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Language advice

I've been studying languages for about 7 years, and I really enjoy it; I love learning about other cultures and meeting new people. I speak 5 languages(but not all fluently) however I don't really get to use all these languages on a daily basis. I try my best to maintain the languages I know and I think I'm pretty self sufficient when it comes to teaching myself a language but i've been starting to lack motivation. I live in a small town and I don't travel hardly ever, I rarely leave my town. My friends and family don't speak other languages so they don't really view this at the same importance as I do(which I understand, everyone has their own hobbies) One of my biggest reasons for learning languages is because of travel. Also, I really do enjoy helping other people learn languages, especially English, since it's my native language, and I understand how hard English can be so I love helping in anyway that I can. Now i've come to a point where a lot of it seems very pointless and I am a bit stuck. On top of that I'm not really sure what kind of job I want in the future. I've been in and out of college for the past 1.5 years, taking classes whenever i had the money or time(between my current job) but nothing seems to promising.

December 29, 2017



Careers with a main focus on language (translator, teacher) don't usually pay very well. On the other hand, language skills can pay off well in international relations and business. Combining languages with Business/Economics, Political Science, International relations/Media could be a good career move.

Ever considered doing a degree in Europe? Might be a lot cheaper than the US (if that's where you are), and you'd become fluent in another language and have a possibility to travel to nearby areas to speak other languages.

But yes, studying languages can be a bit pointless if you never end up using them.. ..the best inspiration is to spend some time in a foreign country - but that can be a big decision to make. I've lived in four countries (Finland, US, Netherlands, UK), and that has certainly made my life much more interesting.


Thanks for the help! It's something I'm considering :)


Teaching English as a foreign language is a great free way to travel the world. You do not need to have a degree in all countries, but some like Japan and Korea require it. You do need to be a native speaker and have your TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. You can get it online cheaply or a course in any country of your choice for about $1,500 plus travel to and from. The in country classes take about 6 weeks but usually guarantee employment afterwards. Google TEFL certificate and you will find many schools.

This choice is purely temporary as most of the jobs will only pay you enough to pay your bills in that country and you won't be able to save a lot. On the bright side you will be able to travel to the countries in which you are learning their language and teach English in English and learn the local language from the locals (immersion is the best way to learn a language). Maybe work for 6 months in each of several different countries.

My long term suggestion is different. You can do both if you would like. You say that you live in a small town so look online and find the closest multi-national corporation that does business in the countries of your interest. Call or email to set up an appointment with their recruitment office or HR office. Meet with them and tell them that you are in college and of your goals and ask them what type of jobs they have that would allow you to travel to other countries with their company. Then after you decide which jobs might interest you, ask them what you need to do in order to get one of those jobs. They should be able to the exact process and steps to take in order to get your dream job. Earning US Dollars and spending Mexican Pesos, which I did for many years, can make it quite lucrative for you allowing you to retire early and travel to your heart's content. You may need to spend some time working locally before you reach your dream job but it will be worth it.

Even if you don't want to work overseas, think about your dream job and speak to someone that is doing that job and ask them the fastest, most direct path to obtain that job whether it be the President or an English teacher. Working in a job that you like and look forward to doing everyday is one of the most important things that helps you look back on your life when you are 100 and smile.

Good luck!

No never mind luck, take control of your future and make it fold out exactly how you want it.


Thank you for those suggestions, it was very helpful!


I know people don't want to hear this, but the truth is knowing more then English in the U.S. really is kind of pointless from pure pragmatic standpoint.

Other then some very specific job fields in areas with large populations of non native english speakers. There is no need to know anything other then English in the U.S.

Even more difficult finding other languages being spoken in rural areas. You wont be able to keep other languages in top shape unless dedicating time via skype.

My advice focus on college, being a top student while choosing a good field of study will offer more possible solutions.

a) you make so much money you can take overseas vacations and or retire very early traveling the world.

b) enter a field where you might be assigned to a location overseas

c) just flat out move to other nations earn a living there. teaching english in other nations is very easy to get into not a lot money but doing it a few years would check traveling off the list and you would not regret it.

d) a new trend for the tech savvy that make a living programming or creating online content is to travel the world doing contract jobs. (only the very best secure they kinds of jobs)

Do not get a useless degree, research research research talk with professionals in fields that let them travel. College advisors and friends/family are terrible sources of information as they took a narrow safe view on life, (like taking investment advice from low and middle class folks).


Knowing at least Spanish in the U.S. is extremely useful, at least from what I've experienced. I've come across many, I mean actually hundreds, of Latinos in the US (in many different states) who don't have a good grasp on English, and around a quarter of our country speaks Spanish, most of them natives. However, you're right in the fact that knowing more than one language isn't necessary to live here, however it does earn you more wages in a lot of careers.

I agree with the "don't get a useless degree" bit, but if it makes you happy, then we can't stop you; however, just as advice, taking a degree that has no application to real life and will not get you any jobs does typically has extremely bad consequences.

There are some families and college advisors who have legitimately good advice; however, as you said, a lot of them aren't able to give you the correct information or the road to a successful career, either. A lot, we could even say most in many cases, of the responsibility lies on the shoulders of the person, and requires a lot of research.


Not really. It allow more job opportunities. As an architect, with construction experience only in the US, I am contained from working FT in Europe not only by my work experience, but my lack of fluency in other languages.


Not being able to find other people to share in a hobby is quite frustrating. However, I am sure that you can leverage technology to help with this. Here are some ideas:

1) Use Reddit to connect with other polyglots. I find Reddit to be one of the better social media sites, with dedicated subreddits (kind of like groups) focusing on various topics. I personally use the "writing prompts" subreddit a lot, as I love reading fiction and that subreddit has amazing user submitted stories and poems. Perhaps you can search for similar subreddits to connect with people as well as practice your language skills.

2) Look for chat rooms to practice spoken language. Chatting with people is a great way to pick up how native speakers use the language.

3) If you don't already have a career progression mapped out, then perhaps you can try to combine your love for languages into your work. Maybe become a translator? Be aware that as a translator, you will more likely be translating technical manuals from one language to another, rather than translating actual works of literature. I would advise researching more about the type of work, compensation, and career progression before deciding.

4) Another option is to try and become an interpreter (like they have in the UN, for translating speech to other languages). It's an extremely challenging job though. Check out some details here: https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/4q6co2/eli5_how_do_interpreters_hear_the_next_line_while/

5) A few months ago, I heard that there was a huge demand for English teachers in China. There are companies who take you on their payroll as an English teacher and deploy you to a private school in China. Not sure how good the compensation is, but that could be a good way to travel while still getting a paycheck. Chinese language skills were not compulsory, the last I heard.


Thanks for all those options, It's very helpful!


Hey there!! You seem to have some problems which I relate to very much. I'm afraid I can't give a LOT of help because we're on the same boat. But lately i've been considering language learning more of a hobby than anything else, and I don't know if it's the case for you but it's for sure my most productive hobby and probably will be the most useful one on the future.

I'm not quite sure of the job i'll have too, and the willfullness to travel and maybe leave my country for good is one of the things that keep me going. Athough I do know this will depend on a lot of other factors.

So yeah, I currently have been working to use language learning as a method to keep me motivated through life and a as fun thing to learn and improve, no pressure or the need to think "What am I gonna use this for?".

One thing that helps me a lot is the Discord App, there's some great and cozy servers with great people, focused on language learning or other subjects. For sure a great way to practice the languages you're rusty on and maybe give help to people that need it. One of the reasons I improved my english and am still motivated to learn more.

I hope everything turns out well for us :)


thanks for the tips! Good luck with your language learning:)


Some suggestions.

1) Study somewhere where studying is reasonably priced. You don't tell where you are from, so it is hard to say where that might be for you. Much of Europe should qualify.

2) There are very few places where English is the only language spoken. USA, Australia and New Zealand have their original peoples (the ones who lived there before the invasion by mostly European "settlers"), while in UK and Ireland there are several different languages. Canada has the languages of the natives, as well as French.


Hi Autumn, here are my 2 cents. I came to the States from Japan when I was young and I learned Spanish because we located close to the border where Spanish was as common as English, so I am fluent in 3 languages now. Japanese has not been useful to me outside of the family, but I have frequently been asked to serve as an interpreter and/or supervisor of Spanish-only speakers. I've also been sent to Mexico which wasn't lucrative, but it was rewarding in so many other ways, and I would not trade those experiences for anything in the world. A friend of mine studied German and spent many years in Germany where he translated books into English and made money that way. Again, he's not rich, but he's doing well for himself. Getting a job as a UN interpreter is out of reach for most of us, but there are ways for skills to pay off. Good luck!


Well, here on duolingo we try to make learning a language fun and enjoyable. If you are filling like you have no one to talk to, you could try to become an ambassador as a way to communicate and to have a job you interested in since you like languages.

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