Have you ever dreamed in a foreign language? This is my personal experience with dreams and I am curious about yours.
My dream experience
I often dream in the Polish language as I have lived here for a while. My Polish is good but not perfect. When I dream at a subconscious level I am pretty pleased with myself when I am speaking Polish (although I am not aware it is a dream). Why? Because the native speakers in my dreams always understand what I say perfectly. Further, I understand them perfectly. In my dreams (both literally and figuratively), I am like a native speaker in this foreign language. Both in speaking and comprehension and I never need a dictionary.
However, when I recant a dream dialogue to my wife who is a native speaker she laughs. This is because the native speakers in my dreams were making the same grammatical mistakes that I make when I am awake. I wonder why. It takes the wind out of my sail a little as in my dream world I am equipment and people are charmed by my linguistic skills.
A dream is really a dialogue with yourself. Therefore, there is perfect comprehension of the spoken word.
Some people believe that you can tap into the collective unconsciousness and access information and even language information. For me that is a little more speculative. However, this much can be said. If you are dreaming in a foreign language then you are doing well.
Can dreams help you learn a language?
- To remember dreams keep a dream journal by your bed. When you wake up write down all your dreams even in sketch form. When I did this, I could remember several a night in detail and often stream of conciousness one leads into the other.
- As you are drifting to sleep try to suggest to yourself to dream in your foreign language.
- Read up on lucid dreaming and try to use this in language learning.
- During the day start thinking in your foreign language, even change your inner dialogue or create dialogues in your mind in a foreign language.
- The purpose of dreams or day dreams in a foreign language is not a grammar drill, school or exercises, so it does not matter if you are making mistakes. The idea is to get more of your brain online linguistically.
- You are smarter than you think. Intelligence and ability is really teaching the brain to access more of the raw material which is latent and waiting for you to develop.
Let me know your thoughts about day dreams, dreams, lucid or deep or even fantasies in foreign language and your experiences. When does your imagination take you linguistically. Do you think imagination is a connection with a deeper reality? I think conscious cognitive thought is like an iceberg, only about ten percent of the mind is conscious and seen on the surface. The other 90% is something that is largely untapped for its potential.
8 thoughts on “Dreaming in a foreign language”
I am praticing lucid dreaming right now, and while I have not done it yet this year, last night I had a dream in which I spoke in German and experienced exactly what you said – everybody in my dream understood me and I was proud of myself, but when I woke up I realized that my German was quite shoddy.
The odd thing is I haven’t studied or spoken German for seven years (English is my native language), so it seemed like a lot was coming out of my subconscious,
Most memory issues are retrieval problems. That means once the memory is formed and as long as there is no loss of integrity to the physical brain structure, its all in your brain. It is just a matter of bringing it out. I am not just saying this, I worked in this area a little.
I think when it comes to language learning there are many untapped areas. Thank you very much for that interesting story.
Last night I was dreaming in German. I don’t speak German and never have I studied it or any other language but English.
In my dream I was aware I was dreaming and I became upset because I didn’t understand what was being said. I forced myself to wake up. I immediately fell back to sleep and had a second dream in German. This time I had to complete a task and again became upset because the language and instructions were in German which I did not understand. Again I forced myself to wake up. I immediately went back to sleep and dreamed about a man speaking German to me. These were all lucid dreams. I am partly of German heritage. My father may have spoken a minimal amount of German to me before he died when I was three years old.
I’m Polish but I also communicate in English, Italian, and Mandarin. I dream in other languages very often, but I think the funny part comes along when I wake up but I’m still not actually aware of the fact that I was dreaming and continue the conversation in the language that I was speaking in the dream. So… people, who – in the course of my life – had to wake me up and put up with my foreign language mumbling first thing in the morning, always make fun of me…
Yes definitely. During the time I was working Japanese, I practiced speaking Japanese in my dream. Of course this was told by my roommate.
I’ve learned English when I was 12-16 mostly by talking to myself, I started very early to dream in English, it seemed OK to me. Then I learned German and Italian and now I live in Italy and study Spanish. It happened to me many times to dream in languages I don’t know, in the morning I was sure that, for example, the language of the dream was Dutch or whatever. Last spring I took part in an experiment in inter-comprehension among Latin languages (it’s something that opens up your mind for sure) and I started understanding even Bulgarian after that (I speak Russian, but before I couldn’t understand a word of Bulgarian).
Last night my brain went totally crazy. I had at least 6 languages in one dream and I was reading in German and recognizing the same roots in one more language that in reality has nothing to do with those roots. So I started searching for this kind of articles cause I’m afraid I’m going crazy.
I had a dream where I was speaking Samoan and I don’t speak Samoan and I don’t ever really hear it because a lot of people just speak English. But I was speaking Samoan and everyone who speaks it normally at my school could understand it perfectly in my dream and I could interpret what they were saying. I speak English and Maori :/ I was very confused
Rebecca that is an interesting story which I believe. How much have you been exposed to Samoan? It might be in the you have a lot of this language in your brain latent and you could tap into it. I was dreaming in Polish when I was learning it and my Polish was better in my dream than in real life. I one if people can tap into this to help them learn a language.