I don't remember any language classes having been taught at Hogwarts, nor do I remember any spells which would make someone understand a foreign human language. How do wizards communicate with people from other countries?

In the Goblet of Fire it seems that all the French and Bulgarian students speak English quite well. In the Muggle world English is learned all over the world because it's the primary language of science, diplomacy, commerce, and of the Internet, but neither of these is a factor in the Wizarding world. As old-fashioned the Wizarding world is, I would have guessed they were more likely to use Latin or French for diplomacy, as English as a lingua franca of most of the planet only emerged quite recently.

So how do wizards learn a foreign (human) language? Is there a magical way to understand a foreign language?

  • 6
    Isn't the Ancient Runes course a foreign language course?
    – b_jonas
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 7:28
  • 2
    @b_jonas possibly, but it's a dead language right? Commented May 4, 2014 at 10:10
  • 7
    *swish* Babelfishio Altavisto Commented May 4, 2014 at 12:58
  • @TheGiantofLannister - It wasn't a dead language in 16th-17th centuries when Wizards split off. Roman Catholic church, and pretty much all of science and medicine, used it and pretty much anyone even remotely edutcated spoke it Commented May 4, 2014 at 12:59
  • 4
    @vsz In GOF - we see that Barty Crouch is used as a translator during the world cup and that he knows a lot languages. The need to call a single person for translation hints that there may not be a simple spell to do it. They may need to do it with classes since Krum's and Fleur's english are hinted to be imperfect.
    – mustard
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 16:51

2 Answers 2


The advert below ran in the Daily Prophet, and would have been seen in the film 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' had the scene not been cut.

Evidently, Wizards who wish to learn foreign languages may attend one of various Euro-Gyph language schools dotted around Europe. Although the school is noted for concentrating on "Extraordinary Languages", I see no obvious reason why French or Chinese wouldn't qualify as such in the Wizard world.

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There is evidence that Wizards/Witches take an interest in literature outside of the Wizarding world.

As JKR points out in her footnotes in ToBtB:

...[This quotation demonstrates that Albus Dumbledore was not only exceptionally well-read in Wizarding terms, but also that he was familiar with the writings of Muggle poet Alexander Pope. --JKR]...

-Footnotes, The Tale of the Three Brothers, Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Given that; we see that the Magical folk do have access and exposure to Muggle writings and literature, if they so choose - this can include learner guides and so on such as http://www.dummies.com/store/Education/Language-Learning.html.

Remember, the Wizarding world is separated and kept secret from the Muggle world, but this does not mean that Wizards have zero access or exposure to the Muggle world, including its resources. Especially since most of the Wizarding community live in Muggle towns - in fact the only 'full' Wizarding town currently is Hogsmeade.

Therefore, we can assume that they learn languages and other arts the same way that they learn any Wizarding arts: by studying them.


There is also the Department of International Magical Cooperation within the Ministry of Magic.

Some of its duties include:

Assumption territory here: the Ministry has many resources, both domestic and foreign. It would be easy for them to have books and/or training or classes to learn different languages, especially in cooperation of foreign Wizards.

But it's safe to assume that they will probably need at least some understanding in other languages.

How do they learn? keep an eye out on this question: Are there spells for learning things in Potterverse?

  • 4
    I don't think Dumbledore having read Muggle books really says anything about other wizards doing so.
    – Kevin
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 22:33

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