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Nadine M. Thêry
Nadine M. Thêry

Posted on

Do you feel comfortable learning in your own language or do you prefer English? (For non English-native speakers)

I am native Spanish speaker, although English billingual. However, taking coding courses or classes in Spanish feels odd to me.
I think that part of it is due to that I have always learnt coding stuff in English. And another part is that all coding language itself is in English, and of course the documentation is also.
It feels really odd to hear the name of the functions translated into Spanish. And I also think it is not practical at all, since documentation does not translate the names.
What about you? What is your native language and how do you feel about learning in it?

Top comments (53)

keptoman profile image

Native french speaker here.

Programming in French is horrible, since every programming language are written in English. We've had many problems at work with Rails auto-pluralize because of French words that look like English words.

I was forced to program in French on school, and I switched to English as soon as I could. Some government agencies here are still forcing employees to code in French tho.

gablaroche profile image
Gabriel Laroche

Yeah, coding in french is truly horrible (also had to code in french at school) but I feel like sometimes, some concepts are easier to understand when they are in french. But I will never code in french ever again.

daviddalbusco profile image
David Dal Busco

I'm agree with you. Coding in french just burns my eyes from the inside 🔥

Fun fact, when I jump into a french car I often ask my self "did the car manufacturer developers coded some stuffs in french here?" like:

const signophiles: boolean = true;
if (signophiles) {
   this.tableauDeBord.lumiere = 'orange';


On the other side, reading a technical book where the explanation are provided in French makes it faster and easier to understand for me.

keptoman profile image

On a fait la même technique, a la même école!

On s'habitue vite en anglais a force de travailler a tous les jours 😊

Thread Thread
gablaroche profile image
Gabriel Laroche

Malade! c'est sûr qu'on s'habitue vite! C'est juste que des fois, c'est un peu plus facile de lire de la doc compliqué en français.

arberbr profile image
Arber Braja

Whenever i find code commented or with function names, variables written in different language then English i curse the developer :p

fultonbrowne profile image
Fulton Browne

as a english speaker, what does french code look like?

gablaroche profile image
Gabriel Laroche • Edited on

For example
would look something like :
Basically, everything is just way longer.

ninso00 profile image

English all the way for me! Reading in my language (Slovak) would get me absolutely nowhere, even our teachers here give us english books. No-one bothers to translate and by the time they do, the technology might as well be out of date (Says allot about my country, no-one cares here, people just go with the flow).

jeromegamez profile image
Jérôme Gamez

I don‘t want to contradict you, but looking back I wish the publishers (books, movies, sitcoms, etc.) in Germany hadn’t translated almost everything into German.

Had it been like I perceive it to be e.g. in the Netherlands, where I’ve seen most movies and sitcoms in English with subtitles, I think my English would have gotten better sooner.

So, even if a country doesn’t care, I believe it is good in the long run, because you get closer to English faster.

Well, at least as long as Mandarin doesn’t take over the spot of being the predominant world language 😅

simonebogni profile image

Same for Italy, that's also one of the reasons why we are soooo bad at English. Plus, after starting to watch all the movies in their original language, I must say that that it's really terrible to watch one where the language spoken doesn't match the lips movement of the actors 😅

mnlwldr profile image

Same for the Scandinavian countries. I like it.

lukegarrigan profile image
Luke Garrigan

I’m English so my comment will add absolutely 0 value. Just wanted to say you’re all bloody amazing learning English and coding in English, I struggle enough myself without it not being my native tongue.👏👏👏

alexisbenamar profile image
Alexis Benamar • Edited on

I find that native language can be useful when learning at an early stage, elaborating ideas and/or writing pseudocode, as it can faciliate the understanding.

But when it comes to programming (for development or production environments), English should be the standard choice, as the tool we use are built with it and some language could mess things up.

bellonedavide profile image
Davide Bellone

Well, at the very beginning I think that native language can be a good choice. But most of the tech jargon is in English, so for "real" projects it's best to use this language.
For simple test projects (just to try a library or a functionality) I prefer my native language (Italian), since I don't have to think about reasonable names.

However a

public class Prova {
public void FaiQualcosa(){}

is fine for me, because it makes obvious that the code is not meant to be used in real life.

vhoyer profile image
Vinícius Hoyer

Learning and coding in portugues (which is my native language) feels wrong to me. Personally I hate having to write mixed languages like:

const opcaoHabilitada = true
if (opcaoHabilitada) {
  console.log('goto hell')

It's so much strange reading in my head "if (Opção Habilitada)". not to mention I can't use the right accents and signals and stuff you append to letters like "ç" and "ã". Not only it feels wrong, but I'm also writing wrong portuguese, which gets on my gears gets on my gears meme

obahareth profile image
Omar Bahareth

I'm a native Arabic speaker and learning in Arabic is very difficult for me, especially because most written content is written in MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) and most Arabs don't speak or write it in their day lives, it sets a very formal tone and I prefer learning in a more casual way. My reading speed in English has gotten much faster than Arabic due to reading docs/programming throughout most of my career (as well as the occasional sci-fi/fantasy book), so that's another factor.

ravavyr profile image

I've thought about this in the past and wondered if i was alone in this. Turns out most of us feel like English is the best language for code.
I'd try writing in my native language [Papiamento], but then only half a million people on the planet would be able to read it lol :)

raymag profile image
Carlos Magno

Well, I am kinda like you. I am a native portguese speaker and although I am far away from being fluent in english I feel way more comfortable with English than with Portuguese. It's easier to find English content and I like the flow of the language.

raymag profile image
Carlos Magno

Also, you have to use accents (à,á,â,ã...) in Portuguese and that sucks. So programming and looking for content in English is way more comfortable for me.

andres profile image
Andrés Pérez

I'm a native Spanish speaker and I cannot stand most technical stuff in my language. Not only I find English resources to have a higher quality, but also the Spanglish mix that some code bases are, makes me cringe.

schmitzel76 profile image
Patrick Schmitz

My native language is Dutch but learning technical subject in my native language can be quite annoying. Most of the terminology used online is English. To understand what you are reading in Dutch, you often have to translate terminology to English in your head. Same as with other tools, like Photoshop, which I just cannot use in Dutch as the Dutch translation simply doesn't click with me.

Using English terminology is also beneficial when looking for help or information online. Most of what you will find is in English anyway.

arvigeus profile image
Nikolay Stoynov

This is the reason I never set the language to my native on any software I use. Translation tend to be confusing, and it's nearly impossible to google any errors.

eagskunst profile image
Emmanuel Guerra

Native Spanish here. While I feel odd programming in Spanish, I'm comfortable taking programming courses in my native language. If the platform is good, they program in English and even encourage you to read the English documentation and (of course) learn English.

arberbr profile image
Arber Braja

If you mean reading and learning regarding programming topics, i can speak well italian and english, almost on the same level but whenever im watching tutorials or reading programming related topics, always prefer English.

cecilelebleu profile image
Cécile Lebleu

I’m native Spanish speaker, then French, and then English.
I learned Spanish and French before I was 4 years old, and then English (on my own with video games) by the time I was...12-14.

And I must say computers only make sense in English. You say “ratón” and I’ll be like “what the heck are you talking about”. Not joking. And French even less so.

Even if the best course or book ever made about something technology I’m learning was made in Spanish or French, I’d rather chug 10 courses in English than have to suffer through one in ES/FR.

I remember my teachers in high school trying to explain how to use excel in French, while I was playing with code when they turned away. It was horrible but fun. I would change the language of the library computers back to English (and then get into trouble for it because I was one of the very few nerds who actually went to the library during recess, let alone to use the computers).

I’m just very glad now that I don’t have to ever think about technology in anything that’s not English.

metalmikester profile image
Michel Renaud

Native French speaker. I don't think I've taken any classes in French since university and even at home I do my programming stuff in English. It just feels more natural. Back in the mid-80s I barely understood English, so of course it was all French.

I'm learning Croatian and set my native language in the app to "English". Now, THAT I think may have been a mistake. lol

t0maslb profile image

I'm also Spanish and feel the same way. Not only are there much less tutorials in Spanish, but they're also more confusing when they try to translate the english written parts of the language to Spanish. Now I don't even bother to look up the tutorial's name in Spanish and go straight to English

phillie profile image
Philly • Edited on

Native german speaker here! 👋

Same, same! I have always learnt coding stuff in english - has happened kind of automatically, 'cause yeah, all coding language itself is in english, and of course the documentation is also.

But still, sometimes it kinda feels like I gotta do doubled work: not only I have to understand the technical parts of a programming language (tools ...) I also have to look up words and phrases I don't understand to get the whole context of .... whatever!

Soooo, sometimes I'm kinda jealous of native english speaker. Just a tiny-tiny-bit.✌️😄😅

maniflames profile image

Native dutch speaker :D

I often explore topics or technologies that aren't covered in class. It's extremely hard to find anyone that can help you if you're stuck when all your code is in dutch.

Yes it is still possible for people to help you but the 'why' or the goal of some things take more time to explain and a bunch of people often don't really want to take the time to understand.

carlospaz2084 profile image

I'm a native Spanish speaker like you. I also speak English but I've been using it on every day basis since almost 5 years ago (I'm currently 41), and like you, programming using Spanish words seems odd. I think it has to do with the languages and documentation as well. Programming is a very english-ish world.

dpshelio profile image
David Pérez-Suárez • Edited on

This is a big question. I'm part of a team that is translating the software- and data-carpentry lessons into Spanish and other languages. I'm Spanish and code in English since a very long time, as probably almost everyone who is a member of this community[1]. However, I still think the translation of that material is very important. Many have asked us why to "waste" our time with such translations, suggesting, as many of the people commenting here, that "real" code should be written in English. These courses are aimed at young researchers, normally when they are starting their PhD. If we can do anything to ease their path to get used to the tools that will make their life easier while producing a more sustainable software that helps to open science and replicability, then why wait till they learn English, or why to enforce them to learn the hard way the tools while they don't know English?

I would prefer to read and work with a code in Finnish that's readable than having something bad in English. The problem becomes when there is no consistency and a mix of languages, then you don't know whether the abbreviations used by the previous developer are in one or the other.

[1] Maybe you would get a very different result if you survey this on non-English universities and/or companies.

vlasales profile image
Vlastimil Pospichal

I am native Czech speaker. I have been using Czech language (without diacritics) to name things for a long time. I didn't mind the combination of languages. But the time has come to be compatible with colleagues. I program in English only now.

tttfifo profile image
Todor Todorov

Hi Nadine,

Bulgarian here.
I feel exactly like you described it.
Long time ago I realized that code, also code comments and documentation - everything should be English. You never know who will maintain your code in the future and it does not matter if he/she is a native English speaker - English is somehow a standard for the dev world.

Nice "did you know" mention for Python:

In the latest Python versions you can write variable names in whatever language you want (unicode variables), so this is possible:

тодор = 3

Nevertheless, the recommendation is not to use this feature :)

elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks • Edited on

Native Dutch speaker. Ever since I started (25+ years ago) it has been English for me.
Also all my software is in English. I loath it when I have to use someone's system and it's in Dutch. The often weird translations in the UI throw me off.

I cannot even consider writing code in any other language as the keywords are in English. It is an instant mess.

cescquintero profile image
Francisco Quintero 🇨🇴

I prefer to study things in English but also I almost by default look for stuff in English. News, videos, concepts, etc.

Fewer times I do a search in Spanish(my mother tongue) but the things I look for in Spanish are sometimes to learn the meaning in my language and wide my vocabulary 😄

Besides that, last year I was studying Portuguese in Duolingo and I was doing it from English to Portuguese(Duolingo also offers Spanish to Portuguese) and it was very easy to do.

I think is a way to keep practicing English anytime I can as it's not my mother tongue and only use it when speaking to my company's clients.

danitfk profile image

Native Persian speaker here.

Actually learning computer science and coding stuff in Persian is quite difficult and complicated for me. (Also same for many of my friends and colleagues). Because lot's of technical words got translated to Persian.
For instance, in some books "Secured Cookie" translated as "شیرینی امنیتی" it means "Secured Actually cookie (sweety)" and so on.

Reading English books, articles or even watching English video tutorials is much better than my original language.

mt3o profile image

I'm from Poland, native language is polish. I prefer to learn in the language that is closest to the topic. And for some topics, I prefer using both languages at the same time.
When reading about software development, English.
When reading press or about taxes - PL.
When reading about business, both, because I need to be aware of all naming conventions.

thinksentient profile image
Joanna Walker

Polish native speaker. Since I'm self taught and back when I started there wasn't much information available online in my native language nearly all the learning and coding I'd done has been in English. Early on in some personal projects I might have used Polish words/phrases for variables or function names. But generally even then talking or reading about the programming concepts felt weird when done not in English. I still cringe upon hearing some of the "creative" translations done in this field.

saturn570 profile image
Saturn • Edited on

Learning concepts in mother tongue is helpful,but coding in English.

6temes profile image

Catalan speaker here.

Apps need to be well localized for the users, but code must be in English IMO.

joaofranco19 profile image
João Franco

I think programing, specially nowadays is all cooperation, and translate things would be an additional roadblock, and don't need anymore of those.

hlrossato profile image
Higor Rossato

Native Portuguese speaker here! I personally prefer English. Mostly (if not all) projects you'd work it's in English so the sooner you get used to terminologies in English, the better.

niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

English all the way. I find it uncanny to read about CS-topics in German. Just feels weird.

sayujraghav profile image

Native is Hindi and Malayalam. But i am comfortable with English

enmanuel97 profile image
Jesus Enmanuel De La Cruz

Native spanish speaker, my english skills aren't good enough but I feel comfortable watching tutorial in both language, most of the time I watch courses in Spanish.

simonebogni profile image

Italian native here and I totally agree with you.
I learn best in English and I like to code only in English. It doesn't make sense to me to translate it.

acangiano profile image
Antonio Cangiano

Native Italian speaker here, and I'm with you. Vastly prefer English.

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