Sweet Dreams are Made of…German?




And when you hit the ground, you wake up.

Or, you’re about to get on a bus in Berlin, and you need to ask the bus driver how much the fare is. So you turn to your German friend to save you the trouble, except they refuse to do the interaction for you. Annoyed, you roll your eyes, and as you turn back to the bus driver, you blurt out: “Wie viel kostet das?” The driver replies, and as you dig through your wallet for €1.70, your mind starts racing: “Did I just ask the driver, in German, how much the bus fare was? And he understood me?! But I don’t even know how to ask how much bus fare is in German! Wait…why am I in Germany?” You blink, and when you open your eyes, you realize that you missed your stop at the Reichstag and you’re back in Toronto.

I’ve been studying German for a year now, and about six months ago, I had my first ever dream in German. At the time, I wasn’t exactly fluent in the language, but I had just come back from a trip over there. I haven’t dreamed in German since, but I’ve wondered what dreaming in another language really meant.

Does dreaming in another language demonstrate a mastery of material? Does it represent an unconscious ideal of fluency? Are the dreams a recycling of linguistic input that your conscious mind didn’t catch, but your subconscious did? What happens to people who fall into comas and wake up speaking with an accent or speaking a different language entirely? Is this the same thing?

Do you know another language? If so, have you dreamed in it? If you don’t know another language, have you ever dreamed in one?

Photo courtesy of Christophe Hautier from Unsplash.


One Reply to “Sweet Dreams are Made of…German?”

  1. Awesome post Kate! I also speak Tamil and I’m learning Korean, so I’ve frequently had dream where I’m speaking both! The first time I spoke in Korean in my dream, I actually sounded quite fluent, however, I’m not that fluent in real life. Does that mean maybe my subconscious knows more about this new language than my conscious brain? Weird.


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