How often do you use your non-native language(s)?



Btw, did the methods you tried even explain how to pronounce Pinyin? If not, then how are you supposed to know?

They only wrote a short info: Pinyin was created for Westerns to learn how to speak Chinese but that’s it so I don’t know how I should know it. I think that was another fail of this learning course.

Btw, Duolingo doesn’t use Pinyin. After learning a few characters you get whole sentences written in Chinese characters, with no spaces between the words

Duolingo was bit better to learn the signs but only available in English and it mainly used normal English sentences with Chinese signs instead of natural Chinese sentences (I asked a native speaker at some point because I found the structure too strange and not natural; he agreed to my impression, then I showed him some sentences/training tests from another learning course I thought it is more natural and he said yes this other course is how Chinese would write, but also only English…)

Of course it also has advantages: you improve in two languages at the same time.

Some people I know are learning like that. They like this method but for me it is too complicated/distracting.

Btw, the first books I ever had to use for Finnish were completely in Finnish! All the grammar explanation, etc

Wow that is hardcore learning style :smiley:
I think that would be too difficult for an Asian language like Chinese, Japanese, Korean…


I learned all my early languages by hearing anyway, not reading.

I heard from some of my friends that they are also only learning like that but I always need written form + grammar too. There are some videos on Youtube of people who learn only by listening and some say everyone could learn ‘any language like a baby’ just within few month and would be able to speak then.

I didn’t try it yet because for me only ‘speaking’ a language feels so half finished, I always want the written form too.

The King:Eternal Monarch

Is it good? I was thinking about watching it.


Seems like that course was lacking a lot. Even an English native would not automatically know how to pronounce Pinyin.

Duolingo was made by volunteers, so I guess it’s prone to mistakes.

Hardcore indeed. After all, Finnish also belongs to another language family. The advantage above the Asian languages, though, is that we didn’t have to learn a new alphabet for it. Learning Chinese in Chinese would be quite the challenge …

The only languages I learned like that were Gronings and Frisian, just because I heard them a lot in my childhood. If I see them in written form, I first think of how it sounds and then I understand. With my other languages it’s the other way around.

I once came across a Korean course where they teach you Korean just by an audio cd. I didn’t buy it. But might work for some.

It’s an interesting method, but unfortunately our brains are not the same anymore as when we were a baby. We don’t learn a new language as easily now as we did back then. On the other hand, we now have motivation and we can actively search for the method that works best for us.

Especially for Asian languages there are often courses that focus on either writing or speaking instead of on both. But I guess if we do them one after the other in the end we will manage both.

I was missing grammar too, though, when I was studying Korean online only. There were so many things that didn’t make sense. So in the end I started buying books anyway.


Some scientists say learning a new language is not a question of age and that it’s more a mental blockade because many people think they are age X so they have less capabilities than a child. Probably it’s a question of available time and design of the courses. I know many people who learnt 1-2 languages at school but later as adults they were unable to use it because it was just in their head during school time and after not using it their brains ‘removed’ the knowledge from conscious mind. I also met a few who learnt a foreign language as adults and they are quite good (even better than a school kid after 1-2 years of learning).

The only thing that can’t be achieved that easily (related to what scientists say) is the level of native speakers but I think even average school kids don’t speak a foreign language on native speaker level so it’s probably again a matter of time and active learning, e.g. even in someone’s native language the person would not know every word related to any branch/field so I think the language level adults can reach is okay even when it’s not like a native language speaker’s level.

Is learning with paper books better for you? I’m wondering if that makes a big difference or not (I’m not sure for myself yet; sometimes I think with a paper book it might be easier because of being used to paper but on the other hand I like the picture-sign-sound approach for Chinese so only paper books wouldn’t help).


I think it’s not so much that they have less capabilities, but more that they have different capabilities. Their brains work differently, they are more conscious of the learning process.
I don’t think anyone should feel discouraged from learning something new based on their age. It’s actually good to keep your brain fit, so there’s no reason not to at least try.

If you learn a language at university you’re actually supposed to end up as what they would call a near-native speaker. How that works out depends of course on many factors, but I don’t think it’s entirely impossible.
And no, noone knows all the words and expressions in their native tongue either. But for a native it’s not a problem. If they happen to get a job in a certain field, they will learn new vocabulary and otherwise they can happily live on without those fancy words. Either way for a native those words are easier to add to their vocabulary than for those who don’t even know the basics.

Hmmm … I think so, at least for the things I really need to study, like grammar rules and words. Audio and video are great for pronunciation of course and the basic grammar can be explained well in a video as well, but … will I remember everything that way? I think for that part I’d rather just read the material at my own pace and I’m not a big fan of reading long texts on screen.
But at times when I have too much on my mind to even touch a studybook I find going to some website to learn/practice a little more convenient, haha.
I guess in the ideal case we would just use both.


All of you are so amazing! I am a native English speaker an that’s what I speak 99% of the time… the other 1% consists of Spanish and a bit of Korean (both of which I am not fluent in) I admire people that can learn languages fast and can speak multiple languages fluently, it’s so cool! I give props to those people, you guys are absolutely amazing!


Hi personally im native french but i also talk in spanish and arabic with my family so i use my non native languages only in house or in school .
(I practise korean in university ). If you want to learn a new language faster i think you need to find a person to help you and talk in that language with you .


YES! Practice, practice by talking/communicating with others is what makes us speak/talk a new language faster. You can know how to read/write another language but if you don’t practice by speaking to others you will never be able to perfect that language. Many can say they can but I bet their heavy accent and mispronunciation will be very noticeable/obvious.

There’s no denying that you have been blessed to know so many different language that opens many doors for you in the workforce. Courtrooms, Government Office, FBI, CIA need ppl with your skills and that pays BIG money.


That sounds very judgmental and black-and-white. People who study a language by themselves are devoted learners and in this modern age they have plenty of ways to learn the pronunciation. They also have the luxury of studying at their own pace, without a teacher pushing them into a direction they’re not yet ready for.
Sure real life classes have their advantages and so do native speakers. But it’s not the only option and also not by definition the best. What works for one, may not necessarily work as well for the other.


I don’t think so; is not being judgmental it is what it is, I went through that in my life, I forgot how to speak correctly in English because for 3 years I went to my Island and there was no one else to practice with (my brother and sister refused to speak in english). When I came back to US as hard as I tried I couldn’t speak a full sentence without mispronounced words and stuttering all over the place(forgot how to say certain words that belong in the sentence etc…)

The problem is; there’s no way for you to tell if you are mispronouncing a word unless someone points it out to you. In your case you seemed not to have that problem because you have friends all over the world that communicate in English through phone conversations with you; right? You get to practice the language, too. There’s no way a person in a country with no one else to talk to in that other foreign language not to have a heavy accent or mispronounce some/many words.
To the person, they think their English is just perfect and I know because I met TEACHERS that they went on and on speaking in English that sounded so terrible bc of their mispronounce words or let’s say heavy accent that makes it hard to understand so you go…Excuse me? Ah? or you just play along and say yeah…yeah… I lived through that is the reason why I always say the best way to learn a language is to communicate with others that are native speakers and know how to pronounce the words correctly, of course. Practice as much as you can bc the TV, Book can not tell you you are mispronouncing a certain word and correct you, unless it’s a live person (through skype/zoom etc…)

One, it helps so you won’t forget the language. Two, so you learn to pronounce the words correctly bc you can’t do that on your own by just watching TV. You noticed in K drama the actors they use; how broken their English is, and everyone notice that right away? The heavy accent, the stuttering gives them away immediately. I have people that we’re have a conversation in English, and I had to asked them to speak Spanish bc I’m having a hard time understanding them in English.

If we are having an important conversation this is not the time for me to help them out and point out what they are is saying wrong (word usage in a spoken sentence I mean). If i have the time very politely I correct them and we move on but some people swear that their heavy accent/pronunciation problem DOESN’T interferes with understanding them as ‘‘we speak/listen’’ to each other.

I always say there is an exception to the rule, and I call those GENIUS. But even those genius make a mistake here and there from time to time. Check it out.


Even people who live abroad or are sometimes born abroad can have an accent and could be unable to speak the language of that country with ‘correct’ pronouncing…

It’s even possible for ‘native speakers/citizens’ of a country because of accents/dialects. The best example for that might be China in which they need Chinese subtitles for their own TV content because not every Chinese is able to understand the official Mandarin/Cantonese that is used, depending on the region.

It’s the same in Europe. Some areas do have heavy dialects and some people are unable to talk in the official language that is pronounced completely different in some cases.

Besides nowadays we got the advantage of internet and software and learning programs that are able to give better feedback than any teacher could ever give when it’s about pronouncing because the software marks exactly what was pronounced wrong with example how the correct speaking is so one can easily work on that until being able to pronounce a word in a correct way.


Since languages sound different related to the area someone could speak a foreign language fluently but having an accent though, e.g. American accent vs British accent so who on Earth in which language would speak any language accent-free without being a TV spokes/women who is trained in accent-free speaking…


And even that doesn’t happen everywhere. Norway for example has 2 official written languages, but no official spoken language. So the newsreader speaks in his own dialect, the weatherman might speak in another dialect and then the talk show host might speak in yet another dialect. And the viewers are supposed to understand it all.


I suppose then you didn’t practice your English in any other way then? No reading, no studying, no English movies, etc.? In that case I’m not surprised you got rusty/lost it. In fact you don’t really lose it completely, but it goes to some part of your brain where you can’t easily retain it from.

Some countries indeed have teachers who don’t speak that great either, and I guess that’s why Asian countries nowadays invite foreign teachers to their countries.
Asians also have the problem that so many for us totally normal sounds (like the letter f) are not present in their language, so they say a p instead. For us a big difference, for them hard to hear.
But where I live teachers (at least the official ones in schools and universities) are supposed to speak the language they teach correctly, so that the students learn it correctly as well. We were supposed to learn Brittish English, so our teacher would correct us if we pronounced something in an American way (which we did, cause we were influenced by tv and music, internet wasn’t even a thing yet).

As you learn more languages, you develop better skills for learning new pronunciations. Not every new language is as hard as the first one was. And indeed, nowadays there’s a lot to be found online, including people to talk to. But even without a native speaker around an experienced learner can come a long way with audio material.

On the other hand, I’ve come across people who lived in The Netherland for decades, yet didn’t speak a word of Dutch.



Yes, the English teacher back then was terrible, and she had a horrible heavy accent that made it impossible for me to understand some words she was saying. Sadly, she was the only English teacher we had in that High School (transfering was not an option and paying english private schools were never in our budget). It was 7 kids in that household. My mother and father were not in the picture, and my poor grandmother was at the time the one raising us (for 3 years to be exact).

Another problem I was facing back then was that in my Island back in the 70’s we were traitors if we spoke English in PR. (sometimes they pulled my long hair until I fell hard to the floor) if I started talking to my sister in English and got caught by the bullies. There was several good reasons why I forgot the language in 3 years but within 6 months back in USA I learned everything again (except it took longer to lose my bad pronunciation). Thank goodness back then they had the Bilingual Education program that saved my life bc I would have gotten left back if it wasn’t because of that program which no longer exist here in the US.

You know what’s so funny? I called the credit card company the other day and an American lady answered the call but I swear to you I got out only a few words from her that I could understand. She had a Southern Texas accent so strong I couldn’t make heads or tail from what she was saying. I gave my daughter the phone to help me out, and she hanged up the call bc she didn’t understand her either.

My brother is married to a lady from Trinidad and I can barely understand her in English so I asked her what is your native language, Indian? She answers: English. I burst out laughing and asked her why she has such a heavy accent in English then (I thought she was ‘‘playing with me’’),she answered to me the English that they speak is from the British. In goggle search I found:

excerpt from google
English is the country’s official language (the national standard variety is Trinidadian English), but the main spoken languages are Trinidadian English Creole and Tobagonian English Creole.

Btw, I know in The Netherland they have quite a vast different language/dialect so it doesn’t surprise me that some ppl. don’t even speak a word of Dutch. It’s fascinating to know that so many different language exist in the world; Don’t you think so? Too bad is humanly impossible to learn all of them.


Then it is no wonder the children in your class didn’t learn it properly.

That makes it even harder. It’s so sad. I’m glad you got help from that program, though.

Haha, I can imagine. :joy:

Yes, they speak English, but … ummm … differently. In fact English is spoken in so many parts of the world, but with so much variation in pronunciation and vocabulary. There was a time I had a hard time understanding Australian dramas, but later I got more used to it. Indian English still sounds very unfamiliar to me.
And at school we learned the “posh” kind of Brittish, but later I heard musicians singing and talking English in a more countryside kind of way and I was like: “What’s this?” haha, but it was nice anyway.

This is true, but at least the natives (almost) all speak standard Dutch as well. So a foreigner coming here would have the option to hear and speak Dutch. Funny enough some do learn one of the dialects/regional languages but those usually can also speak Dutch. It’s kind of funny btw to see Asian looking people talk in my local dialect. They speak it perfectly, yet from their appearance you wouldn’t expect it.
And yes, I love that we have all those languages. Wish we could learn them all! :wink:


Do you know if the kids at school have native speakers as teachers for learning foreign languages in the countries you lived?

Here, the kids at public schools mostly don’t have native speakers as teachers for learning foreign languages. I think that’s a bit sad and some kind of disadvantage as well. The language teachers for adults are native speakers (in most cases).

I think a native speaker as teacher could create a more lively lessons and also teach something by just telling something (including training for daily life conversations).

When something is less boring people (kids) would have more fun to learn and then they’d become better faster; when they don’t have the feeling they have to do this or that just for getting good marks at school…

(I once met a teenage girl who learnt a foreign language by herself with books and by TV content like shows, movies, documentations and she was so good in that language, better than kids who have to learn a certain language just because school says so - this was in pre smartphone apps and youtube video course times and it worked for her and it was quite impressive because she was also able to use difficult complexe grammar structures that even some natives speakers can’t use (or use it wrong because it’s a difficult aspect)


At my highschool all language teachers were Dutch (as far as I remember), but they spoke their language very well, and most of them had also lived in the country of their choice for some time.

At university there were more foreign teachers, though not all of them. One of my Swedish teachers was Dutch, but had grown up in Sweden. One of my Estonian teachers was a German man with an Estonian mother. My Finnish teachers were all Finnish, but one of them grew up in The Netherlands.

At university in Finland most of my teachers were Finnish (with either Finnish or Swedish as their (main) mothertongue), but my Icelandic teacher there was Icelandic.


Wow, I love your guys’ stories! For me, as a very young child I spoke Urdu and English but, unfortunately, I’ve lost almost all of my ability in Urdu, although I am trying to revive it.

I grew up speaking only English for a while but learning Spanish throughout high school for 5 years got me to an intermediate level, which I am still trying to improve and keep up with on duolingo!

Here on viki I volunteer as a korean-eng subber. I started watching Korean dramas in 2014 (after recommended by my friend - my first one was “Pinocchio”!) and immediately fell in love with the language and have been learning since. I consider myself fluent but as a non-native there are always new things I’m still learning, especially with historical dramas!


I was born in Haiti so I speak Haitian Creole and French (It was used at school and in professional settings in my hometown). I moved to the U.S when I was 10 years old and, having lived in the U.S for 9 years, I have become fluent in English. Being the youngest, I focused on learning English and making friends that I have assimilated into the culture more than anyone else in my family (& faster too). Since I don’t have daily conversations in Haitian Creole and French (I still do but not as much as it used to be), I started to forget both. I took French in high school and found that I had forgotten a lot more than I thought (It was a memory retrieval process). It’s has gotten to the point where I keep forgetting words and just add one from another language (I might be speaking Creole and suddenly add a word in English cause I forgot how to say it in Creole, vice versa). Since being on Viki, my French has been improving while translating into french (I sometimes forget to use the correct verb conjugation or feminine and masculine nouns but I catch it most of the time.) I’m still looking for ways to improve my Creole. Now whenever someone starts to speak Haitian Creole and French my mind goes “Wait a minute, am not ready yet,” I can understand what you’re saying but giving you an answer will take me a while. I am much better at reading and writing French than I am at conversating which got too fast-paced for me.


I am speechless, wow! This girl is really gifted but their parents are also doing a fantastic job by letting her be a child and to teach her through playing. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


I am TOOOO old to work for the Feds… :female_detective::sunglasses::smirk: