I think Ive identified the core reason I failed at every language I tried to learn-- I dont want to learn them. Its as simple as that.
The pattern is always the same. In a huge rush I learn enough for survival: numbers, basic expressions, how to direct a taxi, etc. Then all progress stops. Yes Im lazy, but it goes farther than that.
In fact, I enjoy not understanding. I dont want to understand.
Incomprehension is so much more rewarding. I gain tremendous mental peace. I can sit in a coffee shop surrounded by chattering people and it doesnt disturb me. I only hear the sounds and vibrations. No thoughts intrude. No distractions.
Its the same with advertisements. I see the pictures but I cant read the words. People are barraged every day by a battery of marketing... but much of it escapes me. I cant read the signs, I dont understand the words or the jingles. Its just melodic noise to me.
Thus I gain tremendous mental space. I can immerse myself in thought & perception without distraction.
When I encounter loud, English-speaking tourists I realize how important this is. I find it impossible to tune out their conversations. They distract me. They irritate me. Often I must get up and leave.
Much of day to day conversation is banal, gossipy, and distracting. By missing it, I gain more than I lose.