Female Polyglots and Language Learning on International Women's Day

It’s a good exercise for you to distribute the “Russian Word of the Day” on Twitter, this helps to build up your vocabulary.


Yes, I also understand Spanish much better than I can speak it. It sounds like maybe you and I are at a similar level in that language, Fasulye.

The Russian word of the day is really helpful, but I find I only really remember the word if I’ve actually spent some time with the language that day and come across the word in an authentic context. It doesn’t do much for me to just find a random example sentence in a dictionary and post it! So really, posting the word of the day helps motivate me to put actual quality time into learning Russian.

“Today is “International Women’s Day”, so Susanna wrote a guest post on Fi3M and shared a video talking to other female polyglots about encouraging more women to learn and be open about learning languages.”

I didn’t know benny lewis was going to use your conversation… was it susanna’s idea?

It is not Susanna’s first post in Fi3M. That site has a lot of guest posts. I don’t see any problem.

I think Jana made a great point in the podcast. Today a lot of young girls focus on physical appearance and lack interest in pursuing intellectual stuff like picking up languages.

Most boys here are taught to care only about how well they play sport and intellectual interests are shunned too. I see no gender equality in this regard; this is a general attitude in this society. Most people just don’t care about language learning. Once out of school, I’ve met people who have never held a book in their own language. These people are eligible to vote.

Why are there less women learning languages? Well, it’s quite the mystery to me. In western nations, I don’t believe there’s a whole lot of ‘male oppression’ and such which is preventing women from language learning. I’ve actually recently just encouraged my wife to finally start learning Portuguese which she had put off for so long.

Something which I do believe, is that traditional learning is somewhat to blame here. “No (suitable) time for a class? No 400 dollars for Rosetta Stone?. What to do? Bigger problems to be taken care of for now… a couple of kids, 20 years later and/or a career…”

Yes, I should clarify that Susanna had previous contact with Benny Lewis, they made a video together which can also be found on Benny’s website. I checked that. The article on Benny’s blog with our video posted there is written by Susanna Zaraysky on her initiative. It’s stated “written by Benny Lewis” under the article but Susanna clarified on Twitter that really she is the author of that article. And I have to accept her choice that she wants to promote our video on Benny’s blog. I personally stay away from any activities involved with Benny Lewis and don’t give comments about his missions. But of course I have read Susanna’s article and read her discussion about our video on Benny’s blog.


Speaking in the video I don’t state that fewer women than men learn foreign languages.My personal life experience is doing lots of language classes and there almost every time was a vast majority of women in my classes, 90 % of the participants. But we had a discussion on the HTLAL - forum saying that it’s rare that female polyglots have children, because language learning can be a very time consuming hobby, especially when lots of languages are involved. I agree with the fact that Rosetta Stone material is extremely expensive, but they are now advertising their language software in Germany as well.


Jes, Janalisa, I asume that we both have a similar level of Spanish. So it’s good that we practise our Spanish together on Twitter.instead of writing in English. :slight_smile: I use Spanish in my polyglot Skypings and I don’t have problems to communicate there. So yes, I can switch talking in French, Esperanto, Spanish, Dutch… on Skype it really works!


I am getting the sense from your podcast that, while all 3 of you want to promote language learning to women, unlike Susanna, Fasulye and Jana don’t see any significant inequality for women learning languages as compared to men.

I personally think that women are naturally better language learners than men. I think men are the ones who seem to have disadvantages.

It’s a fact that women hesitate to show their language skills publicly on the internet. I have had contact with other female polyglots (beside these two in the video) and they say don’t want to be present on You Tube. So there are more female polyglots but they remain partly unknown and nobody sees them. If they want to function as role-models they should be more present.


I am not sure that more people and specifically more women with multi language skills would make the world such a better place. I feel we tend to learn languages for our own enjoyment primarily, as a hobby. I also don’t find that language skills beyond English are such a big competitive advantage on the labor market. That is not to say that there is not a lot of enjoyment in learning languages. To each his or her own, some collect stamps, some are into photography and some into learning languages.

@ Rank:

How come you write so well in German? I find your German almost flawless, how did you do it?

Well, that’s a very nice compliment, Friedemann. But your English is also near native-level, so maybe we share the same secret?

(Of course, I was only kidding about Luca being ein russischer Spion! :-D)

Friedman, you said: “I also don’t find that language skills beyond English are such a big competitive advantage on the labor market.”

I will have to disagree on this when it comes to native English speakers. We start off with the ‘world language’ and from there it’s rather beneficial to speak other languages if one is working outside of their own country. Of course, regardless of which language is your native one, if your company is in a certain area, many languages could be useful.

Ranks said: “(Of course, I was only kidding about Luca being ein russischer Spion! :-D)”

Really? Now that wasn’t nice… So what is he really doing for a living?

Luca lives in Paris (France) where he teaches languages and attends an interpreting school to become a professional interpreter. He has a university diploma as an engineer.


Yeah, as Fasulye says, I believe he’s a qualified electrical engineer.

(Also vielleicht doch ein Microchip-Implantat im Gehirn…? :-D)

This is Luca’s Blog: http://thepolyglotdream.com/about/

On this blog he writes that for his education as an interpreter he has chosen four languages:

Italian, English, French and German.


I wonder whether Luca would have chosen German if the financial crash hadn’t happened?

I hear that, over the last year or so, there has been a real surge of people in Italy and Spain who want to learn German. (The word on the street in those places seems to be: Germany is where the money is now!)

I have never heard that the European financial crisis makes the German language so attractive. They don’t tell this on the news in Germany.