1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. How many languages should you…


How many languages should you learn?

Hey! I'm sorry if this is considered spam, please let me know if it is and I'll delete this discussion.

I was wondering about how many languages I should learn. Right now I'm learning Esperanto and Irish on Duolingo as well as German (but German is to follow up with my german classes at school). My fluent languages are French, English and Norwegian.

But I'd like to learn Dutch and Russian (Dutch first), but I'm afraid that if I take too many languages I'll end up not having enough time and mixing them all up. However, the problem is that the two languages I'm learning right now aren't very useful to be honest and I'd like to learn Dutch and maybe later Russian as it could really help me.

Thank you for reading this unstructured text and please give me your opinions Thank you :)

February 26, 2017



This question about learning multiple languages gets asked a lot on these forums. The consensus seems to be that you'd learn each language slower, you might get confused sometimes, and you might find it frustrating, but if you really want to learn two languages, then why not? It depends what you want; if you have a broad curiosity, learn two at once, but if you want to gain proficiency, learn one at a time.

Here's a list to some of the previous discussions, if you want to read more:


you can learn as many as you can personally handle. Right now, I'm actively learning 2 (my Italian tree is finished) I wouldn't do more than that. I also wouldn't learn similar languages at the same time, cause they might get confused. so in your case, I would pick either German or Dutch to learn first. (you could always go back to the other one later)

Happy Learning!


Oh yes, true that. I think that as I've already taken German I'll might not take Dutch as well, thank you very much


> My fluent languages are French, English and Norwegian.

> But I'd like to learn Dutch and Russian (Dutch first), but I'm afraid that if I take too many languages I'll > end up not having enough time and mixing them all up.

Dutch from Norwegian should not be a big step, there might be a little mixing up because of some similarities (words, ...).

Russian is so different that mixing up is very unlikely (given that you do not speak any other Slavic family language already).


Yes thank you very much :)


I'm learning a few myself. I'd limit myself to being able to make regular, demonstrable progress in each language studied and have plenty of other constraints on how much time I can devote to study each day. A maximum number of languages may derive from that, but I find the limitations on the availability of speaking practice more sharply limit what's interesting to study than time, logistics, or abilities. There are only four languages with speaking drills as taught in English on mobile devices. I think there are only nine with speaking drills as taught in English for laptop and desktop devices. I have a few languages I'd like to see gain speaking drills so I can truly learn them, but don't put the same kind of effort into them.


Sounds like what you really need to do is figure out what your own goals are. Do you want to be a fluent speaker of Russian, able to read Dostoevsky in the original? Or do you want to put a smile on your mother-in-law's and friend's faces by having some basic conversations in their languages? Why did you pick Esperanto and Irish to begin with? Are those really things you want to stick with (provided that you mightn't have to stick with Esperanto very long in order to acquire significant progress)

Attaining fluency in Russian (and I'd think this more or less goes for Irish, too, although I have zero experience with the language) is a task of a different order of magnitude than the other languages. There's an extremely limited amount of familiar vocab (at least on the level that will help you with a Duo tree), so you need to learn most everything from scratch. It can be nice to have a "break" language as you work on it. Tackling Irish and Russian at the same time probably means you'll make very slow progress in either. Progress would be slow enough on either by itself. But if you have pretty limited objectives, that can still be the right choice for you.

You might confuse German and Dutch if you do them together. You might not. You'd have to find out for yourself. You already speak three languages fluently, a condition that obtains for few of the people particularly worried about confusing things, so you might well have a leg up on the average.


Yeah I've decided to stop Irish (as it didn't really have any utility for me) and I took Russian as my Dutch friend does speak French too but my mother-in-law has quite a lot of trouble learning norwegian so that's why I took Russian, thank you very much anyway :)


I would say any serious questions about languages aren't spam.

I think you should start with what you think you'll be having the most exposure to, while maintaining your other languages. Then, I think you can see how you feel about learning anything else. I know how it is to feel pulled in many directions when it comes to languages. I wanted to learn... 26 languages at one point, but now I want to focus on fluency in one language, Korean, and -possibly- Japanese, but it does make my mind feel more at ease with only focusing on one.


I like to recommend doing all the 'reverse trees' first, for the courses you are doing now. Which means 'English to your target languages' In these courses you will have to translate much more from English to your target language. And it gives you the opportunity to read and write in the discussions of your target language.
This is really a great feature of Duolingo.
Here is the link to the official Duolingo Help Center for 'How do I switch my Duolingo course language? https://support.duolingo.com/hc/en-us/articles/217005666-How-do-I-switch-my-Duolingo-course-language-


Oh yes thank you! That's a nice idea, I had never thought about that


My hope is more that I could study two languages in one lesson than that I could translate more in one direction or another to or from English.

My English is too good to be worth practicing at all, and my Spanish is probably beyond where Duolingo can help much, or perhaps it's better said that from where my Spanish is, there are ways to improve my Spanish more quickly with less effort than Duolingo. If I could choose arbitrary teaching languages, I'd probably use French, Italian, Portuguese, and German, but the availability of languages besides English to learn as taught in them is relatively limited. I think the set of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and German has a relatively substantial number of the ordered pairs that could be drawn from it covered, but things like Swedish, Dutch, Turkish, and Russian aren't available to learn as taught in many, if any of them. The missing links they have between each other can be seen at:

Spanish: French, Italian, Portuguese, German

French: Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese

German: French, Spanish

Portuguese: Spanish, French, German, Italian

Italian: French, German, Spanish

In short, Portuguese and Italian as taught in German and Portuguese as taught in Italian are missing. Otherwise, each of Spanish, German, Italian, and Portuguese as taught in each of the others are all covered. I frankly think it would be nice to automatically use whatever of the languages one's learning that are beyond some threshold of competency as teaching languages so as to simultaneously drill in two languages at once while rotating the teaching language across whatever is most in need of catching up.

Apart from that, German is my strongest language after English and Spanish, so that would be a plausible learning language for me, but there are few actual offerings taught in German on Duolingo.

A relatively uncomfortable aspect of varying teaching languages is that the progress in the language being learned isn't shared across the languages in which it's being taught. Sic transit gloria mundi.


Your wish is very different from the question of Simon104416.
Duolingo is only for beginners and for people who like to refresh their foreign languages learned at school.
Nevertheless, I can understand your wish.
My native language is Dutch. I refreshed my English by doing the Dutch-English and English-Dutch courses. And now I am improving my English and refresh my German by doing the English-German and German-English courses.
And for me, that is a very difficult way to refresh my school German. But it is a challenging way to improve my English.


You can learn as many as you want or can, do you mean simultaneously? I will recommend not more than 2, if you think you can take more you can add more little by little. You have to decide, do you want to learn one language faster o several at a slower pace. To learn just the basic level is very easy, but to become fluent is not.

Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.