I have a gift for learning languages, but I haven't made much use of it. There's people younger than me that know more languages than I do. The only one I've ever learned was German, and that was because I was listening to NDH metal at the time, which I don't do anymore.

I'm sick of my talent going to waste. I used to pride myself on how much more easily I could languages compared to everyone else around me. I don't get that joy anymore, because I have nothing to show for it other than my rusty German.

I tried to find a reason to do so just to increase my linguistic knowledge, but from what I've been told, that would be completely unnecessary and a waste of time.

I've heard it said a lot that learning languages helps with your brain health or something. Sadly, that's not enough motivation to try and get me to learn a language which I never use. I've never succeeded in learning any language that I had no use for. I have a pile of a dozen different language books in pristine condition that I bought over a decade ago, because I never used them much. The only one that actually shows any wear is my Spanish book. And no, I don't know Spanish.

Can anyone list some reasons to learn another language? I've already exhausted the biggest reasons. To learn to understand some foreigners, to broaden my knowledge on languages, to improve my own health. My own pride is really the only reason I keep trying. Its the only thing I've ever been good at. And I'm completely wasting it.

  • What exactly you want from your talent? What exactly you want in your life? There are people talent in singing, but they don't have much interest in becoming a singer, and that's fine.
    – Ooker
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 3:24

4 Answers 4


Start using the languages

The internet is full of content in different languages. Take something that is interesting to you and start reading or listening. I enjoy roleplaying games, so I read some roleplaying blogs and material in the languages I am learning or know too poorly. I also set my computer, phone and browser to the language I want to learn the most.

Alternatively, give up

The sunk cost fallacy is when you do not give up on something because of former investments, even though giving up would be the best thing to do. If the investments (in books, in your identity as a good language learner) are a burden from past ages, leave them be. Make it a ritual that clears them; give the books away to more enthusiastic people or sell them, or give them to a charity or local library or school etc.

Only learn languages in a way that is meaningful to you. If there is no such way, and the matter causes stress, then better drop it entirely.

  • 4
    Gotta love it when the StackExchange site dedicated to language learning recommends not doing it. (+1, btw)
    – Hatchet
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 17:24

If you don't plan to use a language actively (i.e. speaking and writing), you can still learn it out of sheer fascination with its (linguistic) features, or with the literature and culture associated with it. This fascination provides a source of motivation. For example, some people are interested in the diversity of grammatical features in languages that are not related to their own language. (This requires a strong interest in linguistics, otherwise you'll give up.) Others learn, for example, Sanskrit in order to be able to read the Vedas and classical works such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. (From their point of view, this isn't a waste of time.)

If you can't think of any motivation for beginning to learn a language, you won't have any motivation to continue learning it either, unless you get hooked along the way. Being able to use a language contributes to your motivation to continue learning a language. But you'll need some kind of spark to get the language learning engine going.

You mention that you have many language learning resources that you haven't used yet. These resources don't constitute a motivation. The argument, "I have invested so much time/money into this language, so I should continue or all is lost" would be an example of the "sunk-cost fallacy". The website Logically Fallacious defines this fallacy as follows:

Reasoning that further investment is warranted on the fact that the resources already invested will be lost otherwise, not taking into consideration the overall losses involved in the further investment.

You also state, "There's people younger than me that know more languages than I do." So what? Other people's success is not your failure! (Quoted from a video by Lindie Botes.) Also, if you think this is a form of envy (I don't want to jump to conclusion based on a few paragraphs), you should learn how to turn envy into motivation; see for example the article 4 Ways to Benefit from Envy. (Leon Ho, founder of Lifehack, thinks that "envy costs your entire mind".)


Here's a reason:

While learning another language, you also absorb some foreign culture and a different way of thinking and more importantly of perceiving the world around you. It opens doors to experiences, as if you were travelling far places, except these ones could be waiting only a block away from where you live. Being able to communicate with foreign people in their native language gives you a glimpse of what life could be other than what you are used to. It's very useful for a reflective lifestyle, and breaking out of the filter bubble prison that one tends lives in.

That said, learning languages is one way to train your curiosity, a skill so natural as a child, and easy to loose when getting older. There are other ways too, do what works for you, but I am convinced, that training your curiosity is very healthy for your brain function and quality of life in old age.

  • Thank you so much for your second point. Learning bits of languages, for me, is similar to some people doing sudoku or a crossword. It's like linguistic speed-dating; it might not go anywhere but you meet lots of nice new languages and (mostly) enjoy doing it. If you meet one you want to settle down with, even better, but there is nothing wrong in just enjoying the process.
    – Gulliver
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 6:51

Well, then.

You probably will use a language.

- An Indian using offensive language at you (I've had an experience of this on an Internet text chat, never knew or heard of "maderchod" before, it means motherfucker).
- A tourist asking for directions.
- A hacker has installed ransomware on to your computer (you just never know!).
- You actually go to a country and try to read the street signs.

and more to come...... <3

First of all, it depends what language is actually is. If it's Maori or something like a tribal language, then fair enough.

Do you mean dead languages or popular ones you think you will never use (what's that Russian ransomware saying? It's alien, omg).

If you want to understand English to the next level, Latin will be suggested. After all, even law students require some of it.

Why Latin? It teaches you the concepts and origins of the English language, from many roots and stems. After all, knowing a word individually is like learning Chinese characters without bothering with their parts (radicals). For example, the word 'fero' means to carry, now it's used with "transfer".

Why Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics? One day, you might find something really special. It's a possibility, don't think this sounds stupid!

What about Ancient Greek? Its alphabet is definitely very useful to know at least (for example, maths and capabilities of reading Greek stuff).

Personally, I think any language is useful. It's about dedicating to your time to it (which obviously requires motivation, none of "maybe I should learn something else perhaps").

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