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Learning multiple languages at once

Hey guys,

So, while scrolling through some discussions about the "correct" translation of a Portuguese sentence, I noticed that some of you are actually learning every language there is on Duolingo - and I'm jealous.

How do you guys and girls manage to learn every language on Duolingo every day? How long does it take you to refresh everything until the skills are gold?

Thanks in advance for your tips and answers!

June 30, 2017



Allow me to express myself on the matter, by sharing what I have been able to perceive over the years as a language enthusiast. I have developed quite an immovable opinion on this subject.

Native Spanish speaker.
English as a second language.
24 years of age.

  • How do you guys and girls manage to learn every language on Duolingo every day?
    Personally, I do not consider myself to be an integral part of the intended targets of this question, as I am not learning so many languages to fit this description, but based on what I have been able to perceive in communication with other learners that do fit it, it is not a good idea to target so much more than you can really concentrate on. Only here on Duolingo, I have read many people who flaunt numbers, yet are mostly unable to answer questions correctly or to even use languages properly, so they do not really learn every language, let alone every day. Mind you, it is a vast generalization based on personal experience.

  • How long does it take you to refresh everything until the skills are gold?
    For the two languages I'm actively learning, i.e. German and Portuguese, it takes about 30 minutes of practice with very few mistakes to keep German gold (and I'm halfway the tree), and I have not been able to achieve the same with Portuguese in 1 hour (more than half, still not complete either), because there are always 3 to 4 skills that keep losing strength. Other than that, I can say that back when the "Duolingo Stats" userscript was still working, I used it to peek on profiles of people who featured many languages. 99.9% of the time they had completely dead trees that obviously needed practice, and on top of that most of their flag numbers were usually below 10, so it's not like they even "learn" them in the first place. Especially when Duolingo is only designed to take you to lower-intermediate level once you reach 25 (or 30.000xp), and that is if you even finish "one" tree while keeping it gold and healthy.

I believe the whole thing about this, is that you cannot expect results if all you aim for is numbers. You have to realize that this is not a race nor a battle, or even if it is, it's only with yourself. You have to aim for what you can grasp, what you can learn. If your persona has difficulty learning one certain language, focus on it, because targeting more others will only make it impossible to learn any of them.


Thanks for your thoughtful post on this matter. I have the same kinds of practical questions to ask people with 10 or more courses listed on their profile. I'm not against learning multiple languages at once, but I'm with you, maybe 2 at most right? Luca Lampariello, a well known polyglot on YouTube, often repeats old adages like "haste is waste" or "slow and steady wins the race", and I didn't quite realize the wisdom in something I have heard time and time again until duolingo came along and made it very easy to learn "about" languages really really fast. It's easy to get sucked into the trap of knowing a little bit about a lot and getting a certain hubris about the constraints of time that is represented in studying a foreign language. At some point you convince yourself that you know more than what you can actually do or perform in a foreign language. Easy way of seeing this play out is trying to organize social plans around language partner exchanges. What are you doing? Scheduling every day of the week for a different respective language partner so you can try out saying hello? How are you? Goodbye? in 7 different languages. What good is that? Another practical question, Do you have plans of visiting a country where you target language is spoken? Not that I am pleading with individuals to stop "studying" 20 languages on duolingo, go ahead...knock yourself out, but there is a clear difference between being mildly familiar with a language, fluency and proficiency. It just isn't a realistic goal for the great majority of people to learn and master 3 languages in their lifetime. For some it's doable, and I would ask them how they did it...and those like Luca and many others didn't get distracted by the temptation to take short-cuts.

Sorry for the typos and lack of paragraph breaks, I wrote this on my iPad.


There are (many) countries full of people who speak three languages fluently... Par for the course all over Africa.

Given that you have perhaps seven flags for non-native languages on your profile, I would think you could briefly extrapolate from your own experience to get an idea of what those with three or so more flags are up to :)


Sorry, this is a little late, I've had a pretty rough weekend and hadn't had a chance to respond. I should have clarified what I meant by "learn", although I suspect it could have been understood in the context, I meant learn as an adult and not necessarily as a child or even teenager. So that can make a big difference in what I was trying to say by "3". Although, I don't really see an inherent need or added value to knowing more than three languages for "most" that includes the little children in Africa that are learning those extra languages as a necessity, and furthermore those languages might be on language continuum of some kind and maybe easier to jump to and from as dialects of a larger family of languages.

But, back to that number, no more than 3, I apply that to the great majority of people, but for those that are not the great majority, sure... more than three is possible and might even be a necessity for some, but it's hard maintaining relationships and for that matter languages over a lifetime. And then there is the issue of duolingo making some believe that they are more "fluent" or capable in a language than they actually are, but duolingo doesn't really automatically make one fluent in a language when they reach a certain level. I know that you aren't saying that, but the impression some people might have is that they are becoming a polyglot when they have 10 flags on duolingo, and that's just not true. While others feel intimidated or put off by the fact that others have all these flags, like they feel lesser, when that individual studying only one or two languages is putting in more consistent and dedicated time and effort into less languages than the others with 20 or more flags.

So all that to say, I am one of those that could easily have 20 flags on my screen and give the wrong impression to others. I have at times done that, then purged all my trees in an effort to minimize distractions in my life. See I'm addicted to how easy it is to learn about languages and dabble on duolingo, it's easy for me, but even so I know that that doesn't mean I've mastered a language. I'm a native English speaker, C1-C2 Spanish speaker, B1 French, and A1-A2 in all the languages I have listed on my profile, except Catalan and Russian. But man is duolingo addicting for me. I can test out of most germanic and romance languages because I'm good at learning languages and breaking down codes. But I'm no master because I have lots of flags on duolingo. No way, and I feel conflicted about displaying as many as I do. But I also feel it's also just a matter of what you like doing. And I like learning languages, but it's not for everyone.


Don't worry about it, some people have studied several languages and simply maintain those while learning other languages and others have plenty of time to spend or use the idle moments in their day to practice. Also if you have experience with either Romance or Germanic languages (except English) it is easier to learn other Romance and Germanic languages respectively because they are alike. As 1Neutrino says there are also people who simply aim for numbers and do not learn much in the process.

For many people it is better to learn just one or two languages simultaneously and internalize them well than it is to learn a dozen and not remember more than a few words (quality > quantity). Once you reach upper intermediate level in your target language(s) you can start studying another language if you wish. Duolingo is excellent but it cannot bring you past the beginner-intermediate stage so you will have to find other sources to practice listening, speaking, reading and writing as well. Be careful when you pick your listening sources because they will help shape your accent.


Whenever a new language is released on Duolingo, I always get to at least level 2 in it. I like to get a small glimpse into what that language is like. However I've finished five courses and I'm working on my sixth. I have forgotten most of Portuguese, French, and Swedish because I haven't practiced them in a long, long time. However I'm in the process of making my French tree gold. I also made my Italian tree gold, and I'm in the process of completing the German tree. I have a good routine for me, but that doesn't mean it will work for you. Whenever I'm learning more than one language at a time, I like to set different times in the day for that language. So in the morning I'll study some Italian, than at night I might study some French or German. It's all about what works for you.


Plenty of these comments are right on the money, especially 1Neutrino's remark, "it is not a good idea to target so much more than you can really concentrate on."


This works, if you love to learn languages especially with Duolingo :-)

The motivation is not only the desired language, but also the XP, level, finish a tree and keep him golden.

To be honest: It needs some time. One day more, one day less. How much depends on you.


Very few people study every language every day (or anything to close to it). Were one to do so, it would undoubtedly be more with a goal of general linguistic exploration than fluency seeking and would be hard to squeeze in in less than an hour I'd imagine, reckoning about three minutes for a practice session.

As for me, something like half my flags reflect endeavors I would more or less consider "serious," and half "flights of fancy," in the spirit of learning about languages, perhaps vaguely contemplating which I might like to focus on more sometime in some likely-distant future. I pretty much stick to one flight of fancy language at a time: too much for the braincase otherwise; I'm much less familiar with them as a rule.


Ok, my 'Duolingo story' ;-)

I am a native German speaker and learned English as my first and Spanish as my second language at school. While I didn't use Spanish after school anymore, I have to use English at work frequently.

Later in my life I searched for a challenge and decided to learn Japanese.

And recently I wanted to learn Polish - at this time I discovered Duolingo, so this was my first course here.

Because I really wanted to learn Polish, I concentrated on this language till I finished the tree and could keep him gold all the time. After that, I am working slowly on the reverse tree.

Then I tested my English knowledge and noticed, that this course is easy, so I worked through this course and resetted him several times. Now I am working on the reverse tree, which is also easy.

Next I tried the Spanish course to refresh my Spanish vocabulary and found it not so hard.

Recently the Japanese course came out and I rushed through the course and keep him gold - he was also easy for me. I work sometimes also on the reverse tree.

So I actually learned only one new language here (Polish) - the rest is refreshing old knowledge. I earned several finishing owls (PL, JP, EN) keep actually 2 finished (Polish and Japanese) and some in-progress trees gold.

But all the exercises in these languages need more and more time a day, so that I will give up trees, which I can easily keep gold in future. It's time to leave and looking for real stuff in these languages, because the main reason for learning languages is to be able to communicate with others, I think.

Maybe I try to peek into some new languages someday, as Turkish, Italian, Arabic, Korean and other, we will see :-)


I work on whatever tree I'm completing first thing in the morning (currently Japanese) and just refresh the others, one course at a time for a week. Some people might say I'm addicted to Duolingo, but hey, I'd much rather have an addiction that teaches me something or keeps me healthy than other addictions!

  • 2319

It's not so difficult as long as you learn groups of related languages and use their similarities as shortcuts. For me (native Romanian), the easiest are naturally the Romance languages, followed by the Germanic group which is slightly more difficult, with the Slavic branch even more difficult. I think the best approach is to take it one step at a time. Start out with easier languages, then gradually add more when you're comfortable.

I am, however, also learning some more exotic languages from other language families altogether - primarily Japanese, Korean, Hungarian, and some Turkish. Progress is quite a lot slower in those, I forget words all the time.

About refreshing everything, it is pretty much impossible to do for so many languages with the current decay rate. I did have the German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese trees fully gilded a few months ago, but I soon got tired of having to strengthen a dozen times every day.

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