Would you rather have complete mastery over one foreign language or only be able to scrape by in 5?
I would rather have complete mastery over one.
I might be part of the minority here when I say that I would rather scrape by in 5... if we consider mastery as C2 and scraping by as A2. I have no academic reason to learn a foreign language so it's a hobby to me. I want to reach B2 in a few languages but I have no interest in discussing politics and biochemistry in anything other than English. A2 is a solid basis to build on and if I decide to build on it later, then I have something to build on. If scraping by however is limited to hello, goodbye, thank you, and yes I want fries with that, then I would pick mastery in one.
Maybe you want to reach B1 instead of B2. B2 is fluency, B2 is like a high school grad, but you can have fluent conversations. In Germany B2 is the level require for foreign doctors to start their residency, they can see patients at that level. In B1 you can have a short conversation with a lot of difficulty understanding and speaking.
Awkwardly, this reminds me of the many users who flaunt many languages here, especially over 10, not even seeming to care about the low levels they keep them at, often under 5.
Now to those downvoting; you know I hit you hard with that, but it's the truth. If you're going to start learning a language, do it for the fun of it, and do it right... not just for the numbers.
Yes, there are many users with 2, 5 or 10 languages. Let's not assume why they are exploring those languages. There is no "right" way to learn a language. I'm sure that there are some users that are not learning a language for the fun of it. Some people may have used this application for research.
Your personal observation doesn't make it a truth. Unless you have taken the time to interview all those aforementioned users or conducted a poll, then that statement would be not be awkward.
I don't think there's any flaunting involved. Many just get a taste of every language to see which one they want to stick to. Or, in my case, I've been meaning to go to Japan for a while now and, if I do, I'll do a couple of Duo lessons just to get by and that'll be good enough for me as a tourist. You just can,t assume people's abilities only by looking to their Duo flags....
"You just can't assume people's abilities only by looking to their Duo flags...."
Granted, yet I have not done such a thing, that is, not "only by looking at their Duo flags". I have, however, had conversations with these people and their goal often IS to go for the glory in the numbers. Like this one time a few days ago, when someone praised some other X person's "flags" (22 exactly, out of which 15 were under level 5, most level 2 -I checked), and this person's response was; "thank you, the goal is 50 :)", to which I replied with Ziad Fazah's case, who calls himself "the person to have learned every language on the planet" yet still in 1997 in an interview, while claiming this, he was unable to speak, read or even reply accordingly to sentences such as "What day of the week is it?" in Russian... There's simply no grasp in numbers.
And how can you remember all of those numbers?! A 50 language goal is a good thing! I would like to think I'll stick around here to get there myself. And this person didn't say s/he was fluent in all of those languages, right? And even if someone claims fluency and people believe it, isn't it their problem? It seems to me like it bugs you whenever you see someone with a long line of flags...
I'll define mastery as C1 or C2 level. I want to achieve C1 level en español.
"Scrape by" I would define as A2 level. Without getting to detailed. I would like a B1-2 level in French. and C1 in Haitian Creole. For fun, I would like to just read and understand spoken Portuguese and Japanese. Time will change my language goals, but so far my motivation to master Spanish has not faltered. I use Spanish as a ladder to explore French and I seek out Spanish resources discussing Japanese.
I don't see much purpose in scraping by in 5 languages because I can't force myself to speak in a language if I don't know it relatively well, I always end up switching to English, but also knowing only one foreign language is in my current situation not enough, I need to know two: English for work and general communication and German because it's the language of the country I live in. When I'm fluent enough in these two (at least C1 level), I would like to learn another one, but I'm not sure I have the capacity for it, three languages might be my limit. The third one of course doesn't have to be on C1 level, I'd be happy with B1. :)