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Ever tried speaking a new language and ended up red-faced? You’re not alone. Reddit also shares those funny and oh-so-relatable stories of language slip-ups. Got a story of your own? Read on, and you’ll see we’ve all been there!
- Many language learners experience awkward or humorous misunderstandings when trying to communicate in their target language, as evident from multiple personal anecdotes shared on Reddit.
- Such moments, while embarrassing, are common and can sometimes lead to endearing or wholesome interactions.
- Overcoming “language awkwardness” is about understanding the fear of judgment and building confidence through various strategies like rewarding oneself, reflecting on one’s progress, taking on challenges, and practicing with trusted individuals.
When you are eager to master the language, you seek out every opportunity to practice it. Sometimes it doesn’t go as smoothly as you plan in your head. As you just start speaking your target language, you may find yourself mispronouncing words or using intonations not quite right. There’s nothing wrong with that though. Even if you talk to a native speaker and use the wrong word they will most likely understand what you wanted to say from the context. However, this still might be either a funny or awkward sitution for both of you.
As we searched through Reddit’s community of language learners, we found that such situations are pretty common among those trying to practice their TL. One Redditor shared their own experience and encouraged others to discuss what similar situations they have encountered themselves.
This seemed to let other language learners not hold back on their stories and finally pour their heart out.
Funny intercations in Spanish
Quite a fair share of Reddit users learns Spanish, as it turns out. Most of them had at least one story from their language practicing:
“My most embarrassing moments are just early on when I would try to speak Spanish to a native speaker and would immediately be forced to bail one question in:
- Me: “¿que tal?”
- Them: “¡Estoy bien! Hoy fui a patinar sobre hielo al parque local. Fue emocionante, aunque choqué contra un extraño y le rompí un diente. ¡Pero fue sorprendentemente amable al respecto! ¿Te ha pasado alguna vez?”
- Me: “uhh… ¿Donde esta la biblioteca? 😓””
“Yesterday at work someone one of my coworkers grabs me with a “do you speak Spanish”. I can flounder my way through the grocery store and ordering a meal but like… not really. But my coworker convinced me im better than nothing and off we go. So I get dragged into this Eastern European hospital where there’s a man from Colombia. The hospital staff ask my coworker a question. My coworker translates into English. I ask the man in Spanish. I write the name down, coworker turns it into Cyrillic, and gives to hospital staff. Then everyone just kind of stares at me, so I ask him what the problem is. He says his foot hurts. Translate via coworker. Apparently the staff already knew that and they don’t need us any more. Very confused, we leave, but he does give me a fist bump on the way out.”
“Most of my buddies at work are Mexican. They’ve been great in my attempts to learn Spanish, but it’s led to some embarrassing mixups. I came in one day, and it was very cold outside. “Tienes frío?” ¡Sí! Necesito chaqueta.” They all started laughing, and then one of my friends explained to me, “In Mexico, chaqueta doesn’t mean jacket. It means…you know…jack it!” He helpfully included the hand motion for me. BTW, the word in Mexico is “chamarra.” Tl;dr A friend asked in Spanish if I was cold. I replied, “Yes, I need to masturbate.””
However, not all interactions were too awakward. Some of them even led to pretty wholesome and even romantic moments.
Funny Interactions with German Language
Spanish wasn’t the only language that led to some confusions. People also shared that when learning and using German, such situations can happen as well.
“In a lil tea shop in Hannover a couple of years ago, one of the shop workers walks over to me and asks me something in German but I catch lITERALLY zero of it. Any normal person in this situation would’ve probably hit back with a lil “Enschuldigung, können Sie das wiederholen?”, maybe a little “ich spreche Deutsch nicht sehr gut”, hell if I was really desperate I could’ve been That Guy and gone with “Sprechen Sie Englisch?”. Did I do any of those? Nope…So what did I do? Screamed across the store to my friend who could speak German that I needed help. In front of this nice old lady that I’m pretty sure was just asking me what I was looking for or if I needed help. Just full on yelling that I don’t know what she’s saying and I need help.”
However, some miscommunications may lead to more…uhm, serious assumptions. So, be careful what you say and maybe just look for the synonyms?
“A couple years ago I wanted to write “My struggle with the language is ….” and I started with “Mein Kampf mit der Sprache ist…” ….oooops. Now I just say “Mein größtes Problem ist etcetc” so as to not ever have that interaction irl. Luckily it was just online and he corrected it for me and was like “uHm probs shouldn’t say that.” Yeah it didn’t even occur to me in the moment bc i was like hM “Mein = my and Kampf = struggle” so then you put them together and nO yOU DO NOT DO THAT. So yeah it’s not even that I hadn’t heard of that book it’s literally just cuz my brain was trying so hard to learn german that it forgot a few things 🙂 But yes this never happened to me in real life THANK GOD I would have cried tbh if it was irl. I was hella embarrased literally online”
“In one of my classes in German I told the teacher “ich bin verheiratet“ (I’m married) instead of “ich bin fertig“ (I’m ready) 😭😭😭😭”
Other Interactions That May Make You Laugh
As we read the post more, we found that there are actually a lot of hillarious stories behind different language learning stories. So, we collected a few of the most laugh-provoking ones to lift your mood up a bit. Who knows, maybe after reading these you will also be a little less insecure in your language skills as well!
“Didn’t happen to me but to a friend when visiting France. She doesn’t speak French. When a native approached her to ask something, the language cables crossed in her mind and she replied a little flustered: Kein French! Kein means no in German. She tried to respond “I don’t speak French”.”
“Asking a man in a restaurant for a breast of penis instead of chicken, who did not find it particularly funny. A friend of mine accidentally asked for ‘a cunt of icecream’ as well, mercifully not in the same place.”
“I asked for a hotel room with two brains (agy) instead of two beds (ágy) in Hungarian.”
“I replied 좋대요 (I heard it’s good) but it came out as 좆돼요 (It’s fucked)”
“I called a woman (karen btw) a Jew on accident in swedish lmfao I always mixed up the words Juridik and Judisk because after recently learning them around the same time, they look quite similar. I wanted to ask “Are you a lawyer?” (I knew she worked in law but never knew the exact profession) and instead i ended up asking “Are you a Jew?”.”
Overcoming Language Awkwardness: How Do You Do It?
If these situations didn’t make it easier for you to go speak your target language, but rather scared you with the possibiloty of making a mistake, then maybe you have some sort of language awakwardness.
We’ve all been there: the uneasy feeling when attempting to use a new language, the fear of making a mistake, or the hesitancy in speaking up. This “language awkwardness” can range from slight nervousness to those cringe-worthy moments that make us wish the ground would swallow us up. But the good news? It’s something we can navigate and even overcome. If you’ve ever felt a bit “off” when practicing, felt that unexplainable hesitation, or found yourself contemplating whether to say something in your target language or not, then this is for you.
We’ll dive deep into understanding this sensation and offer practical steps to conquer it. Because, let’s be real: language learning shouldn’t be about fear, but about growth and connection. So, how do we rise above the awkwardness and truly embrace the beauty of communicating in a different tongue? Let’s dive in and explore.
Why Does It Happen?
Picture this: you’re at a restaurant in a foreign country, ready to order, but a weighty feeling stops you. Or, you’re in the midst of a language exchange group, eager to try out a new phrase you just learned, but suddenly you hold back. These moments don’t always stem from a lack of knowledge or ability. More often than not, they’re tied to our confidence, or lack thereof.
The root of this feeling often lies in our fear of judgment—either from others or, more critically, from ourselves. We worry about the reactions we might receive or the possibility of not meeting our own high expectations. It’s not just about getting the words right; it’s about how we perceive our own capabilities and how we think others perceive us.
Combatting the Awkwardness
- Reward Yourself: Positive reinforcement can be a powerful tool. Rewarding yourself for taking the plunge can help associate the act of speaking with positive feelings. It could be a treat, a short break, or anything that brings you joy.
- Reflect on Your Journey: Occasionally glance back at your old notes and see how far you’ve come. Recognizing your progress can be a significant confidence booster.
- Take Up a Language Challenge: Engaging in structured challenges can help build consistency and gradually diminish the awkwardness. Plus, celebrating small milestones along the way can be incredibly motivating.
- Practice with Trusted Ones: Starting with a familiar and non-judgmental audience can help ease the nerves. Whether it’s a close friend, family member, or an understanding language partner, practicing in a safe environment can work wonders.
Every learner, regardless of their level, faces moments of doubt and unease. It’s a natural part of the journey. However, by understanding the root of our feelings and actively employing strategies to combat them, we can ensure that these moments don’t define our language learning experience. Embrace the awkwardness, learn from it, and watch as it transforms into confidence. Remember, it’s all part of the beautiful journey of connecting with new cultures and expanding horizons. Keep going, and happy learning!
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