1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. How do people manage to learn…


How do people manage to learn multiple languages at once?

My name is maiky, I already can speak English ( In a satisfactory way) And I'm currently working on my Japanese and Italian and I must say that is a lot of work to do even though I'm passionate about learning languages. I am an ambitious person who loves romance languages and I'd like to learn Romanian, French Italian altogether. What do I do and what are your piece of pieces of advice on learning multiple languages at once?

May 25, 2017



Generally, it's not a good idea to try to learn two (or more) closely related languages at the same time.


Is distinct languages like Italian and german okay?


Yes, that's actually what I'm trying to do. And I try to separate my Italian and German lessons by at least an hour (usually more). One in the morning and the other in the evening works best for me.


Trying to learn two romance languages at once is a nightmare. You will confuse the two constantly. I would stick to languages that are very different from each other if you're going to do them concurrently .


My advice is short and sweet:

Start with Italian!


Awesome, I love Italian, but why do you say that? is it better to get the sense of the romance languages?


In my personal opinion, yes, it's a good, fairly easy start for the Romance languages. Spanish is also not all that difficult, but there's something about Italian that just feels cleaner and easier.


It just sounds great. ;)


Ok, my first experience with romance languages was French, at age 5 or 6 I lived in Tunisia where french is second language, it was probably the only languages I was able to communicate in, and I read Asterix comics and Placid et Muzo to entertain myself, and I can say with pretty good confidence that I will probably never be able to speak good French. It is so damn confusing at the higher level, it is like English, easy to get the basics, but brutal to master. It is the posterchild for the saying 'you have to live there', because you literally have to learn it by absorbing it, it is such an eccentric language.

My second experience with Romance languages was Spanish, I had never really noticed it as a language before, because if you can believe it, Spanish is not one of the bigger languages on this side of the Atlantic, (it has to compete with French and German), and while I spent some time in Colombia and Ecuador, even though I could say my pleases and thank you's and count to ten and ask for a beer, I had no idea about grammar. But because Spanish is so much more logical and straightforward than French, grammar went from being a dirty word for me, to something that I could actually understand as a human being. I still mumble my way through it, and I can't even begin to understand why everyone has to speak twice as fast as my ears can follow, but to this day I find myself sinking into this language even though I had never had any compulsion to learn it.

As an aside, I can say that without Spanish opening my eyes to more complex grammar, I would have never have had a hope in hell of surviving in Germany, where for the first time in my life I managed to become crudely conversational in a language that literally horrified and terrified me at school.

All that experience aroused my curiosity about Romance languages, so I decided to play a computer game in Italian, one of those role playing games with lots of text where you have to understand what people are talking about in order to get anywhere, and I kid you not, I have never taken a single lesson in Italian, have never knowingly spoken to an Italian person, don't have a single Italian relative, I have absolutely no motive or interest to learn the language, and yet it was as if it were I met a long lost relative. I instantly understood where French and Spanish came from, I realised how much of English we don't realise we have actually borrowed, I started to see for the first time the web that connects us all together. I might have been hallucinating a bit, It could be because I am 'special', but I could not get over the connection I felt with this language that I had never really encountered before, and I really can't put that into words.

All the languages we think of as different are so closely knit, so intermingled with each other, that you only have to go outside your comfort zone a little bit to gain indescribable insight. It all starts innocently enough, 'what could I possibly have to lose' you say to yourself... And then one day you suddenly find yourself downloading Romanian subtitles for fun just to give your brain a bit of a test.


I wanted to keep it short ....

I really did.

Start with Italian.


Awesome story! Thanks for sharing!


You can probably learn more than one related language as long as they sound completely different - for example French and Italian


If that's what you want to do, just give it a try and see how it turns out. If you experience issues with confusing them, try something different :) Frankly, I think people worry about this a bit too much. The confusion reduces with practice, and I'd suspect French, Italian, and Romanian are different enough that it won't be that big a problem.


How could you start learning Japanese on duolingo if it's not ready yet?


It's on iOS right now

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