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Tips on How to learn a language more efficiently

Hey All! I was reading the discussions and was amazed of how some of you were learning over 15 different languages! I want to be a polyglot and a linguist when I am older and I was curious ( for those of you who are learning many languages at once) how you kept all the languages straight in your head! And what has kept you motivated to learn! I mean just seeing your commitment to learning so many languages is encouraging for me as a beginner! Thanks :D

June 10, 2017



Hey there and good questions! I don't speak 15 languages, but I speak 3 comfortably and am learning 2 more for interest.

I get this question a lot from people who don't speak either of my foreign languages: How do you keep Spanish and Portuguese separate in your head?

Well, I learn the culture and the accent and that pretty much keeps them straight for me. It's not hard actually, the words sort themselves out in your mind. Occasionally I use a word in Portuguese when I am speaking Spanish or vice versa but it's not because I don't know which is which -- because I do.


My love for the accent, culture, and people keeps me motivated to learn.

Keep it up!

There will be times where you are frustrated and can't figure something out but that is normal and expected. Just put whatever is hard for you away for the day after you've done all you can, and don't push yourself too hard. Don't expect to be fluent in a week. Come back the next morning and slowly reread everything -- you'll be surprised how fast it clicks.

Use all the resources you can, not just Duolingo.

I stress this, but do immersion! It really helps more than anything else. Translate in your head back and forth. Always keep your dictionary or Google on hand for words you don't know.

Learn sentence structure first, then learn vocabulary.

Speak! Don't be shy!


Asante Sana! (Thank you so much) :D


De nada, de rein, you're welcome, пожалуйста, bitte

Buena suerte a ti en tus estudios! Boa sorte pra voce em seus estudos! Good luck to you in your studies!


Time and persistence are how to keep them straight. Also, mixing them up a bit from time to time isn't a big deal. Once you can get over worrying about that, they tend to help each other, especially related languages. For instance, once I knew a decent amount of Spanish, learning Portuguese and Italian was much faster because they share a lot of vocab and the grammar is similar.

I recommend learning one or two languages well and then start adding more in. Once you know how you learn, it gets easier to add more in. For the first few, it's important to do it properly. Actually get out there and speak to people. Use your language. It's really breaking that barrier and being able to use at least one other language well that trains up your brain to be ready to absorb more languages. Once you have broken the listening barrier in particular (that is being able to understand and respond in real time to a native speaker of the language you're learning), I find you have tuned your ears to learning languages generally and adding more gets easier at this point. At this point, I have basically trained my brain for the sorts of tasks that make adult language acquisition as efficient as it can be.

That said, be extremely patient. Language learning is a slow process, even if you turn out to be a 'good' language learner and really hone your skills. I think I am a pretty damn good one, but it's taken me years to learn as much as I have. I started learning my first second language 16 years ago.

As for motivation, I am curious about the world and its languages. I like seeing how they vary and how they are the same. I keep learning because I keep wanting to know. That said, I flit back and forth between languages. I usually try to get a solid base in a language's basics before taking a break, but my motivation does vary depending on what else is going on. For instance, one of my jobs is being a translator, so if I have a big translation job, I do study less because I am already getting a language fix at work. I use the streak here at Duolingo to make sure I do at least a little every day though. That has meant that even in busy periods, I keep coming back and then when I have more time, I do more.


Hi Allison!
I'm definitely not learning fifteen languages, but four is more than one, right? ; )
To answer you question on motivation, well I guess it's because:
- I like learning languages
- I have a reason to learn them
- I have friends to compete with (friendly competition, of course =D)
- (similar to the first point) [the most important reason] I like the languages I'm learning!
And when it comes to keeping them straight, I focus on one for a few days, then the next, and etc.
Good luck learning Spanish!


de rien - you're welcome!


I can't call myself a polyglot, but this is my answer to the question about motivation:

If you want to be a polyglot and a linguist so much that it becomes one of your driving educational and self improvement impulses, you will only lose motivation for short periods at a time. The long term motivation will stay with you whatever, and even after a couple of months away from language learning you will return to it.

But if you are ever starting to lack motivation, just push the languages aside for a while and look at the culture of any of the five or so countries in the world which you would like to speak the languages of. Find out a little bit more about the places and the people and their customs.

[Edited to remove advice which has been followed about which forum to post this to. :) ]


Curiosity. Concentrating on that natural languages that interest you most.


Hola Allison, yo empece a estudiar 4 idiomas a la vez Ruso, Aleman, Ingles y Portugues y lo estaba haciendo bien pero por motivos de mi trabajo y la falta de tiempo solo estoy enfocado en el Ruso y el ingles, de tener mas tiempo si se pueden aprenden varios idiomas a la vez, Saludos


Gracias! :D Buena suerte aprendiendo Ruso

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