I learned Spanish entirely on my own, online, and I'll show you how you can, too!
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The Top 22 Ways You Know You’re a Language Nerd…

sexy language nerd

1. When you’re looking for a book on Amazon about a language that you’re currently interested in and you check out the ”Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section and realize that you own almost every single book in those 10-15 pages :/

2. When people ask you what language you want to learn you get that starry look in your eyes, sigh, and say “all of them…”

3. You listen to music in the language you’re learning that you would otherwise hate and never listen to.  Japanese teeny-bopper pop music? Yes, please!  🙁

A quick side note: if you’re interested in teaching yourself Spanish…

I have a short post and video (that are free to read and view of course, won’t cost you more than a few minutes of your time) on how to do precisely that with the system that I put together which allowed me to become fluent in Spanish in just 6 months after years of trial-and-error by watching Spanish-language TV shows (like telenovelas, hence the name of the system) and movies, reading Spanish books and comics, and listening to Spanish music. If this sounds interesting to you, check it out by clicking the link below (the following link should open in a new tab or window for you when you click it so I’m not asking you to leave this article here):

“The Telenovela Method of Learning Spanish” (a “telenovela” is a Spanish-language soap opera, they’re what I initially used to teach myself Spanish!)

I also include some quick and valuable tips for learning Spanish as well as a couple of the most useful free Spanish-learning websites that I recommend.  Back to the list!

4. While taking notes or writing something you switch in and out of different languages.

5. You decide not to hang out with your friends so you can be there when the mailman delivers that “teach yourself Hungarian” book you ordered a week ago.

6. You stalk native speakers having conversations through the store that you’re in.

bilingual dog

7. You teach your dogs commands in different languages–saying “Sit!” in either English, Spanish, German, or Korean will all result in the same thing 🙂

8. You enjoy finding people in public with tattoos in fake Asian characters that are essentially meaningless…and then pointing this out to them.  Or, even better, the tattoo says something silly that the person wearing it almost certainly didn’t intend, like “I like cheeseburgers”, or “White people poop a lot” 😀

9. You get irritated when an English-language Hollywood movie has a character speaking in a foreign language you know and the subtitles are either totally inaccurate or a gross simplification of what they actually said.  You will then alert everyone in the near vicinity of this travesty.  This scene below from Snatch is one that always gets me, the translation of the Russian they’re speaking is totally inaccurate–just from the semester of Russian I had in college I know, for example, that when Boris is speaking with his brother on the phone and allegedly says “It’s OK. I know a couple of guys.”, that’s not what he actually said, what he actually said was “Yes. I understand.”  Anyone who knows more Russian than me is welcome to continue tearing it apart in the comments:

10. When the only reason you are learning a language is because you like it’s grammatical structure.

11. You watch a movie with subtitles in a language you don’t know, and never remember the plot because you weren’t paying attention to that, but you have, however, managed to deduce how the imperative tense functions in that language.

12. You know you’re a language nerd when your first thought after waking up in the morning is the realization that there is a common Greek root in the words “kleptomaniac” and “clepsydra”.

13. When you spend hours on Wikipedia trying to find the next language that you will learn based on number of speakers, difficulties in grammar, and the coolness of sounds from videos you find on YouTube.  I absolutely do this, by the way, just the other night I spent easily an hour reading the wikipedia articles on Thai and Tagalog and then listening to some basic “how to speak thai/tagalog” videos on YouTube… If you, too, would like to waste the next two hours of your life in such a pursuit, I highly recommend you start here: List of languages by number of native speakers

14. When you read the warranty paper for the electronic device you just bought in all 7 languages that it’s printed in.

15. You use foreign grammar in your native language…and then make a “WTF did I just say?!” face 2 seconds later while everyone looks at you like you’re an alien.

16. When the first thing you think of when hearing “Panini” is Sanskrit, not sandwich.

17. When your parents get you language materials for your birthday for a new language and you have to tell them that you most unfortunately already speak that language.

18. When one of the first things that you do with a new computer is add all the keyboard layouts you’ll need…and some of those keyboards that you “need” are actually for languages you don’t even speak, but really you never know when the urge to learn it will hit you, so you’d like to be prepared.

19. When you discover, much to your delight, that your new dietary supplements are labeled not only in English but also in German and Spanish, at which point you eagerly begin to increase your vocabulary by learning new words through comparison of the texts.

20. When you answer calls from telemarketers using a language that you’re reasonably certain they won’t understand–so far this trick has always thrown them for a loop to the point where they hang up on me within 10 seconds 😀

21. When you just can’t understand how people make it to adulthood without knowing that they speak Portuguese in Brazil, not Spanish.

And finally, one that I have personally done:

22. Going to use or pick up an object around the house you try to think of the word for it in a language you’re learning. It’s on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t think of it for some reason. You should know this, you’ve learned it before.You will stand there, staring at the thing in question (refrigerator, car keys, milk, chair, whatever), refusing to allow yourself to pick it up or do whatever it is you were going to do with it until you can think of the correct word for it in the language that you’re trying to think in. You will stand there for however long this takes, perhaps finally giving in and going to look it up in the dictionary before coming back and proceeding as you were until it happens again :DI have stood in the shower staring at the soap, refusing to pick it up, getting angry at myself, while trying to think of the word for “soap” in Spanish for about 5 minutes before I finally gave up (I looked it up immediately after getting out of the shower, still wet, dripping water all over my bedroom floor as I went to fetch my Spanish dictionary).

Splish-splash, splish-splash…Cursing…

Papers rustling, flipping of pages…

“Jabón!!! I knew it! Damnit, why couldn’t I remember that?!”

Splish-splash, splish-splash back to the bathroom…

I hope you enjoyed all of those, to give credit where it’s due some of them came from or were inspired by a similar thread over at HTLAL where, if you really want to, you can read through (currently–it gets bigger every day) 136 pages of this stuff: You know you’re a language nerd when…

Edit: One more!

I just read Jennie’s post about how she has actually started to forget how to pronounce words in her own language, and thought “Damn, you know if that isn’t a sign that you are a serious, hard-core language nerd I don’t know what is!” Ha ha!

A Quick but Essential Note Before We End…

I’ve got two posts that I’ve put up that I’m recommending everyone interested in learning Spanish go read if they haven’t already (if you have, ignore this, sorry): How to avoid wasting months learning Spanish the wrong way (basically this is my “how to get started right in learning Spanish” post for complete beginners) and The Telenovela Method where I cover how to use popular media like movies, music, and books to learn Spanish. Additionally you can check out the front page for a more complete list of my best and most popular posts.



Get my list of the internet's top 33 FREE Spanish-learning resources here!

I put together a list of the internet’s Top 33 Free Spanish-learning resources, my favorite language exchanges and Spanish chat rooms, and more. I’ve spent a great deal of time putting together a 3-part series of articles for you on the internet’s best free resources for the Spanish-learner that you’ll get when you sign up for my newsletter–in addition to all of what you get below, I’ll be sure to send you any updates about cool new sites, resources, and learning tips and techniques that I come up with (I’m currently putting together a whole series that will teach you in great detail precisely how I go about learning a new language):

Part 1: A very long list of my favorite Top 33 free online Spanish-learning resources (tools, references, sites with free lessons, articles, blogs, forums, etc.) that’s far too long to include here, especially with all the other stuff I’ve got here that’s available just on this site alone, and I’d like to offer it to you (completely free, you don’t have to do anything other than sign up) right now.

Part 2: I explain what language exchanges are (essentially they allow you free access to an unlimited number of native speakers to practice your Spanish with), why they’re absolutely essential if you’re teaching yourself (I’m serious when I say this: it’s impossible to get fluent without them if you’re learning a foreign language on your own), how to use them, and which ones are the best.

Part 3: I cover chat rooms which are specifically devoted to connecting you with native Spanish speakers who want to learn English so you can chat with them in Spanish (and they’ll help and correct you) and then you do the same for them with their English (these are completely free to use, but rather hard to find, but I’ll tell you where the best ones are!). Sign up below!

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  • While I do love languages in general, I find that most of those things actually do not describe me. My interest in languages is driven primarily by a desire to communicate with people, and to understand them. Collecting languages (like notches in my belt) doesn’t really interest me, and I can tell you first hand that knowing several languages doesn’t, in and of itself, make you more popular or win you any friends. At the end of the day, language is just a tool for communication, and it’s all too easy to be bad at communication in several languages.

  • admin

    I’m primarily in the same boat, though I do have to say that my primary motivator for learning languages, that I want to travel to a LOT of different countries and live there in each one for several months at a time, has definitely resulted in some of the silliness described above such as collecting language-learning books and websites in a dozen different languages because I really, really, honestly intend to learn each one of them at some point (I really do! It’s just that I might not have time to get around to some of them for another…6 years or so :/ ).


  • I understand the desire to hoard resources in anticipation of future goals, but I’ve found that it creates more baggage than benefit. Life changes a lot in just a few years. (If it doesn’t, you’re not living!) Most of those web site links will be 404’s by the time you’re ready to use them. And I guarantee you any book you own will just be a nuisance in the Kindle-powered world we’re all going to live in within a few years.

    But I do relate to your desire to know “all of them”. 🙂 It’s not possible to ever know every language, but I think it’s reasonable to speak most of the useful ones — and use those to understand several others which you might not speak — within a lifetime.

    What’s on your radar right now? Which languages are you hoping to get to in the next few years? I’ve seen you mention Tagalog twice this week… any change that’s going to coming soon?

    • admin

      Acck! I’ve been meaning to reply to this comment for a while now, sorry.

      Right now I’m working on Spanish and Japanese. I’ve got the basics of Spanish covered, now it’s just an issue of taking the time to practice (which I haven’t been doing lately). I’ve taken more of an interest in checking out South East Asia lately in addition to Japan, hence the interest in tagalog. Also, in case you haven’t noticed, it’s Oktoberfest time, and all the stuff about that and pictures of pretty German girls holding mugs of frothing beer is making me think, again, about how much I want to learn German, lol.

      I keep thinking about which languages I want to learn and rearranging the order of them in my head depending on what catches my attention. I’m already committed to Spanish and Japanese, though frankly I feel like I really just need to kick my own ass and buckle down and get those learned and out of the way in the next 6-12 months so I can move on to another one, but it’s an issue of time as well as effort. Right now, I’d say the order goes Spanish, Japanese, French/German, Tagalog/Thai, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, and I don’t know what else, maybe Mandarin or Russian or Czech. I’m crazy…

      How about you, which languages do you speak already and which ones are you going to work on next? Do you have a certain level that you force yourself to reach in a language before you allow yourself to move onto another one? I do that currently and am wondering if I should–right now I won’t ‘finish’ working on a language and move onto another one until I’m conversationally fluent in it.

  • Warp3

    I’ve done like 5-6 of those (including listening to music genres in foreign languages that I completely avoid in English). #15 I’ve not done with English, but I have found myself trying to construct Spanish sentences with Korean word order or Korean particles on several occasions.

    • admin

      Yup, I’ve already tried using a few Spanish words in the middle of a Japanese sentence :/

  • Warp3

    The only one I’d remotely claim to “speak” is English (my native language). I’m working on Spanish and Korean at the moment, but my current interest in Korean is notably higher than in Spanish, so Korean is getting virtually all of the immersion time. There are other languages I’d like to eventually learn (including Japanese), but I’m plenty busy with just two at the moment.

  • Warp3

    …and yes, I know that question was primarily directed to Randy. 😉

  • Randy

    I speak fluently in Spanish, Russian, and Italian. Non-fluently I also speak and understand a good deal of German, French, Tagalog, and Esperanto, Lithuanian, and (with the exception of Esperanto) I am working in my spare time to improve my skills in those.

    Obviously, I pick one to stick with for a year, and don’t (seriously) move on to something new until the next year. This forces me to stick to a language past basic fluency (doable in less than a year) so I gain more advanced understanding where many might be tempted to move on to something else that is newer and more exciting.

    I have a short list from which I will pick next year’s language, but I can’t say what’s on that list. Meanwhile, I will continue to improve my skill in all of the languages I speak, and hopefully even bring some more of those non-fluent languages into the fluency column.

    The key to my choice each time is always what I think I will get the most use out of. If I’m not interested in Japanese (I’m not) but I find myself planning travel to Japan, that will go higher on my list. No language I choose is just for the sake of knowing it.