The negatives of Language learning

I have been learning Languages for a while now and I really feel like It has caused my speech to become more slow in my native language. Language learning has made me become more hyper aware of what im saying, and what words im using when I speak. Causing my speech to be slowed down (not all of the time, just some of the time) Does anyone else experience this? Speaking to someone in your native language and you can’t remember a word, but the word immediately comes to mind in another language.
Has learning another language hurt our first language?


I can’t really say if I have experienced what you describe but I believe that there are a few negative effects that might come with language learning. These are in my case quite minute and somewhat forced.

  1. It is a hobby that emerges you (for better or worse)

The worse part is that I often strongly feel that I must compromise. I would like to get good at cocking, nostalgically relive my youth by playing video games, learn about history, etc. Of course, some of these things can be merge with language learning, I have recently combined history and language learning by listening to a German and an Italian history podcasts.

  1. Sadness about not being great at specific languages

Recently, I have felt sad about the fact that it will take a significant time to get really good at Latin, Greek and Russian. I try to look at it from the point of view that, it’s not a live or death situation but since I love linguistics so much, I can’t help but to get obsessed with achieving near perfection.


You’re experience is interesting. I have never had a problem with other languages infringing on my native English (although I have yet to achieve a high level in a second language). In the past, I found my English speech and writing actually improved due to my increased attentiveness to word choice and grammar.

I suspect that your stumbling in speech may be due to unintended social conditioning from a lack of confidence in your target language. Perhaps you need to practice building confidence (both in your native and target languages) for smooth speech. I have never had the most smooth conversational speech in English, and I attribute this to a lack of intentional practice to “fix” this.

Honestly, I pause a lot in speech and care a lot about being precise. I don’t think this is necessarily a problem if I am able to get people to better understand me. In my opinion, carefully chosen words are much better than quick words that don’t convey what you’re really thinking.

For better or worse, you may find that practicing “debate” or “argument” style speaking will make your speaking faster and more automatic. Basically, practicing speaking in cases where you need to quickly respond with detailed arguments. This forces you to string together thoughts off the top of your head as quickly as possible. A drawback of this is that it might make you a worse listener if you become too focused on responding, instead of thinking carefully about what the other person is saying.

My own negative experiences with language learning are:

  1. It takes time that I could be spending on other things.

  2. For Ukrainian (like any less popular language), it can be hard to find people to talk to.

  3. Perfectionism and a desire for quick progress damages my enjoyment of the process and makes me set unrealistic goals.

  4. I can no longer claim ignorance about the cultures and parts of the world I study. So I have more responsibility to be respectful and think about the rights and values of people who live around the world.

  5. I realized my lack of understanding of certain parts of my native language.

  6. I learned that vocabulary building in any language (even my native language) is an endless treadmill. There is no end, and I learn and forget words every day.

  7. Even with LingQ’s statistics the intermediate level of language comprehension is an enormous chasm. Getting to 90%+ comprehension for news articles and other authentic content seems like an impossible task. For every hundred words I learn, another hundred new words appear. I can see my statistics improving, but this improvement manifests very slowly in terms of tangible results.


Yes, I’ve experienced both phenomena. I find my self parsing my English more carefully, especially in writing when there’s more time to think about it. And it’s very common, and frustrating, for me to search for the right English word only to find the right Russian word. For what it’s worth, I do challenging crossword puzzles (in English), and I don’t get distracted by Russian with that.


This is a problem me and my friends noticed as well. I guess the part of your brain that is most active at the moment becomes the fastest. So, if you intensively study a foreign language all day for a while that part of your brain probably becomes supercharged.
After working in the UK for several months, I sometimes struggled explaining something in my native language (German) on the phone to my parents. When I wrote an email in German, I would instinctively type the English word first. I would then delete it and write the German word. Once I moved back to Germany of course things would change back again. Nothing was lost.
Now that I am studying Chinese, I noticed I sometimes have difficulties finding the right expression when I talk to someone in English. Even though my Chinese is really only “beginner 2-ish” sometimes my brain even comes up with the Chinese word instantly and only a little bit later with the English word. I guess this is normal and I am positive that nothing is lost. I can reactivate my English active vocabulary if I focus on English for a while.


For me, it is not as if learning a foreign language was adding something negative, but rather it’s making me aware of my shortcomings and expression deficiencies.
So I quite often have English or now German word right before my native Russian one. Also, I demand from myself such a high English speaking level, that suddenly I realized - I can’t even do that in my native language!


Knowing that you’ll (probably) never be as good as a native speaker:/


Even though my speaking is the same, I find my native thinking and typing becoming more “wordy”. For example, I too often type “in order to”, “that which”, etc.

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what i’ve noticed since i have started studying french is my spelling in english i sometimes use the french spelling instead of the english one in cognates like traditionel ,telephone, etc and many other words that are very similar in both languages when i write in english i don’t use the french pronounciation when i speak english though it’s just the writing

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That’s not been a problem with Russian. :wink:


It sure has happened to me and still is. :persevere:

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I’ve noticed that my speech in my native language slowing down only when I pay too much attention on what I’m saying

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Here’s an example of an Englishman who’s been traveling around Russia for a while struggling to find a common English word: You Won't Believe This Russian Road! - YouTube

BTW, this is a fascinating channel. I first found the pair of videos where the host hiked into the Belarus Chernobyl exclusion zone and made friends with an old man and his older mother still living there. In English with subtitles where needed: Inside The Belarus Chernobyl Zone 🇧🇾 - YouTube and Return To The Belarus Chernobyl Zone...With Shopping Bags 🇧🇾 - YouTube

The host’s Russian is good and fluent, but his pronunciation and grammar are far from perfect. Yet he doesn’t let that stop him from roaming the x-SSR hinterlands, chatting up the locals, making lots of friends, and having all sorts of adventures. I showed a part of one of his videos to my wife who noted, “It sure is easy when you’re so outgoing” (which neither of us are).

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