How Marriage Has Become an Unexpected Roadblock to Language Learning
I have tried to let it go, to move on and brush it off. The offense I feel is uncomfortable, like when you feel itchy after hearing someone has lice- not rational, but present. Because it is now unbearable, I will bear my soul.
The grave offense that I take so personally is the notion that because I am married, I cannot learn.
I have been using a popular app called HelloTalk for about a year now in my language learning endeavors. This platform lets you converse with native speakers and has built in helpful features like translation tools, sentence and grammar correcting etc.
For the most part, it has been an incredible experience. Meeting native speakers that are willing to do a language exchange, share voice clips, pictures, and have genuine conversations. It has increased my second language abilities faster than any brick and mortar class ever did. And it’s FREE!
Not all is butterflies and rainbows though. There is a common language learning hindrance for me on HelloTalk that at first didn’t bother me. In my experience of learning Korean the pattern is this, only males reach out to start a conversation with me. I have yet to have a female make first contact. Once I make contact with them, things are great, but they never initiate. I can live with that. It is making me a bolder person initiating conversation in Korean myself.
This next part may offend my male readers, bear with me. In all honestly, I prefer to seek out female language exchange partners for the following reasons:
1. Many of the males who reach out to me are interested in a relationship
2. Once they find out I am married, one of two things happens
-They drop the conversation
-They ask intimate details about my sex life
I can overlook this. After all, I don’t have to talk to them. Truly, I want to learn Korean for personal reasons. It doesn’t matter to me what gender you are, what matters is how much practice and new vocabulary I can digest from a real conversation with you.
Then came the straw that broke my language learning camel’s back. I was responding to a chat from a male who started asking about my gym going habits (I am an avid weightlifter). I thought to myself, “FANTASTIC, I can finally learn some phrases and words for working out and gym related topics.”
The conversation went something like this:
Chatter- “How often do you gym work?”
Me (In Korean)- 4-5 times a week.
Chatter- “I like women strong!”
Me (feeling a little awkward, but it could be a language thing)- “Yes, I like to try to build strength”
Chatter- “I like you strong…”
Me (now sure it is not a language thing)- “My husband likes me strong too, lol”
Chatter- “You are married?”
Me- “Yes, for 5 years. How about you?”
Chatter- “I have personal policy not talk to married people.”
I was stunned. Then my stunned silence turned to PISSED off. One part of me can realize the intent behind his words. Perhaps he didn’t want to put himself in a tight spot or be tempted? On the other hand, why does the fact that I am married bar me from so many conversations? Although this chatter was the most blunt with his explanation, he is definitely not the first one to shut my learning down after revealing my truly beloved.
It reminded me of a video I watched on the topic of male and female friendship in Korea:
This video took on a whole new meaning for me in the context of language learning.
I feel better now that I have worked through the issue. This situation is still going to progress on HelloTalk and in life for me. However, there are many great male and female language exchange partners out there. You just got to sort through who is a pervert or jerk first, regardless of gender.
I think it depends on what kind of person you are and what your intentions are. In order for HelloTalk to be a successful language learning tool, you must be able chat with the opposite sex in a professional manner, like someone who is genuinely interested in learning and improving.