Studying languages sounds exciting.
When you start you see already these doors opening to an enchanting new culture that will longingly welcome you in a world made of bilingual dreams and local friends.
A short-term effort that will lead to long-lasting satisfactions.
An ideal job that will fill you up with emotions and gratification.
As I took the bright decision of studying a new language a cool 8 times, I found out it is actually not all a bed of roses.
Even if you are really passionate about it, sometimes you will just feel it’s not worth it.
These are the 7 reasons why.
You will have to do your homework
Even if you are the most talented human being (definitely-not-my-case), you will need to do your homework.
It does not matter how involved you are in the local culture.
When you attend classes, even if you are participative, you will most likely forget those rules if you do not write them 10 times when you get home.
You can engage in drunken conversation as long as you want. But at some point you will need to learn words, and grammar, and conjugations, otherwise you will be stuck in the same level for 5 years and you don’t want this.
You will look stupid
Yes, you will. Even if you are sharp in real life, you will most likely spend a year when you’ll just look retarded.
You will get all the verbs wrong, fall into false friends traps, make the same mistake twenty times.
Natives will not usually correct you, because correcting a beginner would mean interrupting a conversation every 30 seconds. And unless they are your teacher, they do not really care if you improve or not.
So you will most likely make mistakes, say embarrassing things and generally speaking, look dumb.
Translations job are not easy to find
Together with you, there is just a billion of people that, today, decided to learn a language, and tomorrow, will be a language expert.
Languages jobs offers are not proportionate to the demand. I do have friends that work in this field but they are incredibly talented and not too eager to be rich.
So, if you want to work as a translator, be ready to fight.
And to be paid 3 peanuts per month.
It can be boring
The first month is all about excitement.
You learn the greetings, the conversation starters. You are ready to go.
But then you study, but people still do not understand you. You struggle with the pronunciation.
Your friends start referring to you as a French speaker. Then a French person talks to you and you look like an idiot.
You still do not know anything, really, but you are not a complete beginner anymore, so you have no excuses.
Quick code-switching is just an utopia
It’s not a coincidence that language interpretation is a 5 years long degree.
Switching from a language to another is incredibly difficult. Ironically, it is even more difficult when the two languages have some similarities.
When I moved to Spain, coming from Portugal, I took way more than expected to start speaking proper Spanish, and that finally happened only when I was forgetting Portuguese.
Same with Chinese and Japanese. Although they are very different languages, the fact they share many same characters would just drive me crazy. So I would speak decent Japanese only when I had cleared out all my Chinese knowledge.
And so on.
You will not be that refined in your native language anymore
Back in 2006 I had a successful blog that people would find quite pleasant to read. As the blog was very poor itself I believe the key of the success was my polished use of my language.
I did not speak any other language, I was usually reading books and my Italian was flawless.
I genuinely thought that would be a lifelong talent.
Then I started mixing the words with other languages and now in 10% of cases I spanishize/anglicize/whateverize my Italian. Sometimes I call my mum to ask if X word exists.
Sometimes I stutter.
Actually I do it a lot.
You will end up using gesture. Even at the interviews.
And not only if you are Italian!
When you need to be understood you will use gesture a lot to accompany your words. That’s normal.
But you will get used to it eventually, and use it always.
In formal occasions. At the interviews.
Without even noticing. Until a friend will ask you what’s wrong with you.