Have you ever dreamed in your target language?

Do you dream in your target language? In my latest blog I write about a mysterious dream I had in Mandarin a while ago and explore the relationship between language learning and dreaming. Let me know your experiences! Learning Chinese While Dreaming – I'm Learning Mandarin


Yes, but every time it was different. In one of my dreams in German, I was hosted by an Israeli family in Tel Aviv. I sat on the floor. I discussed the differences between Dubai and Tel Aviv with a wife of an Israeli man.Dubai was more developed than Tel aviv. In the end, the husband of the lady gave me a thumbs up for my German. It was amazing for my subconscious mind to cook up the faces of that husband and wife.
In the same dream, I needed to catch a bus from a bus stop to someplace in Tel Aviv and there was this lady passenger waiting for the bus. She refused to speak in German because she told me “point blank” that I had weak grammar in German so she would rather speak in English.
Then I woke up. I do not know if there is some hidden message our subconscious mind is trying to tell through dreams. Anyways, these days I am doing Sentence Mining in Anki and carefully analyzing grammar structures.

I don’t know Chinese but I often dream in German and sometimes in English. And after my several long stayings in Germany it was for me a bit difficult to remember some Russian words because my tongue gives at first their German equivalents and after that I have to translate them into Russian.
But of course, you won’t dream in our target language during your first month of studying. It’s a quite long way to reach it. For starting, I recommend after reading or listening to some podcasts in your target language just to try retelling them, maybe like a gist.

A very interesting topic and certainly something for further research. It would seem that a word learned sub-consciously just emerged in your dream? And that must relate to the phenomenon of words moving from short-term to long-term memory? There is certainly plenty of research over the last century suggesting that sleep hugely benefits the retention of memory.
There would seem to be three sub-processes for memory: initial encoding, consolidation and then retrieval. During encoding a newly encountered memory trace the brain seems very susceptible to “decay”, which means we forget very easily! Adequate sleep then seems critical for the further processing through consolidating memory into long-term store, and then further optimalisation through retrieval by usage.
Sleep deprivation and sleep disruption can certainly produce the opposite effect, as has been observed in students “pulling all nighters” with caffeine-based stimulants in an effort at last minute revision for exams… ask them a week later about vital information and the “slate” has been “wiped clean”.
in 1885 the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus published a series of studies about his own “forgetting curve” for lists of “nonsense-word pairs” (which probably relates to most language learners when approaching a new language!), so that forgetting occurs very rapidly in the first hours after learning but then levels out after several days - the basis of the “spaced repetition system”. He noticed that forgetting is reduced when sleep occurred in the retention period. Building on this work, another German psychologist, Rosa Heine, showed that learning in the evening before sleep resulted in less forgetting than learning earlier in the day when that was followed by a period of wakefulness engaged in other pursuits. So does this suggest the importance of a few minutes every evening having a calm revision of new words encountered earlier in the day - “LingQs of the Day”?
Thanks for raising an infinitely fascinating topic…
My personal response to your question is that I certainly do dream in the target language, often, but this is usually in the nature of a nightmare! The sort where you are “out of control”, “tongue-tied” in front of an audience, frantically trying to retrieve an appropriate word or phrase… But on waking, and sometimes after an interval, the exact “forgotten” word or phrase will just suddenly “pop up”.


There’s a recent very involved thread here about dreaming in L2. You may have seen it. I found it interesting but didn’t want to get involved. Here I’ll just say that, yes, I’m quite fluent in Russian in my dreams. Just goes to show it’s a fantasy world.


Yes, a few times with just a little Italian in it. It always excites me when I do.

I did have a dream where I had to speak French to some people. I am pretty sure I did say some actual French words in the dream and some real sentences with actual meaning, but since I can´t remember the words or the context of the conversation, I can´t be 100% sure. The thing is that in dreams, you sometimes think something that makes no sense, does. You might say “yada bada hada dada” and in your dream still be convinced that is perfect Chinese/Russian/French… etc. There may even be Chinese/Russian/French… etc. people in the dream who completely understand that ‘sentence’ and continue the conversation with you without any problems, even if you know zero words in that language.

Yes, there were several times. In most of the cases it happens when I’m learning a lot during the day and my mind doesn’t turn off when I’ve already fallen asleep. Especially I don’t like when those are nightmares. They are so scary lol. One of such nightmares was when I was working on my essay during the whole week and when it was time to pass it, I had a dream that I failed it. Fortunately, it was just a dream. My essay was ok, particularly cause I checked it with the help of Proofread My Essay Online Service By Expert Editors. So I quickly came to my senses, but still was nervous till I finally got my feedback.

I’ve had a few dreams where I speak French, and just as in real life I sometimes pause and struggle to find a word. Meanwhile, person I’m speaking to in my dream has just asked me a question in a very fluid style of French. Of course, that person in the dream is a creation of my own mind as well, which makes the discrepancy so weird.

It could be due to either 1, 2 or 3

  1. It´s not real correct sentences they are speaking, but your mind is telling you they are. If you can remember what they said exactly and it made sense, then obviously that can´t have been the case
  2. Because you´ve read / listened to a bunch of French you know a lot of sentences and phrases in French that the ppl in the dreams happen to say to you
  3. Your expectation in your dream is that you would struggle to speak, so it happens in the dream
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I often have such dreams, especially after reading books in the language I’m studying!

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Interesting. Yes and No.
Yes I have dreamed in Spanish maybe a couple years after I got fluent. Happens sometimes still.
No I have not dreamed in French. Maybe I’m not that fluent? I know I’m way less fluent in French than in Spanish.
No I have not dreamed in Russian that I know of.
What has happened is I wake up to go to the bathroom and I find that my subconcious brain has been repeating the words I have been drilling in Russian. That’s happened a couple times now.

But no, I haven’t dreamed in Russian yet. But then I know I’m nowhere near fluent yet.

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Wild about your L2 suppressing your L1.
That has happened to me a couple times. I find it is about 3,000 words or somewhere between A2 and B1 in terms of vocabulary.
I have literally gotten stuck in meetings trying to say something that should be simple and my mind just seizes up.
Also I remember spitting out a Spanish word occasionally here and there in place of an English word. That’s happening to me right now in Russian in conversation. I try to say interesnie but I say interesante instead without thinking. LOL.