1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. Learning a language from a le…


Learning a language from a learned language.

Ever since I got fairly proficient in German about a year ago I've been trying to learn another language alongside it. After going through many languages and losing interest with them I thought of a way to retain/reinforce my German and at the same time learn a new language. Learning the new language from German. At the moment I'm trying to learn French from German and it's working very well. I think learning this way has some strong advantages.

  1. It reinforces the language I'm learning from (in my case German) by occasionally teaching me new vocabulary, but also by making me 'think' in the base language. So instead of me translating the French to German and the German to English in my head I eventually just translate the French to German.

  2. In the case of French from German, both languages have genders. So it's a little easier to get a gender association when you're thinking with them.

There are a couple of downsides I can think of though.

  1. It's only a good idea if you're proficient in the base language. I had to learn German for 3 and a half years before being able to use it well enough to learn with it.

  2. If both languages have genders, then it can get confusing if a noun is a different gender than in the other language. Like in French from German; la fille (the girl) is feminine, but das Mädchen (the girl) is neuter.

But overall I'd say if you've been learning a language for a long time and want to try a new one, try this method. If duolingo doesn't have the right course there's a good chance it's on memrise. What are your thoughts on this?

May 9, 2017



Actually thinking in another language would definitely make you more proficient. Certainly don't do this if you're still on the basics, maybe even if you've just completed your tree, but if you actually do feel fluent enough to learn one language, from a learned language, then that is a good way to go as you'll become more fluent in two languages at once.


I'm doing this. I'm currently learning Spanish from English, Russian from English, English from Spanish, and French from Spanish. I'm feeling very successful in all 3 languages, but it does require mastery in the 2nd language before you can move on the learning a 3rd from that 2nd. Would definitely recommend for someone who wants to improve their 2nd language and learn a 3rd at the same time.


People call this laddering. I am also dong this: Spanish > German > French


Very good technique congratulations !!!!


This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing it! I've been looking for more engaging ways to improve my Spanish, and maybe learning Portugues from Spanish instead of English is the way to go!


This would be useful if I wanted to learn another language. XD

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