I don’t think that it’s an exaggeration to say that most people would like to learn a new language. I believe that if you asked even the most ardent English-Only supporter in the USA, if not in the mist of a debate, what language they would like to wake up tomorrow and know fluently he/she would say, Oh French! It’s such a classy language; or maybe, Japanese. I have to go there on business trips from time to time and it would be nice to know what they’re saying without an interpreter; or perhaps even, Italian. I’m an opera aficcionado and would love to enjoy La Triata without looking at the subtitles.

Why don’t more people do it then? There are lots of reasons and they’re all disempowering so I won’t bother enumerating them here. My experience is that there is usually a compelling reason not to do something that you know will enrich your life.

A week or so ago I stumbled upon a great, online test that people can take to determine how likely they would be to learn a new language. Click here to take it. Try taking it twice, once for a language you’d love to learn and another that is interesting to you but not compellingly attractive. The test focuses on many of the reasons that a person learns, or fails to learn, a new language and then gives the test taker a score that indicates the likelihood.

What I find particularly effective about this test is that if a person wants to learn a language then what he/she needs to do is look at the questions he/she got a low score on and change that are of his/her life. For example, maybe you’re very motivated to learn Tagalog because that’s what your parents spoke at home. Let’s say that you find yourself motivated, there are Filipino people in your life that you could practice the language with but you can’t find any good materials or classes to take. Well, that’s where you need to focus.

The test simplifies things and lets a person know why he/she is not succeeding. A very natural reaction is to get depressed and not try. Achievement, in any area in life, requires us all to specify problems and then solve them while still maintaining the good points in our lives. Anyone can do it! Language learning is no different.


6 Responses

  1. Well, I got an 11 for Portuguese. I guess that’s not too far from what I would have guessed. I have intended to learn it since I started learning Spanish. I’ve even had times in which I got some serious studying done (biweekly speaking sessions with native speakers, reading an entire grammar book, etc).

    But I probably should already be highly functional in it already. French too. I’ve just been too lazy, and I haven’t had the motivation and/or need.

    A trip to Brazil would be the proper motivation (Ryan, you lucky rat). We’ll see if I can make that happen at some point.

    I’m sure I’ll have at least moderate functionality in Portuguese within the next 10 years or so. Maybe French too.

    It’s too bad one can’t “wake up tomorrow and know fluently” a language. I swear I’d make good use of it!

  2. Nice test! Thanks for posting the link. Does anyone know what the maximum possible score is? I couldn’t find that mentioned anywhere. I took it and got a 24 but have no idea what the maximum is.

  3. Bilingual Blogger:

    I don’t know what the maximum score is but if you got a 24 I think it’s pretty safe to say that you should learn whatever language you took that test for.

  4. Maximum score in 37, and for french I got a 19, though I think it’s closer to 17, think it’s pretty good.
    But I am incredibly motivated, and quite young so perhaps it will soak in quicker.
    I’m using the FSI French for now, any tips or so?

  5. Monolingual Briggsby: What did you get a 37 in?

    I can think of two tips that I’ve learned from hyper-polyglots that you should keep in mind.

    1. Study the language every day, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes (thirty minutes or more would be better). Studying for thirty minutes four times a week is better than studying for two hours twice a week.

    2. Study in a way that keeps you coming back for more. This makes the first suggestion easier to follow. If you hate studying then change the way that you study. Some people—like me—need to interact with others in the target language or it’s not fun. Other people—like Steve Kaufmann—like to read in the target language for six months to a year before daring to talk in it. The right way to study is the way that makes you want to learn more.

    Thanks for reading and good luck with French.

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