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How to cope when you have people who disapprove of your new language-learning

Do you have people in your life that don't care or don't like the fact that you're learning a new language? What do you do when you feel you have no support?

If you are, I too am in a situation where I have the "don't care" type of people in my life. I was actually told to do something (else) more productive with my time by someone.

Here are some ways I've handled it. As always, add your own advice and how you handle negativity during your language-learning journey!

• Remind yourself that this is personal growth. Even if the goal is to eventually try the skills on a native-speaker, your language-learning is akin to having a hobby that might only be of interest to you, not your loved ones. Enjoy it for the reasons you love. This is no different than finding a new love for working out, finding faith, or anything else that you do for your own personal interests.

• Stop giving your progress to the downers. If you already have had negative experiences with certain people, don't allow one more negative comment to interrupt your progress. Shift your focus to those who might be interested if you want someone to talk to, leaving the others out of the way.

• Prove them wrong. Eventually there will come a time when you've done so much work that your skill will be better than they expected. Usually downers are jealous that they can't do something you're doing. Other times, they simply don't understand the importance. They hope to keep you down so that you won't succeed. Succeed anyway. Let time show them that their negativity didn't work.

• Imagine yourself in a situation when your language will be considered useful. All the work you've put in to doing your best may one day help a stranger, or make a new friend in an unlikely place. The surprise of finding out you worked hard to learn someone else's language is the reward. Think of who that person might be. Let that future person be your new support, replacing the downer who didn't care about your progress.

May 2, 2019



HeyMarlana, Great points, I agree with every single point you made. I have certain people who don't approve of me learning Spanish, but I really don't care. I had someone I know tell me that I was wasting my time learning Spanish and then they gave their "know-it-all speech" to me (so me being the such sweet person I am) I started talking to them only in Spanish for about 5-10 minutes, they got so aggravated with me, but it was hilarious.


Spanish is the most useful language after english, how could someone think that it is a waste of time?


You cheeky thing. :)


That is hilarious!


Languages do a LOT more than allow us to communicate with people who speak them. Learning them exercises the brain and is a great way to pass the time.

People who don't care just, well, don't care. People tend to be very self absorbed anyway and I have to admit I don't really care about some people's hobbies, fascinations, etc (especially popular entertainment junk but I won't go there).

The communication part of our brains are probably in great need of building back up for many reasons so we just have to know that we are doing a very good thing by exercising them.

Learning a language also helps make me humble, as it is not based on opinion, which most of social media and much of the world is today. That is one of the big benefits I am seeing too.

Similarly, learning a language lets me see how hard it is and gives me a great deal of respect for people who are from other countries and are trying to speak to me in my language! It's so easy just to see them as ignorant but if they can communicate in another language and I can't, it's me who is ignorant! :-)

Learning languages can be private and self-paced but gives a sense of accomplishment and achievement when done here on DL anyway.

So that's my summary of some medical, psychological, social and emotional reasons to learn languages.

Thank you for detailing some ways to stay motivated when others in our real life really don't care (or seem to...a lot of people shun things they don't understand or that make them feel inferior).

I love your examples and plans for making future social goals take the place of current situational ones too.


Sandra, as always you give great insight. You are absolutely correct about brain-health. So if someone agrees that yes, learning a language is beneficial... but not the language you're learning - that's the time to remember that you do this for you, not for someone else's approval.


A very valid point. We tend to forget that apart from the English speaking world there are Spanish, French, Russian speaking worlds. Leave aside Chinese, Japanese, Korean. We will never get to know them unless we speak their language. Duolingo is our hope to have a view of the entire human race.


My parents are supportive, but nobody in my family is able to speak another language or have even a slight desire to learn one so it's quite difficult. My parents and I were talking about visiting Japan and they were like, "You could be our translator!" And while I want to go to Japan, they can't even say "excuse me" in Japanese so it's pretty hard.

My friends also don't like leaning languages so I basically talk to myself when I cook or clean, pretending like there's someone there when there's really not lol


i like your name ;)


Personally I never tell people what I'm going to do. I let them see what I've done.

[deactivated user]

    I think most of the people who think acquiring a 2nd or 3rd language as a waste of time are monolingual. So far I haven't received any disapproval (surprisingly, because it's German), and wouldn't care if I did, but I have been asked by people if I'm German. Yes, I do have German ancestry, but It's kind of an annoying question to be asked because it implies that you have to be German to learn German, which is nonsense considering that the vast majority of English speakers are not British.


    This is very much what I'm referring to: people who think in order to learn a language there must be some link to one's ancestry, and even if there is a link - is it even necessary to know it if the person's family already speaks English.


    I have never met anyone that "disproved" of my language learning. Uninterested maybe, but never rude. Besides, aren't there bigger struggles in learning a language than what people think of you?

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