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When you're studying a lang that you didn't expect to

I'd like to hear about peoples experiences with languages they have become conversational/intermediate/advanced at etc. that they never expected to learn in the first place. Or even beginning a track towards completion. Or even considered learning a word, haha :P

Most of the languages I am learning or plan to learn are planned, because of culture, media, travel, business or other reasons.

I started Portuguese just for fun and now it's become an every day thing for me. Swedish was my last choice out of the 3 majority Scandinavian languages, but I fell in love with it. I expected to learn Dutch & Yiddish before German but there is a good Deutsch program at my university so I'm taking lessons to prepare, plus the language is cool too.

What are your experiences?

July 16, 2017



I had no intention of ever studying any Scandinavian languages. After mentioning that I had a love of languages, my Swedish colleague bet that I couldn't hold a conversation with her after a month.

I powered through the tree here, did some listening, and stumbled through my first conversation in Swedish. A year of daily conversation later, I'm reading novels in a language I never looked twice at before and also spending time studying its closest relatives.


:O That is amazing!


That is really cool :) Thanks for sharing! This is why I post these sort of threads.


I never planned to study Chinese but I ended up minoring in it and doing study abroad there so... XD


I have been on Duolingo for about a week. I finished the english tree in the first day since I tested out of most of it and got 75% fluency, and then I just decided to learn another language because why not. I picked spanish without any particular reason and now I am starting to love it because of its similarities with romanian (which is my mother tongue).


Your English is amazing!! :-)


Thanks, but I don't really find my english to be that good, haha.


I disagree. I didn't realize you are not a native-English speaker until I got to end.

I want to point out though that in English "English", "Spanish", and other languages have the first letter capitalized when they are used as proper nouns or are derived from proper nouns. You can generally determine that the usage should be capitalized if it refers to the respective language or country.
"English", "Spanish", and "Romanian" should be capitalized in the cases you used.

Capitalization does not occur (assuming not at the beginning of a sentence) in french in "french fries". Using french in this case refers to the style of the cut and not the country nor the language.
Another example is swiss cheese.


Thanks for correcting me. I often make that mistake even though I know when you should capitalize the first letter. I guess I should pay more attention to that.


I also thought you were a native speaker, your English language skills are great.


I agree! Greyview your English is better than mine and I've been learning it all my life!


Your English is amazing! You're probably B2/C1 level?


Portuguese. I never knew much about it apart from 'Oh, it's that language that's basically almost Spanish'! Then I began listening to two Portuguese singers (that happen to be siblings) and loving their music - and eventually I was working out what one of their songs' lyrics meant with no intent to learn the whole language, and I started learning Portuguese from there. (I'm still not amazing at Portuguese, as I'm focussing on other languages at the moment, but I really have already fallen in love with the language!)


Who are the artists? P.s. I know! "Oh, it's that language which is Spanish but a little different"... Nope! lol I wonder what Portuguese speakers think of this conversation jaja! :P I've found, for me, it to be extremely distinct from other Romance languages, even more so than Romanian o_0 Which I didn't expect.


Salvador Sobral (yep, the winner of Eurovision) Luísa Sobral. Their jazz-pop genre isn't everyone's cup of tea but I like it! Haha I know - Portuguese and Spanish have some similar vocabulary and verb conjugations, but other than that, they are so much more distinct than everyone thinks!! I've personally found that Portuguese is like a mixture of the other romance languages (I'm not sure about Romanian though, as I haven't studied it at all). Thanks for that lingot!


Did you watch Eurovision? A fun goal would be to go back and watch the broadcast again, but the Portuguese broadcast, and hear it all in Portuguese!


I never expected that I would even be studying languages in the first place. It all started when I watched a WatchMojo video titled Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn.

Soon after watching the video, I thought in my mind "exactly how hard is learning a language?, let me try, maybe I can do this". So I chose a random language from the video, which happened to be Finnish ( which started my fascination for languages of the Nordic Nations ). Finnish proved to be difficult, so I decided to search up "easiest languages to learn". I then decided that I was going to learn Dutch, but I then realized that I would probably find more opportunities to use German. So then I re-decided to learn German.

I didn't begin studying languages because literature, music, heritage, or culture of a foreign country, it all started from a strange spur-of-the-moment challenge I placed upon myself one day, and now look where I'm at. It was a weird start, but I'm glad it happened. I now enjoy studying languages everyday and love learning about foreign cultures.

Und ich kann jetzt ganz viel aber noch einfache Deutsch sprechen!


That is such a fun story!


When I first realized that learning languages was really cool and pretty easy, I never really expected to learn many of the languages I am learning now! Swahili, Danish, Finnish, Tagalog and definitely High Valyrian were not on the radar, until I came to Duolingo. So, Duolingo helped make me into the language nerd I am today.


I don't speak it perfectly, if at a conversational level at all. But I never expected to be doing Turkish. Funnily enough, I was bored in a computer science lesson, but nobody was really do anything (it was a kinda chill out lesson). I use duolingo the most out of anyone I know, so my friends challenged me to start a different language just 'cause. I chose Turkish and found it to be really interesting, and to this day I'm still doing it. I hope to complete the course, as I'm motivated by a) the fact that the language is interesting and b) it is quite a short course, so completion is easily attainable.


Hebrew! I learn it by reading the bible


I ended up with learning Esperanto. For over a decade I was really negative towards this language.


I understand, my mum speaks many languages and she always spoke of Esperanto. She never learned it, and I thought "why would people spend time learning a minor language?" Once it came out on DL I tried it just for fun, learned the history behind it and it ended up being my first tree completed. :P


Thanks for the info. I hope you still keep the knowledge in a fresh memory. I like your nickname by the way. I have been told that I look like a beatnik myself (it's not completely right but not completely wrong either).


I never expected to learn Spanish. I had no motive to, but through some interesting incidents I ended up learning it, and I love it! I also like Portuguese which I never use but love learning anyway! Gracias para la post! Parabens! (I love speaking Spanguese!)


Spanish. When I was a kid I watched lots of tv shows in Spanish with my mother, Mexican mostly. Later when I grew up I continued watching Mexican telenovelas and some Spanish and Argentinian tv shows and also listening to music in Spanish and at some point I realised I understand so much without actually trying to learn the language. As a teenager I loved this Argentinian band so I was always rewriting song lyrics for my friends or for me on a piece of paper ( not many people had access to the Internet at a time) and that's how I learned to read Spanish. However, I never tried to speak Spanish or to learn grammar rules so it ended up in only understanding and reading the language.


I didn't expect to learn Korean. A few years ago, I was in Germany for a language course to improve my German. There I met a Korean girl and she invited me to come to a Korean church service. I didn't know anything about the language then, but I found it really interesting, so I started to study it later on.


Interesting. A family member of mine went to Germany to study German. Her tutor was a missionary who had spent a lot of time in Tanzania and spoke Swahili well. Once he realized she was getting frustrated with doing German all the time he would do both German and Swahili. She learned both and it helped keep up her motivation for German, since sometimes we need a short break. Or different days/time periods for different languages. :) With Korean, I found the alphabet to be extremely easy, but the pronunciation is somewhat difficult.


Oh, that's also an unexpected change. I think it really helps when you can study a new language together with someone and it's really cool that she now knows Swaili :)

I actually think the Korean sounds are quite similar to Dutch (my native language), except for ㅈ,ㅊ,ㅉ and ㄹ, but the vowels definetely sound similar, so it the pronunciation isn't that hard for me.


That's awesome man! Shortcuts are always cool, I love them. Just got to watch out for "false friends" words lol.


I'd always wanted to learn Spanish, but we moved right before the school year started, and the Spanish classes wound up being full. So I took French, a language I don't think I'd ever had a second thought about, thinking I'd switch after a year. Then after a year, I thought, oh well, got one year in already; might as well just stick with it.

I then thought I'd learn German but decided Germany wasn't cold enough, so switched to Russian.

Decided to start Portuguese because I saw a commercial for phone cards.

When I saw Catalan was available here, I suddenly realized I was interested in it despite having never even thought about it before. I thought I'd give the Guaraní tree "a try."

Forethought — overrated ;)


"I then thought I'd learn German but decided Germany wasn't cold enough, so switched to Russian." - My favorite quote so far on DL.


I originally joined Duolingo to start learning Swedish. I joined three weeks before the Swedish course came out. I would check it every day, until finally it came out, and I was so excited I finished the first six skills that first night! I finished the Swedish tree right away, and then looked at the other languages deciding which one would be my next one. I saw German, and decided I would give it a try, and got a little bit way through, and then stopped. Then I tried French. Eventually, I came back to German, and decided, oh well, let's finish this, so I did. It was considerably harder than the Swedish tree, but I did it. And then I finished the French tree!


I'm currently on a slippery slope of: I enjoyed the Captain America trilogy-->Sebastian Stan(Bucky) speaks what?-->That's interesting, I'll try it-->Sinking so much free time into the Romanian tree, finding music/books in Romanian.

Not the most concrete logic for getting really into a language, but oh well, lol.


Hey! If an actor gets you to pick up another skill, I'm sure he's all about it. Sebastian once said, "Finally people are learning Romanian, otherwise we'll never get on the map." When you meet him one day, surprise him with your skills. It'll make his day.


I ended up learning Mandarin Chinese for work... never dreamed in a million years that that would be my second language. o-o


For now, I'm sticking with languages I already learned before like Mandarin and Spanish, but when I finish those, who knows what I'll pick up!

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