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Poll: Have you ever regretted learning one language instead of another?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 09:10
Sep 18, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever regretted learning one language instead of another?".

This poll was originally submitted by Mariam Osmane

View the poll here

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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:10
Why regret? Sep 18, 2009

If you have the passion and the chance to learn a certain language instead of another, you could still go for the "another" language which you missed in the first round. And sometimes the first language which you did not plan to learn might help learning the target language which you tried to learn. Learning a new language, regardless of which group of languages it belongs to will do good but no harm.


Kaspar Müürsepp  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:10
Member (2014)
English to Estonian
Correct Sep 18, 2009

I agree with Yasutomo - extra knowledge never hurt anyoneicon_smile.gif


Oleksandr Kupriyanchuk  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:10
Russian to English
+ ...
The right order: (anc.Greek)-Latin-Ital.-French-(Germ.)-English Sep 18, 2009

But not vice versaicon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2009-09-18 09:49 GMT]


Oleksandr Kupriyanchuk  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:10
Russian to English
+ ...
Paganel did NOT REGRET (at the end of the day!) Sep 18, 2009

Jaques Paganel's absent-minded actions famously included learning the Portuguese language INSTEAD OF Spanish by mistake.

"To learn Spanish and talk Portuguese! Why, if I go on like this, some day I shall be throwing myself out of the window instead of my cigar!”

“But, I say,” said the Major, after a minute, “this doesn’t alter the fact that we have NO INTERPRETER!”

“Oh, don’t distress yourself about that,” replied Paganel, “Portuguese and Spanish are so much alike that I made a mistake; but this very resemblance will be a great help toward rectifying it. In a very short time I shall be able to thank the Patagonian in the language he speaks so well.”

(What a pity: today's kids read Harry Potter "and ather fentezi" instead of classic. masterpieces)

[Edited at 2009-09-18 10:06 GMT]


Sonja Kroll  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:10
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
Latin! Sep 18, 2009

I could have chosen French or Dutch instead. Oh my!icon_frown.gif

[Bearbeitet am 2009-09-18 10:03 GMT]


John Cutler  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Second thoughts... Sep 18, 2009

I did go through a phase in which I regretted learning Spanish before I learned Catalan. I felt like I had wasted my time. Life around me was going on in Catalan but I was speaking Spanish, a "foreign" language for most of the people I know or deal with in this part of Spain.

Now that I spend all day communicating in Catalan and rarely if ever have the opportunity to speak Spanish (the reality of life in the heartland of Catalonia) I'm glad I learned Spanish first. If I hadn't I might never have learned it at all!


Miroslav Jeftic  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:10
English to Serbian
+ ...
Yup Sep 18, 2009

I majored in Japanese and also studied Korean as a "second" language. I do regret it to some extent, since both languages are pretty much useless (as in impossible to find any kind of work with them) in my country, though nobody tells you that when you are 18 and just entering the University.icon_biggrin.gif


Minoru Kuwahara
Local time: 01:10
English to Japanese
+ ...
Russian, damn Sep 18, 2009

Well, I voted for "Yes". Truly, I once regretted taking Russian as the second foreign language at the university. I was a bit too naive to launch on this language, without knowing its relative difficulty in grammar, pronunciation and unfamiliar Cyrillic characters, after the intensive English courses as a "ronin" at what we call a Japanese "college preparation school". My interest naturally inclined to English. I was just 20 of age, and in most cases, curiosity came first before anything in choosing courses, which turned out to bring up new, sometimes not quite favorable, hurdles. I was much too young and curious to seek for something different from my own "mainstream".

The initial stage of absorbing basics was feasible, while as we approached the intermediate level, the situation never stayed the same. I soon found out it's hard enough to follow the grammatical complexies (conjugation and all those variations) and relative longer coined terms even hard to read and pronounce since they are written in Cyrillic characters which themselves were taking me enough time before assimilation. Some of the classmates at that time might have gone on to the Russian Literature major, in which Russian should have had a definite merit for them, but I selected American history where it did not always play a big role. I even tried reading translations of Dostoyevskii and Tolstoy, but I stuck in the middle of "Notes from Underground", whose theme was a little too much for myself, so I stopped reading.

But still, after graduation from the university, I continued to listen to NHK's radio foreign language program for several years, with conversational sessions and again the lecture on Dostoyevskii's "The Brothers Karamazov". And here again, I dropped out after going through the first series, although I could gain a certain conviction in Russian "naturalness" there.

Russian had been definitely a difficult, almost impossible language to me for a long time, that's why I decided to quit it, at least, I was thinking so. That's only a couple of years ago. However, just after a short period of time, I confronted an email magazine for debutant learners of Russian, and thanks to this, I had a chance of reacquiring the knowledge. Amazingly, ever since then, my interest in Russian has been grown, which even leads me to listening news in Russian. Now it's unbelievable to myself that I'm feeling sort of confident in going on this.

In fact, after Russian, I also started French as the third language 16 years ago, and what interested me most was that it's much easier to go on learning it with strong similarity to English in terms of its vocabulary and Roman alphabets. Reading French literature for language purpose was intriguing and fruitful enough as a result. This is quite comparative to when I studied Russian.

What can I say through these experiences? One can go on learning new languages as one likes, which is even my basic principle, however, languages "can" be more varied and involve different levels of difficulties before reaching certain maturity. If one knows English, it would be probably easier to launch on French, German, Spanish or other Western European languages rather than Russian or other Eastern European languages. Another example is that even if one is Japanese, sharing kanji, it may not be instantly simple to learn Chinese (I may need to ask someone who’s actually learning it, though.) Language DOES have different characters. Some of them are easy enough at the first level, while others may not be necessarily so. However, the common thing is that it requires steady persistence in its pursuit. Not a piece of cake, but heaping knowledge is sure to lead you to next stages.....

Sorry for a long post! Just in a hope some ones share my experience.

Minoru Kuwahara

[Edited at 2009-09-18 10:57 GMT]


Anthony Baldwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:10
Portuguese to English
+ ...
not one instead of another Sep 18, 2009

I've never thought of learning one language instead of another.
I can always learn another.
I currently know, read, speak 4 languages. I can also add more.


C. Mouton  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:10
Member (2007)
English to French
at school only Sep 18, 2009

I chose German because it was supposed to be a good idea for someone you already studied English and Latin.

Well, it was not! Probably because of the teacher, actually.

I can speak more Spanish (which I never learnt) that German today !!!

But I'll never regret learning English !


Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:10
Turkish to English
+ ...
Mercenary consideration Sep 18, 2009

On a purely mercenary level, as one who earns a living from translation, I regret not having learned the particular language which commands the highest rate when translated into my native language! That may be Maltese at the moment. Who would ever have thought of learning Maltese twenty or thirty years ago?


Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:10
Flemish to English
+ ...
No Sep 18, 2009

I currently know, read, speak and write 5 languages (Dutch,French,German Spanish, English).
I am also able to read and understand Italian (level: Corriere della Sera) and Portuguese (level: RTPi) and the basics of a Russian /Romanian conversation.
However, I remain curious about Chinese. It seems to be a most difficult language.
From a pratical point of view: supply and demand at the E.U.-institutions, knowing a language of the accession countries or a rarer language like Maltese, the Baltic languages, Bulgarian gives you a bigger advantage when you succeed in a concours.
As mentioned above in the past 30 years geopolitical circumstances have changed drastically: who could foresee the fall of the Berlin Wall, the importance of Baltic languages, globalisation ....
No regrets, but no time to learn more.

[Edited at 2009-09-18 14:45 GMT]


Penelope Ausejo  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Interesting post Sep 18, 2009

Interesting post!

This year, my oldest son (4 years old) is starting Chinese. Classes at his school are taught both in Spanish and in English, and I could choose German or Chinese as an extracurricular activity. I went for Chinese, maybe from what I read here, I can see whether it was been a good idea or not.


Kate Deimling
United States
Local time: 12:10
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
No regrets, just wish I had time to learn more Sep 18, 2009

I've never regretted learning French. I just wish I had time to also learn Italian, Spanish, Russian. Also I wish I had kept up my German which I can't produce very well any more. But French is my first and lasting love, and, for me at least, it is challenging enough keeping my knowledge of French fresh and informed, since I live in the U.S.

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