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ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, What are the Advantages of Studying in Your Primary Language?

What are the Advantages of Studying in Your Primary Language?

Reading Time: 6 minutes


DATE: 2024-06-28

Taking a personal trainer certification course online offers maximum flexibility. You can learn any time of the day or night, and from anywhere you wish. Learning online also enables you to take courses from organizations around the world. While this is great, it also sometimes presents an issue, particularly if the course isn’t offered in your native language.

International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is working hard to make our personal training courses accessible in multiple languages. We feel that this is important because there are many benefits to learning in your home language. We’ll get into those. But first, let’s talk about the connection between language and communication overall.

How Language Affects Communication 

If you’ve ever traveled to a foreign country, you know firsthand how the extent to which you can understand the local language impacts your ability to communicate. When you don’t know the different language, it can be harder to get around. You can’t decipher street signs, business names, or communicate effectively with local transportation providers.

Even if you find a well-meaning native speaker, you might still struggle to get them to understand what you want. This can be an inconvenience when looking for a restroom or someplace to eat. In some cases, it might lead to major problems, such as if you have an emergency medical issue. If you can’t speak the language, it can be difficult to relay your symptoms or explain how you feel. This can be incredibly frustrating for both you and the other person. 

It’s like when talking to a young child with a limited vocabulary. Your inability to figure out what they are saying creates a barrier. And this barrier can easily result in a temper tantrum if you can’t understand their requests, which isn’t good for anyone. 

What are the Advantages of Studying in Your Home Language?

Certainly, if a course isn’t in your home language, there are still ways to learn. You could translate the materials yourself, for instance. Or you might hire a translator to explain the information to you. But if you have the option to take the course in your language, this does offer several benefits.

Learning in Your Primary Language Takes Less Effort

When learning in your language, you can typically do this effortlessly. (The exception, of course, is during early childhood when your vocabulary is limited.) Learning in a foreign language, on the other hand, often requires a lot of work. You spend more time translating the words to figure out what they mean. So, it takes you longer to get through the materials presented. Taking tests and quizzes requires more effort too. The whole experience can drain you mentally since more steps are involved.

Plus, the English language can be difficult to master due to having so many grammar rule exceptions. One example is the letter “i” always coming before “e” except after “c.” Another is that an “e” at the end of the word is generally silent, but “recipe” and “fiancé” are both exceptions. Knowing these rules and their exceptions can take time for an English learner.

Reduced Feelings of Language Anxiety

Language anxiety refers to feelings of worry or fear when using or learning a foreign language. Research indicates that, in these cases, many students experience anxiety about their language skills. The language skill that tends to create the most anxiety is speaking. This is followed by the skills of reading and listening. (1)

Taking a course in your home language can help ease this type of anxiety. You don’t have to worry whether you are choosing the right words. You also don’t have to fear that you’re not understanding the information due to language barriers. Because the material is in your language, these negative feelings aren’t able to creep in.

Lower Risk of Misunderstandings 

When you’re not proficient in a different language, it’s easy to misunderstand. Sometimes this misunderstanding is a result of not knowing a specific word. This makes it difficult to learn because you’re only getting part of the information. Other times, it’s due to confusing one word with another. This too hinders the learning process. 

You can avoid these potential misunderstandings if learning in your home language. Yes, you may still encounter words or phrases that you don’t know. In a personal training course, for instance, terms such as periodization and overload are discussed. But if their explanations are in your native language, it improves your ability to understand what they mean.

Better Information Processing and Retention

Past studies involving children have found that they often learn better when information is presented in their home language. One such study was published in 2007. It noted that, when a child learned in their own language, they had higher exam scores. Their overall academic performance improved as well. This suggests that we are better able to process and retain information when it was presented in our home language. (2)

A More Pleasurable Learning Experience

In the end, taking a training course in your home language can enhance your learning experience. You might find that the struggle is less overall. You don’t have to work as hard to learn the information. Nor do you have to worry about your ability to understand the second language. 

If English is a new language to you, you also don’t have the stress of language acquisition while learning the course information. Instead, you can focus solely on the latter. If you want to work on language development, you can do that another time. 

What If You Are a Bilingual Person? 

Bilingualism, or speaking more than one language, can help reduce interpretation issues. You may understand enough of the additional language to figure out what is meant.

Yet, studies still indicate that a bilingual person generally takes “significantly longer” when trying to retrieve certain words. They also tend to perform more poorly on verbal fluency tests. (These tests are used to help determine cognitive abilities in individuals with brain-related illnesses and injuries.) (3)

So, while having some knowledge of the target language is helpful, you may still experience longer study times and poorer cognition than if the information was presented in your home language.

A 2002 study adds that, while there are benefits of a bilingual education, schooling that focuses on your home language first helps improve the learning process. (4)

If a Course Is Only Available in English, Not Your Native Language

Even with all the benefits of learning in your home language, this isn’t always an option. What can you do in these circumstances?

  • Take a class to better learn the English language. Become an English language learner. Sign up for a class to help you better understand English grammar and rules. An adult learner course may be available at a nearby high school. You can also find these courses online.

  • Regularly practice the language to boost your communication skills. Learning a new language is only part of the equation. The other half is practicing it regularly. Talk to others in your community who are fluent in this language. Conversing with bilingual speakers can help improve your command of the English language.

  • Let the course provider know that English isn’t your home language. If you sign up for a course in another language, let the provider know. At a minimum, it puts them on notice that you may have language barrier issues. At best, they may have solutions to lessen your learning challenges.

  • Ask if they offer help for English learners. An online, international school likely runs into this type of situation regularly. So, it may have resources in place to help you with the English language. This could include connecting you with resources to enhance your language study. It might also offer helpful tips for learning English with greater ease.

  • Look at it as an opportunity to improve your language skills. Successfully completing a course in a different language may be harder, but it’s not impossible. If this is the only option you have, look at it as an opportunity versus a hindrance. Upon completing the course, in addition to learning the materials presented, you’ll also have a better understanding of the new language. That makes it a win-win, as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort.

Looking for a Personal Trainer Certification Course in Spanish?

If you want to earn your personal trainer certification but the English language is not your mother tongue, ISSA offers a Spanish version of this course. This enables you to enjoy the benefits of learning in your primary language while working toward your fitness career goals. 

When you enroll in ISSA’s Spanish Personal Trainer Certification course, you are also given unlimited support. ISSA is committed to helping you learn and succeed!

Do you want to help your clients achieve their most ambitious health goals? Go beyond big training plans. Expand your reach as a fitness professional with ISSA's Certificación de Coach de Nutrición.

Featured Course

ISSA | Certified Personal Trainer en Español


  1. Wang, X., & Zhang, W. (2021). Psychological Anxiety of College Students' Foreign Language Learning in Online Course. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 598992. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.598992

  2. Bühmann, D., & Trudell, B. (2007). Mother tongue matters: local language as a key to effective learning. Unesdoc.unesco.org. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000161121 

  3. Bialystok, E., & Poarch, G. (2014). Language Experience Changes Language and Cognitive Ability. Zeitschrift fur Erziehungswissenschaft : ZfE, 17(3), 433–446. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11618-014-0491-8

  4. Hovens, M. (2002). Bilingual education in West Africa: Does it work? International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 5(5), 249–266. https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050208667760 

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