Ten Things Non-Language Learners Will Never Understand

1. The urge to buy just about every language learning textbook you can get your hands on

…even before you started learning your new language.

urge to buy everything

2. Listening to your foreign radio/podcast/music at just about any time of the day

Shopping, taking the bus, washing the dishes, going for a #2… There is never a bad time for language learners to get some practice, y’know.

podcast listening

3. Going to the same ethnic restaurant again

…just so you can practice your language skills with the cute server.

Japanese restaurant

4. That feeling when you’ve just had your first conversation with a native speaker

…entirely in the language you’re learning.

First conversation feeling


Mr. Bean going crazy

5. The urge to start learning yet another language

…as soon as you can say the equivalent of konnichiwa in the one you’re learning.

Studying another language

6. Accidentally greeting fellow native English speakers in a foreign language

Yes it happens. People tend to look at you in a weird way.

Greeting in a foreign language

7. That feeling when you hear somebody ask you to “say something” in your foreign language

Yes, it’s that annoying.

Annoyed feeling

8. Not getting understood…

…because you’re actually pronouncing foreign words the right way.

Confused muppets

9. That feeling when you overhear conversations around you

…where the people are speaking about you in a foreign language.

overhear conversations

10. Impressing everyone around you

By ordering Chinese food in Chinese.

Super impressed

9 thoughts on “Ten Things Non-Language Learners Will Never Understand”

  1. 11. Your target language losing appeal to you after a few months of intensive learning and “good enough level”. Your second target language losing appeal after only half the time. Your third target language losing appeal even earlier.
    12. The urge to learn every language of the world. Because there are so many people on SharedTalk…
    My blog allthetongues.hol.es (an amateur’s stab at blogging)

  2. Julio C Ara Val

    Nice article! I totally agree with each and every single point of it. Some of them happen to me so often. So, we Polyglots have to deal with it. It’s not that new but challenges always show up suddenly.
    Good job, Sam! I hope I work with you again, buddy. 😉


  3. 13. Having your first dream entirely in your target language and other people not understanding why you are so thrilled about it.
    14. The feeling that you get when you are reading a novel in another language and you realize you understood *every single word* on the previous page perfectly without even having to guess from context.
    15. Feeling disgusted and disappointed in yourself for having achieved superb fluency in another language and then having let it “rust” for years after you returned to the States.

  4. The Pied Piper Polyglot

    I’d like to add one #125 that feeling when you’ve been learning for a year and you practice writing/speaking in your target language but you compulsively check a translator to make sure you said it right and then one day you check…AND YOU DIDN’T MISS A SINGLE WORD!!!!!!!!!

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