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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyaRexa

The Ultimate Dilemma - what language should I learn next? Pros and cons.

The ultimate dilemma of most of the language learners and aspiring polyglots - what language should I learn next?

That choice is not an easy one - should you go for a widely spoken language that you actually may find useful in your life? Or should you choose a not-well-known language or dialect that caught your interest, but you may have no chance of ever using?

"Popular language":

  1. You are more likely to use it, since there are more speakers of it,
  2. You'll find it easier to find people to talk to in that language (reason as the above),
  3. It will probably have more value when mentioning it in your CV (example: knowing Spanish, as opposed to knowing Catalan, is seen as more useful by the business environment),
  4. Easier to maintain - more textbooks and books available, more online resources, movies etc.

"Rare language":

  1. You may find it more interesting and engaging than the "mainstream" languages,
  2. It's more impressive, since it's more likely to be not known by the majority of people and even language enthusiasts,
  3. It makes you stand out among other language learners,
  4. It shows your dedication; that you don't care about the number of speakers of said language, only about the language and its culture itself,

For me, it's always the struggle - should I focus more on French, Spanish, Russian and German or on my beloved Asian languages? Should I try to add more Turkish, Greek, Romanian etc. or should I just keep going with the languages I currently do, lest I neglect them?
One thing is for sure - if a day and night had more hours, I'd spend them all on learning new languages :)

Currently, I'm on the crossroads and I can't decide. What is it like for you, what your choice would be? What languages are you prioritizing and why?

February 16, 2018

42 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

Spanish and Russian. They each activate different ways the ever-growing brain, as the alphabets are different and the grammar is nothing alike. Also, two totally different cultures to play with. Ignore the fact that I am completely and totally biased....one is easier to pick up and one is harder. Magic combination. Best of luck to you and thank you for the follow:)))!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyaRexa

Russian is quite similar to Polish, grammar and culture-wise, and the alphabet is probably the easiest one that I've learned so far. My "Slavic-speaking" part of brain is probably already activated ;)
And I love the quote from your profile: "мечты не работают, если вы не работаете". Dreams and goals don't fullfill themselves without our efforts :)

Romance languages share many similarities, and so Spanish is on my to-learn list, I'm just still hesitating if I should refresh my rusty French first or just go for it and dive straight into the Hispanic & Latino cultures.

Switching to thinking in Asian-languages mode was quite a challenge, but an enjoyable one. Maintaining at least one language from each of those groups seem pretty possible for me. And then, there's German, which could use some refreshing too... But that one, I think I'll leave for last, and who knows, maybe after that will come other Germanic and Scandinavian languages?

One step at a time :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

Thank you MyaRexa! I love that quote with quite a passion. I wish the best for your language journey, regardless of your choice. I'm sure it will be great in any form:). And are you Polish?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyaRexa

Yes, I am, I guess I gave myself away ;) I can't guess your nationality though (hmm... Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and Czech among your languages...). I'll shoot - Russian or perhaps other Slavic country?
There used to be a feature on the profile which showed "location" if the user provided it, but on my profile it doesn't show anymore, guess that's because of the "achievements" update.

I could understand that quote just by reading it, but if someone asked me to say that in Russian, I wouldn't be sure how to. So, I can read and translate from Russian, but not quite speak it. There's always room for improvement! ;)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

I'm flattered:). I always wished myself Slavic, but I was only so lucky to be an American! It's so neat that you are Polish. I have distant relatives from Poland and Polish-Italian friends. My mind is Russian, my feelings are Spanish, and my name is German))). My location has been the dictionary definition of location. I like it when people guess, so thank you)). It's nice that you find yourself able to read Russian!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyaRexa

Well, my mind is multilingual, my feelings are Japanese and my name is Slavic/Scandinavian :D

D*mn, I'd bet that you're Slavic! You know so many Slavic languages! ;P


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

Thank you very much))). Больше спасибо!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lizsue

Have you tried the Spanish for Russian speakers course? :) There's a Russian for Spanish speakers course on the way too!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

Not yet, but perhaps I will, considering I finished my Spanish from English tree)). Nice suggestion!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BobTheTriangle

What kind of languages do you enjoy learning? Are you a beginner in language learning, or do you have no favorite kind of language in particular?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyaRexa

I love Asian languages and I'm particularly determined to go on with my studies in Japanese and Chinese. On the other hand, I'd like to refresh my German and French, and also learn more Spanish and Russian.

But the more I look into the other languages, the more tempted I become to try them, even though I'm aware I wouldn't be able to manage it time-wise. Decisions, decisions...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Keith_APP

I find that most of the time we think alike.
Bon courage!
頑張って!
努力啊!
(… Something I don't know how to say in English)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

In this day and age, it's perfectly feasible to get all one's news in Catalan. Unsurprisingly, there's an app for that (I've got it; it's great). I assume the same holds true for many languages probably classified as "minor" in this schema. If there has ever been a golden age of "minor language" learning, it's now. There are undoubtedly more books written in Slovenian, Slovak, or Georgian than you could ever hope to read, just as there are for more widely-studied languages. In short, I think the arguments for "major languages" are often oversold.

Japanese is probably considered "major," but it's spoken in one (admittedly populous) country, while Vietnamese and Turkish also fulfill that criterion but at least in the U.S. (can't say about Europe especially for Turkish) would undoubtedly be viewed as thoroughly niche.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyaRexa

In Europe, Vietnamese is pretty "niche", as most of the Asian languages are. Can't say for sure about Turkish, maybe it's more popular in the Southern Europe, but not really much in the Central and Western. By "rare" languages I meant languages like OmegaGmaster mentioned, Circassian, and others like the Native American ones. Pretty difficult to find recources for learning them.

For me, Japanese is a kind of a middle ground - has quite a lot of speakers, and many learning resources available too, but it's still considered uncommon to learn it; very few universities in my country offer courses in it, and if they do, it's mostly the very basics.
I simply love that language and Japanese culture, so I'm not giving it up ;)

Thank you for your opinion! I see that there are many ways of categorizing the "popularity" of a language, the "popular" category should probably be split into "major" and "minor". But then, where the fine line of crossing from one group to the other would be drawn (the exact reason I don't classify languages by "having X number of speakers")...


[deactivated user]

    Turkish, maybe it's more popular in the Southern Europe, but not really much in the Central and Western

    Quite on the contrary, Turkish is huge in Germany and even France and the UK have their fair share of Turkish-speaking people. That number is negligible in Southern Europe... west of Greece anyway.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

    I figured by "popular" we were discussing popularity for second-language learning. Having many native Turkish speakers is different from having many non-Turkish-origin people learning Turkish. I don't particularly suppose this has become common in Western Europe, but I hardly know.

    In the U.S. you might find Turkish taught at a major four-year university, but you might not, and even if it's there, there might be about one instructor and not enough students to hold upper-level classes often. A friend of mine took it, and I think it was only independent study beyond the fourth semester.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyaRexa

    Hmm... maybe that trend haven't gotten to Poland yet, I don't know a single person learning Turkish. Technically, Poland and Germany are both in Central Europe, but that's only as far as geography, not culture, goes.


    [deactivated user]

      Yes, I guess... it's due to heavy migration rather than a trend. There are currently between 4 and 5 million Turks living in Germany. That's a lot by any measure. Poland by contrast in not an obvious destination for massive migration.

      Here is a map of the Turkish diaspora in Europe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turks_in_Europe#/media/File:Turksineurope.png


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyaRexa

      The difference is pretty dramatic, 4-5 mln in Germany compared to less than 5000 in Poland, and those are neighbouring countries.

      Well, now I see how Turkish became so popular among Europeans to learn. Thank you for the interesting info! :)


      [deactivated user]

        You're welcome MyaRexa.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Keith_APP

        Currently, I'm on the crossroads and I can't decide. What is it like for you, what your choice would be? What languages are you prioritizing and why?

        I am learning Italian now in Duolingo. I struggled about it. Not that I was indifferent about Italian, I was quite certain I would love it. Just that it's a romance language is already inviting, not to mention its linkage with history, art, and delicious food.

        However, Italian, just like French, has almost no use around here. I said I learn it for reading biscotti packaging is a joke, but it's also the reality. My priority is Japanese, and I don't foresee any change about it in the next 5 years. So I need to think about how much resources I can put into Italian, and if it appears sufficient to reach the level I want to attain. I would not want to have spent my time, even just 30 mins, but still could not read the biscotti packaging at the end.

        A language being a popular one or rare is something important to consider, but it is not the most important. Learning a popular language also means you are only one of the many learners of that language, and to become outstanding you need to spend twice the effort to attain a high level. (Learning Japanese is quite popular here in Asia and you always find people speaking it much better than you do : S )


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyaRexa

        Here in Europe, I'm somewhat of a rarity for knowing a bit of one Asian language, let alone two. My friends are impressed by something as simple as saying こんにちは、私は大学生です。or 你好!. Knowing German, French or Russian, on the other hand, is not impressive at all, unless someone is really fluent - like you said, there's always someone better at them around.

        If you decide to stick to Italian, come visit Europe sometime - it's always super suprising to people when someone from different culture can communicate in local language :D And hey, the food is delicious! Pizza made in the original Italian way is simply the best ^.^

        あなたも、頑張ってね!:)


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Keith_APP

        I wish I could visit Europe more, but given the flight time I can only manage to do it once in a few years. I've done once to Portugal in 2016. After that my travel destinations are mostly in Japan, including the next one. : P


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyaRexa

        Japan is definitely one of the places I'd like to visit. Better yet, I'd like to do a trip through the Asia, starting in China probably (which would take some time, since it's so diverse), then Japan and South Korea, and other countries... It's all dreams for now, but who knows, maybe I'll manage to do it someday ;)


        [deactivated user]

          I can't give you a proper advice, don't think I'm that qualified for doing so especially when compared to others here. And besides, as you can see by my flag, I'm sticking to German. It's enough of a pain already.

          That said I really admire the ability some of you have to juggle effortlessly through several languages especially if you go beyond just saying a couple of common sentences.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dearyme

          people choose languages based on the popularity their own language, if their own language is an isolated language spoken by a few thousand people in an island then those people will never try to (or even want to learn) another less popular language, but people who have a more widely spoken language like english as their native language (there are exceptions) , they will go after other widely spoken languages like french and Spanish and even languages that are no longer spoken, some of these people who dedicate their to learn isolated languages and even more work on how to preserve such a language are like heroes to me, and even though I don't have a widely spoken language as my native language, I do belong to a multilingual society which has enabled me to learn various, more less popular languages and I would love to learn more, and most of the people I know who are studying foreign languages are doing so just to make a living by getting a job of a translator. In my opinion every language need more people like you,


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FrenchCamille

          Great post, as always. I've recently been running out of post ideas... )':

          As for me, I tend to bounce around each language, see how I like it, then make my decisions.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BobTheTriangle

          At least you have the courage to make posts! I'm always worried that my posts will be downvoted, or they won't make any sense XD


          [deactivated user]

            Unless you think your posts are really crap just post them and don't bother with the votes. The wisdom of the crowds will help you.


            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BobTheTriangle

            But sometimes the crowd is mostly trolls. When you post on peak troll times you'll get at least 2 downvotes a few minutes after you posted. Though it's very rare, I've seen good discussions downvoted to oblivion for no reason.


            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

            True Bob, but try to post at night, when the trolls are sleepy or doing homework. Tends to work in my court.


            [deactivated user]

              Camille, if you want a smoother transition from Spanish go Italian... if you want a rougher ride go German. If you want a headache go Chinese.


              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FrenchCamille

              Hmm, I'll consider Italian! I am 50/50 German and Italian.


              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyaRexa

              There's no pressure to create posts ;) I always try to go by the saying "quality not quantity".

              I have many things and questions on my mind, but there's no point in posting all of it at once. Let it simmer a bit, read about the subject, think it through. Some of the subjects already have been discussed, and you can read about them just after a quick search, without making duplicate posts.

              Then, after you read a bit about a particular interesting topic, and if you found something new that you want to share, post your findings or thoughts. Don't get pressured to "be popular" - just enjoy learning and the community here :)

              I hope that helps you ease your mind. I also just noticed, what happened to your French score? Did you reset it for the competition maybe? It was so much higher the last time I looked... and, your nickname is FrenchCamille ;) and wow, you're almost level 25 in Spanish! :O


              [deactivated user]

                how long did it took you to achieve level 21 in japanese, does this mean that there's more stuff to do in the japanese course besides clearing the tree or do I have to keep those strength bars to level up, or does it have something to do with the reverse tree


                https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyaRexa

                Completing a course tree is possible at level 10 or 11 (I finished my Polish and English-from-Polish trees both at level 11 if I remember correctly), if you do each lesson only once. I revised and practiced a lot and did each lesson multiple times, so I finished the tree at level 19 and it took me 25 days. Another two levels I got by practicing lessons later.

                Right now, besides finishing the tree there's not much else in the course (no additional lessons available) so I made it my goal to keep the tree golden and strenghtened. :)

                There are also "reverse courses" - English from Japanese, which I do too. Be careful though, if you switch to it, the language of Duo interface will be Japanese too! The reverse course is a separate tree and doesn't add points to the "regular" one.


                [deactivated user]

                  thanks for telling me, when I saw level 21 when the japanese tree was that short I was under the impression that doing a reverse coarse could make me level up or there was more to it than I thought, hope they extend the tree soon,


                  https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

                  The Japanese tree is a real toughie for those of us with little or no background in the language :) I'm at level 18 and only have a grasp - and a tenuous one - on about half of it.


                  https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyaRexa

                  Yes, Japanese was not an easy language to choose ;) That's why I revised so much, I tried to be really careful to get all the material down, as it was needed further in the course. Some grammar structures were really not covered much. Some appeared in only one sentence, and not in the lesson, but in a strenghtening practice. Hopefully the course will be a bit more consistent when (if?) it goes out of beta.

                  Don't give up, guys, it really gets easier later! The more you read all that kana, the better and faster at reading you get. Audio (however broken sometimes) is a great help and I can't count the times I put down translations from sound alone, as it was faster than to read it. :)


                  https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

                  Haha, that's why I try to make sure I get to a point where I can do pretty well even with the sound off before moving on :)


                  https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissSpells

                  With the rapid advance of translation technology, I think the need to learn languages as a practicle skill will dwindle. We will be able to communicate with others in our own language through technology. Language learning will become a niche skill/hobby. Therefore, I think you may as well learn what interests you. I agree however, the lack of resources for less popular langauges makes this more of a challenge. I was pretty excited about Irish when I began, but lately I have been waning in interest, partially because there are just so many more resources out there, especially at an intermediate level, for Spanish and French. Still, I think unless you have a specific goal in mind, such as becoming a professional translator, you may as well follow your passions.


                  https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lizsue

                  You could check out Duolingo's courses, and other resources, for speakers of the languages you're studying. :)

                  In my case, I started Duolingo with the Spanish for English speakers course.

                  Once I finished that, I took the English for Spanish speakers course - which requires, and can teach, a lot of Spanish. ;)

                  Now I'm reviewing those courses and getting a little more practice in Spanish by trying the Catalan for Spanish speakers and Guarani for Spanish speakers courses here.

                  In your case, you have a lot of options! :)

                  For example, to "focus more on French, Spanish, Russian and German or on [your] beloved Asian languages," now that you reached level 12 in Chinese for English speakers, you could try the Spanish for Chinese speakers course. :)

                  To "try to add more Turkish, Greek, Romanian etc." now that you reached level 9 in Turkish for English speakers, you could try the German for Turkish speakers course. :)

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