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https://www.duolingo.com/KDNP

Easier to do two (or more) languages at once?

KDNPPlus
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I'm wondering about the experience of other people doing multiple languages here and would love to hear your stories!

The primary language I'm working on is German. That was going fine, but some of the new words and concepts just weren't sticking for me. Out of curiosity, I took a Spanish placement test and then started doing those lessons. Hey! Suddenly the German concepts were staying in my memory better. Hmmm... Being a mildly obsessive type, I then added French and Italian. On a busy day, my routine is to do one lesson in those two languages, one or two lessons in Spanish, and then one or two lessons in German, followed by supplementary German reading/videos from other sites. I don't care how quickly I level up; it's unimportant in my "bonus" languages and only part of my motivation in German. More important for me is comprehension and retention.

Speculation: I think that the additional languages help stimulate the language center of my brain and help me make connections. I do get some bleedover, typing German answers to French questions, for example, but less than I expected. Sort of like exercising with pre-warmed muscles, the lessons seem easier, less painful, and more effective. But, that could just be me. How about you?

4 years ago

35 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/ziggKogg
ziggKogg
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Italian and Spanish. If I come across a new word in one language, I look it up in the other language; many times the words are very similar. For me it's a good way to relate the two languages. Occasionally I flip to Italian mindset when I have to be in a Spanish one, so I get some really easy questions wrong.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/egfinn
egfinn
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I like this idea to look up words in the other foreign language! I use the iTranslate app on my phone, so this would be SO easy!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ziggKogg
ziggKogg
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What I have been doing is writing new words into a notebook and then the English translation. Since I started Spanish, I've written down the Spanish word -> English translation -> Italian translation (I try to do this one from memory).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/egfinn
egfinn
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Oh, I like that, too! I think I shall create a chart where I can easily fill in the words and then cover up one or more sections if I want to only practice certain languages. Plus writing things down will only help my retention.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ziggKogg
ziggKogg
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Yup, you got it. One big o' Excel file.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alexandernext

Is this iTranslate thing better than Google Translate? It seems to me that Google Translate is the best out there.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bill-Roca

Since you're on Spanish maybe check out http://www.spanishdict.com/translation ... it gives 3 translations from three different translators. Sometimes it's really discouraging to see three totally different answers, none of which match with the Duolingo answer :)

Don't know if this is better or worse than iTranslate, give it a try on something fairly complicated, like longer sentences from http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/ , and see what works best. I thought it was better than Google though. Plus there's a verb conjugation link.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/egfinn
egfinn
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I'm not sure, I haven't used Google Translate. I only translate one or two words at a time. Very rarely full sentences.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bill-Roca

I was doing Spanish and French but found myself mixing up too many words ... el, él, elle etc. Especially when I was trying to work fast. Too dumb with languages to keep them straight I guess.

I finished the Spanish tree, then turned to French and finished that tree (ignoring Spanish), but I still can't even refresh them both at the same time and keep up speed. Right now I'm working on Spanish because I have a trip to Spain in May, then I'll do French for a trip to Provence in July.

Maybe Spanish and German are easier to learn together since the languages are so different, but Spanench and Frish together sounded like Spanench and Frish in my head.

If it works for you by all means double up. I couldn't do it though.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SuperSwipe
SuperSwipe
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I really don't see what the advantage would be as opposed to really focusing on one language at a time.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bill-Roca

Said the man with four flags beside his name :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SuperSwipe
SuperSwipe
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I say from experience :D and I already speak french ;p

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aminowrimo
aminowrimo
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I added Spanish to my Duolingo repertoire because at one point I couldn't stand to look at French any longer. So basically, if I have a day off, I can spend it doing French until I can't really deal with duolingo any more, and then I switch to Spanish and my brain recharges.

I haven't noticed too much bleed over except when first switching. Translate "The man" makes me think "L'homme" instead of "El hombre." Once I catch myself though, I stay in the Spanish mindset.

I don't study Spanish daily, however. Just on days when I've had too much French.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/adamyoung97
adamyoung97
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They say that after you've learned one language it gets easier... I personally find learning languages one of the most fun things to do, I love being able to say things in multiple languages! It all depends on who you are: Some people find it easy(-ier) to learn more than one, some it doesn't really affect, and others can get confused. I, like you, find it easier.

What I find helps if you are learning more than one language is to say one thing in English, then try and say it in the other languages that I'm learning without too much of a pause, to help with switching between languages: "Today's weather is nice" / "Le temps d'aujourd'hui est beau" / "El tiempo de hoy está bonito" / "Das Wetter von Heute ist schön" / "Il tempo di oggi è bello" / "Dagens väder är fint" / "O tempo de hoje está belo" / "A mai időjárás szép" /"今天的天气是好"

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jandreslami
Jandreslami
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HOLY CRAP! You actually do know all those languages?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/adamyoung97
adamyoung97
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To some extent, yes :) Hungarian (A mai időjárás szép) is my best, I'm most comfortable speaking without too much thought in it (I was born in Hungary but moved to England when I was 4 and spoke English around the house from 2 and 1/2, so I forgot it and have been learning it for about 3 years now). Chinese I'm at a very basic level. I am also learning Turkish and Japanese, but they're kind of at a halt for the moment until the courses come out on Duolingo :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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I wish I knew why some people have trouble getting them mixed up and some don't. If there were a good answer to that question, it would explain a lot.

To me, I remember each language with its own distinct character. I can't mix a German word with a French one, because they just 'sound' so different, at least in my mind. I think it is because I listen closely to the accent that I don't get them mixed up, but I have no way to prove it. I can't think of a more straightforward way to remember which language each word belongs to though; it would be quite jarring if every other word from your mouth was in a different accent. If there is any truth to this anecdote, then that's one positive benefit you get from paying attention to the accent.

In any case, learning more than one language is great. You can rotate your study of each one so you never get bored, and all languages share parts of each other, so they synergise. French and German are particularly interesting if you speak English, because they enlighten you to so much about that language. I think it is pragmatic as well, to look wide - as they say, don't put all your eggs in one basket.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Leli3
Leli3
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I find that it helps learning two or more as it keeps me more interested because there's less monotony as you have with one. I'm really taking a liking to German due to many of it's words being like many English ones. I also find the German accent so amusing for some reason. Anyways! I like that some Portuguese words are similar to the Spanish ones. Lastly I like French as well even though I find some of it's pronunciation a bit difficult. All in all, I have retained my knowledge of each one and haven't mistakenly mixed any of them up as of yet. Looking forward to more languages being added soon.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Beats.and.Sneaks

Yes I Agee with you! Definitely, especially when you are learning similar languages like Spanish and Italian. I find it easier to do one lesson from say Spanish and then go and do a different language say Italian. Then I will go back to the first lesson and go back. After that I will start a new lesson. I think it helps me to memorize the language better. Sometimes it can get a little confusing though! But really it depends on the person,so it's up to you what works best! :) keep up the good work!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Beats.and.Sneaks

Yes I also do that too when I am doing two languages at once! :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kradeka

Learning German and French. I've studied French before but German is completely new. I also tried Italian (briefly) but I just don't have the passion around it that I have for the other two languages, which is ironic because I'm going to Italy in about four weeks. I do German in the morning and French in the evening - I found that it's too hard for me to do both in the same session.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/egfinn
egfinn
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I am working on three at the same time: Spanish, Italian, and German. I practice each of them every day. Some days I can only get in one practice session, other times I do many practices and a few lessons. I have not had many problems mixing them up, but occasionally I do type "il" instead of "el," for example. When determining whether or not I am ready to accept new material, I usually do not count these types of mistakes against myself.

I took several years of Spanish in school, so the majority of what I have done so far is review. Italian and German are entirely new to me.

I would agree that it stimulates the language center. I sometimes have to do work or attend to other commitments, but I always look forward to practicing my languages. I haven't played Candy Crush in weeks!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KDNP
KDNPPlus
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I was missing some of my app games so I reinstalled with different language settings. Now Juice Cubes cheers me with "Geschafft! Gut gemacht!" when I finish a level. ;)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dreamer71

In my experience, it's easier to learn two languages at the same time if they're from different linguistic families. However, I've noticed that if I don't know how to say something in my second new language (Spanish), then I'll almost automatically try to use the words from my first new language (Arabic). However, I've been studying Arabic for much longer than I have been studying Spanish, so that will probably have an impact.

One thing I've been doing is translating the Duolingo exercises for Spanish into Arabic. I'm hoping that this will help compartmentalize the languages in my brain, instead of meshing them all together into Spanglishabic. (Or would that be Sparabish?)

I do notice that already having exposure to a foreign language has made it easier for me to accept the different grammar rules in Spanish, such as word order and noun/adj agreement.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kageyuki

I do the exact same thing with Romanian. Trying to mirror what I do in German to Romanian. If only Duolingo had Romanian as well lol

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aminowrimo
aminowrimo
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It's almost here! :D Have you been trying the English for Romanian course? Or using off-Duo sites? (I'm Romanian.)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kageyuki

Ha, I actually somehow stumbled upon the English for Romanian course a few weeks ago. But since of course my Romanian is not so good, it actually kind of scared me off xD I haven't had so much luck with finding other sites. Doesn't seem like a lot of people try to learn it, lol However, this Romanian/Italian guy I've been talking to for awhile has linked me to a Anime site with Romanian subs ;o That should be fun to do one day.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aminowrimo
aminowrimo
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Ah, yes. I can see how the ENG-ROM course would be scary. I tried the ENG-RUS for all of 30 seconds before deciding I wasn't that interested in learning the language.

Not many people do, because it is a pretty unused language outside of the Romanian diaspora and Romania. If you ever need any conversational practice, let me know! :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kageyuki

I was thinking of Russian one time but I honestly don't think I'd like it much. My reason for learning Romanian is kinda silly. At least I think it is xD That'd be great, if you don't mind ;o

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MultiLinguAlex
MultiLinguAlex
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I developped my strategy toward learning languages mostly according to a video by Luca Lampariello:

Learn the first foreign language until you'll reach a level in which you won't interchange your foreign languages too much (B1 level; in my case English some years ago). Then you can add your new language and integrate it into your daily routine (in my case French and later Esperanto). And most important: Never learn two languages at a same time on the same level that are too interchangeable (like French and Esperanto). Only start learning two languages at a time if there are not too similar.

I already took a glimpse at Esperanto but will fully integrate it in my routine by summer and focus on ameliorating my English and French. Good luck to you =)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pmm123
pmm123
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I decided to try Spanish, Portuguese, and French for review, and Italian and German for a fresh start. I do not think I would have tried all five languages at the same time (a) if I hadn't already had some exposure to them and (b) if four of them were not Romance languages.

I find that when I get tired of working with one language, switching to another is like taking a break, but I'm still learning. I usually try to tackle German first, because it's the hardest for me. Then I switch to Portuguese or Spanish, because those are the easiest. I try to spend time on all five languages every day.

I love your use of the word "bleedover," and yes, it does happen sometimes, but I am just as likely to use an English word in a German lesson as I am to mix up the other languages I'm learning. I do have to work on not speaking Spanish with an Italian accent, and I sometimes mix up spellings between Spanish and Portuguese. But these are minor bumps and they do not interfere with my learning. The payoff is that the vocabularies of the Romance languages are so similar, that you start out with a fairly large number of words that you already know.

I don't know if studying five languages simultaneously would work as well for me if I were using a format other than DuoLingo, but so far, I'm very happy with the progress that I'm making, and I'm having fun.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Szab
Szab
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OFF: What does this mean: "bleedover"? When can we use? Please describe it for me. I am not native english.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KDNP
KDNPPlus
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I'm pretty sure it's a term that comes from printmaking (but I'm too rushed to confirm) -- basically, where there are two colors next to each other and one "bleeds over" into the other one, mixing them together, instead of there being a nice crisp line. So sometimes I don't have a nice clean separation between the languages I'm studying, I'll try to translate a sentence and my first thought comes out something like "Gli hommes tienen Durst."

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chris_nairn
chris_nairn
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I'm not sure if it originated with printing or not. But, the term is used in multi-track recording, as well. Which, I'm sure you're familiar with, too, being a musician.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Szab
Szab
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Thank you!

4 years ago