Top 10 Things You Should Never Say To A Language Learner

Through the ups and downs of adding a whole new language to your vocabulary, there are certain comments that you will come across time and time again. And we don’t like it. The truth is, unless you’re learning a new language yourself, you just don’t get it!


10. How long does it take to learn a language?

This is often followed by, ‘…like, a year..?’ or some other ridiculous figure. It’s not like driving a car; there is no end to your learning!

9. Say something in [X language] !

No. My mind is as blank as it has ever been. Can’t construct a single appropriate phrase. Stop asking me to perform.

8. Are you fluent yet?

Look buddy, don’t make it sound like an ultimatum. The truth is, I may never be fluent, and besides, the idea of ‘fluency’ is subjective.

7. You’re so lucky; I’m terrible at languages!

You think this is LUCK? I worked really hard to reach this point!

6. You speak [foreign language]? Oh let me introduce you to my [foreign] friend!

Just because I speak their language does NOT mean I have anything in common with them, and you’re just leaving me to awkwardly strike up a conversation with no pretext. Thanks.

5. *Friend hears complicated phrase in [language]* *Taps you on shoulder* “What did they just say?”

I wish it were that simple. I wasn’t even slightly concentrating, and if I were, stop expecting me to know everything about the language, it’s too much pressure.

4. Polyglots are always teachers or translators

Please. Every industry needs languages at some level. The sky’s the limit.

3. Well anyway, only machines will translate in future

Have you ever tried translating with a machine? And how did that go for you? Thought so.

2. The only language you need is English

Whether it’s your first or second language, English is useful. But it is not the be-all and end-all. Learning a new language is about more than just ‘getting by’!

  1. What’s even the point in learning a new language?

You never need to ask this. There is always more to learn, more ways to grow, new cultures to experience and understand. Life + more languages = improved.


Are you learning a new language? What comments have you received from friends and family that have frustrated you?

Just make sure you keep learning! Languages make the world go round 🌍

If you’d like to practise your language or immerse yourself in a foreign culture, find a job abroad with Europe Language Jobs and prove to everyone the value of your international skills!

Originally published at on June 23, 2016.

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