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Can't choose a language to learn and just stick with it - suggestions?

I have a bit of a problem. I keep feeling drawn to certain languages, but there always seems to be something that holds me back. I know I want to learn at least ONE language other than English, but I have no plans to move away from the UK or travel much which could guide my choice.

I've tried German, which I absolutely adore the sounds and pronunciation of, but for the life of me I can't get my head around the word order and grammatical rules, so that seems to be a no-go.

I've tried French, as I was pretty good at it in school and my family have some French blood. I find it easy to pick up and memorise, but my issue is I can't stand the way it sounds. I know it's meant to be one of the most beautiful languages, but I just don't hear it. To me, it sounds ugly.

Romanian is one I'd love to learn, every word in that language just sounds so perfect. It's genuinely one of the most beautiful languages I've heard, and the music is wonderful too, but I have no plans to go to Romania and little chance of ever using it. Plus, it seems far too difficult for me right now.

The only other language that's drawn me in is Russian. It's beautiful, but it seems massively different from English which I'd find difficult, and memorising the alphabet is super hard for me too.

I don't know what to do, so I was wondering if anyone could advise me on how to find a language and stick with it. One of the most major things with me is how a language sounds - I like lots of rolled "r" sounds, like Romanian and Russian have, so anything with that sound would be perfect. I did consider Spanish, but I don't see myself ever using it, and certain sounds in that language are really off-putting to me. I know I have the drive to learn a language, it's just making me feel down that I can't ever seem to find one that sounds just right and isn't impossibly difficult to pick up. Any suggestions of how to get around this would be great!

October 3, 2017



Without knowing you at all but just based on your description here, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you sound like a Renaissance Soul to me ( http://www.renaissancesouls.com/ ) to me. (Full disclosure: I run that website since Margaret Lobenstine's death in 2015.) There's a short quiz you can take on the website to see if the label fits you.

In her book on Renaissance Souls, Lobenstine discusses the metaphor of a person standing in front of too many ice cream flavors in the store, and because they want all of them, they end up with none of them.

Her recommendation? Instead of forcing yourself to pick one thing forever, give yourself permission to focus on a small handful of exciting projects/directions (she calls them focal points) for a period of time, say 3-6 months, and DO NOT switch them out until that time is up.

I'm a Renaissance Soul myself. Like you, I struggled with the question of which language to learn for a long time. I ended up paralyzed and learning none. After a long time of not learning anything, with language learning forever on my bucket list, I intuitively picked up Duolingo with Swedish.

Why Swedish? At the time it seemed like a silly reason (a Swedish friend sent us a book of baby words which lay on the shelf untouched for two years until we were planning a trip to Sweden, at which point I showed my 2.5 year old daughter the Duolingo app and got hooked myself). In hindsight, I can point to a variety of influences that I wasn't fully conscious of at the time (my grandmother spent 2 years in Sweden and there was some family mythology about it; my husband's favorite place to visit is Sweden).

The point is, I picked one and stuck with it. Now with a 300+ day streak (as of yesterday!) I have completed the Swedish tree at an almost golden status, read Harry Potter och De Vises Sten (an entire book!) in Swedish, and can handle short conversation snippets. I've recently started listening to Swedish music and guided meditation recordings.

It's not "useful" in my life at all, per se. I don't have many people to practice with. So what? I love it and enjoy it. It's sparked a love of languages that I always suspected was there. I've dabbled with other languages but I keep coming back to Swedish. People ask me "why Swedish?" all the time, and I don't care. It's just the one I'm learning. Period.

You've clearly put in some work since you are levels 5 and above for three different languages, yet I see no streak (no judgment here, I'm just working on the information available to me). My suggestion? Don't overthink it. JUST PICK ONE. Any one. Pick them out of a hat if you need to (and listen to your intuition if you dislike what came out of the hat). If I had to guess for you, I would guess German because it sounds like you just need more time to practice in order to get that word order down. But the truth is, it doesn't matter at all which language you pick. JUST PICK ONE.

Then, stick with it. Start a streak, even a 1XP streak, buy streak freezes if needed at first to help you get it going, but keep that streak going and set a goal to practice every day.

Then, in 6 months, if you're unhappy with your choice, change it. That's it. You're not bound to that language forever. But without making the commitment, you'll find it hard to make progress. There's a quote to that effect that is often misattributed to Goethe, but is actually by William Hutchison Murray ( http://4spires.com/blog/2013/06/until-one-is-committed-quoting-the-correct-author/ ):

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Just my 2 cents. Best of luck in this exciting journey!


I think this is a very interesting and true point of view!


You mentioned a Slavic language and a Romance language that has been influenced by its Slavic neighbors. You're in the UK.... look up the prevalence of Polish. Have you tried it? It might be something you'd like and is in the Latin script. From there you may venture into other Slavic languages. Welsh is another option... have you ever tried a Celtic language? Being in the UK (born there) you'd at least have access to friends that you can drive/take a bus to see. In the end, it's all up to you... why not try many languages and see what sticks? Edit: If you don't want to stick with German, why not try Dutch?


well you're going to have to experiment with different languages until you find one you love. keep searching! hope you find one! good luck and happy learning!


Normally I refer people who ask which language to learn to random name generators, but for me this post deserves an exception, as each language tried is well described. You haven't stated the purposes behind your learning though, but it does appear that it's mostly you simply wanting to have one other language mastered than English, without much further reason. That is not a bad reason though... I live in UK, and my reason for learning is more or less exactly that.

''I have no plans to go to Romania and little chance of ever using it.'' Out of interest, living in England, which languages other than English do you think you actually will have a chance of using? I am learning French, and my situation is fairly similar here: if I changed all my device settings back to English and stopped watching anything French on YouTube, I could quite easily go weeks or months without hearing a word of French, and moments where I need to speak would be much rarer still... and despite all that, French is my most usable second language! I have some family who live there, but I don't see them often at all.

With internet access, even if you are like me trying to learn but surroundings are only English (can be very frustrating!), it is very possible to immerse yourself in a language... I can confirm it's definitely possible in French.

Anyway, to conclude on an answer, I do need you to provide a bit more detail. Romanian certainly seems to be your passion despite its lack of usability, but how does this issue compare to other options? As you have seen, I have decided what my most usable language is, and it's French (although ''most usable'' is obviously a very relative term here). Please tell me, what languages are your most usable, and how usable will they be? If you learnt Romanian, how possible would it be to immerse yourself? Based on your answers, I will be able to provide better advice.

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To me, the most "beautiful" language that happens to come close to what you "seem" to look for is Italian. However, I assume that you considered it already. Greek is beautiful but the alphabet seems to be a problem. Hebrew is beautiful but you will most likely hate the guttural Hs and its alphabet will throw you off. Japanese is easy on the ear but you will hate the word order and the multiple alphabets. Swahili is a beautiful language but most likely you will find something wrong with it! Need I go on? So, there is no "easy" foreign language and your dislikes are not well defined for one to know what to suggest. If the Russian alphabet throws you off, consider yourself lucky for not attempting that language; the alphabet is the 'easy' part of mastering Russian! It sounds like you may want to stick with some Germanic/Scandinavian/Celtic language or one of the artificial languages. I really wish you the best in your quest for the one true language and do let us know when you find it! Finally, I suggest you learn a 'real' language; that way, you would get the chance to later change plans and immerse in another real culture! You don't have to travel to immerse in another language/culture. Note: I mean no disrespect to any Esperanto, Klignon, etc followers. I do understand that those languages have their purposes.



Hopefully you will find something out of their language rankings and detail descriptions.


just learn uzbek


As cool as a suggestion that is, you should offer some justification for it so that the original poster can know why they should learn Uzbek. Rahmat!


Hello! I'm from Uzbekistan and the first thing that came to my mind as justification is that Uzbek is close to Turkish. Moreover, there's a dialect in Uzbekistan that I speak which is much closer to Turkish - and it's the Khorezm dialect. So learn Uzbek first and get to know the other dialects in Uzbekistan. Additionally, uzbek translators are considered among the best translators in the world. And there are lots of words in Uzbek which are very hard to find any proper equivalent to in English or any other language. Most translators have a hard time translating Uzbek works into English. So why not learn Uzbek and enjoy another color of language?


Well I can't suggest a language since I would suggest German but you've already said that's a no-go.. But I don't mean to be mean to Duolingo but their Robots that speak. So I would suggest listening to actual people talk(Which you may have already done). before you give up.


I'd have suggested Irish since it's practically next door for you and has rolling R's, but the grammar is tougher than German (coming from English). You could try Afrikaans (easier grammar) but that's not on duolingo. Maybe Esperanto as an easy "first second language" -- you can roll the R's if you like, and it's not tied to geography.


Esperanto was made to be a second language for everyone. It's easy to learn, and it makes learning other languages very easy. Here are some reasons to learn Esperanto.

I'd just suggest this because it'll be quicker to learn, so I think it'd be a nice consideration!


Portuguese is said to sound similar to Russian (https://www.duolingo.com/comment/13813855/Does-Portuguese-sound-like-Russian), so there's a good chance that you would like the sound of that. And as a plus, the language is said to be easy for English speakers (http://www.effectivelanguagelearning.com/language-guide/language-difficulty). You might give that a shot and see if you like it:).

I have no idea how likely it is for you to encounter Portuguese in real life, but you can try finding Portuguese speakers on language apps like Tandem.


I can't finish my Portuguese tree although I liked it. The not needing it right away like we once needed English for everything makes it difficult. Web audio helps in some cases, but it has to be interesting enough and not just cartoons. And you want to learn how to pronounce understandably. Deepening one language is definately the way to go.


Do what you love. Stick with it. And be patient.


maybe if slavic languages sound beautiful and the alphabet too difficult may I suggest Czech as the slavic language :) has the sounds but with the latin letters and its also phonetic :)

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