Friday, 24 June 2011

Try Our Language Aptitude Test!

Never learned a language before? Wondered if you would be any good at it? 

Then why not try our language aptitude test below!

It consists of ten questions and should take you around ten minutes to complete. It is designed for anyone who does not yet speak a foreign language fluently and will help give you an idea of just how naturally you may take to learning your first foreign language. (Make sure to note down your answers - the answer key and scoring are at the bottom of the test).

Our Language Aptitude Test

Question One. How often will you get the chance to use the language you are hoping to learn?

a) Almost never.
b) Perhaps once a year, when I'm on holiday / vacation.
c) All the time (My partner speaks the language / I need it for business / I own a second home in that country etc).

Question Two. How many of the following English words do you know the meaning of? 

a) tardy  b) altruistic  c) egregious  d) perfidy  e) squaliform

Question Three. How many of these foreign words can you guess the meaning of?

a) patriótico  b) Intelligenz  c) précieux  d) enthusiastisch  e) gestikulieren

Question FourTake a look at the following foreign language sentence and its translation:

Foreign language sentence:                 Ho preparato il caffè per Lei.
Translation:                                          I have prepared the coffee for you.

Use this sentence now as a guide to work out how to place the words below in the correct order to create a new sentence.

a) per Lei  b) una  c) torta  d) decorato  e) Ho

Question Five. Can you work out what the new sentence you have just created (using the words above) means?

a) He has bought a new pair of shoes for you.
b) I have two brothers and sisters.
c) I have decorated a cake for you.

Question SixTranslate the names of the following works, written by a famous playwright, into English.

a) Hamlet, Prinz von Denmark.
b) König Lear.
c) Ende gut, alles gut.
d) Ein Mittsommernachtstraum.
e) Die Komödie der Irrungen.

Question Seven. For each of the five English words given below, select one French and one German word with the same meaning. 

English     cat        ox         pig        swan       sheep

French      porc     chat      boeuf      mouton     cygne

German    Schaf   Schwan   Schwein   Katze   Ochse   

Question EightTake a look at these five Dutch proverbs. What would the equivalent for each proverb be in English?  

a) Bloed is dicker dan water.
b) De pen is machtiger dan het zwaard.
c) Geen nieuws is goed nieuws.
d) De pot verwijt de ketel dat hij zwart ziet.
e) Goed begonnen is half gewonnen.

Question NineFor each of the five English words below, select the Chinese character with the same meaning.

a) mouth    b) child    c) horse    d) mountain    e) paddy field

Question TenUsing the Alphabet Key below, try to work out what the following Russian words mean in English.

метро    сестра*     ресторан     телефон    Толстой     

Alphabet Key

A Russian "p" = an English "r"
A Russian "c" = an English "s"
A Russian "н" = an English "n"
A Russian "л" = an English "L"
A Russian "ф" = an English "f" 
A Russian "й" = an English "y" 

* a female relative

Now For The Answers!

Question One - there was no "right" answer for this question but the points, according to how you answered, are...

a) 0 points
b) 3 points
c) 9 points

Question Two - give yourself 1 point for each word you knew the meaning of:

a) tardy           =   late
b) altruistic     =   unselfish / charitable
c) egregious    =   outstandingly bad
d) perfidy         =   treachery
e) squaliform   =   shaped like a shark

Question Three - give yourself 1 point for each word you were successfully able to guess the meaning of:

a) patriótico          =     patriotic
b) Intelligenz        =     intelligence
c) précieux            =    precious
d) enthusiastisch   =    enthusiastic
e) gestikulieren     =    to gesticulate

Question Four - give yourself 1 point for each word placed in the correct position, as set out below:

e) Ho  d) decorato  b) una  c) torta  a) per Lei  

Question Five - give yourself 1 point if you chose the correct answer, which is...

c) I have decorated a cake for you.

Question Six - give yourself 1 point for each of Shakespeare's plays that you correctly translated:

a) Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.
b) King Lear.
c) All's Well That Ends Well.
d) A Midsummer Night's Dream.
e) The Comedy of Errors.

Question Seven - give yourself 1 point for each pair you correctly matched with the English equivalent - only a complete pair gets you a point!

cat        =      chat          &     Katze 
ox         =      boeuf        &     Ochse 
pig        =      porc          &     Schwein   
swan     =      cygne       &     Schwan       
sheep    =     mouton     &     Schaf       
Question Eight - give yourself 1 point for each Dutch proverb you worked out the English equivalent for:

a) Blood is thicker than water.
b) The pen is mightier than the sword.
c) No news is good news.
d) The pot calling the kettle black.
e) A job well begun is a job half done.

Question Nine - give yourself 1 point for each word you were successfully able to guess the meaning of:

     a) mouth   b) child   c) horse   d) mountain  e) paddy field

Question Ten - give yourself 1 point for each Russian word you were able to work out:

a) Metro / Underground / Subway.
b) Sister.
c) Restaurant.
d) Telephone.
e) Tolstoy.

Your Score! 
(Out of 50 - and what it means...)

1-22 Points

To succeed with learning a foreign language you are going to need to find a course that opens your way of thinking to help you see the connections between different languages and that shows you how to structure sentences in the language you are planning to study. 

You are definitely capable of learning a foreign language but in your case it is especially important that you find the right course!

23-39 Points

Very good. Your current level of aptitude is typical for someone setting out to learn their first foreign language. Take a look at where you did less well on the test; this will show you what you need to work on to make learning your first foreign language that much easier. It will also help you decide what sort of language course will help you most with your studies.

40-49 Points

Excellent. You have an extensive English vocabulary, plus an ability to see links between English and other languages when they exist. These factors will make language learning far easier, so long as you find a course that utilises these abilities. If you are motivated and did well on question one to boot, you are likely to go far. Well done!

50 Points

You are a linguistic savant. You will power your way through language learning and may well succeed at learning multiple foreign languages. Sir / Madam, we salute you!

How did you do? 

Please, please use the comments box below to tell us what score you got, where you struggled, what you found easy and what your plans are for future language study. We always want to know! And do remember, choosing the right course to learn with will ultimately be the most significant factor in how much progress you make!

What the questions tested

For those of you who are interested in what each of the individual questions tested, here is a quick summary:

Question one was designed to test your level of motivation and likelihood of ongoing motivation. Having plenty of opportunities and the need to use a foreign language regularly can really help language learners stay motivated.

Question two was designed to test your word knowledge in English, which is an indicator of general verbal ability.

Questions three, six, seven, eight, nine and ten were designed to test your ability to reason logically in terms of analysing foreign language, foreign language symbols and foreign language vocabulary; in doing so it measured another aspect of verbal ability.

Questions four and five were designed to test your ability to infer a set of rules from a given extract of a foreign language and then to apply these in a different context.


  1. I did much better than I thought I would. The hardest part, for me, was question 9.

  2. This is the most fun language test I have ever taken. Pretty tough in places though. I got 29 but actually learnt some things by doing it. Thanks.


  3. I scored 34, meaning I missed out on 16 points, 9 of which were because I don't have much opportunity to use my languages. I feel like maybe that was weighted too heavily. I did pretty well everywhere else! The ones I got wrong that involved translation were mostly because I didn't know the English one, so there was nothing to hook me.

  4. Thank you all for each of the comments so far.

    Regarding the weighting, you make a very good point and we did think about this a lot. A lot!

    The reason we gave 9 points for that first question is that, for most people, having a reason to keep going with the language, such as having the opportunity or need to use it regularly, may be what ultimately makes the difference between success and failure.

    The test will undoubtedly evolve over time, however, and we will take note of and incorporate suggestions when we make changes to the test in the future.

    Thanks again for your comment.

    1. I scored 48 (got two of question 2 wrong to my shame). I must admit, I am a teacher of European languages, so I probably had an unfair edge...
      Thanks anyway for the test

  5. I scored 45. But, I think I sandbagged this test a bit because I'm an intermediate french speaker and have an interest in Chinese. I recognized enough of the characters in 9 to figure out the meaning of the others.

  6. Thanks for taking the test, chinoisfrancais.

    Having a knowledge of the languages in the test will, as you say, have undoubtedly affected your score. Thanks for letting us know this, along with the score itself.

    As the introduction says, the test is designed and intended for people who have not yet learnt a foreign language but people, such as yourself, who have already learnt a foreign language are more than welcome to use the test - even it's just for a bit of fun!

    Anyway, we hope you enjoyed it and that you learnt something new from it!

  7. 46 - but do speak a bit of French and am halfway through Paul's Italian course. The Chinese was the hardest - squinted at the characters to relate the shapes to the word. Still think 'mountain' looks like a mouth :-)

  8. I scored 27. This is the first language aptitude test I've ever taken and I really enjoyed it.

    I found the Chinese and guessing the proverbs the hardest but it was really fun!

  9. I scored 49. Pretty pleased with myself. I have an advantage as my partner speaks French and runs a French meetup group in Leeds so I get a fair few opportunities to practice - and drive my partner crazy with my attempts! I am working through the French course at home at the moment and finding it very good for filling in gaps in my schoolgirl French. The approach taken is very logical and frequently resisting constructions definitely helps a lot.

  10. Thanks so much for your comments, Looby. And well done on the magnificent score!

    Are we right in thinking that your final sentence contains a minor typo and that you meant to write the following?: "The approach taken is very logical and frequently revisiting constructions definitely helps a lot". We just wondered!

  11. Ah yes revisiting. I typed it on my phone and the predictive text likes to try to read my mind.

  12. Love your language aptitude test. I got 32. It was very interesting. Never would have thought I could read Dutch!

  13. This test is really great. Thanks for putting it up here!

    I have always struggled with languages and found it when I was looking for a test to see if I really am completely incapable of learning one.

    I got 38 and feel pretty good about myself. Again thanks so much for this!

  14. Great quiz - 28 points.

  15. I came on your weekend Spanish course earlier in the year and absolutely loved it and have been looking for more Paul Noble language institute stuff to sink my teeth into ever since then - and I just found this!

    I got 39 and feel I actually learnt something by doing it. Great test!


    1. Glad to hear you enjoyed your Weekend Spanish Course with us - our students' feedback and reviews are what make doing this so worthwhile for us!

      39 is a very good score, by the way, so you should do well with your Spanish!

  16. I just wanted to say that I purchased the paul noble french course CDs that you sell after reading a language review in a newspaper (it was for your chinese course). I haven't looked back since, so: thank you!

    I also enjoyed this test. It made me really use my brain ;[]

    And I scored 41, which has really made my day :]

    1. We're very glad to hear you found the French CD course useful. 41 is an excellent score, so well done!

  17. Thanks so much for putting up this test.

    Few tests are actually interesting in themselves but I felt that this one was.

    My score was 34. So not outstanding but I feel happy that I scored more than 20.

    I am a big fan of all the Paul Noble language courses. Both the ones at your school and the ones you have produce with Collins.

    I have been to your language institute in London twice for two different language courses and enjoyed both of them hugely.

    It is a terrible shame that languages are not taught like this in school. Think of what we all might be able to achieve if they were!

    I am still hoping that you will release a Paul Noble Mandarin Chinese course. If there are any plans to do so, please do let us all know.



    1. Thanks for your comments, Guy.

      There is a new Paul Noble German course on CDs coming out this September. As for Chinese, we offer this language at the school already. As for a Paul Noble Chinese CD course, we can't say anything regarding this just yet. Watch this space though...

  18. My score was 41... there were a few phrases I 'translated'... at least a similar outcome to the English phrase, but didn't know the original phrase in English, so that made it more difficult.

    1. That's an excellent score, particularly if you didn't know the original phrase in English. Well done!

  19. Bought the Paul Noble French CD's a month ago and I'm really impressed as I'm actually enjoying them. Desperate to book on your course...

    Really happy scored 43
    Thank you

    1. So glad yo hear you're enjoying the CD course - and well done on your score on the language aptitude test. 43 is very high!

  20. Scored 42, and I'm kicking myself on #9. Would have gotten them all, but got horse and child mixed around. I grew up in Asia, but never really paid much attention to the characters until recently. I would be interested in Mandarin CDs as well.

    Perhaps what tripped me up on some parts was the specifics of the language, such as #8e (I had "A good beginning is half the battle"). I knew it was not correct, but did not know the correct phrase in English.

    I really enjoyed the test, it is fun trying to figure different languages out.


    1. Glad to hear you enjoyed the test. It was designed to be fun as well as to test your natural propensity for learning a foreign language.

  21. Scored 37. Didn't get any of the chinese ones, and even after seeing the answers I didn't recognise the words against the symbols. Have just completed the Collins PN French course and finally feel (after 45 years!) I have some building blocks to conversation. Fantastic - now want more. Are there any plans for a second,follow up course, Paul?

    1. 37 is an extremely respectable score.

      Glad to hear you're enjoying the Collins Paul Noble French Course. Will there be a follow-up to it? I would recommend that you watch this space and also check back every so often with the Collins / Paul Noble Method Facebook page, where Collins tends to announce new course releases.

  22. Scored 35, with a 0 for Question One, and like that it would be 9 more if I had opportunity to use a language. I've had some languages already, though: some French, German, Russian, and a wee touch of Spanish and Chinese. Still, the test and its explanation are very encouraging for me (thank you!). I'd very much like to learn a language on my own, just to do it, but am not sure if I'd make time for it: depends on schedule and goals. I'll be considering it.

    1. Yes, you should feel encouraged. If you got 0 for question one but still managed a score of 35 then this suggests that you have a great deal of linguistic aptitude - no wonder you've picked up so many languages!

  23. I scored a 31. I had taken a little bit of Spanish in high school but I didn't really do very well and my freshman year there had failed a Latin course. That said I was really surprised at how easily the Russian came, two of them I literally 'saw' without having to sound it out using the pronunciation part. I also found the proverbs, Shakespeare titles, and the sentence structure and translation of I decorated a cake for you to all be very easy. I was able to see some of the Chinese characters but some of them really threw me off. It was really fun, it's given me more confidence to take a language course now that I'm in college. I don't know if it makes a difference at all, but I'm dyslexic.

    1. I'm glad the test has helped give you more confidence. This was part of the reason we produced it. Hopefully, not only will it help give you an idea of your areas of greatest aptitude but it will also show you just how interesting foreign language study can be and how we should all be able to find confidence in some of the skill areas required for learning a foreign language.

  24. Well, I officially scored 39 on the answers that I was positive about and wrote down. If I had not second guessed myself on a couple of them, I would have scored 44. I have to say this is the best aptitude test I've come across. I was a little skeptical when a friend posted it on facebook, but pleasantly surprised to find a real, fun test. Thanks.

    1. We're very pleased to know that someone posted regarding the test on Facebook and that you found it useful and run. Please do tell others on Facebook about it!

      What you say about second guessing is interesting. It would be fascinating to know how many other people talked themselves out of the right answer. Nevertheless, 39 is still an excellent score. Well done!

  25. What a fantastic test! I looked and looked for a foreign language aptitude test everywhere but this was the first one I found that was actually a proper test.

    It is very nicely designed. I particularly enjoyed the Chinese questions - what a fascinating puzzle!!

    I got 42 and I am very happy to have done so! As far as modern language aptitude tests go I would rate this by far as the best I have come across.

    Thank you!

    1. So glad to hear you enjoyed it!

      Yes, there are few real language aptitude tests around. Most of them just test your ability in a given language rather than your aptitude at learning languages in general, which this one aims to do.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  26. I enjoyed this test so much! I got a 45, much better than thought of!

  27. I enjoyed this tets learned stuff I did and didn't know so I scored a 40.

    1. We are very glad to hear that you learned something new. The test is full of interesting nuggets of information that we hope will help inspire learners to actively pursue the study of foreign languages.

  28. This was my first language test that included anything other than Spanish. I'm a senior in high school that is fluent in Spanish, so that really helped me, i think. I scored a 34.

  29. i really enjoyed this aptitude test and hope you do more. i found the chinese one quite hard though.

    1. Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

      You certainly aren't the first, and won't be the last, to have found the Chinese one difficult though.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  30. I got 46. I was surprised that I got all the Chinese ones right! Thanks for the test. - Anikrou

    1. Wow, well done on the Chinese ones!

      If people have a particular area they struggle on during the test, it tends to be with the Chinese questions - although this clearly doesn't apply to everyone.

      Is there perhaps a budding sinologist inside you just bursting to get out?

  31. I scored a forty, the Chinese characters really threw me! This was a very interesting test, I plan to use it with my students!

    1. Hi Audrey,

      Glad to hear you found the test interesting!

      Yes, please get your students to try it and let us know how they get along. It's curious to hear each time what different people find tricky. Quite a number struggle with the Chinese characters but a minority seem to sail through them. I wonder what it says about each of us as learners?

      By the way, which subject do you teach?

  32. I got a 38 because I didn't know the name of one book and could only guess one word of it. Also, I didn't know two of the english vocab words. Zero points for the first question.. but the Chinese one was actually easy for me because I am a visual person and study illustration. I'm used to seeing abstractions.

  33. I only got a 29, but I am getting pretty good at Spanish, and am working on Russian. I plan to become fluent in both. I had the most difficulty with questions six and nine, probably because I've never even glanced at those languages as of yet.

  34. I scored 50 which to be completely honest was not much of a surprise and is the reason why I am studying five languages at school :D

  35. 42 proud and surprised. Sadly it was the English vocabulary that truly tested me. I got 2 out of the 5.

  36. I scored 34, but question10 was the easiest for me because I am Russian. English is my first foreign language and this test was really interesting, especially question 8

  37. I got a 47, but it helped that I had already studied some German and Chinese, so I knew most of the German words and Chinese characters. The ones I got wrong were question 2 (I only knew 3 of the vocab words), and " Geen nieuws is goed nieuws". I interpreted that to mean "some news is good news", which means I got it incorrect. All others I got correct.

  38. I got 45, but it helped that I already knew a tiny bit of German. I struggled on A Midsummer Night's Dream. I am still very proud of my-self.

  39. 35 knew more than I thought

  40. I got 44, my first language isn't English so I don't know that much English vocabularies. I'm not too familiar with the Shakespeare plays either. I haven't learnt German or French before, I'm impressed that my instincts were right. I'm fluent in Chinese though, so I got the 5 hardest ones (according the comments!) correct. I think my real score would be around 40. Thanks for the test! (:

  41. I Got A 36, Though I Was Hoping To Do Better. The Proverbs Killed Me. Though I Was Really Impressed When I Matched All The Chinese Characters Correctly ^^

  42. 46, lost a point because I was not familiar with one of the proverbs.

  43. One basic thing to understand about the Chinese writing system, specifically nouns, is that it was based on the visual aspects of the object being represented. When it was first created, these visual representations were more obvious (ex. look up how the character for horse has changed through time). Over time they grew more simplified and thus more abstract. However, if you look for similarities in the structure of the character to their visual representation, easy connections can usually be found.

  44. I got 49 and i'm only 16 and haven't taken any language courses yet. I'm planning on being a classical archaeologist and so I will have to study several modern and ancient languages. I hope this is is a omen signifying a bright future for when i start taking on those languages.

  45. I got 41/50 with which I was very happy. This should probably not have come as a surprise seeing as I have learned at lot of Spanish, Italian, Catalan and Romanian and always wanted to have a go at Danish. I didn't get a single one of the mandarin ones though and probability would suggest I should have got at least one, go figure :) Thoroughly enjoyed this and it's nice to know I may be a polyglot in the making :)

  46. What if I actually *knew* some of the words and did not have to "workout" the answers? I knew the Russian words, and some of the French and German. How does this affect my score of 37?

  47. i got a 43, which is not what i expected. I happen to have a good grasp on some of these languages already, or maybe just language learning in general enough to not really have learned about my learning style much from this.

  48. I wonder if you ever try to find out the validity and reliability of this test. I think it has the potential for a formal use in research.

  49. I got 39, but I already speak fluently a German dialect, understand a lot of German, and have a fair amount of Spanish.That made the Dutch easy to guess as well as the French. However, I only got one in number two. . .

  50. I got 32, I am a native English Speaker, but I am also fluent in Spanish.

  51. I got 37. I lost almost all of my marks on question 1, the english vocab, and the chinese characters. Everything else was pretty much all correct.

  52. the two points i missed were for not knowing perfidy and squaliform haha

  53. I got 43 points. I am both Italian and English native speaker (Italian born from Nigerian parents). I also have an elder brother and a nephew living in German Swiss (for more than 5 year, my nephew was born there and I'd like to learn German) so I answered "all the time" to the first question, is that correct in my case?

  54. Scored 42 but blew the Chinese part completely. Weird! I'm fluent in
    English and Spanish; used to be fluent in Russian and am now only fair; fair to poor in German, and conversant with Turkish and French, where I was once fair to poor in both. Learned my first foreign language (Russian) at the Army Language School in Monterey, CA, and my last (Spanish) in the last decade in Nicaragua.

  55. I scored 49. (Missed squaliform.)
    Recently certified as a TESOL instructor in Delhi in order to teach English at a children's home in West Bengal. I am 65 and have never felt I had any aptitude for foreign languages.
    Listening to natives jabber at light-speed makes me despair at even trying to learn Hindi but after taking your little 5-minute exercise, I feel confident that I can - at any rate, I'm sure going to give it a shot. Thanks!

  56. I got 41 but I'm not an english native speaker, I'm italian and I'm studying Japanese. In high school I also studied German and French

  57. Scored 42 - enjoyed it - quick and easy to do and something to think about .

  58. I scored 46. Lost 2 points each in questions 2 and 9.

  59. I scored 48. I couldn't figure out "squaliform" and couldn't remember the actual title of all's well. I knew what each of the German words meant (or at least a partial translation: end's good, all good) but I couldn't jog my memory. Good lord. I can't believe it. lol. This was fun!

  60. I got a 46! I'm thrilled! I'll be teaching English in Japan next year, so hopefully this means I'll be able to learn Japanese without too much trouble.

  61. I'm a 14 year old Korean junior high student, got 47... I do know Chinese so taking 5 points off of question 9 I got 42....?

  62. I'm a 14 year old Korean student attending junior high. I got 47 but i do know Chinese so taking 5 points off of question 9 I got 42...?

  63. This was fun, thanks! I got 45.

  64. Clever little test - 32 scored.

  65. I scored 41/50 and that was ridiculously fun lol. I struggled with the chinese the most. Thanks :)


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