https://www.duolingo.com/hjchristian

A Question For Those Learning More Than One Language

For people learning more than one language - how do you manage it?

I have begun learning German along with Spanish, but now, when I try to speak Spanish, my brain offers German words at the same time and it's very confusing. I've decided to stick with one language until I figure out how to avoid this problem. Does anyone have any advice for overcoming it?

4 years ago

16 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/katydid
katydid
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I think it's a problem that resolves itself as you get a better knowledge of each language. Bilingual children go through a similar stage where they mix up their two native languages and use whichever word comes to mind. Basically the answer is that if you keep learning each language you'll eventually stop mixing them up. If you're finding it a serious problem you could wait until you have a good grasp of Spanish and then add German later on, which might make mixing them up less likely. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/himmelmr
himmelmr
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I suppose everyone is different. Knowing one language well and only then starting another didn't work quite so well for me. I was already fluent in English (my second language) when I started learning Italian and at some point, when I started reading articles and books in Italian I suddenly found it much harder to articulate myself in English. That problem vanished after a couple of weeks, though. Essentially, I think, mixing languages is a phase and the best way to overcome up it is time. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/0liwia
0liwia
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Mmmm yes for the basics, no for the more complicated stuff :-) I grew up bilingual, I did spend my early years mixing up words, then it got better and better. But over time I developed a slightly different active vocabulary in each language, because I didn't use them in the same situations. So, even if I knew the words in both languages, it was still easier for me to talk about school in one language, and about family gatherings in the other. (among other things.)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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I prefer to finish one language tree, spend some time practicing the language elsewhere (mostly by reading), and then return and start a new tree. This way, I'm learning the third language on Duolingo now.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Johnni0
Johnni0
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I partly agree with olimo: I don't start a new language until I have a sufficient knowledge of the ones I'm learning already. I don't need to finish the entire tree, but i do need a level where I'm able to use the language a bit. Besides that, 3 of the languages I'm learning are very similar to the languages I already know (German - Dutch | Portuguese - Spanish | French - English/Spanish), which makes it easier to learn them and keep them apart.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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Apart from mixing languages, there is also another problem: time. It may be hard to find enough time for every language you are actively learning, and it is easier to do exercises and learn grammar for one language while maintaining and improving the other ones by reading, talking to people, etc.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/0liwia
0liwia
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It's a question of practice. Keep practicing each language, it will go away.

Sometimes, when I talk about a subject in a language different from the language I usually tackle the subject in (e.g. work stuff I explain to friends, vacations I narrate to my family...), words keep popping-up into my head in the language in which "it happened". I tackle 3 languages on a daily basis, and it happens in every one of them, so it's really not a question of knowledge.

The only key to this is practice! Once I've explained to 3 different friends what my latest work trouble is about, words sure come back faster!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/buunny
buunny
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At first that happened to me, too. I resolved it with studying more. Just keep going as you are, naturally, with both languages and you'll reach that point.

Sometimes, I'll still get tripped up on words, but it'll be because it's an exact cognitive in the other language and I'll doubt myself and think it can't be right.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/helenvee
helenvee
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I agree with those saying it all comes down to practise. You could try quickly reviewing some vocabulary before you start a lesson. It might help your mind switch over.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vonnelca
vonnelca
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Between practice of spanish and german I take a break, do something else. Then I begin with some grammar practice from different sources on the internet. Go to Youtube listen to some german, then I start the DL lesson in german.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ontalor
Ontalor
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Like everyone said, it fades with time. I learned Spanish first, and then when I learned French the my brain kept thinking of the Spanish, and then when I learned Chinese it kept thinking of the French, and then when I learned German it kept thinking of the Chinese. Your brain detaches them.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pleiadian_

Practice, practice, practice.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JoonieM
JoonieM
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Good ideas here! I am studying three languages: Italian intensely ( have been studying on my own for many years and visit Italy often); Spanish (beginner level with no prior knowledge, with the incentive of an upcoming trip to a Spanish-speaking country and lots of opportunities in my hometown to interact with those who speak the language); French (for review, as it seemed sad that 8 years of long-ago high school and college French had decayed so badly). I only do one or two French lessons a day, enough to recall some basic principles and vocabulary. For Spanish, I do several lessons per day, plus supplementary reading, listening and vocabulary at a very elementary level. I work on Italian the most -- doing the tree both ways, reading novels, watching Italian Tv soaps, cooking from Italian cookbooks, and talking to my Italian friends. Because the 3 languages are studied at different levels of intensity and with different goals, mixing them up does not seem to be much of a problem. In fact, the differences and similarities of these three related languages keeps the process interesting!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NickM98
NickM98
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It's normal - until a couple months ago, I mixed completely Portuguese and Italian. When you start to speak them properly, you being to stop confusing them.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ohheyitslilly
ohheyitslilly
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I don't learn multiple languages on Duo at this moment but i did teach myself english and i speak fluent Danish. + Spanish from here. I really don't have any trouble when it comes to keeping the languages apart from each other. Maybe it's more difficult for others, but it comes natural to me.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PERCE_NEIGE
PERCE_NEIGE
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I don't have problem to do study as many languages as I want, except when they are close in the language free, 2 close roman language for instance, or 2 germanic ones. I stick on only one, and when I get tired to work on it, I need another one to take a little "rest".

4 years ago
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