Laddering Languages? Should I learn a third?

Just finished my Spanish tree. I am starting the English from Spanish tree. I am also thinking about laddering to another language.

My goal is more to strengthen my Spanish, rather than to actually learn a third language. Though that would be a bonus for sure!

My Question: Do those of you who have laddered find it helpful for learning the language you are laddering from?

Secondly, do you prefer to learn a language close to Spanish, like Italian or Portuguese, or would it be better (ie less confusing) to go to a language further away like French, or even German.

Thanks for the thoughts and advice!!

August 30, 2015


Hi there.

I've done French from English, Portuguese from English, English from French, and English from Portuguese.

I'm almost done Spanish from English, Spanish from French, and Spanish from Portuguese.

If you'd like to work on your Spanish and learn another language as a bonus, from my experience, doing __ for Spanish speakers would be a huge help. Your interface and most of your responses will be in Spanish, and it is a great starting point for another language.

¡Buena suerte!

August 30, 2015

I've found laddering helps a lot, since you can't use English as a "crutch" anymore. One of the advantages of laddering is that it makes it easier to prevent mixing up languages, so you should be fine if you learn a language like Portuguese (and there are enough differences between Spanish and Portuguese, so it shouldn't be that terrible). Of the four languages you mentioned, just do the one that you would like to learn the most.

August 30, 2015

Laddering helps because it forces you to think really fast in your target language. I'm currently learning Italian from both English and Spanish, and it has strenghtened my Spanish as well as helped me not confuse Spanish and Italian as much as before.

However, you might want to make sure your Spanish is not too feeble beforehand, otherwise it might confuse you more and demotivate you - and we don't want that ;) Ask yourself if you feel comfortable enough with Spanish at the moment, if the English tree is not too hard...

As for the language, pick one you like because in the end, you're the one who's going to learn it, and that takes time, and you're the one who's eventually going to use it.
So, look at which language interests you (close to Spanish so you can compare grammar? A different type of grammar? An original language? Non-Indo-European? Another alphabet? ...) and which culture appeals to you.

Suerte con todo :)

August 30, 2015

Thanks everyone! I appreciate the feedback and advice from those who have done it. I speak decent Spanish. Not perfect, but well enough that I can understand a Spanish newscast. I use that as the measuring stick, because they speak so dang fast and use higher level vocab. I always figured once I could understand the news, I was doing pretty good.

I am currently reading the Harry Potter series in Spanish and am understanding most of what I read. Enough that the words I don't know, I get from the context.

When I posted this, this morning, I was still debating. I have been debating it for the past few weeks as I could see the end of my tree getting close.

You have all convinced me! I am going to go for it!! I am actually quite excited now!

Now just have to decide which language I most want to learn.

August 30, 2015

Hola, FinnyWiggen. Estoy de acuerdo con todos los comentarios que he leído aquí. Yo por ejemplo, soy hispano parlante nativo y después de finalizar el inglés y el francés para hablantes de español, empecé a estudiar "English, French, Spanish and Esperanto for English speakers". Me ha ayudado mucho no solo a aprender más esos idiomas sino también a mejorar mi nivel de inglés y también a pensar más rápido y a no mezclarlos. Claro, es un poquito más difícil pero vale mucho la pena. ¡Ánimos y éxito!

August 31, 2015

Have fun laddering!

I've done a few skills laddering. It is challenging, for sure, but that's a good thing, because it helps you learn your L2 a little more, and makes your language processing center a little more flexible.

As far as the language you pick, I agree with others that you should pick a language that you like or want to know for some other reason.

August 30, 2015

French would help your Spanish a lot, and maybe your English as well. Spanish can be fairly forgiving just like English. French is a bit more strict and you will incidentally come across some cool etymological trivia for both English and Spanish.

I would advise against Italian since it is too similar in phonetics to Spanish. French is different enough to not be confusing. Portuguese out of the Romanic languages you listed would be my recommendation from a convenience standpoint. It too, is different enough from Spanish to avoid confusion.

I am currently learning German and I would say go for it! It is definitely harder than the main Romanic languages as well as English, but a very interesting language indeed.

August 31, 2015

I'm doing French from Spanish. It's fun.

Yes it is helpful. You will learn more Spanish words from the different courses. If my brain can handle I may do Portugues from Spanish in the future.

August 31, 2015

I have completed both the spanish tree an the esperanto tree.

I was inspired on this by these two articles.

I've recently started the esperanto for spanish speakers tree.

The use of laddering is a little controversial within the esperanto community. Some esperanto activists think a lot of the studies may be overselling esperanto in that context.

The thing I have to say I find it more fun to use the esperanto for spanish speakers tree than either of the english language courses.

I think laddering works for two reasons: a) learning any second language activates parts of the brain that are otherwise not used as intensively. Esperanto does that faster and with less work than other L2 Language choices

b) vocabulary and root work overlap. About 20-30% of basic spanish words are pretty similar to esperanto words. Another 20-30% have common roots.

April 7, 2018
Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.