Idea for people where English is a second language

I’m curious about about everyone from a non-English background. There are so many awesome people here and we all come from different places, so here’s my idea:

If English isn’t your first language (which is totally okay and cool), how difficult would it be to post your questions in both languages?

If you did that, then people that can speak your native language could help more directly (while also hopefully posting in English too).

I’d still like to see you try to write in English so everyone here has a chance to help, but if you’re more comfortable writing in a different language, you could add a horizontal rule (the - between the H and :slight_smile: icons… or just 3+ dashes ---- on a single line) and then the same question in your native language.


Like this:

Hi! I’m Dave. I’m Canadian. :blush:

你好!我叫Dave 。我是加拿大人。:blush:

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Its an interesting idea but… I don’t know if its ideal. I’ve seen a good amount of people who learned English because of programming, because they had to be able to express themselves to ask questions, get feedback, do searches, read documentation. All played a huge part because if they wanted to be involved they had to learn…which in turn throws the doors wide open for opportunities even in their home country because English is a valuable skill.

But in any case…

Hi I’m Candice and I’m American!

Saluton! Mi estas Candice kaj mi esperantisto en usono! :blush:

While I can sympathize with people who are learning English (my wife speaks English as a second language and if I get my wish and we move to Barcelona, I’m going to have to perfect my Spanish and learn Catalan), but as it has been pointed out before, English is the language of opportunity in the computer world. I think it would be more realistic to have people struggle and learn how to communicate because that is what they would have to do for a lot of jobs.

I’m sorry if that sounds insensitive, but that is perhaps for the best.

It’s like the other day, I had a guitar student who wants to study flamenco. I asked how much Spanish he spoke. He seemed puzzled. I tried to explain - if you want to make it in the world of flamenco, you’re going to have to speak Spanish, and better yet go study in Seville. If you want to reach the top ranks in the world of Kung Fu, you’re going to have to learn Chinese. And if you want to master French cooking, you’re probably going to have to learn French. And if you want to succeed in the tech world, you’re going to need English - almost all of the documentation is in English and most of the jobs are.

Sorry if that seems harsh, but that is the reality as I see it.

I see your argument… and I don’t fully believe it.

It is true that some English is a requirement of the programming, but it isn’t a requirement to actually communicate in English.

The most used language is Chinese (Mandarin). The second is Spanish. I find it highly unlikely that the majority of developers in these languages speak English during daily scrums and planning meetings. And if they’re communicating with the client, it’s less likely since they’re probably communicating in the client’s native language (which is probably their own).

And those are only two languages. fCC is used by learners all over the world.

My proposal was to assist those learning programming whose native language wasn’t English. I’ve seen a few times on the fCC forum where a non-English speaker has tried to communicate and the response what generally “I have no idea what you just said”.

That response feels really alienating and non-inclusive. They already know they have weak English skills and we, as a group, throw it in their face.

But… if we give them as many opportunities to practice English while also giving them as many opportunities to solve their coding challenges, I think it would be nothing but awesome.

I just wanted to say, I have not seen anyone throw it in someones face, be negative or disparaging like that to someone for not being able to communicate well in English. Simply saying we cant understand what someone is trying to say or requesting clarification is not an insult…even people who are English speakers are told that they need to explain what their problem is when they are vague.

If people can post in English and another language, most will prefer to just use their native language and not write the same post twice over in 2 languages. Then, the only people able to be a part of the conversation are the ones who speak in that language. Not only does that divide the community, it a disservice to the people trying to ask for help, because instead of anyone being able to help, now only those who speak their language can be available to them. Having one way to communicate is unifying and helps everyone be able to be there for each other.

But really, your whole key point about how badly non native English speakers are treated here…FCC really has a global reach with a huge majority of people here who speak English as a second language, so the empathy is absolutely there to help as best as possible because most of the people have been there themselves at one time.

Anyway, I see where you’re coming from, but I have seen it happen quite a few times through the years where forums end up falling apart because posts are in many different languages, people end up getting frustrated trying to find posts in an language they understand, so the owner just creates sub forums for each of the languages, and then the people who speak it end up kind of hold up in their little corner of the forum away from everyone else. I dont think thats really in line with what FCC is trying to do here.

The most used language is Chinese (Mandarin). The second is Spanish.

That really depends on how you measure things. If you’re talking total speakers (as opposed to native), then Mandarin barely beats English. That’s because English is the lingua franca of business and technology. Many countries run their business and technology schools in English for that exact reason.

But it’s not the point - how many people speak the language. The point is that in computer programming, English is the indisputably dominant. Nothing comes close.

I find it highly unlikely that the majority of developers in these languages speak English during daily scrums and planning meetings.

Actually that does happen. But that’s beside the point. The person in question is obviously going to speak their native language. The point is - do they speak the language of programming? Can they get all the documentation they need in Farsi, or Mandarin, or whatever?

Forgive me, but if there is such a vibrant and thriving programming community in Italian, then why would they need to come to FCC? They come here because (for whatever reason at this point in the socioeconomic history of the world) English has become a de facto lingua franca in much of the world and is the language in the world of programming.

Let me put it this way, due to recent political turns in my country (cough, cough) my wife and are are considering moving overseas. I’ve spent a lot of time perusing jobs overseas. When I look at programming jobs in non-English speaking countries, I often see things like, “Must speak English” or “Must be fluent in English”. Often the postings are actually in English and a few even mention that English is the language of the office - because they know that it is a language that anyone in that field will speak.

Again, I hate to be the ugly American. I’ve spent most of my adult life working with people from other countries. I’ve taught ESL. I do sympathize. It seems very self serving for a native English speaker to demand that everything be in English (but in all fairness, I’m not demanding that.)

I got my MA in music. While at the university, we’d have people who would swear up and down that it wasn’t fair that they had to learn piano. But piano is the common language of the world of Western music study. I’d say the same of English for web dev.

Sure, you can get a web dev job where you never have to speak English. And you could find some documentation in your native tongue, even if you have to be 6 months behind the curve as you wait for someone to translate it. It just seems to be that you would always be struggling.

And I ask again: If there are thriving coding communities in those languages, then why are they coming here? They come here because the world of web dev is predominantly an English speaking one. Maybe in 100 years it will all be Mandarin or Hindi or Spanish, but for now it is English.

For the record, I am always patient with nonnative speakers. I will not complain if people start conversing in some other language. I’m just saying that if people want to maximize their opportunities and access to information in this field, then English is a must.

I’ve seen a few times on the fCC forum where a non-English speaker has tried to communicate and the response what generally “I have no idea what you just said”.

How else should they respond? To pretend that they understood? If you can show me someone mocking someone for not having good English skills, then there would be a problem. I haven’t seen that. But when I don’t understand someone (regardless of their native tongue) my first response is always to let them know that I don’t understand. I have to talk to my wife’s family all the time and they are constantly telling me they don’t understand - I don’t get offended.

I don’t know. I mean I applaud your desire to be more welcoming and inclusive. Please don’t think that I’m getting angry about this or anything. I just disagree. And you disagree with me. That’s fine.

I should state that this is just my opinion on the subject and should not be taken to be FCC’s position.

I am not a native English speaker a I have put a lot of effort and time into learning English.
I like what @ksjazzguitar and @cndragn said.

English is undoubtedly the most used language in IT, and anyone whose desire is to work in the field should be prepared to use English on daily basis. Honestly, I wouldn’t be too willing to write the same post in two different languages, especially if it was a long one. For me, it’s much easier to write my questions down in English, and by doing so I ensure I’ll get several responses.

By allowing people to write in all kinds of languages, you’ll let them isolate from others(Even though it has not been planned.). Then, you’re going to see topics in Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and so on and you’re going to have a hard time getting through them.

If you don’t understand something these days, you can simply type, and the translator gives you a decent translation within a couple of miliseconds.

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Just a heads-up: Anything “Google” is blocked in China and Google translate is actually pretty bad at translating Chinese.

I think I wasn’t clear when i suggested both English and a native language for English learners that are still struggling to learn. I’m not convinced it would splinter the forum if you lead with English.

After 7 years teaching ESL in China, I’m not sure it’s a bad thing to use your native language to support technical learning. But you’ve all made excellent cases for why this could devolve into something terrible. I respect your arguments and all of you. Thank you for the debate and your candour.

Yeah, I agree it wouldn’t “splinter” the forum. Again, I’m not drawing some line in the sand here.

But you too, thank you for the debate and your candor as well. I respect your opinion, even if I’m not wholly convinced.

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I’m not sure however if a lot of threads keep getting written across a ton of languages and such things could get confusing. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea but it needs to be implemented properly. Also how do people who don’t speak the non-english language know if there is some important fact that the english version failed to disclose?

It’s true. In order to be effective, all people using the non-English language would have to maintain both English and that language. But there are holes in the idea that would still exist… like this one where there would always be way more detail in the native language than English.

My hope was that it would encourage people who were still a little shy or lacked confidence in their English skills to speak up (which would in turn, increase their English skills/confidence over time). As noted by others above, there are always going to issues with this approach (like, what happens if somebody becomes too reliant on their native language and stops trying to improve their English?.. then the good intentions of this plan would be wasted. :frowning: ).

Yeah, but that’s kind of a slippery slope argument, which I always find a little dubious.

If, hypothetically, the forum started getting inundated with people that don’t speak English, then there could be a discussion about having forum rooms in other languages.

Also how do people who don’t speak the non-english language know if there is some important fact that the english version failed to disclose?

I think FCC will always be based in English. And there are discussion all over the world where we are “missing out”. And most of the posters were really talking about people posting in two languages - once in their struggling English and then below it in their native tongue so they know it says exactly what they mean and can maybe get help the can better understand.

I still disagree with the idea, but I think we’re a long way away from hurting the forum with it. My concern is more the harm it will do to learners.

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This. The more I think about implementation, the more I see this as the key problem.

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Hi everyone,

This topic is really interesting. I’m not going to talk about the fact that could be good or not to post with the native translation.

I’m looking at the subject from the point of view of the readability of the forum. If in the topic, you have different languages, that will not help to read correctly the conversation and we could miss information if the author didn’t translate his message.

And don’t be naive. If you let them the choice, most of them will write or in english or in their native language but not with the twos.

And, google translate work well, not perfect but well enough to be understood.

Maybe have you been see, English is not my first language. :smiley:

You may like to hear this… actually about 4 months ago a Google translate app became available in China. They had to create a different version, and it had to be distributed as a third party app since it cant be distributed by Google itself, but it was approved by the Chinese gvt and available. Even though translation services are not perfect, its still better than nothing…

Of course we can tell right away if a post was translated into English cause the sentence structure and some words are a bit off, but thats no big deal at all and a total non issue… Its definitely still readable and able to be understood…its an option. And now its an option in China too :smiley:

Hi. let’s see. I am Venezuelan, and I initially only learned enough written English to be able to study technology back there.

When working in Venezuela I didn’t need to know how to hold a conversation in English, although we did a lot of Spanglish among colleagues.

Then I learned more English to be able to land a Venezuelan job with a multinational = more money.
I could then speak office talk, but not anything else like talking about the weather or grocery shopping in English.

Then Venezuela became a dictatorship and I flew to the US, became an American Citizen and made sure I really pumped up my English, and I continue improving every day.

My conclusion: you need to learn written English to understand coding, but to collaborate and/or work in a non-English speaking country that is all you need

Now, since this is Free Code Camp and not Campamento Gratis de Programacion, I think it would be polite to start non-English posts with something like [SPANISH], as long as you understand now you really limited the amount of people who can help… As per translating, If you can do it in English, do it in English!

My two very unsolicited cents.


Broadly agree with DaveC. There’s a certain subset of English that’s needed (the programming-specific usage of keywords like function, catch, let, etc.), and a lot of source code, even when written by speakers of other languages, uses English for naming its variables, methods, etc. (likely due to historically poor support for non-ASCII characters).

Still, I discovered the other day that there are WeChat groups for various Chinese cities and joined the Shenzhen one. When I asked if any of the other members also used the forum, the response was “what forum?” Most people in the group speak little or no English, even among the professional developers (hopefully this won’t embarrass him because I doubt he’ll read this, but one guy repeatedly welcomed me as “border”… took me a good few minutes to work out he meant “brother”).

With that said, I don’t think mixing all the languages in the same forum is necessarily a good idea, because it increases the noise:signal ratio for the average user. Much better would be to have separate forums for es, zh, pt, ko, etc.

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If they post in a second language, I use google translate and always apologize for doing so in case it gets weird. While think we would all benefit from learning more languages, I’ve learned that you often have to work with Devs around the world and they won’t always speak English. And you miss out not learning from experienced Devs around the world. Also Separate but Equal is never a good way to go.