Duolingo is the most popular way to learn languages in the world. Best of all, it's 100% free!

https://www.duolingo.com/EltonFreitas9

Will the languages you're learning be really useful for something in your life?

First of all, i don't see any problem of study languages for hobby. I see many people studying sometimes more than 10 languages. Then i ask: What's all that for? Will these languages be useful for some purpose in those people's future or just a total waste of time? For in fact when you learn a new language, you're just swapping the words you already know for others, being guided by different accents, grammar laws, and of course, pronunciation. My opinion is: All of us know that learning new languages takes time and efforts. If the reward is the effort itself, you're striving after the wind. I don't want that to happen to anyone. So, my tip for the ones willing to hear is: stick to the languages you really wanna learn, find reasons to have progress in it and love what you're learning. And finally, be realistic. You will forget pieces of language now and then, your abilities will require attention and they must be used sometimes to keep running smooth. If you disagree about anything i wrote, please let me know

2 years ago

46 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/stephapus
stephapus
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You could be a translator! :)

Actually, a lot of jobs require knowing more than one language. For example, I live in Canada and my mother works as a health manager under its government, answering calls from many people who require health services. Not all of them speak English (some, not one word!) and she has to figure out which language they speak in order to transfer them to people who do know the languages well. If she does speak their language fluently, she can help them directly instead of going through a transferral. So even if you know bits and pieces of languages, it may come in handy during employment :)

Another facet in learning so many languages is the benefits it has during travelling (if you are an avid traveller or do plan on going to foreign places in the future). For example, if you don't know Russian and you decide to travel to Russia, it could be a huge problem. But let's say you meet someone on the street who knows Portuguese (like you!) - you can speak to them in this common language between you two, and you could make your way through the country with their help!

In addition to all of these pros of learning many languages, learning them helps you understand culture. In many languages, not only are many grammar rules embedded in the language, but the culture itself! That goes for not only regular speech, but more colloquial phrases.

Studies have also shown that learning languages helps prevent or delay the onset of mental health diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EltonFreitas9

Yes, i agree to everything you said. It's an useful ability know more than one language. In today's world it's almost impossible live only knowing one single idiom. I really respect and appreciate people who learn something for a purpose. The ones who don't, I respect as well. I'm enjoy seeing that the users of this site really has reasons to learn new idioms. Of course not all of them has, but the most are sincerely interested. I don't know what will you do with so many languages (i'm saying that because of the flags. You may even brake the system :) ) nor how far you will go on studying them, but i wish you may use such knowledge in the more useful way possible. Maybe you may work as you mom, helping others.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BrainTeaser15
BrainTeaser15
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Absolutely perfect response showing all the reasons I'm trying to learn, have a lingot! Although I also enjoy eavesdropping on conversations. :P And I just like learning new things. I'm one of the strange people who actually enjoyed school and I feel as if I've been getting steadily less intelligent since I graduated.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lelieblad

I'm curious about those studies. All I've heard was that studies have shown that children who have grown up bilingual get those benefits, but there doesn't seem to be nearly as much benefits (if any) for people who learn a second language later in life (starting at 22, for example).

Of course, there's many other reasons to learn a language than some studies. :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/writchie4
writchie4
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If the reward is the effort itself, you're striving after the wind. I don't want that to happen to anyone.

Learning doesn't necessarily have to have a "purpose". I know that a lot of folks are using their languages skills as the means to achieve some further goal (employment, being able to speak to others, etc), but personally, I'm just doing it because it's fun. There's some other side benefits of course (keeping my mind sharp, knowing more Jeopardy answers, being able to eavesdrop on the cleaning ladies at the office), but my main reason has always been enjoyment. The rest of the stuff is just a bonus. I suspect that some others (even those studying lots of languages) have similar motivations. Or at least, I hope I'm not the only nut that does this for "fun" :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Carolyn250

I fully agree with you. I would not be here day after day if the challenge was not fun for me. I do have somewhat of a goal; I would eventually like to read a full novel in German as I recently have in French, but that goal is less important than the enjoyable daily journey of being here and learning.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/writchie4
writchie4
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I would not be here day after day if the challenge was not fun for me.

Yep, exactly. It's amazing to look at an 800 day streak and realize that that's over 2 years of daily practice, because it doesn't feel like that at all. I suspect that almost everyone with lengthy streaks has "it's fun" as a major reason (if not the primary reason) for their regular Duolingo activity.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EltonFreitas9

I respect that. I didn't create the languages, so i cannot set how to learn and use them. If you see them in this way, i appreciate that. That question was made specially for those who eagerly selects lots of languages to study at once, thinking in a matter of months it will reach the so wanted fluency. Things don't work so. That's not your case, though. You know why you're using this site, and don't think it's some kind of waste of time.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LegatonMik
LegatonMik
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I'll have to say that I disagree, at least to some extent, with what you say.

Primarily, your claim that when you are learning a language, you are just switching one word for another. I have never experienced, nor have I heard of anyone who has had that experience, although having migration between vocabularies happens (as with any other area of knowledge), and if you find that to be a mayor issue... well, that's really interesting, actually! That should probably be studied

Another point I disagree with is the effort is it's own reward part. Firstly, if one enjoys the effort itself, what's the problem with that? You need enjoyment in your life, and if you find your enjoyment in the pure pursuit of knowledge without having any concrete applications, why would that be a bad thing? Also, as have been previously mentioned, just the act of learning does have neurological advantages, especially as you get older.

As for your last point about forgetting parts of languages occasionally, I agree with you. I've even forgotten a large part of my native language because I lived abroad for a number of years (I moved in my late teens), however, as earlier, it's the same for pretty much everything you learn but don't reinforce. It's Pretty much saying don't learn for learning's sake, because you will forget it if you don't use it.

Anyway, that may have a bit ranty, but now to my reasons for learning languages. First of all, I love languages, pretty much as isolated entities. Secondly, I like to communicate with people. Also, I like patterns, and languages give you such an insight in how vocabulary, influences and pronunciation, to mention a few things, have changed over geography and time! It really shows you a different image of the world.

That's at least some I had to say on the subject, I'm looking forward to your comments ^^

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Shadowmere360
Shadowmere360
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This is exactly what I was about to comment. Also have to add that I try to fit usage of my languages into everyday life. My Ipod is in Japanese and my mp3 player and phone are in German. This way I am constantly looking at the language and sometimes I dont even realise it because I have had them set for so long. Also I have music on my mp3 player in the languages I am learning and I listen to them everyday. And I also have a conversation everyday in another language. This keeps me using the languages even though I am not in the countries.

I really want to be fluent in German and Japanese but any other languages I am learning I am doing it for fun. I am not taking them seriously and I learn a few words here and there but that is it. It is a hobby for me and I enjoy learning them. If I can be fluent in 2 other languages I would be happy :) and I am getting there but it will take alot of effort. It will be worth it. My German has already come to a lot of use in Berlin and my learning of Japanese ended up connecting me with exchange students so I made lots of new friends that I wouldn't have.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EltonFreitas9

Scott, that proves you know how to use languages. You are taking some seriously and another one are just for fun. The result? All of them are useful to some extent. If you want to know why so i posted this post, please read the another commentaries.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EltonFreitas9

Legaton, as I said to anothers users, i appreciate any rational disagreement to my comment. Humans have the right of disagree. You have passed through experiences i never had, so i know you're not just denying my opinion to provoke arguing. I see your point, but i had experiences with languages as well, and these remarks are what I've learned from them. I will just explain them better for you, not in order to reach the same opinion, but just to explain that my comment wasn't baseless.

1-About the swapping of words: I have been studying English by more or less 5 years. At the beginning I was not very interested in it, but as the time passed, my will to get fluency grew strong. Sometimes I can't find a fitting word to describe what I'm feeling, so I speak a word in English while speaking Portuguese. In my mind that' s just one language. If you ask me to say 4 words that describe a place where one lives i would say: Casa, moradia, house, habitation. That's all the same to me. I don't know if that happens just with me, but i swear the languages sometimes blur into one in my mind and tongue. The more i learn new languages, the more that happens. Granted, though, i still can manage them separately.

2-About the goals: As i have already said to another user, "That question was made specially for those who eagerly selects lots of languages to study at once, thinking that in a matter of months it will reach the so wanted fluency". There are a variety of reasons for people are using Duolingo, but someones some are illusioned by the idea of get polyglot quickly. That's just a fantasy in my opinion, and many often post bitter commentaries about their disappointments toward their goals. Unreasonableness is part of anyone's life. I don't want anyone to spend a whole year studying for nothing. That's why i made this post. If people already know the risks and illusions and want to keep studying, i must wish good luck. Nothing wrong about progress just for the pleasure of discover something new. That's awesome indeed.

If you still want to post a reply my friend, i won't be here, for its more than midnight in my country now. However i would appreciate to read your response tomorrow. Good night

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LaRouxd
LaRouxd
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Just would like to toss in a couple of my thoughts, if I may. :) Learning strengthens the mind, if an older invidual (or anyone really) was wanting a free and relatively easy way to practice the mind, I can't think of anything better. Unless you just REALLY love math problems and doing that everyday, lol.

Cool thing about the brain, we never actualy forget or lose memories. What the issue is, is creating a retrieval tool or 'cue' with your learning process so that later, you can mentally 'pull up' information you've already learned. That's why theres so many differernt learning programs out there, and why some work for more for one person than another.

Point is, you can only gain and gain, you never lose the learning you put effort into. That's never a waste or a bad thing!

Thats my 2 cents :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lisa4duolingo
lisa4duolingo
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I agree with you on this point in particular:

Cool thing about the brain, we never actualy forget or lose memories.

Early in 2014, as I was waiting for the Russian for English speakers course, I decided to take up Turkish, which had just been launched. I studied it for about four months and then I took a break from it for approximately the same amount of time to work on other things. I recently went back to it, thinking I'd have to start all over from scratch, but what I realized, instead, was that I had remembered much of what I had learned. On vocabulary alone, I discovered that I had only lost approximately 5% a month. That was really surprising to me. No doubt, the retention span of others is at least this good.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BrookeLorren
BrookeLorren
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The benefits to learning a language aren't always immediately apparent.

It takes a long time to learn a language well. By the time, say, a job opportunity comes along where being able to speak X language is preferred, it's too late.

There's always the benefit of being able to know what someone is saying without the need to go through a translator. Let's say that there's a natural disaster in a far-off part of the world. You could read the news printed by reporters who speak your own language, or you could go to the local web sites and read the news in their language, or tweets from locals. Which would be more interesting?

Even if you only remember fragments of a language that you once studied, it can come in handy. You never really know when you're going to run into someone that speaks a certain language. It can happen anywhere. When my boy was a baby, we spoke ASL together, because it is easier for babies to use their hands to communicate than their voices. Years later, I only remember a few words in ASL, but they came in handy when I was working in a hotel. We would sometimes have deaf people come into the hotel. They really appreciate when people say something to them in their language, even if it's only "thank you." Once I sent a deaf guest to the wrong room, and when I went to find him to sort everything out, I told him "I'm sorry" in his language, and he gave me a hug. So you never really can tell what you're going to be doing five years from now. If a language interests you, learn it, and you'll find that it pops up in places that you never even realized it existed :-).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ruslanruskan

I've been studying languages for over a decade and I grew up with 3 languages. I've lived everywhere. Surprisingly many of the irrelevant languages I've studied have helped me in the weirdest times. Unexpected situations, and I've made unplanned friendships, and created bridges with so many people with EVERY LANGUAGE I'VE LEARNED.

I studied Icelandic for a year in 2008, and I never had plans to visit Iceland, I never thought I'd use Icelandic. Randomly one evening in 2011 I took a detour and got lost, stopped at a store and spoke to a woman who just so happened to be from Iceland. We ended up dating for 2 years. Crazy, eh? I never thought I'd ever hold an Icelandic conversation but we 'hit it off' that evening because of my Icelandic skills. Though, we didn't workout, she's still a good friend of mine.

Language learning has become a huge passion of mine, and I don't suggest anyone stop learning. Our actions in life shape our destiny. You will cross paths with people that speak every language you're learning at some point. So I totally agree with your comment. Every single thing we learn, good or bad, shapes our destiny.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DuncanChauffe
DuncanChauffe
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Well, lets just say for example. You live or want to live in Europe, and if you are someone that likes to explore or some sort where you encounter many people everywhere you go. Imagine how many people you may encounter that will speak a different language. That area is a melting pot for languages. It would be useful to know those 10 languages to practically speak to everyone and/or anyone.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EltonFreitas9

That would take lots of time and research. There are many people who travel abroad just knowing English.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WildSage
WildSage
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People who travel abroad only knowing english are really missing out.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DuncanChauffe
DuncanChauffe
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But for the case with the person that is studying ten languages, those languages would be useful in a group of variety. I don't think someone can go wrong with knowing and/or learning a lot of languages, sure you may forget some things but being that they have already learned and/or learning the language it probably won't take them long to get back into pace with speaking.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EltonFreitas9

Yeah perhaps. In my case i would never do such a thing. However each person uses a foreign language for different ends. I respect that

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EltonFreitas9

Languages need to pass through maintenance in time. Figure a guy speaking 10 languages and having the need of refresh all of them. Hundreds of thousand of words in need of a check! That's too much work to me. I also want to learn many languages, but i'll do it one by one. Then i would have complete languages and not just pieces. But i got what you mean. There are more than one way to get a idiom, and each person must pick the best to itself

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Shadowmere360
Shadowmere360
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I get what you mean. I started to learn French and Dutch but I was learning way too many languages. I have cut it down to four. Japanese, German, Polish and Spanish. I am focusing on Japanese and German and using them everyday, while Spanish and Polish are just a hobby.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WildSage
WildSage
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You are assuming that a polyglot isn't using any of their languages regularly. Some people live in regions where they regularly speak multiple languages. I had a Hindi teacher who grew up using Nepalese, her own village's language, Hindi and English regularly. She didn't have to do any special exercises to keep them refreshed because they were constantly in use.

Even if you don't use them regularly you don't necessarily lose them. I have a friend I have asked for help with Swedish and Norwegian pronunciation. She has no problems going back into those languages even though she rarely gets to speak them since moving back into the states.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WildSage
WildSage
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Learning languages is good exercise for the brain and slows aging in the brain. It is useful throughout your life to keep studying languages even if you never need them in your daily life or visit a country where it is spoken

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TasmanskyTygr

Nobody can see the future. So in fact nobody ever really knows.

But is there any harm in keeping your brain active by learning a language, even if you may never actually NEED it? :-)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TasmanskyTygr

How many people all over the world spend their time doing crossword puzzles, sudoku or learning all about hundreds of football, and tennis players, memorizing who won which match when? and why? isn't it all a waste of time? language learning is different from these activities only in that, learning Russian actually could be useful for something someday. Knowing when Serena Williams beat who and where is completely useless always :-D

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rejistania
RejistaniaPlus
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For me, Esperanto is a purely aesthetic endeavour. I just like to spend time with that language. It's like being in a museum with great artwork to me.

Irish, well, I do live in Ireland. It will also help me with the hobby of conlanging.

Turkish is very helpful given the amount of Turks living in Germany.

French has helped me occasionally at work already. That's why I am trying to strengthen it again.

Danish is by now a hobby. I learned it originally when interning with a (very international and very small) company in Denmark, but gave up. I do want to go there on vacation though, so it might very well become handy.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/doostrunk
doostrunk
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German is the most important language for business in Europe. I'm a native French speaker and the combination of French and German is unusual but very important. I'm still working on my English but I'm good enough to make a living out of it. I'm also learning Russian but I don't aim it for the same reasons, although it can be useful for business if I'm able to master it.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ictram
Ictram
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I actually started learning Russian too because I thought it could be useful for business purposes, but I've been to several business seminars and congresses that dealt with the subject of doing business in Russia and just as a warning: it is really really hard to do so. It used to be relatively difficult but the current sanctions have made it close to impossible to do something really profitable there. So if you want to head that route know what you're getting into! :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/doostrunk
doostrunk
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Thank you ! That's good to know, I had no idea. I think I'll continue anyway, it's an interesting language and culture.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ictram
Ictram
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Probably a bit late to the party, but:

For me there is kind of a difference between useful and hobby languages/interest in languages. For example, English of course has a special position to me because it has allowed me to expand my professional and social networks, and I have been able to achieve things with just speaking English I could never have managed if I had only spoken Dutch (I'm from the Netherlands). German and French are also useful as they are spoken in countries neighbouring to mine and those countries also happen to be our biggest trade partners so learning them both or just one of them gives you an edge when looking for a job.

Of course, when I just started using Duolingo I really only learned languages as a hobby. Now I give priority to the languages above but truth is I simply like languages. That's why occasionally I like to spent a little time with languages I know I'll never speak like Swedish, Esperanto, Ukrainian, etc. . When Welsh came out for example I was curious to how the language worked and went through a few of the skills even though I'm not going to complete the tree. If you think that's a waste of time by all means, that's fine but to me it's just interesting to see how some relatively obscure languages function.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KristenDQ
KristenDQ
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Absolutely! I work with children and as of Monday will be adding seniors to my list. Many of the children I have are English Language Learners in mainly Spanish so I've been able to hold basic conversations with them. I have also been able to surprise some kids that are bilingual in English and Spanish by conversing with them in Spanish.

I also occasionally get children who have hearing issues, which allows me to practice my ASL skills. If they don't sign, I also get to practice my basic knowledge of hearing aid technology, which I learned in my ASL classes.

As for my seniors, many of them are first generation immigrants from Canada (and occasionally from Greece, so yes I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Greek course!) and suffer from Alzheimer's Disease. As the disease progresses, you slowly revert back to your native language. While they may speak and understand English fluently, often times they communicate in their native language. In my case, this would mean that many of them revert back to French. Although I am not fluent in French, having a basic knowledge of French will allow me to address their needs much quicker. Other languages that tend to be common with them are Spanish and Italian.

I also often get seniors who are losing their powers of speech or hearing, which may allow me to practice my ASL skills. I have taught ASL to seniors who wish to learn it, and you would be surprised at how quickly some of them pick it up and start using it.

I have also been on cruises a lot, and wish that I started learning some of the languages earlier. On some cruise lines, English tended to be the last language all the announcements were given in (I haven't been on one in YEARS so maybe things changed!). If there was ever an emergency, I would want to know what it was so I could act accordingly and help others if I could.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lisa4duolingo
lisa4duolingo
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Thank you for sharing your story with us about how you are applying your language skills. What interesting experiences you must be having. I would imagine it is very psychologically rewarding to contribute to society in this way.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KristenDQ
KristenDQ
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It is, especially since I get some real-world practice! Tomorrow, I get to practice my ASL skills at the ASL supper hosted by my teachers, so I'm excited about that!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tanzila20050

i am lerning french and i do it to upgrade my french in french class !

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ForgedbyHistoria

Good question. For me, Arabic, Turkish, and Spanish are my long-term career orientated languages. Portuguese, although very easy, isn't as useful for what I want to do long-term. I just like to use it on the Brazilians here when I run into them. It takes a lot of serious thought for me to begin learning another language. Depends on where I see myself five years from now.

I think a lot of people study tons of languages on here strictly for fun or curiosity.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EltonFreitas9

I still want to learn many languages and become a polyglot. It's useful for my goals, but not crucial. That's why i'm progressing slowly in this matter. I like to be realist, and the reason tells me that a language takes seconds to be chosen, days to star learning, months to get the basics, years to reach the fluency, months to get damaged by oblivion, days to regret your choice and seconds to choose another one to learn.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ForgedbyHistoria

@DuncanChauffe-Were you asking me? For some reason I cannot reply to your post, but I only speak Spanish and English. I can speak some Turkish, but I am a beginner. The same with Arabic. I just read and listen to news in the foreign languages, do textbook work, online stuff (like duo and memrise), and will soon take my first Arabic class. I have notebooks where I write only in the target language without translations and read these sentences out loud. I usually use whatever new skill I've learned while writing these. This technique is probably the most useful technique I've done (besides simply listening to podcasts).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DuncanChauffe
DuncanChauffe
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Yes, I was asking you. I was curious on what your method was, because I'm learning French in Portuguese and then soon after I was going to go back to learning Italian. It would probably take too much time throughout the day to use duolingo to practice the 3 languages. I will probably start trying to read books in Portuguese and try to learn Italian through French (once they finish making the course).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ForgedbyHistoria

I forgot to mention, I listen to podcasts when I drive too. I spend a lot of time driving so doing this is a good technique too. Learning French in Portuguese sounds interesting. I've done that with English to Spanish. 3 languages on Duo seems quite demanding. I would love to add one of the upcoming courses (Greek, Hindi, or Swahili) and wouldn't mind learning French, Ukrainian, or Russian, but I'd likely end up nowhere if I tired all of that at once.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EltonFreitas9

Duncan, knowing you're a Brazilian, i have a tip for you. The Brazilian Duolingo is limited in comparison to the English speaking version. If you add a new course, recognizing yourself as a English speaker (eu falo inglês), the selected course will have more exercises and acquirable xp points. The most important is: there are more exercises in the english version than in anyone else. Example: The German course for Portuguese speakers has 50 exercises (just an example). The same course for English speaker has 100 exercises, double than Portuguese's. Whichever the language you wanna learn, use the english version of the site. It's much better

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DuncanChauffe
DuncanChauffe
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@ForgedbyHistoria yeah that sounds great to do. I've been listening to French music and reading the lyrics in Portuguese do understand the meaning and then memorize the lyrics to sing along, its been helpful. I agree with learning too many languages at once might be problematic (to me personally), I believe there should be a main focus on one language and a secondary focus on another. But learning French-Portuguese has been helping out a lot by making me know the meaning of the words in Portuguese instead of translating to English.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DuncanChauffe
DuncanChauffe
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@EltonFreit9 I'm American actually :D, I do agree with the English courses for learning other languages being more polished though. But at the moment while I'm doing the PT-FR course right now, I am seeing many more words and sentences that I'm not familiar with in Portuguese, but this entirely depends on the contributors and what they put into the course.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EoghanBostock

I want to do my uni studies in Germany, so I'm learning German, and I'm learning Swedish because I want to live in Sweden sometime in the future. German and Swedish were also the languages I promised myself I would learn before I die (I did this as like a four year old child). As for French, I have no use for it. I like to think of it as a native language because I did start learning it when I was about 4-5, but it doesn't resonate with me like Swedish and German.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/matfran2001
matfran2001
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Almost everything I do (or have done) in my life is just for fun and out of curiosity.

Mathematics (I am a Mathematician, by the way, my biggest passion), Physics, Philosophy, Biology, Programming, Neuroscience, Sports (tennis, table-tennis, paddle, soccer, surfing,....), and now languages (in the last few months)......everything I do, it is just for fun and out of curiosity.

2 years ago