Result of Page F30 reader poll on reasons for learning a language

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Perhaps spending too much time in Korea has done this to me, but I was a bit surprised by the huge majority of people that said the primary reason for learning/having learned/planning to learn their most recent language is due to simple personal interest. I'm used to meeting people that study languages for economic reasons or necessity alone, without any personal interest in the language whatsoever. Over nearly a decade in Asia I can still count on one hand the number of people that I've met that study English because they enjoy English literature or poetry. Expand it to pop culture though (sitcoms, movies, music etc.) and the numbers are much, much greater. Perhaps there's a lesson there for IAL advocates - create a sitcom or a movie and they will come perhaps. Here are the numbers from the 52 people who voted:

What's the primary reason for the language you are learning now/learned recently/would like to learn? (pick the main one if there are multiple reasons)

Economic reasons (making more money)
3 (5%)
Necessity (school, environment, job)
5 (9%)
Simple personal interest
32 (61%)
Demographic support (in order to promote/revive/maintain the language)
2 (3%)
Relatives / significant other etc. speak it
4 (7%)
Use during travel
4 (7%)
2 (3%)

Votes so far: 52

I suppose answers #2 and #5 could be combined into one considering that relatives and significant others speaking a language make it into a kind of necessity, so that at 17% would be the second most important reason for learning a language. And in some cases it can even drive you to make a podcast about the language with your significant other, as is the case for Lithuanian Out Loud and Notes in Spanish.

And speaking of music and pop culture, here's a song I've always liked:

More songs from that band can be heard here.


Barcodex said...

Such poll in your blog is seriously biased, Dave - just because most of your readers are language-lovers

Me said...

You're right, but then again it is a "Page F30 reader poll". What's hard to tell is just how much the sample here varies from the general population.

Also, there is quite a bit of traffic that arrives here through some seemingly "selfish" reasons - typing search terms like "easiest language to learn" or "CIA hiring bonuses for fluent speakers" etc. into Google.

Barcodex said...

Such poll in your blog is seriously biased, Dave - just because most of your readers are language-lovers

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