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Studying multiple languages at the same time

is studying more than one language set at a time good or bad.

I am doing mostly spanish but take breaks from it and do some italian. is there any research saying that it is better or worse for my progression in spanish?


February 23, 2013



I speak for me now. I have no problems if I study at the same time languages that I find pretty different (so I don't make confusion and think that what I studied for one works for the other), but especially at different levels. I must be somewhere between B1 and B2 in German, so I enjoy doing some French, where I should be between A2 and B1, but only because it is similar to my native language, and some Japanese, which is SO different that there is no chance at all to make any confusion.

For Spanish and Italian it is a bit dangerous, but if your Spanish knowledge is pretty set on stone you shouldn't risk too much. And anyway, if it makes fun, who cares? :D


Sorry for being late with this, but I feel that I had to add something to this discussion. Most comments (including my own) focus on whether it is possible to study multiple languages and what would make it easier to study multiple languages. However, the initial question was whether studying an extra language would improve or worsen progression with the other language that you were studying.

I don't have any scientific evidence, but I decided to look for some comments from other language learners. Their opinions rather surprised me as I hadn't considered that there could be negative sides to studying multiple languages apart from some initial confusion. Although some have already masted several languages, they think that it is better to focus on one language at a time. If you are juggling with multiple languages, you might lose motivation and end up with some knowledge of everything without reaching a decent level in any language. I'm happy that this topic came up, because otherwise I wouldn't have thought about it. I've actually decided that from now on I will start studying one language at a time, because I would like to be able to bring my languages into practice.

Here are some links of pages that I've looked at, I hope that people find them useful:





PS There are always people who say that it is possible, but that might be more a representation of people's desires than effective study habits. I've learned bits from a lot of languages, but never mastered much which is why I want to spend my time more wisely from now on. Good luck everyone!


Yeah. I like the advice in the 3rd website link. "Learn the next language when you are comfortable enough to learn it from the previous one, depending on your time''


School and university students often study more than one language at a time successfully. I am doing both German and French on Duolingo and I'm progressing at a similar rate in both. If you enjoy and want to do it I'd say go ahead.


German and French are not as closely related as Spanish and Italian which makes it easier to separate between them. Your brain needs some time to create a separate place for your new language which is why it can become confusing when you start learning two languages from the same family.


I do wonder how Duolingo might help facilitate that separation, perhaps causing the brain to separate the two languages faster. Just conjecture, but it seems that the immediate correction with duolingo might speed things along.


I must agree with marziotta: it's better if you learn two very different languages instead of two similar languages, because it's harder to mix them up.

From my experience, when I was learning german, I was learning french in the same time, and even tough they are SO different, I sometimes wanted to say some words in german when speaking french. And felt I was advancing quite slowly in both. Slow but steady it is to say. I've decided to focus on french and felt I was learning french at a much faster pace when focusing solely on french.

I then started to learn spanish. And at first found it very confusing : every word I did not know or was unsure of I would say in spafrench or in romano-spanish (I have a talent of composing new words, you would not imagine..). Only after having a good mastery of french (B2) did I try to learn spanish again. This time it took me 4 months to get from A1 to B2 in spanish. (I studied ~4+ h a day btw)

So my conclusions are: the more similar the languages are, the easier it is to mix them up the more mastery you have of one language the easier is not to mix it up with another if you focus on one language, you'll learn it much faster

For italian and spanish, if I were you I'd focus on one first, and then go to learn the other when you're feeling comfortable with the first.

I think that also the fact that you already achieved learning a language will motivate you to learn another, instead of being halfways with both, and thus being demotivated.

Either way, good luck! :)


I think the more practice you get the better it is for all the languages you intend to study . Once you start a language then you're a student for life !! So if you want to speak more than one foreign language you'll have to learn them together .Your command of your mother tongue will improve and also your knowledge of grammar as you solve the common and individual problems you are faced with.Good luck !!


It depends. Whatever keeps you motivated is what works best for you. So if you're starting to feel bored from practicing one language, it's probably a good idea to mix it up a little.

I think that starting two languages from scratch at the same time is probably not a good idea. But if you've practiced one language a lot already and then start to learn another it shouldn't be a problem.


I encourage you to learn several languages! The two are similiar in a few ways, so your spanish prgression won`t fall behind.


I'm studying Italian (I have studied it in college for over a year now) and one of the most common tips I have received from others who know multiple languages is not to study two languages that are very similar, like Spanish and Italian, because it can easily cause confusion, especially among vocabulary, and create bad habits if you're just starting out. That being said, I am beginning to practice French on this website. I find that French and Italian are different enough that I do not get them confused and my knowledge of how Italian works helps me to understand how the French exercises are operating. I also agree with marziotta says about if "your spanish is pretty set on stone you shouldn't risk too much"


I had studied Spanish many years ago, and when I started Duolingo I chose to study both Spanish and French. At first I mixed up similar words, such as "pan" and "pain", or typed the Spanish for "he" when I wanted the French. But in less than a week my brain had separated the two. It was fun paying attention and being aware of it happening. :)

If it's something you want to do, I encourage you to give it a try and see how it works for you. I really want to add in German, I'm just not sure if I have enough time for three languages. :)


I am doing the same as you except I am on Spanish more frequently and German whenever I get the chance. I personally have no problem with learning two at the same time. Although my profile shows I am learning all the languages because I wanted to see what they are like. Personally Duolingo should let us remove some languages when we chose to learn them so people Don't wonder why I am learning portugese, French, Italian, German, and Spanish lol.


So this question was 2 months ago. I'm curious what's your personal opinion so far, after all the discussions and answers. Did you decide to stick with only one language, or if not how do you feel that you are progressing and what impact has one language over the other if any?

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