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Learning 2 languages at once!

Some articles are claiming learning two languages with the same roots, such as french and italian, at the same time causes confusion and lead to difficulties actually learning a languages. What do you think? Is it a good idea learning two indoeuropean languages at the same time?

There are some users with a high level of different languages/flags aside their names, some of them more than two. How do they do that?

Thank you for your post! :-)

4 years ago

37 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Christophe758472

Hi! I'm late to the game but wanted to give my two cents: I became fluent in French (living there) and then took accelerated courses in italian at university. I was among the faster learners, but I do admit that learning the second language caused my brain to shift clunkily between gears - I could not segue easily between the two languages without mixing things up.

That said, several years later, I'm learning both spanish and portuguese on here, and my initial impression is that the similarities that used to cause confusion are actually what make it fun- keeping track of vocab and grammar in multiple languages is IMO the linguistic version of sudoku. and my brain (while making plenty of mistakes) is starting to appreciate the nuance between languages. Its like learning to listen for the subtleties of various horns in an orchestra.

I've always been a visual learner (I have to see the word spelled in my head to internalize it) and the trick I'm learning is to form strong mental pictures of the words and connect them to the accents of each language. Understanding of accents and pronunciation helps me to contextualize the vocab. Once an "ear" is developed for each language, you'll have a better way of feeling which words fit and which words don't in their larger context. Hope that helps!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/StanLanguages

Spanish, Italian and French Have a lot of vocabulary in common for example the word yesterday

Spanish: ayer

Italian: ieri

French: hier

For someone who does not speak any of these languages, they might sound the same and the person might not even differentiate them. There are many such words, so this may lead the great confusion.

I have no problem differentiating Spanish from French because I studied French since I was 6 years old. Unfortunately I did not use it for the last 7 years in writing so my spelling suffered greatly. Now I have to relearn "l'orthographe" :D

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnaPaulaLelis
AnaPaulaLelis
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Don't forget Portuguese! Spanish and portuguese are the most similar ones.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Eluminate

A study recently conducted actually showed simultaneous bilingualism can actually help to "fortify mental capacity and cognitive development". I started learning both English and Chinese at the same time since I was young, and those two languages were practically worlds apart in similarity.

I couldn't remember any difficulties learning English and Chinese, but I admit I'm more proficient in the former than the latter. (Chinese is VERY complicated and abstract).

Anyways, it IS possible to learn two or more languages at the same time. But for the easily distracted or slower in learning (like me), it's best to stick with one language for now. I'm learning French and hope to master it to conversational fluency before moving on to Spanish.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_lusofono_
_lusofono_
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You're thinking of Romance languages—languages derived from Latin.

I don't know what your goals are, but my guess is that intensive study of multiple languages at the same time won't serve them.

My own plan is to wait until I've attained deep knowledge of my second language before I devote myself to the study of a third.

I've just begun studying German after a year of only allowing myself to study Portuguese. I suppose those are two (originally) European languages that aren't liable to be mixed up, because Portuguese shares fewer cognates with German than it does with Spanish, Italian and French.

All the same, I'm only allowing myself 20 minutes a day of German practice now. I won't even begin the Duolingo German course until I've reached near-native fluency in Portuguese (which will probably be the work of another year or so).

Because I don't have the same need to know German that I do to know Portuguese, my aims in studying it are more modest. I'll be happy if I can become moderately fluent within the next two years.

My objective will be to learn enough to enable me to comprehend German-language text and speech.

Maybe one day I'll learn Italian or Romanian. Perhaps I'll even add to the smattering of Spanish and French I picked up when I was younger. But if I don't, I won't be rueing it on my deathbed.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RupertWilson
RupertWilson
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Learning two languages at once really isn't a problem, even if they are indo-european. The problem tends to arise when languages are REALLY similar, i.e. learning Dutch and German or Swedish and Norwegian or Spanish and Italian at the same time. Thankfully French and Italian are fairly different in terms of pronunciation that I don't really confuse them -too- much.

I would say if you are going to jumble up words it'll help anyway. I'm learning German and French alongside each other, and i've caught myself a few times accidentally mixing them, but honestly as you progress it'll get easier. I found it better to learn a bit of one language first (i.e. my German is intermediate and i've just begun French) as that helps keep things more separate in my head than starting them both at the same time.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/856pm

I am learning both French and Italian and I am able to somewhat keep them apart. I am just a beginner in Italian and have over a year in formal education in French, though. I think it's fun!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hjordisa

To some extent this is true, although it also probably depends on the person. The most difficult, however, is when you're at about the same level in the two languages. I'm going to put off Italian for a while because it's easy for me to mix up with Spanish(plus I only started it because I was curious, although I do have family in Italy). I don't have that problem with Spanish and French because my French is much better, although I did catch myself spelling pain as pan a couple of times. I also don't have that problem with Spanish and German even though they're about the same level because they are pretty different.

Basically, if you want to learn two similar languages, or even two not so similar languages, at the same time go ahead, but consider staggering them so that you're not learning vocabulary for the same things at the same time. I couldn't say how much to stagger them, though, just feel it out and when you feel ready to tackle something new go ahead and try it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/helenvee
helenvee
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It depends entirely on the person, I think. At one time I studied French, German and Bhasa Indonesian at the same with no difficulty (and I'm finding the same here as I refresh French and German). Some friends of mine were learning French and Latin, French and Italian and German and Latin at the same time and also had no trouble but others doing the same combinations struggled. You can only try it out and see whether it suits you better to do two at once or to work on them separately.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PablitoNogales

I don't know about learning two merely Indo-European languages. I doubt if the simultaneous study of Iranian and Welsh would create much confusion. More specifically, however, trying to study two Romance languages, i.e. French and Spanish, at the same time proved to be problematic for me at this incipient stage of my attempt to learn another language. I found myself unwittingly answering in French and also mixing the two together.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jablk

I'm attempting to learn Spanish and German simultaneously. I have a strategy I am trying. I'll repost if successful or not in the future

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EvanEdinger
EvanEdinger
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Well, OP?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Reeion
Reeion
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I guess it didnt work

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rafasoka
rafasoka
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A minute of silence for our fallen comrade :D

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JohnSmith509059

he lost motivation

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CharlesP81

Thank you for the good laugh.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SakuraPetrescu

I'm learning Russian and German at the same time

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/akunosama
akunosama
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I've gotten the basics down for German and will hopefully get RS Russian for Christmas. (not because I think the program's that great, but rather the slowness would help)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SebTemlett
SebTemlett
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Just my 2 lingots worth - although years later. I am also curious about the possibility of learning more than one language at a time.

But I am already finding I get confused with Dutch and French - Je - I : French Je - You :Dutch

that'll mess you up!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yosoyarborista

Happens to me, but I don't find it bothersome.

I've dabbled in German, Italian, Spanish, and French, all while learning Chinese pretty consistently. I get a few words mixed up (even from Chinese!), but so far it hasn't really been problematic.

I don't regret my simultaneous language learning :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Comradesev

Well just because it's Indo-European doesn't mean that it's roots are the same as another Indo-European language. You won't confuse Farsi with German, or Swedish with French. Theres sub-families of languages such as Germanic, Latin, and Slavic. Italian and French are Latin languages so you might confuse them.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gymnastical
Gymnastical
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Romance, not Latin. Latin is tth language from which Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, etc trace their roots.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Comradesev

I want to learn Swedish as well as German, but I since they are both Germanic languages I want to wait until I am fluent in German first.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/856pm

Also, remember that English is a Germanic language (although with strong Romance/Hellenistic influences.) However, English is closer to German (they are both western Germanic) than Swedish is to German (it's northern Germanic/Scandinavian). But, do whatever you want!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mercalyn
Mercalyn
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That's awesome, because I had planned on learning a bit of French with my Swedish, haha. I was worried because they are regionally similar, but delving more into it now has me less worried about it.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SD-77
SD-77
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You can confuse languages whether they're similar or not; I've confused German and Spanish...

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MemoliB

i want to ask why, but im scared

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SD-77
SD-77
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I don't know, brains are weird :D

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rafasoka
rafasoka
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I think it goes along the line that learning is mainly done by association, so what happens with languages with shared roots is that they have many similarities, wich makes it hard for the brain to separate them.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JusToaster

That happened to me in my Spanish class, I unconsciously used a German word. I believe it has something to do with speaking a non-native language, the brain assumes one is using correct language.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/robert.but

When I was doing French/Latin GCSE for some reason I could never remember "perhaps" in one of them, can't remember which. My mum made me repeat "fortasse peut-etre perhaps". To this day 20 years later I can still remember that despite forgetting pretty much every other word in both languages. Not exactly proof learning two at once is of benefit but worked for one word for me :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Unforgiven7091

I used to work 5-6 hours a day for Improve my English skills. All Speaking , Listening, Reading, Writing , Grammar , Pronouncing etc. Cause it's my university major. but now I still practice English. and although started to learning German either. sometimes it's hard to focus. It's like that you want to divide your brain. When you are practicing the first one you need to load your brain on the English part. Suddenly you decide to say something on the third one you should get to the German part of your brain quickly. But with a great schedule and an exact timing it's possible to learn both of them correctly. It's to important to keep the one that you are more powerful up and improve the one that you are weaker at faster , but carefully.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ladylikekaya

I'm learning Norweigan and French at the same time and I have different schedules for when I learn them, which is alternating. I haven't tried learning two languages that are identical such as Spanish and French but I personally think it would be easier since there's a hugeee difference with their pronunciation and spelling and everyything

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AliRezaMani

As a practical learner of Spanish and Italian together, I decided to quit Spanish and learn Italian first because they are very similar and I am getting confused. Since I want to make the most of my time, I have recently signed in for Russian which is quite different from Italian both in alphabet and pronunciation. My concentration is on Italian now.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jakob_H.

For some people, they can easily learn more than one language at once, while others would mix up Mandarin and Spanish. For me, I can learn a lot at once. Just figure out weather you can do that or not.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Emma337918

I'm learning French at school, and I was happy with that, but recently, I have suddenly gained a liking to the Russian language as well. Everything was fine at first when I didn't know much Russian, but recently, sometimes when I go over my french in my head, if I forget a word or phrase in French, I automatically replace it wit the Russian... I really like both languages and I don't want my grades to drop in French. Is there anything that I can do that doesn't include giving up Russian (I have to do French for another year and I'm thinking about taking it for GCSE - which I have to chose my options for early next school year)? I really don't want to say something and nobody understands it in my class except the teacher (who also speaks Russian) due to the fact that I have switched languages (luckily this hasn't happened yet out loud)...

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/altair7
altair7
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My two cents: I've found it doable, depending on the level. I was studying German and Portuguese simultaneously. They are very different, and typically didn't have a conflict. Some mixups in the brain wiring are always there; in fact those mixups are almost always with English (my native language) more than the other language (i.e. I remember a word or sentence structure in German but fail to translate it into English).

I proceeded to learn Spanish and French too, and in the end I found that since PT, ES and FR are all very similar (FR lesser, but still), I could pretty easily piggyback off each other to improve (or at least maintain) all three. Now sometimes when I speak French, I mix up Spanish words here and there, but it works. The French understand me; maybe they think I'm a bit retarded, or that I have a weird accent, but as long as I'm confidently able to get my point across, I don't care much.

1 month ago