being bilingual

10 Hilarious Frustrations Every Bilingual Can Relate To

Did you know that 26% of American adults speak another language other than English?

There are a number of benefits to being bilingual, such as better cognitive abilities, higher job salary, improved creativity…the list goes on.

While being bilingual has its perks, there are some frustrations that come along with it.

We’ve interviewed a bunch of language bloggers to compile the ultimate list of the most common problems that bilinguals face.

1. You meet another bilingual person, but can’t figure out what language to speak in.

“When you meet someone who speaks the same languages and don’t know which one to speak to them in,” said Linas of ikindalikelanguages.

2. People constantly try to guess where you’re from and always get it wrong.

“Native speakers find it hard to guess where I’m from. I don’t have a perfect ‘native’ accent in any language nor do I have a discernible English-speaking one either,” said Conor Clyne of Language Tsar.

“So in Italian, many Italians think I’m German, in Russian many think I’m French, in Romanian many native speakers think I’m Russian etc.  Being multilingual uniquely makes me mistaken for other nationalities depending on the language I’m speaking in.”

3. You have a hard time getting your grammar rules straight.

Does the verb come right after the subject or the last word of the sentence? And when do I use that weird ß in German?

4. People treat you like a foreign dictionary.

“The second people know that you speak more than one language, they start asking how to say words as if you were a dictionary!” said Lucrezia Oddone of Learn Italian with Lucrezia.

5. You confuse two languages and end up speaking in a weird hybrid language.

“A problem only bilingual people can understand in my opinion is when a word for something in one language seems to click more than the words for the same thing in other languages and you end up speaking this weird hybrid language!” said Lindsay Dow of Lindsay Does Languages.

6. Auto correct is your worst enemy.

When you’re feverishly trying to send a text in Italian, but your phone keeps auto correcting to English or visa versa.

7. You embarrassingly forget your native language.

“The weirdest thing that happens to me is forgetting the name of common things in my native language, but remembering in a foreign language. I remember once I wanted to say ‘hanger’ in Portuguese, but I couldn’t remember, but I knew in English; so I had to look in an online dictionary to remember a simple word in my own language,” said Nathalia of Polyglot Nerd.

8. When you know multiple languages, but still can’t seem to find the right word.

“Remembering the word for something in three languages, but not in the one you are speaking just then,” said Rita Rosenback of Multilingual Parenting. 

9. People always ask you how to say swear words in a different language.

Your friends never stop asking you how to say certain swear words in different languages, and you can’t help but giggle and tell them…every time.

10. You’re in a group of people who speak two different languages and you’re forced to play translator.

“I often have to translate between my Spanish and Dutch speaking families. So when my Dutch speaking family says something in Spanish, I say it in Dutch to my Spanish speaking family. Always to great amusement of the people involved!” said Noel van Vliet of SmartLangaugeLearner.com

Being bilingual has its quirks, however, don’t let these common frustrations prevent you from learning a new language!

Photo by Peter

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5 replies
  1. Meina
    Meina says:

    No 3 is so true, tell me about it!

    No 4 hmm.. When I told my friend I am learning Spanish, the first thing she asked is how do you say ‘I miss you so much” so she can use that as her social media status 😀

    Reply

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