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Why are you learning languages?

Fellow Duo consumers,

I would like to start a conversation to discuss the various reasons we are learning languages. What is the reason for you? Are you doing it for some professional gain or just to be cooler than your contemporaries? Do you have a passion for languages, a passion for words or do you simply think this is a better way to spend time than playing angry birds? Or perhaps you are a Jamie trying to express yourself to Aurelia!

I'll go first, my personal reason is two-fold. Primarily, I am trying to enhance my negative capability, trying to be more receptive to new phenomenons and approaches. I find languages beautiful and learning a new language certainly makes you think differently and creates far-reaching synaptic connections. Secondly, I am a sucker for words. So what better way to be exposed to more new words than learning a new language. I thoroughly enjoy enhancing my vocabulary here, however rubbish and utterly hopeless might I be at grammar!

I hope everybody pitches in on this. Looking forward to heaps of responses!

September 26, 2013



I am mostly learning German (and eventually French) for fun, but there are more reasons why I am learning. I am a musician, so knowing another language used in music a lot (like German) could be helpful for getting into a college. Also, a dream of mine would to be in one of the best orchestras in Europe like the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Symphony Orchestra, or Czech Philharmonic. It would be really helpful to know German if I was in one of those orchestras!


I didn't know you were a musician. What do you play?


Violin since I was 8, and piano since I was 4. I am good at both, but like violin more and am focusing more on it.


Ooh! You play piano? Me too! But I didn't start at age 4...


Yup :) I love playing instruments. Love it. And orchestras are the best --- the best. I'm in a full orchestra and chamber orchestra and they are both so great! :)


So cool @N8-0 and @Anyom! My sisters play viola and cello. And my brothers just piano. We all play piano. We're a very musical family! :)


I'm in band, play saxophone for that, and piano on my own.


:) My whole family plays piano(though my father, not well), and all of us excluding my mother play saxophone! My mother does voice instead.


How about some guitar? :) I think violin would be fun cause I play guitar, and it sounds really nice. I played piano when I was younger and I did not like it.


I am learning how to play the piano!


I played piano but i started at 10


but i also love singing so..... ima in the choir :)


So am I! What type of choir?


I love music! I play the piano, but I've always wanted to play something new like a trombone.

I started with piano around 3 or 4, just playing simple tunes like Do-Re-Mi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do-Re-Mi). Unfortunately, we gave away our piano when we moved a couple of years later, and I didn't get a real one until a little more than a year ago.

What genre of music do you play? I'm currently working on Beethoven's piano sonata no. 14; I hope to learn all three movements. I also like Joplin-style ragtime. http://youtu.be/ea4MxQAmowc


Let's see, on piano I'm learning also Beethoven... but I'm not sure what Beethoven. Violin I'm doing so much stuff I can't even tell you. But I'm in the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra (PYAO) and Trowbridge Chamber Orchestra if you want to look those up. :) Classical music is my thing. ;) But I do like all types of music.


:D I'm learning march of the dwarves!


Here's Beethoven's Piano Sonata no. 14; there are some recordings on the page (the player messes up frequently): "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_Sonata_No.14(Beethoven)"

The 3rd movement is the hardest. But if I learn it, I'll be very pleased, because I won't have to get online to listen to it. :)


Okay -- just looked it up, I'm learning the first Beethoven Sonata. That's so cool we're learning similar stuff! Woah...


What's the first Beethoven Sonata? Is it famous?


An ordinary choir. Like we learn the lyrics of a song then we sing them with a back-up track


My mum says that to be able to sing, you must learn the beat and stuff and you must be able to learn one instrument. I think learning the beat is true but learning the instrument isnt quite necessary.


If you want to have a fine tuned ear for pitch, then learn a string instrument. It's very helpful, for I can hear the slightest difference in an off pitch.


Then I should pick up a string instrument! I never can tell if I'm sharp or flat!


My problem is that when my choir director sings something, it sometimes seems slightly sharp or flat to me. Slight issues can be real painful if you have too much of an ear for tune.


That is good. I also play music. I can play the drums, piano, saxophone, and I have tried to play the bass as well. I started learning to play the violin but I gave up. At first I could not figure out how to get the violin to even make a sound and finding the notes on the fingerboard are a bit difficult.


Woah thats really cool :D I am also a musician. Acoustic guitar for 3 years now.


Same here, I learnt German and (hopefully French later) mostly because there are a lot of musical terms in German, and I want to learn Italian afterwards...


I'm learning languages for both professional reasons and for fun. ^^

For professional, I'm learning Korean. At first I started learning Korean for fun, but then it became for a professional reason as well. I plan on becoming an English teacher in South Korea one day. I know you don't need to know Korean to teach English there, but if I'm going to be living in the country and do something outside my job, then I need to know what I need to say, what is being said back to me, what I'm listening to and what I'm reading. So Korean is a two-timer for me. Learning it for both fun and professional manners~.

As for every other language, I'm learning them for fun just about. I have a huge passion for languages and I plan to learn as many languages as I can in my life time. It may be hard and it may take a while, but I believe it will be possible if I put my heart into it. I also want to be able to communicate to people who know little to no English at all. I want to be able to read/listen to something and understand it as well.

I believe learning languages can open many doors to new opportunities in the world. I hope this passion for learning languages keep staying strong, because I love learning new things. ^^


To pick up chicks. Just kidding. I love culture and languages


I didn't realize how much I enjoyed learning languages until this past year... Being Canadian, I went through elementary and secondary school learning French, but I have only recently made an effort to reach fluency in it. Duolingo has definitely been a great tool for expanding my vocabulary. This past summer I also started learning Spanish, partly because I want to go to (and possibly work in) South America at some point in the future. I have since discovered that it is a beautiful language, and I can't wait until I will be able to say that I am tri-lingual!


I just want to be bilingual. I think it would be cool, and fun. I've always found secret codes and things interesting, and a new language would be awesome. Just to be able to speak in a different tongue... it's a little hard to explain why I want to learn languages.

Okay, I was wrong: I don't want to be bilingual. I want to learn more than just two languages.


I think knowing more than one language is awesome. I just feel cool knowing another language. I think all Duolingoers get cool points for learning another language :)


Yeah, definitely. :)


Do programming languages count?


Count for what? Cool points? Definitely. :)


Wow! You're really good at German!


Thank you! I try to practice as much as I can... when I'm not too busy with orchestra and auditions that is. :)


I understand where you're coming from. I stress out a lot about band... I don't have the best grade even though I am pretty good at playing. Tests are so hard!


As a language, though?


I'm not sure I know what you mean...


Like they are called programming languages that is what I meant.


I didn't have them in mind when I said "languages", but now that I think of it, they kind of count... in a way.


Which ones do you know?


I'm a student, I learn foreign languages for fun, and hope it will be helpful for my future.


For me there are two reasons I am learning different languages. The first is personal, I love expanding my mind and being able to have a full comprehension of different people and cultures. Secondly I am hoping to increase my opportunities for professional growth.


Exactly. Are we related? Siblings from another mother? lol. Add to that, that is one of my life goals to be a polyglot.


That seems to be easy question, but it got me thinking as I've spent so much time learning languages recently.

For me - every language is different story, but most of them was just... Love? Passion? Something I can't understand. Learning English was somehow obvious. It was cool and I could understand songs on the radio, movies. But I found out that it is extremly cool to speak to some foreigners that were visiting my city. And amount of books from field of my profession was great comparing to amount in my native language.

German wasn't love at first sight. I've spent a lot of time at school with it. I started refreshing it recently and it was nice. French was pure love and passion - I was learning it instead of preparing to my exams on university. It is not that strong anymore, but still loves it.

On my way I came through different languages, but learned just couple of words in every.

I will be always angry that I didn't put enough effort in learning Dutch and Finnish when I was on my exchange in their countries. But they seemed so unpractical and difficult.

So yes - mostly because I like it, I love it and it is so much fun. It is useful during travelling, helps getting to know people and their culture - can push you as a part of community instead of just passing buy popular places with guidebook.


I'm a student. I learn languages because I like it. I started learning languages intensively since 7th grade, and I am until now. I don't know the exact reason why am I learning languages though. I've taken a Japanese class around my city, and I started my 4th language which is French by YouTube, Duolingo, some books, and any other websites.

Duolingo, I thank you for everything. You're the best. I love you with all my heart for giving me the chance to learn languages.

I love language and culture.


I'm a university student, knowing how to speak more than 2 languages fluently would look great on my curriculum... But I mostly just love learning, and I want to travel to a lot of places in the future, languages are useful to have in those situations.


Learning Spanish to communicate with my grandchildren in Spanish, they are bilingual.


Ditto! I'm a sucker for learning new languages. Apart from the ability that it gives you to be able to communicate to native speakers, you also get to learn their culture and customs, the cuisine, and the opportunity one is given to socialize with upcoming bilinguals, tri-linguals, and multilinguals such as the programme that DuoLingo has. A tip that I'd like to share though is that it is important to bear in mind that it's easier to learn a language as a way of having fun. Why? Si me preguntas? Because trying to learn a language for the sake of solely achieving success or meeting somebody will just be another source of stress. English is my first language. It was followed by Tagalog when I was between 4 to 5. I then learned French au lycee jus'qua le troisiemme etage (mais J'oublie un beaucoup de les mots). Spanish was the next one. But it was definitely easier than French. El linguaje Tagalog tiene muchas de las mismas palabaras en Espanol. La differencia es en la manera como estamos deciendo y usando los que tenemos. Then I found DuoLingo and whew, who would have thought the first one I'd choose would be German? Ich lerne die Sprache, obwohl es ist schwer. Bis bald fellow DuoLingers!


I've always loved the languages and being able to speak a lot of them since my childhood. If other people could speak their native languages (and more than it), I had to be able to speak their languages as they did, too. Because I believe that one that speaks only one language is one person, but one that speaks more languages is more people in one. I often regretted growing up monolingual. It would be great being an immigrant or having parents from other descents. I dealt with only English till high school even though I knew a good amount of vocabulary from other languages. In high school I began to learn more than English since it wasn't enough for me and it was time to level up. At first I didn't realize a lot that I would take benefit of knowing foreign languages other than English in my career since I had other plans, however, now I'm going to do.

Besides that, it's always great speaking to people in their own language.


I am learning languages because i want to see how different it really is to my language i mainly use and my backround language, to try something new and ive gotten so used to it its like my new hobby :D


Language learning is a way for me to learn the way people in other culture thinks. I hope by learning their language i can try so walk in their shoes for a bit and be more tolerance toward people with different language and culture. And off course it's my ticket to see the world!


i am learning new languages for 3 reasons:

1) Fun: I like to travel to different countries. And speaking to local and going to non touristy area is part of the adventure.

2) Professional: many door of opportunities will be open to me if i understand the language spoken in that country. For example i can read the document and newspaper to support my research on business and investment there.

3) Give back to the world: to support my ministry. many more non english speaking souls that I can inspire and touch. I want those wounded souls to be healed.


I'm currently learning Spanish and it's been a very long and intensive process for me. I remember taking my first Spanish class in middle school and being horrible at it. But I've always wanted to travel the world, and languages are necessary for that. About two years ago I decided to move abroad partly because of the travel opportunities and partly to learn more Spanish.

It's been a slow journey but worth it in the end. I still am nowhere near fluent, but by now I can semi-confidently say that I speak Spanish.


I have a passion for travel and meeting new people, therefore by speaking many languages communication between me and other is less limited. Plus languages are beautiful... and I am not to fond of English which is my mother language


I've always loved to learn languages, but I've always've been to lazy to really take time to do it. I first started with learning Dutch (I'm from Belgium and my native language is French), first at school, but I really learned it when I was 12 by going two years in school in Flanders. I had a great time there.

Then I started learning English with school. English interested me a lot because it's very useful to understand lyrics of songs and mostly... the Internet. I think the Internet learned me the most of my English. I wouldn't say that my English is perfect, but it's fluent.

I'm actually an exchange student in Texas and I can totally speak with people in English, altough my accent's pretty bad. But being 5 miles away from the mexican border... I ressent the urge to be Spanish, because there is no one day that pass without me feeling useless in front of people speaking Spanish.


I'm learning Spanish and Scottish Gaelic together as sort of a self-pacifier. My mom wants me to learn Spanish (I'm home-schooled) as a life asset, since there are numerous Spanish-speaking people in our area of the U.S. and I might need the skill in my future.

However, I've never really liked Spanish; it's a lovely language, but not in my top five choices. I recently found Scottish Gaelic and decided to try to learn it (such a beautiful sounding language!) but knew I couldn't stop learning Spanish altogether for a language I'll most likely never need or have a real use for.

So, I told myself that if I was willing to learn Scottish Gaelic, which is almost probably going to be harder than Spanish, then I could take the time to get back into the language I was supposed to be learning in the first place. Half a week for each, and I think it's working out pretty well, especially thanks to Duolingo; I'm more excited to learn Spanish than I've ever been. :) Great site guys!


I'm learning languages for fun. Foreign languages have always sounded cool, and I'd love to be able to speak them. Or, at least, read and write in other languages.


Just out of curiosity, what does the sentence “Or perhaps you are a Jamie trying to express yourself to Aurelia!” mean? I'm not a native English speaker :-)


That's a reference to a british movie called "Love actually". Jamie(Colin Firth) falls in love with Aurelia(Lucia Moniz) while not being able to communicate with each other in the same language. So he learns portuguese to go and declare his love to her :)


Thanks a lot for your kindness :-)

[deactivated user]

    I'm learning Korean, although not on Duolingo (yet), because I dream of going to Seoul National University or Yonsei. I also hope to live and work as a orthopedic spinal surgeon in South Korea for the rest of my life. In order to communicate with my patients, I must speak Korean.

    I also fell in love with Korean and 한굴. It sounds so smooth and beautiful. The writing system is downright simple. It is easy enough to be encouraging, but challenging enough to be fun.

    I am, of course, attracted to Korea's mysterious history and it's blazing pop culture.

    I plan on learning Mandarin, but that will be for my occasional China visits. So, it will really be for fun.


    I learn spanish because it helps with my school work, at my school it is compulsory until year 10 to learn spanish and modern hebrew


    I have always thought it would be cool to speak another language. As I've gotten older, I found an appreciation for language and have been working on strengthening my native english. This has reinvigorated my desired to learn a second and even third language. We should always keep learning, no matter what it is that interests us. Learning and practicing what we learn makes your life fuller and your mind stronger. Not to mention you'll be more interesting to those around you. :)


    I know French and English, and am currently learning Spanish in preparation to a trip to Ecuador I will take next summer. i will go three weeks in the Amazon Rainforest for a conservation project. I think that in this day and age, with so much connectivity, it is just best to know many languages. I guess the reason I'm learning spanish is a little of everything: for personal gain, a little bit to be ''cooler than your contemporaries'', as you put it, and it is a good way to spend my breaks from studying instead of Facebook. Also, spanish is a beautiful language.


    I've started learning German on Duo at the start of the year, and French just this week. I'm just interested in languages, and because I'm studying Diploma for Music, I thought knowing some European languages would help, theory-wise. And I support Arsenal Football Club, which has quite a couple of German and French players ;P so I could watch their interviews without subtitles. I already know Mandrin (I'm Chinese) since I started talking, it's my native language, but I want to learn like 3 steady languages by the end of this year, and I think it's possible...


    For my own interest. I also go for musical instruments - with both formal and informal, and so much more. I suspect many here are many things - poets, musicians, artists, writers, song writers, choreographers, dancers, athletes, spiritualists, searchers, seekers, etc. etc. Coming to Duolingo at all points to an open minded person who is gathering talents and pursuing interests.

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