Please, (Feel Free To) Be Quiet

Or: “Stop the madness of constant group work” (Susan Cain)

In order to learn how to speak a language, you need to speak. Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Talk to and with people as much as you can. Try. Talk about yourself and what you like. Share. Try again. Do like children do.

Well, when I was three, I once (no, it was not a one time thing, actually) woke up and told my mom that “I won’t talk to anyone today.” – and I did. 20 years later, I passed a final exam with the best grades in the written part, and only good grades in the oral part. Why? I still wonder. But the professor claimed that “You are good, so why don’t you just speak your mind? The oral exam is about… talking.” 4 years later, SVEB course: let’s do group work. Yey. On Thursdays from 6 to 10 pm, it was silence time, meaning: I barely spoke for the entire 6-month course.

In order to learn how to speak a language, you need to speak. Well, my brain works best in silence, I really need to think twice (three, four times) before I share my thoughts or say something, or I won’t be happy with what comes out of my mouth (I am not happy anyway, but… I would like to limit the damage). I hate to be misunderstood (my opinion is often unpopular by the way,, so I know I will probably need to engage in a long, exhausting discussion leading to… not much except frustration). I absolutely dislike small talk and “round table” meetings, group brainstorming and role plays. My brains just black out. And hours later, I find myself writing down ideas, furiously (please note the chomskyan quote), regretting that I wasn’t even able to have them at the “right time”. Or didn’t want to share them: “If I only had said that…” (my favourite silent line at school when I wouldn’t say a word, even though I knew the answer, and someone else eventually got it… after four, five, six “whatever”-attempts).

And this happens… in my mother tongue. So, when it comes to learning a foreign language, I should be hopeless: I need to overcome my speaking-related issues in a language that I haven’t mastered… in order to learn how to speak that language. So, I’m doomed. Introverts – just to give myself and people like me a label – we are doomed.

… THE END…

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