Why are you learning languages?

aronald us United States

Just out of curiosity and to liven up this forum...

I’ll kick it off.

Russian. I started learning Russian a couple years ago because of a huge impression made on me by Soviet pianists (and composers), and learning the language was sort of my way of giving back. I initially thought I just wanted to reach a solid conversational level to understand interviews but since joining LingQ a year ago I‘ve made up my mind to go for the full native college graduate reading level. It’s been a good year, but I still have a long long way to go, and lots of fun ahead of me.

Spanish. Living in the US and having taken Spanish in high school (although learning very little), it was an obvious choice to “finish it off”. I thought I would wait until I had gotten Russian to an advanced level, but actually pursuing Spanish now was a nice change of pace and something I could do for lighter reading given that I already had a decent base from which to start.

French. Well why not? Knowing English and reaching a comfortable level in Spanish, French seemed like a good idea (and it has been). I’m pleasantly surprised how many words look like something I‘m familiar with in English or Spanish. I was just in Paris a couple weeks ago and getting the French train rolling before the trip seemed like no better timing.

General thoughts. As of now, I’d like to focus on these three languages and get them all to C1-C2 level. At some point I’ll completely change gears and dive headfirst into Mandarin/Arabic while continuing to keep reading in the other languages. Maybe I’ll throw in German or something on the side. I spent the first year studying Russian doing flashcards and grammar lessons, which were very helpful, but reading earlier would have made a big difference. I wish I would have discovered LingQ two years ago.

December 06 at 21:12
  • scgrant176 us United States

    I'm learning Portuguese because I was tutoring a Brazilian student in English and wanted to better understand her struggles. Although it seems like English is a lot harder than Portuguese because so much of English is phrases where the literal definition of the words don't add up to the meaning of the sentence.

    December 06 at 22:13
  • kylemw1 sg Singapore

    This is amazing!

    I learnt Chinese because most of the people in my country speak Chinese even though everyone speaks English also. It was mostly to understand and speak to people in my home country and be competitive if I decide to migrate to Hong Kong or Taiwan. It's also an official UN language.

    I learnt Russian during an exchange trip to Siberia (brrrr) and was so enamoured by the culture and the people there. Probably don't want to gain work competency but I want to actually at some point interact with the activist community in Russia for LGBT advocacy purposes. It's an official UN language too.

    I learnt Spanish because of a really shallow reason -- I was dating someone at that time who was a fluent Spanish speaker and wanted to learn how to converse in Spanish at that time. Official UN language as well! (Do you see a trend here...)

    The UN part was more of an internal goal with me and my friends but we saw it as an opportunity to gain a competitive edge if we decide to enter the public policy sector.

    I learnt Korean because of a slightly different reason: I was a big K-Pop and K-Drama fan and wanted to understand what they were trying to say. Learning Korean is purely for fun at this point.

    December 07 at 03:42
  • Swedishfinngermanophile fi Finland

    In general, the reason why I stared to learn languages in the first place was because my parents had drummed in to me that learning languages is good. It also helped that I belong to the Swedish speaking minority, so it has been very important for me to learn to speak two languages really well from the beginning.

    At the beginning I did had a dream of learning UN:s six official languages to at least a B1 level and maybe a few other languages.

    English

    Quite obvious

    Swedish

    Why am I “learning” my native tongue? Well, our Swedish is quite different from that of Sweden’s. Some say since Swedish was brought to Finland by settlers and lived sort of in a vacuum. The basis for the Swedish-Finn varitety is like Old-Swedish but with lots of Finnish influences.

    Code switching (like Spanglish) is also very common between Swedish and Finnish. Which means that I don’t know a lot of words in proper Swedish or they sound and feel very foreign to me. Which is why I have started to read Swedish news magazines and old books (Sherlock Holmes, etc.) in Swedish.

    P.S

    I am also interested in the linguistic development of Scandinavian languages, hence I read SH books.

    Spanish

    I started learning Spanish since I wanted to move to Spain (Barcelona) at some point. At that point, my love for Spanish (language) culture was down to football, but later on I started to watch a show called Cuentame (como pasó).

    Which is a program that starts in the late 60’s Spain and as of today is set in the mid 80’s. The show did jump the shark at around the season 13 or something like that though.

    Still having been studying Spanish for almost a decade, I guess I continue to study it (more on that in Italian part) because I have been at it for so long and I still like some parts of Spanish culture.

    French

    I have had a fascination for French (culture) for quite a while. When I started learning it, it was mostly because of prestige and “6 language of plan”. Still I do like the fact that because I have studied French, I am able to read around the world in 80 days and The count of Monte Cristo (theoretically).

    Around the world was one of my favourite book growing up and even if it took until my early twenties that I would read The count of Monte Cristo, I did know the basic premise of the book and liked it.

    German

    I learn German mostly for traveling. It is a language that I did not really have any real specific reason to learn when I started. I did not have an inspiring teacher or anything like that. For me it is a prestige language and related to my native tongue, so yeah why not.

    Since then I have started travel and would like to cities in Germany and Austria, so German would come in handy. Also, I am a huge fan of spy novels especially Bond and Bond does speak French and German in Flemings books.

    Italian

    I have said in every segment of this so far that I am fascinated with the culture blablabla, but with Austria and northern Italy, I think it is true. Most of my fascination for Spanish and French stems from a time when I was quite young.

    Italian used to be a language that was cool there was no real harm in learning it but French with it being the Lingua Franca at one point of the civilised world and Spain having a wide array of countries where it is spoken.

    I would like to travel to northern Italy more and more, I like Italian cuisine and as I think it is, somewhat undervalued, these are some of the reasons why I have decided to add Italian to my repertoire.

    Future languages???

    I did bought from Amazon a Teach Yourself Catalan and considering that there is a surprisingly lot of Catalan content and learning material online I might give it a go.

    Dutch is something I would like to learn at some point. Since I am interested in colonial history Dutch would be an interesting language. Since it is the mother language of Afrikaans and there are a few authors that have written books that are set in colonial times in Indonesia.

    The there is Norwegian, Danish and Icelandic. I already mention my fascination for Scandinavian language development. Denmark is a great travel destination for me. Icelandic is still “a bridge to far”.

    December 07 at 06:19
    • gurkenwerfer us United States

      Such a nice post to read! I've seen the "UN Languages" thing a couple of times today. It wasn't something I'd ever really thought about before, but it's really interesting.

      The part about "learning Swedish" stood out especially. As a native speaker of English, when I get the chance to spend some time with Shakespeare's works, I certainly feel that I'm learning English.

      Highly motivating. Viel Spaß beim Lernen!

      December 07 at 20:46
  • alexini se Sweden

    Im learning Spanish simply because I like to learn languages. I tried with Polish first but the content on lingQ is quite limited and I am really really lazy in the way I just wanna sit on lingQ and let it feed me content. I might return to Polish in the future and get some of piotrs material imported..

    December 07 at 07:10
  • Makacenko cz Czech Republic

    I like learning Russian because I am interested in Навальный, Ходорковский, Кадыров, Путин etc. Another reason is that I am "Slav" (Czech) so learning Russian is quite easy for me.

    December 07 at 09:49
    • khardy us United States

      Я не был знаком с персонажем Ходорковским. Я осмотрел его канал на YT. Кажется интересным и вдумчивым. Спасибо.

      December 07 at 16:48
  • kolpack bm Bermuda

    i grew up around three languages french spanish and dutch in some way through the media, school and immersion ,

    spanish is the one that i know the best because it 's the most dominant language after english in the western hemisphere you just can't help but come across it and i have lived and worked in spanish countries but i really have never had a passion for it maybe i'm weird lol

    french is a language i studied in school and i regret that i never took it seriously until now

    not much to say about dutch spent two years in aruba until i was 12 i went to dutch school but after that i left the country never spoke or wrote anything in dutch after that

    i did some portuguese for a year because i had a friend in brazil but the lack of materials that interest me compared to other languages on linqg made me put a pause on it for now

    i would like to study arabic or farsii

    December 07 at 16:14
  • khardy us United States

    For intellectual stimulation as a hobby. I started Russian long, long ago in high school. A few years ago, after discovering Lingq, I decided to finish what I had started. Though, of course, I'll never finish.

    December 07 at 17:29
  • marygrayway it Italy

    I have always been interested in Russia's geography, culture and literature, but I think everything started when I discovered Kino's music and, without understanding a word of their songs, loved it. I've been listening to them (and to other Russian groups/musicians) for a few years now, but it is only a couple of months ago that I decided to start taking Russian classes online. I've been trying to study this language on my own for a long time, but eventually realized that it would have probably been better for me to find a teacher who could guide and motivate me. And I think I've made the right decision, since I noticed that, for the first time, I actually made some progress.

    Then, after making some consistent progress in Russian, I wouldn't mind to improve my English and to start speaking French and Spanish again. I've studied these languages in high school, but, except for what concerns English, I haven't really had any motivation to practice them. It would be said if I completely forgot these languages, so I think that, when I can, I will try to improve them as well.

    December 07 at 18:19
  • fekman gr Greece

    I lived all over latin america for five years, so I taught myself Spanish to a fluent level. Now I live in Ukraine, so I study Russian. Russian is NOT Spanish. My opinion, it is 5X more difficult. And it gets harder the more you learn, not easier. If you dont live in a Russian speaking country, your level is probably 50% of what yoou thhink it is. Whhen you hit the streets of Russia or Ukraine, you will feel lost, even with years under your belt.

    .

    Im exposed to Russian all day, study 2-3 hours everyday for 20 months and feel like my level was in Spanish after 4 months. I have no passion for language learning and blows me away when people would do this as a hobby, with no real need. Russian WILL crush your soul. Hear me now, believe me later.

    Monday at 22:45
    • alexini se Sweden

      I know that feeling with polish hahaha

      Tuesday at 21:38
  • Tomroynon gb United Kingdom

    I learned Mandarin Chinese in university because of my interest in the Far East, it was not until I started learning it properly at uni that I really appreciated the rich culture of China, especially throughout the dynasties.

    I am learning Italian because I am half Italian and it is part of my heritage, it is who I am and I feel more complete when my Italian level is improving. - This is the same with learning Welsh :)

    There are other languages that I will learn simply because I am a lover of language and culture, I explore and am working on my online business so I can have more freedom to pursue these passions of mine :)

    Wednesday at 09:41