Regret concerning choosing to pursue French

I really regret learning French, I feel like I should have put my time towards German instead. I often feel myself coming back to French frequently because I have already spent so much time trying to learn it, and I have made so much progress. But my real desire is German.
Does anyone else feel themselves in a similar situation?


I have been in your situation with Spanish. I started learning Spanish 10 years ago, largely because I had a pipedream of moving to Barcelona, since I was still into football at the time and a huge Barca fan. There are other reasons why I studied Spanish, so are situations are not exactly equal but there are still some lessons to be learned. Also, I am a grammar nerd while most people have a distaste for grammar so that might slightly affect perception of my post.

The reason I feel that I have “pursued” the wrong language is that I enjoy Italian and French far more in terms of traveling food, the general components of the language. I was somewhat pissed off at myself for disregarding Italian for so long but once I read two books that I read before I got to the point that I feel it will be more of time spent interacting with the language.

I have also noticed that I have become almost stealthy more aware of grammar points that I once thought I would never learn. I have mentioned German cases and romance subjunctive before but in the last couple of weeks I have made another breakthrough similarly to those aforementioned. Stuff like adverbs, conjunctions and prepositional/adverbial phrases (the finer details) are stuff that feel beyond comprehension to me, now I feel that I can overcome them with time.

I’d like to stress that what I am getting at is that the stuff about finer details are stuff that I have not really studied deliberately. I believe that I am at a period where my brain has sorted through a large amount of grammar details, patterns from reading, etc. it has been encoded into my brain.

So, in conclusion while studying French instead of German, once you get through the first months of learning the basics and frustrations you will make bigger headways that what you would have if you had started out with German.

German and French grammar are obviously different but you can also take consolence in the fact that they are not that wide apart as say German and Chinese. I feel that verb tenses do carry over from language to language, knowing stuff like imperfect, perfect and subjunctive (not used as much in German) do help a lot.

There are probably more of these sort of stuff but I am to tired and not familiar enough with German grammar to point them right now.


I don’t understand that regret. If you like German, go study German. Today! and without looking back. Where’s the regret? The time you spent learning French is still worthwhile: you found out you preferred German, you got used to learning languages, you have a good basis in grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary that will transfer to languages such as German. And you can still communicate in French to some degree if the need arises or go back to it once you master German. Absolutely nothing has been lost and a lot has been won.
I think that you don’t regret “choosing” French. You regret keeping on studying it now out of simple obligation. Just let it go! You have nothing to prove to anyone and you don’t need to show what you’ve got to show for your efforts. I’d bet that most people interested in languages have invested (not wasted) time in languages that they eventually abandoned without attaining a good level and, as a consequence, then forgotten. For me, Chinese and Persian are examples of that. I don’t regret having pursuing them, even if I didn’t follow through and they’re vague memories at this point. I know about characters and Persian poetry and a lot of other things and I appreciate those cultures much better.
One thing I like about Steve is that he’s able to pursue a language for some time and then leave it if a new interest arises without feeling that he wasted his time, even if he finds that he can’t communicate in the language he’d been studying. I advise you to watch one of his last videos about what you can expect in three months.

I wasted uncountable amount of hours and effort on Chinese. My learning methods were inefficient and the language itself is tough. I lost that race.
My regret was that if only I spent all that time on a European language, I’d be on the advanced level now.
I’m better equipped this time, LingQ is my silver bullet. Once I reach an operational level in German - I’ll face Putonghua one more time!


Let me elaborate on this because I think it’s an important and frequent issue
What I think happens is a variant of a well-known phenomenon in behavioral economics. Participants are asked these questions:

  1. Let’s say you have purchased a ticket for a show. You paid 25$. When you get to the show you find out you’ve lost your ticket. Would you buy a new ticket? Most people would say “no”.
  2. Same scenario but you don’t lose the ticket. Instead, you find out your car is broken. Would you call a taxi? The ride costs 25$. Many more people say “yes”

Notice that the money’s the same. Why is there a difference? We seem to have mental “boxes” for our expenses. The “mental budget” for shows is over, so you would regret buying a new ticket, plus it’s “silly”, … but the budget for transportation is still there.
I think something similar happens with languages. If you had been pursuing other hobbies: say you’d been learning to ski or waltz for some time and then you discover that you love German, you’d begin learning German and not caring for the time you spent doing other things: that was before you discover German, right? T

I do understand your feelings but I’ think it is in your best interest to get over them as soon as possible. They’re a huge obstacle for your learning process in languages and many other fields.

The truth is that there’s no “language budget”, time is time. You’ve been doing other things in the past, sure! The alternative is to lie down like a vegetable. Now you’ve found a new goal that you really like, so you devote time to it and leave other things because time is limited. The only thing that matters is what you intend to do now and how long it’ll take you to get to your goal. You don’t have to choose between your past French and your present German, just as you don’t have to choose between the time you spent two years ago playing paddle and your current interest in collecting coins. All you have to choose is between reading some French today or some German.

I wish you a lot of success

sunk costs–I agree totally, but our intuition and impulses often lead us astray.

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