To Dream Speaking English (Why does this happen?) - The Irish English Teacher (2023)

ByGordon Gaffney

October 27, 2021

A former student of mine sent me this interesting article:

The American writer Mark Twain said: “A body does just the same in a dream, as he would do if he was awake”.

The writer of this sentence in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer reflects a widespread thought, dreams reflect what we do or would like to do when we are awake.

Have you ever dreamed speaking in English?

The word “dream” has many meanings, it can represent anything from future projects to a deep dive into our subconscious.

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This phenomenon has been studied in many fields such as medicine, psychology, social sciences in order to better understand this process.

Is it common to dream in a second language such as English?

For those who are in constant contact with a foreign language, it is common that at some point they start dreaming in that language, and then dreaming of speaking in that second language, for example English.

English has been part of my life for many years. I lived in the land of Queen Elizabeth II(The UK) form a very young age and so I became fluent in “English”.

To Dream Speaking English (Why does this happen?) - The Irish English Teacher (2)

Queen Elizabeth II

As a medical student and translator, there isn't a day that I don't read or write something in English. For some years now, because of my personal activities, I speak English more and more in my dreams.

Yes, it has been constant, speaking fluent English and surprisingly, sometimes with an accent!

To Speak British English In A Dream

About 2 weeks ago, for example, I dreamed that I was giving a lecture on a technical topic to a group of doctors. I'm not sure if, in my dream, this lecture was in Brazil or abroad. Perhaps, from the face of the audience, the dream took place here in the Tupiniquim lands.

But one thing was quite interesting, I spoke British English.

(You can learn more about the differences between British and American English in our video course on sale on Udemy for €29.99/69.99R$ "Eliminate the Mistakes that Portuguese Speakers Make in English". 4 hours of video exclusively for people that speak Portuguese. You can read more about it and watch free videos here.

It seems that when it is necessary to talk about more technical or more complex issues, in my dreams I resort to British English.

Study of the language we speak in dreams

The language we speak in our dreams has been a topic of study in several research centres around the world. As early as the 1980s, Joseph De Koninck, professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of Ottawa confirmed that students who spoke the language that they studied in their dreams advanced more quickly in the study of that language.

In the same sense, we know that sleep is vitally important for anyone. It is a physiological process common to everyone.

Studies indicate that during sleep the body recovers from the activities of the day, memory undergoes a consolidation process, hormones are released and the immune system is strengthened.

We know that it takes 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each day to ensure good health.

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REM the stage where you speak English in dreams

Science divides sleep into two main parts: the non-REM phase (Rapid Eye Movement) and the REM phase.

Sleep begins in the non-REM phase and little by little we move to the REM phase, it is in this second phase that dreams and memory consolidation occur. The REM phase is characterized by intense brain activity and rapid eye movements.

To Dream Speaking English (Why does this happen?) - The Irish English Teacher (3)

The famous American band REM (Rapid Eye Movement) in 1990

So, we can say that as we advance in the proficiency of a second language, it is natural that this is also incorporated into our dreams, into our subconscious.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the more we learn English, for example, in the real world, the more we dream and the more we speak English in those dreams.

In my case, it's quite interesting that when I have dreams about informal situations, where I'm speaking in English, I speak the language with an American accent.

This is perhaps the result of the greater contact that I, as a Brazilian, have with the English spoken in the United States, after all, practically all the content of movies and series that we access originates in the land of Uncle Sam.

So, even subconsciously, my mind relates American English to more everyday and less formal situations.

Fluency in other languages in dreams?

I speak other languages, specifically Spanish. However, I don't have the same fluency in Spanish as I do in English.

The amazing thing is that I very rarely have dreams where I speak in Spanish. My brain seems to prefer speaking the English language in dreams. This certainly reflects the security and experience of life I have in both languages.

But can those who don't speak another language speak English in their dreams?

One thing is certain, life is full of limitations of all kinds, however our subconscious is free and not subject to the same limits that everyone experiences in the real world on a daily basis.

Therefore, it is entirely possible for someone who does not speak English to have a dream in which they speak English.

It is quite common to dream that we are interacting in languages we do not master and this can reveal the desire to break new ground and acquire new skills.

The importance of speaking English for the job market

Everyone knows the importance of speaking English for the job market. People who master this language are more valued in companies and generally receive a higher salary.

In addition to the salary issue, those who are fluent in another language have access to more information, culture and can be more up-to-date in various fields of knowledge. New opportunities can arise for those who reach a good level in a foreign language.

To Dream Speaking English Shows Desire

The Swiss physician and psychiatrist Carl Jung said that: "Dreams are realisations of hidden desires", so when we speak in English in our dreams we signal that speaking a foreign language is something important to us, it is a wish burned into our unconscious.

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To Dream Speaking English (Why does this happen?) - The Irish English Teacher (4)

Carl Jung

Many people who are learning to speak English will always remember when they spoke the new language in their dreams. It can be considered a turning point that helped a lot to reinforce the self-confidence needed for the challenge.

So don't be surprised when you start speaking English in your dreams.

Know that this will be a clear sign that this knowledge is reaching the deepest levels of your unconscious and your brain. In short, you are on the right track. Be happy and speed up your English language studies

This article was written by a former student of mine.

If you enjoyed this article, then you may be interested in "Good Songs for Learning English", discover here about books that are easy to read in English or learn here about the difference between teacher and professor.

Have you ever dreamed of English? You can write your experience in the comments!



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Gordon Gaffney

About the author

Gordon is The Irish English Teacher, creator of this blog and many products to help all students learning English as a second language, but with a focus on Portuguese speakers.

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Why do they speak English in Ireland? ›

1. The English language was first taken to Ireland in the late twelfth century and despite many vicissitudes has remained there since, becoming the first language of the majority of the population in the course of several centuries.

Does Irish people speak English? ›

While Ireland has its own language and distinct cultural identity, English is the universal spoken language and is one of the reasons why so many multinational businesses locate their European base here.

Why is it important to speak English for students? ›

English is the language of science, aviation, computers, diplomacy, and tourism. Knowing English increases your chances of getting a good job in a multinational company within your home country or of finding work abroad.

When did English become the dominant language in Ireland? ›

There are a number of languages used in Ireland. Since the late eighteenth century, English has been the predominant first language, displacing Irish. A large minority claims some ability to use Irish, and it is the first language for a small percentage of the population.

Why is Irish English so different? ›

As Ireland is a bilingual country, the English spoken there has been greatly influenced by Gaelic and so can come across as strikingly different. One form this takes is the difference in the way the Irish pronounce 'th'.

Why is Irish different from English? ›

Historians teach that they are mostly descended from different peoples: the Irish from the Celts, and the English from the Anglo-Saxons who invaded from northern Europe and drove the Celts to the country's western and northern fringes.

What type of language is Irish? ›

Is Irish English different from American English? ›

One of the draws of studying abroad is the adventure of experiencing a different culture and language. Although Ireland and America are both English-speaking countries, we speak different kinds of English. For instance, a “Car Park” sign in Ireland is the equivalent to “Parking Lot” in America.

What are the benefits of speaking English? ›

Increased Brainpower

Many believe learning and speaking English as a second language increases mental flexibility and results in many cognitive benefits, such as increased creativity, better problem-solving skills, and increased creativity.

Why do people need to speak? ›

We talk to form social bonds

Decades of research in social psychology has shown that people talk to form and grow social bonds. Conversations ensure that we understand one another.

Where is Irish English spoken? ›

Hiberno-English (from Latin Hibernia: "Ireland") or Irish English, also formerly Anglo-Irish, is the set of English dialects native to the island of Ireland (including both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland).

Which came first Irish or English? ›

Not only is the Irish language the best part of a millennium older than English, the latter language was not spoken in any large measure in Ireland until the 1400s and did not become the main language of Ireland until the 1860s, having gained its dominant position by over a million Irish speakers dying due to famine ...

What happened between the Irish and English? ›

With the partition of Ireland, the relationship between Ireland and Britain changed dramatically. While the Republic of Ireland distanced itself from Britain, the Protestant majority in Northern Ireland clung fiercely to its British identity, and Catholics there suffered discrimination in employment and housing.

What is the relationship between the Irish and English? ›

Irish and British citizens are accorded equivalent reciprocal rights and entitlements (with a small number of minor exceptions) and a Common Travel Area exists between Ireland, United Kingdom, and the Crown Dependencies.

How is English different in Ireland? ›

People in Ireland generally use grammar the same way as British English speakers, except for those who speak local dialect. However, when one looks at colloquial speech then it is obvious that there are many salient structures in vernacular Irish English which set it apart from standard British or American English.

Why are the English and Irish fighting? ›

Unionists and loyalists, who for historical reasons were mostly Ulster Protestants, wanted Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. Irish nationalists and republicans, who were mostly Irish Catholics, wanted Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland.

What do Irish speak other than English? ›

Did you know? English and Irish (Gaeilge) are the official languages in the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland is where you'll hear the soft strains of Ullans (Ulster-Scots). You'll find Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) areas predominantly along the west coast, where Irish is widely spoken.

Is there a word for no in Irish? ›

1. Irish has no words for yes and no. This tends to be the first thing newcomers are told about the language, so let's start here. You will find no equivalents for yes and no in an English–Irish dictionary because Irish has no such words.

Do Ireland say bye or bye bye? ›

To say Goodbye in Irish you would say “Slán leat” – literally meaning “goodbye (health) to you”. You can be less formal and just say “Slán”, bye.

How do Irish people say morning? ›

1. Maidin mhaith! The most basic way to say “good morning” in Irish is to say it like this. Maidin mhaith is a direct translation of the English greeting, where Mhaith means good and Maidin means morning.

How do Irish people say good morning? ›

Maidin mhaaaaith!” Maidin mhaith, which is the simplest way to say “good morning” in Irish, is a direct translation of the English phrase.

Why is it called black Irish? ›

The term “black Irish” refers to persons of Irish descent who are supposed to be descendants of the Spanish Armada, which sailed around the middle of the 15th century, and had dark hair and or eyes. The term is used among people of Irish descent and sometimes confuses people since it doesn't refer to dark skin color.

What is the most famous Irish saying? ›

What is the most famous Irish blessing? “May the road rise up to meet you” is one of the most famous Irish blessings.

What language is Irish closest to? ›

Irish is a Celtic language (as English is a Germanic language, French a Romance language, and so on). This means that it is a member of the Celtic family of languages. Its “sister” languages are Scottish, Gaelic, and Manx (Isle of Man); its more distant “cousins” are Welsh, Breton, and Cornish.

What does being bold mean in Ireland? ›

When rendered as 'bold' (as in 'gold') it means 'naughty', even 'bad' or 'reprehensible'. When Edna O'Brien's books were banned in Ireland, (and sometimes burned) because of their frank sexual content, Edna was often referred to as 'that bold hussy'.

What is the Irish accent called? ›

brogue. 2 of 2 noun. : a dialect or regional pronunciation. especially : an Irish accent.

Where does Irish accent come from? ›

Scots, Irish Gaelic, 17th century English and Hiberno-English (the variety of English spoken throughout Ireland) have all influenced the development of Northern Irish English, and this mixture explains the very distinctive hybrid that has emerged.

How did English get to Ireland? ›

British rule in Ireland built upon the 12th century Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland on behalf of the English king and eventually spanned several centuries that involved British control of parts, or entirety, of the island of Ireland.

Who brought the English language to Ireland? ›

In the mid 17th century English was re-introduced on Ireland on a large-scale (see Hickey 1997: 359): Lands in Ireland were seized through act of war under Oliver Cromwell and given to loyal English and Scottish settlers. These so-called 'Plantations' were meant to strengthen England's political control over Ireland.

Is Ireland the only English speaking country in Europe? ›

After Brexit, Ireland becomes the only English-speaking country in the EU while being the hub of Europe and the USA. Therefore, education in Ireland becomes the first choice when people talk about studying overseas in European countries.

When did the Irish stop speaking Gaelic? ›

The decline has been slow and steady. Gaelic was introduced to Scotland from Ireland in the 5th century and remained the main language in most rural areas until the early 17th century. It was outlawed by the crown in 1616, and suppressed further after the Jacobite rebellion of 1745.

Did Irish or English come first? ›

Irish is indigenous to the island of Ireland and was the population's first language until the 19th century, when English gradually became dominant, particularly in the last decades of the century.

What is the Irish way of speaking English? ›

Hiberno-English (from Latin Hibernia: "Ireland") or Irish English, also formerly Anglo-Irish, is the set of English dialects native to the island of Ireland (including both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland).

What accent is Irish? ›

The Irish accent has multiple dialects, the most common of which is the Dublin accent. Still, even the Dublin accent has different variations within it. The local Dublin English accent is usually associated with working-class urbanites, while the new Dublin English accent is considered more upper-class elite.

Who speaks best English in the world? ›

Top 10 Countries that Speak English the Best!
  • Singapore.
  • Norway.
  • Denmark.
  • South Africa.
  • Luxemburg.
  • Finland.
  • Slovenia.
  • Germany.

Which country speaks the most English in the world? ›

The United States and India have the most total English speakers, with 306 million and 265 million, respectively. These are followed by Pakistan (104 million), the United Kingdom (68 million), and Nigeria (60 million).

Can you live in Ireland with only English? ›

English is the first language of almost everyone in Ireland. You will be fine with just knowing English. A good few people can speak Irish, but don't use it day to day. A small number of people speak Irish as their first language, however a large number of them will speak English as well.

Why is Irish a dead language? ›

Here we ask why the Irish language first lost its pre-eminent position in Ireland and then declined almost to the point of extinction. Factors often cited are the famine of th 1840s, emmigration and the introduction of English-speaking compulsory National Schools in the 1830s.

When was it illegal to speak Irish in Ireland? ›

The Irish language case

This was followed in 1537 with The Statute of Ireland – An Act for the English Order Habit and Language that prohibited the use of the Irish language in the Irish Parliament. In 1541, further legislation was passed which banned the use of Irish in the areas of Ireland then under English rule.

Why did Irish people stop speaking Irish? ›

The decline of the Irish language was the result of two factors: the Great Irish Potato Famine and the repeal of Penal Laws. The Potato Famine led to a decline in the Irish-speaking population. The repeal of Penal Law made Catholics interested in learning English as a way to get ahead in life.


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