulation (parties - which they find draining).

Given this, what advise can we give to introverts to help them develop their active
vocabulary?

Edited by Splog on 17 November 2010 at 10:28am

24 persons have voted this message useful





Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 4694 days ago

9084 posts - 16476 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 2 of 59
17 November 2010 at 10:07am | IP Logged 
I have given some advice which must be well suited to introverts, namely to establish a running innner monologue in the target language. This is also useful if you are in a potential immersion situation for instance during a travel where you don't feel that you are ready to speak the local language - OK, then redo your conversations in your mind in the target language. Writing and making videos are also possible venues for introverts, and you get as much training in using your target language - though maybe in another register than the one you would exercise by participating in idle smalltalk. And kudos to Splog for pointing out that introverts aren't necessarily shy. Some people just find smalltalk boring - in any language.
8 persons have voted this message useful



Sierra
Diglot
Senior Member
Turkey
livinginlights.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5115 days ago

296 posts - 411 votes 
Speaks: English*, SwedishB1
Studies: Turkish

 
 Message 3 of 59
17 November 2010 at 11:02am | IP Logged 
I definitely consider myself an introvert, and as such the idea of finding a random
Skype buddy or sitting in cafes and chatting with the staff has never particularly
appealed to me.

I have found active skill acquisition a bit of a struggle at times, but it's far from
impossible. I like to write as much as I can and post it for correction on Lang-8, and
when it comes to speaking... well, I'm sure I'm far from the only one on these boards
who wanders around monologuing in solitude.

I do think it is important to make sure that you have some degree of face-to-
face interaction with native speakers, both to better grasp the flow of natural
conversation (which partly, but not fully, comes across on talk shows and in movies and
things) and to get rid of any little twinges of embarrassment which may come with
speaking a language you know you aren't fully proficient in. But still, I think that
the muttering-to-yourself strategy goes a long way toward enabling a learner to produce
understandable spoken Spanish/Russian/Arabic/what-have-you.

Sometimes I get hung up on a phrase or two I've been saying to myself and wonder if
they're actually correct at all; in these cases, it's really helpful to just plug them
into Google and see if people use them. For example, if I were concerned about the
first sentence of this paragraph, I could type in a little portion of it and the
results would either reassure me that yes, people do say "get hung up on" or, if I had
gotten it just a bit wrong, auto-correct would steer me the right way.
5 persons have voted this message useful



Splog
Diglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
anthonylauder.c
Joined 3660 days ago

1062 posts - 3262 votes 
Speaks: English*, Czech
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 4 of 59
17 November 2010 at 11:26am | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
I have given some advice which must be well suited to introverts,
namely to establish a running innner monologue in the target language ... Writing and
making videos are also possible venues for introverts, and you get as much training in
using your target language


I actually talked about you in the video Iversen, mentioning your own success with
internal monologues. I also mentioned my own success with making videos for myself in
the target language.

Since we both seem to have has success with these ideas, I was surprised to receive a
comment from a viewer stating that research has shown neither of these is effective in
developing active vocabulary. Maybe this is an example of "research" that we should
merely raise an eyebrow towards. I have asked the viewer for a link to the research,
and will post it here if and when I receive it.
1 person has voted this message useful



irishpolyglot
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Ireland
fluentin3months
Joined 3624 days ago

285 posts - 892 votes 
Speaks: Irish, English*, French, Esperanto, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Sign Language
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 5 of 59
17 November 2010 at 4:01pm | IP Logged 
Splog, I found the video very informative, thanks! :)

Although, I find that rather than feeling any sense of negativity towards the term, a vast majority of people actually identify with it. If you included the question "are you an introvert or an extrovert" in a survey it's likely you'd get nearly all answers as introvert. When it has no real contrast, its meaning gets watered down.

I have met people who are clearly way more on the extrovert side of the scale, and get energised very much more by social interactions but *still* claim to be introverts. There is definitely something to the terms, but I feel many people's self identification is not accurate enough. I've met "introvert" lifes-of-the-party.

This is why I talk about trying to help people embrace their social side, and I'm sure my "stop being shy" advice can frustrate people, as you mentioned specifically for people not to give it as a solution. Rather than try to change people, I feel it's more trying to change the limitations of them defining themselves as an introvert. For some people, yes they truly are introverts, but for others it may just be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Obviously this doesn't work for everyone, but it is easier than you would think to convince people to get out there ;)

Sorry for the conflicting view! I agree with everything you said in the video, but am just sceptical of people's ability to rate themselves and I get genuinely frustrated when I hear people I know are very social for most of their day say "I'm an introvert".

Edited by irishpolyglot on 17 November 2010 at 4:04pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Sierra
Diglot
Senior Member
Turkey
livinginlights.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5115 days ago

296 posts - 411 votes 
Speaks: English*, SwedishB1
Studies: Turkish

 
 Message 6 of 59
17 November 2010 at 5:56pm | IP Logged 
I should maybe clarify what I said before.

While I do strongly identify as an introvert- I'm often happiest by myself, can spend
days at a time in almost total silence and not realize it, and often find myself
daydreaming rather than participating in group conversations- I think that language
learning has a tendency to change my natural social rhythms. When I'm learning a
language which is not widely spoken where I am, I can easily become a bit reclusive and
dedicate eight or more hours every day to studying, and when I'm in a country where
native speakers are easy to come by, I find myself conversing more than usual and
reveling in the practice.

Still, things like seeking out a Skype partner or going out of my way to find natives
when they're rare in my city are not things that naturally appeal to my introvert
nature.

This might be straying off topic a bit, but I think that although you- irishpolyglot-
are correct that many people claim to be introverts, there's still kind of a negative
connotation associated with the word. Most people, I think, would more readily
associate it with things like "shy" or "antisocial" than "introspective" or... wow,
even as a proud introvert I'm having a hard time coming up with words which capture the
essence of it in a positive way. Because of that, I think a lot of introverts feel
pressure to go out more, talk more, socialize more, and generally make themselves more
available.

For people who do want to become more comfortable than they currently are doing those
things regularly, I think language-learning can serve as an amazing tool. For me, at
least, speaking in Turkish makes even the most mundane conversations feel fun and
worthwhile. But for contented introverts, I think it's important to point out that
there are paths to fluency which don't require filling up each day to the brim with
conversation.

Edited by Sierra on 17 November 2010 at 5:59pm

4 persons have voted this message useful



Aineko
Triglot
Senior Member
New Zealand
Joined 3439 days ago

238 posts - 442 votes 
Speaks: Serbian*, EnglishC2, Spanish
Studies: Russian, Arabic (Written), Mandarin

 
 Message 7 of 59
17 November 2010 at 7:46pm | IP Logged 
Splog wrote:

Introverts are not necessarily shy, so there is rarely any shyness to "get over".
Rather, they tend to simply prefer internal stimulation (contemplation of ideas, which
they find energising) rather than external stimulation (parties - which they find
draining).

oh, finally someone who got it right - I'm not shy, I'm just no interested in what you
are talking about. :)
It happened so many times that I stayed quiet in a circle of strangers, immersed in my
own thoughts, till the moment when the conversation touched the topic I find
stimulating. Then people react like "oh, I thought you were shy!". Well, you were
wrong... I simply don't get small talk and find it very tiring when I try to exercise
it. The very illustrative example is when I'm suppose to do small talk with mothers
with babies. Two questions I know are usually asked are "Is he/she crying a lot?" and
"Is she/he sleeping well?". After that I simply don't know what to say (except that
he/she is really cute, as all babies are :) ), unless we start talking about things
like babies personality and brain development and other things like that (luckily I
mostly find myself in a circle of people who are interested in same topics as I am, so
I still haven't manage to offend a mother by explaining that her child will not get
smarter than a chimp of the same age till it becomes about 3yo..).
Anyway, enough with my complaints about the world that expects everyone to enjoy
conversation about everything... In terms of practising a language, aside from what
Iversen already said, I'd recommend putting an effort to find groups (online or
offline) that discuss things you are interested in, in your target language. Blogs are
good place to start practising your writing, but it is a bit harder for conversation. I
simply adopted a method of trying various online tutors till I find people who share my
interests.
6 persons have voted this message useful



Aineko
Triglot
Senior Member
New Zealand
Joined 3439 days ago

238 posts - 442 votes 
Speaks: Serbian*, EnglishC2, Spanish
Studies: Russian, Arabic (Written), Mandarin

 
 Message 8 of 59
17 November 2010 at 7:59pm | IP Logged 
Sierra wrote:
there's still kind of a negative connotation associated with the word.

There certainly is. 'Not being social' is very often seen as quite negative in today's
society. Same as you say 'as a proud introvert', I came to the point to say "I'm not
social and I'm proud of it!" :D (kidding, but that is the reaction provoked by this 'must
be social or there is something wrong with you' attitude). I simply prefer books to
people (not all books to all people, of course, but in many situations, yes), don't see
what's wrong with that, books are usually more informative and more interesting :).


5 persons have voted this message useful



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