10 Things You Should Never Say To A Language Learner

Top 10 Things You Should Never Say To A Language Learner

All posts, Funny, Languages

Language learning is not always easy…

Through the ups and downs of being a language learner, 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!

Here is a countdown of some of the most frustrating examples:

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!

How long does it take to learn a language?

9. Say something in [X language] !

No. My mind is as blank as it has ever been. How do I choose what to say?

Say something in [X language] !

8. Are you fluent yet?

Look buddy, I don’t think you get it. The truth is, I may never be fluent, and besides, the idea of ‘fluency’ is subjective.

Are you fluent yet?

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

This was not luck, my friend. I worked really hard to reach this point! And so can you! Learning languages should be for everyone.

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

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

Ahhh!! I was not coming here thinking I’d be put on the spot like this. Don’t get me wrong, practice is great – but with a surprise like this all my vocab has gone out the window.

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

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. Also, because I’m learning a language, doesn’t mean I’ll understand everything someone said.

"What did they just say?"

4. Polyglots are always teachers or translators

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

Polyglots are always teachers or translators

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.

Well anyway, only machines will translate in future

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. Language learning is about more than just ‘getting by’!

The only language you need is English

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.

What's even the point in learning a new language?


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 are the key to success, after all, they make the world go round!

11 comments

  • Great list! #9 happens to me a lot, but it’s a great way to practice saying something in the language you’re learning! I’d add a #9b: How do you say {random thing} in (target language, like Chinese)?

  • I’ve had the “Why on earth do you want to learn russian? You should learn something more useful!”
    AS a colombian I don’treally havea reason to learn russian other than love for it and it drives me insane sometimes!

    • Wow…because of their culture, history, art, and literature for example. I wish I would have learned it. But seeing more consonants than vowels scared me. Already know 5 languages

  • The worst thing I have heard is from the parent of one of my pupils saying, “I’ve never learnt French and it has never done me any harm”, this narrow minded attitude has sadly been confirmed with the Brexit.

    • Parents, at times can discourage Teachers. I had a parent who was from Spain and during Parent/Teacher night, entered my classroom and when her son introduced me, said “That’s your Spanish Teacher?” She meant to offend me. At times students’ behavior is due to their parents rudeness. Thank goodness is just so small percentage like this.

  • Absolutely annoying remarks to state the least. There are others just as bad. I know Spanish, French (have grad studies in both), also, Italian, and some Portuguese. I am always asked why I know Spanish and French. If I speak the latter, people immediately say I am Haitian. Not too much of a problem to be from there, just can’t understand why people need to figure out where I am from, instead of accepting I am an educated person who went to college. I am a native Spanish speaker, yet, some Latinos are also shocked I know this language. And others have the audacity to say I am able to know many languages, because they are all the same… ;-(

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