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Six More Reasons Why You Shouldn't Learn Another Language

Updated on April 26, 2012
Yeah, something like that.
Yeah, something like that.

Recently I read an article by spanishbynative that got me thinking.

(Linky time :D This got me to thinking about an article I wrote about 8 months ago (Shameless self-plug

Spanishbynative's hub showed a six step list of how to gauge where you are at in language learning. After analyzing this, I figured I placed myself in the step 5 category, intermediate fluency. But then I started to think, at what cost did this fluency come?

So I decided to add a few more pros and cons of my own to learning another language. Let's start with six more reasons why you shouldn't learn another language.

1. That inner voice in your head? Yeah, try getting it to shut up now.

When I first started learning Spanish, something I did to keep myself occupied was translating stuff in my head. Song lyrics, movie lines, even my own thoughts. This eventually helped me get to the point where I could actually begin to think in Spanish, though it came many years down the road.

Now that I consider myself to have a bit of fluency with the language, I don't feel like I need to continually translate stuff in my head. But try telling that to the voice in my head. I was watching an older episode of Deep Space Nine last night and I couldn't stop translating what they were saying. I don't even have to translate it, I just know off the top of my head what they are saying and how you would say it in Spanish. But I can't stop myself. I can't even stop my mind from saying my thoughts back to me in Spanish. I already have a problem calming my mind enough just so I can sleep, now I have to get my Spanish mind to calm down too.

2. People expect you to be one hundred percent fluent.

The other day, someone came in the store where I work and was wanting to do some project at their house. I can speak daily conversational Spanish fluently, but I will admit I don't know every term related to constructing a house. Or medical terms. Or musical terms. I don't know how to explain to someone how the stock market works in Spanish. There's just a lot of those kinds of terms you don't learn on your way to fluency. I have begun to work on building my vocabulary in other areas, but I honestly believe you can be fluent in a language and still have gaps in your vocabulary.

3. People aren't as impressed as you'd think when you can speak another language.

I was helping a couple the other day in Spanish at the store. They asked for me to go with them to the checkout counter because they wanted to make sure they got the deal I was giving them. The lady at the checkout counter also spoke Spanish. And when she found out I was stepping on her turf, she was not happy. I think people who are used to translating for us white folk have gotten kind of comfortable having that sort of "power" over us. You would think they would like having us helping instead of relying on them to translate. But they seem to take personal offense to it.

The Spanish people I talk to as customers are also not impressed. I get a lot of customers who almost seem to expect me to be able to talk with them in their language. I don't mind doing it, but it would be nice if you could acknowledge the hard work I've done trying to be able to speak to you. Which reminds me....

4. When someone is rude to you in that language, do you speak up or just let it slide?

This happens to me on a daily basis. Someone I am trying to help at the store will say something rude about me before they realize I can speak Spanish. I've heard, "This idiot doesn't know anything" and a wide array of insults. Which always makes me feel put on the spot. Do I tell them that it isn't very nice to insult people in another language? Do I bite my tongue and just let it slip?

Usually I don't. All I need to say is, in Spanish, "You never know who can actually understand what you're saying.

Hoo boy are they nice after that!

If I didn't speak Spanish, I would never even be in that situation in the first place.

5. It becomes a burden to maintain.

Fortunately, I have the means to be able to continue practicing and expanding my Spanish abilities. But I know a few people who don't have access to a regular source for language practice. And after six months of never getting to practice, you start to forget things. So you either have to listen to foreign language tapes, watch TV in your target language, or go out of your way to find someone to practice with. Like everything else, language is something that has to be used or be lost. If I even go a day or two without practicing, I start to feel a little rusty the next time I go to open my mouth.

I would never be able to pick this man out of a lineup.
I would never be able to pick this man out of a lineup.

6. The more of the language you learn, the more of the culture you have to learn.

When I meet new people, they want to talk about where they are from or tell me about their cultural past. I love learning about this kind of stuff, but I simply just don't know where Guadalajera is on the map, or how big of a star Pedro Infante was. It seems like sometimes, they even get exasperated with me because I don't know. It's almost as if they forget that I am an American who simply has taken the time to learn their language. I'm not Spanish, I'm not Argentinian, Puerto Rican. I'm an American. And that has nothing to do with pride, it's a simple fact.

So there you go, six more reasons why you shouldn't learn Spanish. This list more applies to those who have begun to have a measure of fluency, but if you're just starting off, maybe these six reasons will give you more of a desire to quit. ;)


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    • flagostomos profile image

      flagostomos 5 years ago from Washington, United States

      Thanks for the comment torys ten! I experienced something similar when i first started. All of the Spanish speakers wanted to practice their English so they never wanted me to speak spanish. I had to find a feller from Puerto Rico who didn't speak a word of English before I could really get in some good pratice. Keep at it if you can, it's very rewarding!

    • Torys Ten profile image

      Torys Ten 5 years ago from Central Utah

      I really enjoyed this hub.It was informative and humorous. I have always dreamed of learning Spanish. I took it in college, studied the Pimsluer method, and so on, but today I still can't speak Spanish.There real problem is there are only English speakers around me or the Spanish speakers speak English better than I speak Spanish. I applaud your hard work to accomplish what you have. And keep letting the rude ones have it! :)

    • flagostomos profile image

      flagostomos 5 years ago from Washington, United States

      @againsttheodds and janisimus Thanks for the comments!

      @Kieren Gracie My sister has the exact same problem. She's afraid to use what little Spanish she knows because that gets people excited to talk to her. Keep at it man, it's well worth it.

      @ Blawger I wouldn't say I've had a terrible experience. I completely agree with you, learning a new language is completely worth it and the benefits outweigh the cons. I have made new friends I never would have otherwise, learned to be a more fun and caring person, and just in general has made me a better person. The purpose of this hub was simply to show that some cons do exist.

    • Blawger profile image

      Bahin Ameri 5 years ago from California

      Interesting point of view. I'm sorry that you have had such a bad experience. I think a person's experience depends on the language they learn. For example, speaking Spanish in the U.S. is common so it makes sense people wouldn't be that impressed. But I think learning a new language is totally worth it. It has been shown to halt the age-related decline in brain function because it causes the nerve connections in our brain, the connections which help us think, to multiply and get stronger. I think that is reason enough.

    • profile image

      Kieran Gracie 5 years ago

      I am slowly learning Portuguese, which is more difficult than Spanish (so I'm told). The problem seems to be that, as soon as I mutter a word of Portuguese, my audience assumes that I know it fluently and rattles off a whole string of sentences before I can say 'please speak slowly'. This doesn't really work because, as soon as they realize that I'm not fluent, they shake their heads and walk away! There doesn't seem to be any halfway point!

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

      Great thoughts. I think learning other languages is easy only in a multilingual society.

    • againsttheodds profile image

      againsttheodds 5 years ago

      Good insight. I still think the hard work is worth the result.