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https://www.duolingo.com/AnkushDeshmukh

Learning more than one language at one time

AnkushDeshmukh
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I want suggestions and advise please. How easy/difficult is it to learn 2-3 languages together? Say Spanish + French + Portuguese/Italian/German? What are the pros and cons? Can it get confusing? Will it slow down my progress compared to learning one language at a time and starting a new one only after gaining fluency?

4 years ago

26 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/pmm123
pmm123
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For me, it depends on the way I'm learning the language. I have successfully studied two different languages in school at the same time, and I didn't have any trouble. However, I have never tried to use an audio course (such as Pimsleur) with two different languages at the same time. Since Pimsleur is all audio (except for very short texts), it would be too confusing to me to have two audio courses going at the same time.

With DuoLingo, I am working on five languages, and I feel very comfortable with it. For Spanish, Portuguese, and French, I'm reviewing and improving my skills. For German and Italian, I started with much less prior knowledge.

You asked about whether studying multiple languages would slow a learner's progress. For me, that has not been the case. In fact, I have made more progress with German and Italian on DuoLingo than I have ever made in the past, when I studied them on my own. I attribute that to DuoLingo's unique game-like format, lots of variety in the questions, a strong audio component, and a lot of repetition.

I find that the similarities (and differences) among the four Romance languages I'm studying are helping me a lot, and not confusing me, but that may be because I had already studied three of them before. When I first started studying Portuguese after having studied Spanish, the vocabulary could be confusing at times, because words that look exactly alike in the two languages can have very different sounds. But mostly, my experience with Spanish has been helpful. I sometimes mistakenly use a word from one language when I'm working on another, but it doesn't happen often enough to be a problem.

There are also many similarities in the grammar with all four Romance languages, especially Spanish and Portuguese. This gives the learner a head start on grammar, because so many of the structures are familiar.

I tend to spend a half hour to an hour on one language, then I switch to another. I usually work on my German first, because it's the hardest one for me. For all of the languages, I try to get a balance between a review of previous lessons and new lessons.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnkushDeshmukh
AnkushDeshmukh
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inspiring reply.. thank you! :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Trang.
Trang.
Mod
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There are already some discussions about this https://www.duolingo.com/comment/593675, https://www.duolingo.com/comment/762572. You can find out more by searching "multiple languages at a time" "learning different languages at once".... What languages do you intend to learn?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnkushDeshmukh
AnkushDeshmukh
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thank you very much!! :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/roodvuur

You can do whatever you like. It might work out, it might not. However, no not and I repeat do not attempt to learn two similar languages (e.g. all languages on Duo except English and Deutsch) without having a solid base in one of them. You will mix it up. When you've reached a decent proficiency though, you should be safe.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnkushDeshmukh
AnkushDeshmukh
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i was considering spanish + portuguese because i thought if they're similar it maybe easy. but i guess i will take your advise. thanks!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/roodvuur

I actually was planning on starting Portuguese around this time (nearly finished the Spanish three) but did a lot of reading (about learning, in English that is) and decided to stick to Spanish for a little while until I am at least quite conversational in Spanish. Won't be too long before I will attempt some Portuguese though, I believe that if you keep working on Spanish alongside Portuguese (after having established a base in Spanish), it should work. And you do get a very nice head start on Portuguese if you know your Spanish.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarquiseDeBat
MarquiseDeBat
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Since I am learning a few languages at once even at school, I can say it is possible. However, it needs system, because once, my timetable looked somehow like this "English (I am not english native) then latin then spanish". In the end I spoke french, which was not exactly what I wanted. Today, my timetable is way more friendly (no languages right after each other), so I have a time to "switch". To get to the point of things, I learn english, french and latin as a school subject, then improve my forgoten spanish in here as well as I started with german. Sometimes I get confused in french - I have a tendency to speak or use spanish, but on the other hand, similarity really helps. But that is all.

To sum it up, it is not hard to learn multiple languages at once, but if it will be slower/faster or if you can handle it depends mostly on your personality, your own abilities and work organisation. However, what holds you back from try it and in case of no success stop and concentrate on just one language?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/anhos
anhos
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I agree. I learned English, German and Latin in high school and i am also a native slavic speaker (slovenian). So i decided to join duolingo to refresh my german knowledge and try to learn other languages. I must say latin is very helpful in learning romance languages, but on the other hand it gets very confusing when learning italian, spanish and portuguese at the same time (i tend to mix diffeent words because they are so similar).

So my suggestion is- if you want to learn different languages simultaneously, try one from each group (germanic, romance, slavic), for example german, spanish and russian (though not (yet) available on duo). It gets much easier to learn other languages from the same group, when you master one of them :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/S0S_90
S0S_90
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Does Latin really help you with the romance languages? I wonder because I've learned Latin in school for seven years and don't have the impression that it's got much in common with French. My knowledge of English (German is my native language) helps me much more especially in understanding vocabulary.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarquiseDeBat
MarquiseDeBat
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For me it works in reverse - I easily get the point of latin words based on my knowledge of french and spanish. Sometimes I realise in latin class "Yes, this I know in this meaning and it depeloped this way!". But I never have this feeling in french class. Maybe it is just because my knowledge of latin is the worse of all romance languages I ever took...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/anhos
anhos
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Yeah, it depends on how much latin you know. It was the first romance lanuage i've ever learned, so that's probably why i find it so similar to the others. Because the languages i knew before (slovenian, english, serbo-croatian and some german) are completely different.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/anhos
anhos
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I find it helpful because of the similar vocabulary. Even about one third of english is derived from latin! Of course I wouldn't recommend anyone to learn latin, because of its complexity and uselessness, but since it was obligatory at my high school i can see it pays off when learning spanish, for example. I also understand some italian because of it (i live 100 km away from Italy). I am not (yet) fluent in any of romance languages, but french seems to be somewhat different from the others, which tend to be more interrelated.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnkushDeshmukh
AnkushDeshmukh
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the only thing holding me back is i am finding the other languages difficult compared to learning spanish, especially because of the pronunciations. but i will surely take your advise and give it another sincere and well planned try :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarquiseDeBat
MarquiseDeBat
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The truth is, spanish is really easy language to learn. My native language is slavic one - czech and despite the diferences between roman and slavic languages, I made the fastest progress ever. What I definitely can not say about french, from which I will happily take a break after I leave grammar school this year. So maybe the Portuguese would be the best option, sice it is said, that it is really similar to spanish...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnkushDeshmukh
AnkushDeshmukh
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my native is marathi (indian language) and hindi (marathi and hindi are like spanish and portuguese, similar yet very different) and my schooling has been in english. so i don't have problems with grammar. however pronunciation is kinda making it difficult for me. mainly in french.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarquiseDeBat
MarquiseDeBat
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Pronounciation will be always problem for not natives. It is because people gain the ability to learn pronounciacion perfectly within the first year of life and that makes them pronounce their native/s language/s perfectly, however, it also means that phonemes not included in native language will be hard to learn and recognise eversince after. What I mean to say, no one was perfect in pronouncing not-native language and everyone has difficulties, don't be worried and don't let things like this ruin whole language for you :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hckoenig
hckoenig
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Right now I am learning (trying to learn, that is) three languages in parallel, and I think it works because my level is different for each and the languages are not closely related. My Spanish is intermediate, so I can start with Polish, and work with Dutch on an advanced level.

On the other hand, when I started with Spanish (about two years ago), whenever I was trying to produce a Spanish sentence, Italian words and constructs came to my mind; even now I feel the temptation sometimes to use "questo" instead of "este" etc., and recently I used "tedesco" instead of "alemán" which made me suspect that I have no control over my brain at all... (I had learned Italian many years ago and I had only reached intermediate level, about A2/B1.)

Give it a try, and if you feel it is confusing, concentrate on one language and leave the others for later.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/le-lapin-noir
le-lapin-noir
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If you stagger them, you shouldn't have a huge problem doing it, especially since you are already multilingual. The learning curve between the second and third languages you learn is steeper than the learning curve between others you add later, in my experience. I've been learning multiple languages simultaneously for years. Give it a try, but if you feel overwhelmed, you can always focus on just one at a time.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnkushDeshmukh
AnkushDeshmukh
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actually we indians learn 2-3 languages right from the beginning of our lives. by the time we are 8-10 years old we fluently speak in three languages (mother tongue, hindi and english) it is a norm. so learning a new and foreign language 10 years later seems different :p

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/0liwia
0liwia
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I guess you should do as you see fit, as I wouldn't recommend it, but many people do it, and it seems to work for them. I think it might also depend on the level of proficiency you're planning on reaching: when I was learning Spanish, I devoted myself entirely to it, watching most movies in Spanish, reading books and newspapers in Spanish, listening to Spanish radio and to Spanish music... I had really no time to learn any other language, as I wanted to reach C1/C2 level. Now that I have "secured" my Spanish, I'm learning German, and it takes me a lot of time and dedication, even though I'm more of a casual learner this time -and I still have to keep my Spanish alive since I don't live in a Spanish-speaking country. I'd be interested in Italian too, but my German is nowhere near good, and there is a high chance it would "hurt" my Spanish -too close, even if I'm already fluent, but again, not using the language every day.

So all this is to say that if you're a casual learner, go for it; if you have some kind of high proficiency goal, I wouldn't recommend it, simply because you probably won't have the time to focus on all of your languages.

Good luck :-)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnkushDeshmukh
AnkushDeshmukh
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i don't want to master any particular language, just want to be proficient and fluent enough to speak about anything under the sun with people who speak the particular language. and also, want to officially be a polyglot :p

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Noe010101
Noe010101
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Possible, at least for me, (learning Portuguese, Italian, French - all of them from zero). You can always try to, and when find it confusing or too difficult you can stop. :) Good luck. One more thing: it may be really helpful sometimes to learn more than one as the vocabulary or structures are concerned.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnkushDeshmukh
AnkushDeshmukh
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woah!! the levels and 156 day streak looks great! :D

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Noe010101
Noe010101
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Thanks:) Your streak is tidy too; Have some lingots.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnkushDeshmukh
AnkushDeshmukh
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wow! thanks!! :D

4 years ago