Why do you learn your foreign language?

What is it that makes you put in the hard, consistant graft and spend the time perfecting your skills in your chosen language or languages? I really want to get a sense of the essence of what drives you budding language learners? For me, It’s just something cool to do on the side as I have spare time since I am a student. I’d also like to use French on travels which I hope to conduct in the future. I really love getting my teeth into a nice juicy podcast when I’m sitting on the bus everyday and at the moment, Johan from Francais Authentique has THE most awesome clear French accent that I will never get board of and the subjects that he enters are really interesting.

I learn German because I am currently studying in Switzerland so knowing the primary language is extremely useful for everything. Being capable of reading German classics like Goethe, Nietzsche and so on is also pretty neat.

French because I would like to read french classic literature and because I love french movies. French is also quite useful in Switzerland.

I am learning Chinese because I want to work for or with Asia and since China is the largest economy there, it seems particularly relevant for me to learn it. I also wouldnt mind living in China; not knowing Chinese while living in China seems extremely rough to me.

1 Like

I learn languages of countries where I would like to live or work. Central and South America (Spanish and Portuguese), Southern Europe (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian), English speaking countries, the Arab world… My next language will probably be Persian as I wouldn’t mind living / working in Iran, plus I love the sound of Persian, Iran’s culture, etc… I know I’ll easily fall in love with Persian.

In the case of Arabic, it’s also because I’m from an Algerian background but wasn’t taught the language as a kid. Arabic was the first reason I became a language enthusiast. It is and will be the language of my life.

Then there is the case of Mandarin. I’m not sure I’d like to live in China, Asia has never fascinated me although I know that I’d find it fascinating, a whole new world, a whole new way of seeing things. I don’t really like the sound of Mandarin either. However, I love the characters. I guess they would be my biggest motivator, and the fact that I’ll delve into a whole new universe is appealing. I’m still doubtful whether it will be enough in order to learn such a difficult language though.

In the long run, I may learn Indonesian and Turkish, spoken in countries that interest me though not as much as the ones I mentioned in the first paragraph. Also, I like the fact that they are completely different languages. Learning them would be very interesting.

One has to have a certain admiration for the culture/literature/history of one (or more) of the countries where the target language is spoken.

So in my case: Germay Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Russia.


i study certain languages because i appreciate the cultures where they are spoken and want to communicate with the population for instance i have absolutely no interest in europe iam interested in portuguese and spanish because of latin america and french becuase of the vastness where it is spoken across the world

I learn Italian because I have already many years ago fell in love with Italy during my first visit and it was since then my wish to learn this beautiful language. I started to learn Greek because I wanted to go there on holidays, since then I was in Greece already twice and I started to like this language as well as the country and I am glad I can communicate in Greek with people during my holidays.

1 Like

Ah I see! Is the course that you’re studying in Switzerland in Norwegian or English? Regardless of that fact, I agree that if you are in the foreign country for a relatively long period of time, it will enhance your stay to learn the local language as much as possible. In terms of your learning of French it seems to me that learning the language just to be able to read literature seems like a huge undertaking. Maybe your will to read such literature is strong?!

I choose the languages based on cultures that interest me. Everyone should do the same, if a language is “useful” or not is not that important. I know the French language is mostly based around France (and that’s totally understandable) but if you happen to be interested in Canada too, maybe you can give “Radio-Canada” a shot. It’s our BBC. LaPresse or Le Devoir are rather interesting newspapers as well.

Bonne chance!

1 Like

I study languages based on a mixture of finding something that I want to understand (usually media of some sort), along with what I guess is the aesthetic appeal of the specific language itself. Practical factors like working or planning to live somewhere don’t really enter the picture (though with Japanese I wound up living here for a quarter century anyway!).

I started learning Japanese decades ago in order to understand the anime and manga I was already being exposed to. Figuring (correctly) that if I understood what everybody was saying it’d be even more interesting. From there it opened up the entire Japanese culture for me—the more that’s understandable, the more interesting everything becomes. Also the kanji and kana and grammar are all like a fascinating puzzle with a million moving parts that I love fiddling with.

For Korean, I was enamored with the writing system even before I had any reason to study it, and went looking for excuses. Unlike Japanese I couldn’t find much TV or comics that I was interested in, so I eventually targeted a Kpop group that I liked and have been using them as a touchstone for my study. I’ll branch out and find more interesting stuff as my language skills allow me. So it’s the language itself that’s motivating me there.

Esperanto I studied a bit because I had a friend who was active in the community, and it was just so easy. It’s a very friendly community who are always welcoming of new speakers, which is a nice comfort.

Indonesian I’m poking at mostly because I found one hero TV show (similar to what I was watching in Japanese), and got pulled into understanding more than the subtitles were giving me. Again, the deeper I get, the more interesting stuff I find throughout the culture, so it feeds on itself. Also, so many people speak it natively, contrasted with so few people having studied it, which is weird, so I’m interested just because of that.

Esperanto and Indonesian aside, in general I’m more motivated by languages with interesting “visuals”—the writing systems are a strong draw for me. For example I’d be much more likely to study Thai than Vietnamese, for the very shallow reason that Thai has a fun writing system, while Vietnamese uses boring old roman letters. For the same reason I rarely put much thought into European languages.

1 Like

Because it’s fun watching an impossibly, irrelevant set of sounds and symbols gradually morph into a communicative language with the rewards of new friends, travel experiences, and entertainment at the end of the road.


I agree, one of the reasons I keep going after Japanese is the puzzle factor. It looks so impossibly weird and difficult, and seeing that crazy set of symbols become a language is fascinating to me. I enjoy the challange, I like doing hard thing. As much I would love to get a job in Japan one day, it very well might not happen. The idea looking down on a task that once seemed impossible and having the experience of watching how long term commitment can lead to success would be such an invaluable confidence booster going forward.

Believe it or not, I dipped my toes into Korean for the exact same reasons you did. Hangul just looked so cool so I learned the alphabet and I love the sounds and pronunciation of it. It’s such a unique language. I am on the fence about actually committing to the language at some point down the road just because it is another hard, long term language commitment and I wonder if it is just too limited for myself, who realistically may never actually get to go to Korea.

1 Like

It’s in English.

It’s quite strong I suppose but I also enjoy the process of learning it. I am already reading french literature now relatively well. Most of my language learning is done because I would like to read in the given language. To me, the speaking part of languages is the most boring and the most useless part because the people I would communicate with it in a fruitful way would know English anyway. Listening and reading are my priorities for sure and they’re also the most fun part imo.

Cuz its dope


My first two are the ones I had the strongest connection with. For French, I learned it because one day I found out my best friend was actually from Quebec. Somehow we had never talked about that before. Thus that was a big motivation for me.

My second language was Spanish, and the culture, the people, neighbors was all around me and I fell in love with the food and music of the language.

I would say majority of the time for my languages now though, it sparks off of two things. 1.) I am talking with someone everyday who speaks another language that I don’t, or. 2.) Rap music. The flow of the lyrics and beat make me want to know what they’re saying. Music speaks a ton, and being able to understand it, unlocks a lot of the culture and current events in the language.

However I do often do language challenges, where I have no reason other than wanting to set a challenge/goal for myself in a short period of time. An intensive study month or couple weeks really makes me feel a lot better.

I’d say I’m new to language learning, even though I have Flemish as native language (or dialect) and learned Dutch, French, English and a bit of German in school. Romanian is the first language I learn outside of school. As to why I’m learning it: at my current job, they launched a 2-shift system and at first, it was just me and a nice Romanian girl (woman) in our shift. I started by trying to learn some simple things to say, like “hello, how are you?”. As relations improved and as I heard her speak more Romanian, I became more curious and started to learn more. Now we’re friends and I can say a few things in her language, but hope to be conversational by next summer, when I’d like to go on vacation to her country.

If this project works well and I achieve a decent enough level by next summer, I’d look into learning more languages.


It seems that your need to learn Romanian is even more elevated than others because of your circumstances and therefore the drive to learn it should be there too. I hope the journey treats you well and thanks for :slight_smile:

The chicks, of course.


I started learning a new language when I was a stay-at-home mom, as a way to continue my education over 20 years ago. I picked French because I had some lessons in grade school. As I continued studying over the years, my reasons changed. At one point, I fell in love with the language because using the conditional in a class exercise brought to me a strong visceral reaction. Then I became more interested in my mother’s French Canadian background. Now I love the feeling of being able to comfortably converse in my limited French, it feels like I am on a toboggan ride.