Wednesday, August 3, 2011

More Observations About Learning a Foreign Language

I talked here about several travails related to foreign language learning, and right now I have just one more but it's kind of a major one, so get ready. Why oh why, in every language class on the face of the Planet Earth, do they make you talk about your hobbies? I mean, hobbies? Do adults actually have hobbies? When asked about my hobbies, which has only ever happened in language classes (although I believe it is also common in online dating, hence why I'm not the biggest fan of that; see here), I usually say cooking because I feel like I can't say sleeping, eating, or sitting around doing nothing, which are the things I actually enjoy doing most in my spare time. (That's what a hobby is, right?). Is surfing the Internet like my life depends on it a hobby? Although to be honest I'm not really sure I enjoy that, it's more like I'm addicted to it and actually kind of wish I could stop.

So the other day I got asked about my hobbies and for the first time I decided to say "blogging," because I think that is probably the most truly legitimate hobby I have. But then everybody looked at me all like "you have to say something more wholesome than that, like jogging or something," even though the fact that someone says he likes jogging doesn't tell me anything about him except that he is a liar, because nobody likes jogging. Not that blogging is probably any better at telling you anything, although I suppose you may eventually reach the conclusion that I have no-one to talk to you'd better not be the one sucker to bother with me.

Anyway, what I kind of realized from all of this, which is what I'm sure you've been wondering, is that there is a serious overemphasis in society in general of things that are utterly superficial. Things people like to do, movies they like, food they like, and all this kind of thing are the most inconsequential pieces of information you could possibly hear about anyone. So I'm thinking that if you want to ask questions that require only a few words of vocabulary, how about "what do you value?" or "what sort of person could you love?" Or how about "what makes you happy, what makes you sad?"


  1. OMG SO TRUE. The hobby question is stressful and silly.

    I like "would you rather" questions. Eg, "Would you spend the rest of your life in outer space or in the middle of the ocean? Would you rather be a twin or have 16 siblings? Would you rather be a cat or yourself?"

  2. Ha, I thought I was the only one who gets super-stressed when asked about hobbies or interests! Amen to this post :)

  3. I had this interview a week back, where the three gentlemen were asking me about my life, it was weird, real weird to say, "I think I don't have a hobby. It depends on what I want to do, and when, or why, or may be the circumstances." Too bad, they thought I was bluffing them, or being diplomatic. Screwed bad. But, then again, back to ground zero, how is "a hobby" genuinely defined, really?

  4. I don't know what people are really trying to find out when they ask about it - I guess in a job interview they want to make sure you're a wholesome person who's into shit like jogging and playing the piano (maybe). But I would define it as something you ask about when you feel uncomfortable talking to someone, because it's the kind of thing that's easy to ask but doesn't tell you anything meaningful about the person.

  5. "the fact that someone says he likes jogging doesn't tell me anything about him except that he is a liar, because nobody likes jogging"

    not the only possible conclusion, they may also be insane.