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The "should-I-study-X-language test"

 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
50 messages over 7 pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7  Next >>
Retired Moderator
Senior Member
Korea, South
Joined 6192 days ago

500 posts - 515 votes 
5 sounds
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Korean
Studies: Mandarin, Japanese, Latin

 Message 1 of 50
08 April 2006 at 3:02pm | IP Logged 
I've just created a test to weigh a potential target language against all the relevant factors. If your score is less than 10, your target language is perhaps not the best choice.

[EDIT: Added #12 to account for the cumulative benefits of polyglottery]

1.) How many high quality language learning materials are available to you in your target language?

+3 Tons (e.g. Spanish learning materials for English speakers)
+2 Many (e.g. Japanese learning materials for English speakers)
+0 Some (e.g. Portuguese for English)
-1 Very few (e.g. Hindi for English)
-3 Almost nothing (e.g. only a dictionary and a grammar book from the 1800s)

2.) Do you have opporunities to practise your target language in your daily life?

+4 Many opportunities actively
+3 Some opportunities actively
+2 Many opportunities, but just passively
+1 Some opportunities, but just passively
+0 No opportunities in my daily life

3.) How similar is your target language to a language you already speak?

+2 Very similar (e.g. Spanish and Portuguese)
+1 Fairly similar (e.g. Spanish and English)
+0 Not very similar, but still related somehow (e.g. English and Russian)
-2 Completely alien (e.g. English and Tibetan)

4.) How inherently difficult is your target language (not incl. writing system) in your opinion?

+2 Couldn't be easier
+1 Pretty Easy
+0 Normal
-1 Fairly difficult
-2 Quite difficult
-3 Ridiculously complex

5.) How difficult is your target language's writing system for you?

+1 Easy (e.g. Spanish for an English monoglot)
+0 Normal (e.g. a latin-based script with some irregularities for an English monoglot)
-1 Difficult (e.g. a non-latin-based script for an English monoglot)
-2 Very difficult (e.g. Arabic for an English monoglot)
-3 Extremely difficult (e.g. Chinese characters for an English monoglot)

6.) Is it "chic" to speak your target language?

+3 Extremely chic. When I speak it, people treat me as though I'm a language god.
+2 Fairly chic. People are usually impressed that I speak it.
+1 Slightly chic. People are sometimes mildly impressed that I speak it.
+0 No one cares that I speak it because it's common, expected, or assumed that it's a native language.
-1 Some people don't really like that I speak it.
-2 Many people get offended that I speak it.
-3 I'm ashamed to admit I speak it.

6.) What do you think about the culture associated with your target language?

+3 I'm deeply interested in it
+2 I like it
+1 It's alright, I guess
+0 Neutral, no opinion
-2 I don't really like the culture
-4 I hate the culture

7.) Is there specific literature or movies in your target language that you want to read/watch (incl. poetry, historical documents, anime, etc.)

+4 Yes, I'm dying to read/watch them.
+2 Yes, I look forward to reading/watching them eventually.
+0 No

8.) How motivated are you in general?

+2 Very motivated
+1 Fairly motivated
+0 Normal
-2 A bit lazy
-4 Quite lazy

9.) How commited are you to achieve your goals and finishing what you start?

+2 Very commited, I always achieve my goals
+1 Fairly commited
+0 Normal
-1 Not very commited, but I sometimes achieve my goals anyway
-3 Not very commited. I like to start other projects instead of finishing my current ones

10.) How much time on average do you plan to devote every day to the study of your target language (be realistic)?

+4 4 or more hours
+3 3 hours
+2 2 hours
+1 1 hour
+0 30 minutes
-1 15 minutes
-2 less than 15 minutes

11.) How many other non-fluent languages are you studying actively?

+1 None
+0 One other language
-1 Two others
-2 Three others
-3 Four others
-4 Five others
-5 Six or more others

12.) How many non-native languages have you achieved Basic Fluency in so far?

+6 6 or more other languages
+5 5 other languages
+4 4 other languages
+3 3 other languages
+2 2 other languages
+1 1 other language
+0 none

Edited by Malcolm on 08 April 2006 at 5:09pm

3 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 5835 days ago

374 posts - 382 votes 
Speaks: German*, English
Studies: Czech

 Message 2 of 50
08 April 2006 at 4:44pm | IP Logged 
Exactly 0 points for Farsi and 11 points for Swedish.

Although I think you could improve this test in some points (e.g. in my opinion question 11. is overrated) I find the idea and implementation quite interesting.
1 person has voted this message useful

Retired Moderator
Senior Member
Korea, South
Joined 6192 days ago

500 posts - 515 votes 
5 sounds
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Korean
Studies: Mandarin, Japanese, Latin

 Message 3 of 50
08 April 2006 at 5:14pm | IP Logged 
I've adjusted the numbers for #11 to allow for one other non-fluent target language. Still, I'm sure some of the other questions need adjusting, and there are probably other factors that I didn't mention.
1 person has voted this message useful

SwedenRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5786 days ago

4250 posts - 5710 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English
Studies: German, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Mandarin, Esperanto, Irish, French
Personal Language Map

 Message 4 of 50
08 April 2006 at 5:15pm | IP Logged 
Somebody with good skills in HTML could probably make a real "test" out of this.
1 person has voted this message useful

United States
Joined 6195 days ago

1098 posts - 1056 votes 
6 sounds
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, FrenchC1, Mandarin
Studies: Spanish
Personal Language Map

 Message 5 of 50
08 April 2006 at 5:30pm | IP Logged 
Thanks, Malcolm...This sounds like something we should include on the site. It's good for people considering to learn another language but can't really decide if they should.

Hope FX gets to see this.
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 5918 days ago

469 posts - 488 votes 
Speaks: English*, Mandarin

 Message 6 of 50
08 April 2006 at 5:34pm | IP Logged 
19 for mandarin, 14 for japanese, 12 for korean, 6 for indonesian/malay-
but since I am only studying these languages one at a time, and will start
each new one in 3 to 4 year increments i had to make approximate
guesses based on where my "head" will be at that time.

I dread figuring out the numbers the numbers for russian and turkish,
since the prospects dont look good.
1 person has voted this message useful

Sir Nigel
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5981 days ago

1126 posts - 1102 votes 
2 sounds

 Message 7 of 50
08 April 2006 at 7:21pm | IP Logged 
This test is amusing, I got a -10 for Icelandic.
1 person has voted this message useful

United States
Joined 5693 days ago

75 posts - 110 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, French

 Message 8 of 50
08 April 2006 at 9:03pm | IP Logged 
I have adapted the test to HTML + Javascript so it scores itself for you.

I'm not entirely familiar with Javascript, so it might not work on every (or any...) browser. It works for me in IE6 and Firefox 1.5.

It is available for playing with at:

(EDIT: The above URL no longer works. The test is now available at:
Sorry for the downtime.)

This could obviously use a lot of improvement, but I figure I'll release it to the world. The most glaring shortcomings are the interface and the styling.

If you see anything wrong, please let me know and I'll patch it up. It is relatively easy to add options and questions to, so if Malcolm or someone else has further revisions to the test, those can be incorporated too.

I am placing the (relatively minimal) code in the public domain. Anyone may use it for whatever purpose they want (including the administrator for inclusion on this site).

Also, if I have somehow undesirably infringed on Malcom's copyright by posting the test to my site, please notify me and I'll take it down immediately.

Thanks a lot, hope you guys (and gals) enjoy :),

Edited by reltuk on 18 September 2006 at 6:12pm

2 persons have voted this message useful

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