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6 reasons why language dabbling is a good thing

When learning a new language, many people have the ultimate aim of reaching a high level and becoming ‘fluent’. Some would even say that not reaching fluency would be a waste of time, and that language dabblers are the bane of the polyglot community. Of course, learning a language to a high level is impressive. But really, is dabbling all that bad? Here are 6 reasons why language dabbling is a good thing.

  1. Knowledge is never wasted

  2. Learn about new cultures

  3. Build connections with new people

  4. Try something without the commitment

  5. Might not need fluency

  6. Language learning should be fun

1. Knowledge is never wasted

Just because you only know a few words or phrases in a different language, that’s still something more than most people! It’s always good to learn something new and broaden your worldview. There have been many studies showing that language learning is good for your brain, so there’s no harm in learning a bit here and there without the need for total fluency. Personally I love learning new things, and language dabbling is a great way to satisfy my need to learn something new without having to dedicate loads of time and effort to something!

2. It can introduce you to new cultures you otherwise wouldn’t have experienced

Maybe you saw a foreign language film and were intrigued by the language. You start to learn a few words here and there, and in the meantime you learn so much about the culture where the language is spoken. Whichever language you learn there will be cultural components you need to understand in order to gain a better grasp of the language itself, such as the politeness levels in Japanese and Korean depending on someone’s social status. There’s so much besides the language you can learn just by dabbling here and there!

3. Speaking a new language, even just a little, can build connections with new people

Even just introducing yourself to someone in their native language can go a long way as it shows you are making an effort, and people always appreciate effort! This is a great way to strike up new friendships, and you might even end up learning a load more of the language than you first set out to just through immersion! Especially when travelling, you can really impress the locals and meet some amazing people just through knowing a few phrases and expressions. 

4. You can try something new without the commitment

There’s lots of languages I’d like to learn, but before I spend money on buying new textbooks or planning time in my week for study sessions, I might want to just dabble and see if it’s a language I really want to commit to. There’s no point investing the time and money if you don’t even know if you’re going to enjoy the language. By dabbling at the start, it’s a low pressure situation so you can decide whether or not it’s worth pursuing. Maybe you’ll get more serious in your studies, or maybe you’ll be happy enough just dabbling, there’s no pressure. 

5. You might not need to be fluent

Unless you need the language for work or education, you might not aim for fluency. Even if you do want to be fluent one day, dabbling where and when you can may be more practical for you than long set study sessions. A lot of languages I plan to study in the future will probably never make it past the beginner stage, because I don’t necessarily want or need to be fluent in them. Yes, fluency would be nice, and having a high level to put on your CV would be a bonus, but that’s not for everyone. It really comes down to the individual and their goals, and if your goal is just to learn the basics, then dabbling will get the job done.

6. Language learning should be fun

At the end of the day, language learning is a hobby for many of us, so you shouldn’t feel the need to dedicate a lot of time and money if that doesn’t resonate with you. As long as you’re having a good time and feel satisfied with yourself, dabbling in as many languages as you want is perfectly valid. Personally I find learning bits and pieces in a totally new language just as rewarding as reaching a high level in one I’ve been studying for years. You shouldn’t feel the need to study a language seriously if that isn’t enjoyable for you, or causes more stress than it’s worth. Studying shouldn’t take the fun out of the process of learning. 

Well that’s my take on it! Have you dabbled in languages before? What do you think of dabbling in different languages? Let me know in the comments!


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