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2 languages at the same time

Hi people, how do you do to study two laguages at the same time? Like, do you intercalate days, or study both at the same day, but in less time, or do you study one better than the other...

If you could help me with that, I need to study russian, because I live in russia, but its not my favorite language, and I've always wanted to learn italian, so I was thinking about studying both.. Any tips?

July 14, 2017



Study Russian first. If you live there you will be immersed in the language and you will become proficient very quickly. Then you can learn Italian at you leisure.


Thats what most people is saying, even my mom is telling me to do it haha I think its time to listen


You won't have problems studying both at the same time because both languages are not very similar.
And the motivation for Russian is extrinsic, you need to learn it and as you live there you'll easily find possibilities to practice :-)

You might eventually grow fond of it, once you know the basics, even if it is not love at first sight it can be a good relationship.

Your motivation for Italian is intrinsic, you like it, you want to learn it. As you cannot spend all your time on something you need to do, use Italian as a break, take it easy, slowly, slower and more relaxed than Russian. Maybe with different materials, music, podcasts dubbed movies or series to get accustomed to the sound and pronounciation while not yet studying it's grammar or adding loads of vocabulary repetition. It should be fun ;-)


Thats what I wish for, to grow fond of russian.. I think if I get to a good level of russian, when I focus on italian it wont take too long, since I like it more and will be more interested


Maybe you could increase your chances of growing fond of it by linking russian to something you already like very much. Find russian music you like. Your favorite sport is what? Find a russian team to follow. Cooking? Prepare some russian dishes, buy the ingredients... and so on.
Most important is: Have fun =)


Great question. I'll share what I did, and a few tips. You can spot some mistakes I made and avoid them for yourself.

I've been studying Portuguese and Spanish together for a while now. They are similar in some ways but I don't mix up words (occasionally, I'll use a Portuguese spelling in Spanish).

I definitely focused on Portuguese and let Spanish slip for a while, but I wouldn't recommend doing that! It's just what I ended up doing. My Spanish definitely stalled for a while. When talking with natives I had to ask them to slow down occasionally or repeat, which I didn't like. Also, I liked the Portuguese language better and its accent came to me more naturally. I was mistaken for a native speaker by a Brazilian and Brazilian friends said I had a good accent. Plus, I didn't spend much time with my native Spanish friends. However, as soon as I became very comfortable with Portuguese I switched to making a large time commitment for Spanish. Now that I'm actively learning and speaking Spanish I am comfortably trilingual. Now my best friends are native Spanish speakers who are learning English. I communicate with them mostly in their language and I love it.

I consider myself trilingual. So now on to bigger and better.

I've embarked on learning French. (Note: I'm still not 100% fluent in Spanish yet but I can get by well enough to serve as a translator between monolingual Spanish speakers from Colombia and monolinguals from the US. Or bilinguals, who don't have Spanish as one of their 2 languages.) I am reasonable enough in 3 languages to feel that I am ready to tackle a 4th: French. However the grammar is confusing to me and Duo lacks explanations on the mobile version.

I'm studying French mostly for fun and out of curiosity. I doubt I'll ever be fluent but I don't know for sure. A little bit of German because I am German and I've largely ignored my heritage. I can't pronounce the words or for the life of me get by how terrible my accent is.

I am also learning Russian bit by bit with a native speaker and his family. This is what he told me, and many other Russian learners have agreed: If you don't love the Russian language you will stall out and hit a plateau before long. Not that you will never be fluent but there will be rough patches just like in any language. It's a very difficult language for English speakers, not just because of the Cyrillic alphabet but because of its weird (to our minds) grammar and many 'cases'. However it is also very beautiful and rewarding to learn. So either decide you love it and stick with it, or drop it entirely -- there's not much point in so-so commitment if you want to become fluent. That's your decision. If your goal is not fluency (and even if it is) just have fun. Study when you can. Don't stress. Take frequent breaks for your mind. And don't try to learn everything all at once! Your brain can retain a lot but if you try to cram too many foreign words in all at once, chances are you'll forget at least one of them by the next day. If you want to be fluent, speak with natives every chance you can get. Read in Russian. Watch movies. Listen to music. Immerse yourself!

If you like Italian more, then focus on that. Forcing yourself to learn a language you don't like is frustrating and boring -- besides, it usually doesn't go anywhere.

Study Russian first, then Italian once you are proficient.

It all depends on the level of proficiency you want to have in a language. Best wishes in your language studies!


Actually Im brazilian, and I see some similarities of russian with portuguese, so thats not so impossible to me.. I learned a russian once that I actually thought he has brazilian, cause he spoke so well, and his brazilian accent was so great, so I know what you mean.. I think in russian I just want to get to a level in which I can understand people well and communicate easier, like you with your spanish.. Then with time Ill achieve fluency.. I think living there is great for the learning, since im constantly in touch with the language, and in the city I live most people dont speak english, so Ive got to speak russian even if I dont want to haha


Yes, people have mixed up my Portuguese for Russian, and that of my friends. Phonetically speaking it is similar in some ways. I agree with you that the accent is similar but I have trouble with the hard sign in Russian because of my tendency to want to soften it (as you would in Portuguese).


If you don't love the Russian language you will stall out and hit a plateau before long. So either decide you love it and stick with it, or drop it entirely

Got to say I have trouble reconciling the logic of these statements with the supremely important fact that the OP actually lives in Russia.

there's not much point in being so-so if you want to become fluent.

Sure there is. By necessity one is so-so before achieving fluency. And with a language like Russian, even the most dedicated learner is probably going to be so-so for good while. lucascorb has a fantastic opportunity to have that time span be much less than for others and, in my opinion, would be well advised to take full advantage of it.


I meant so-so in commitment. Not in speaking ability. Every Russian learner will be 'so so' as a speaker for a while, it's just a hard language. You misunderstood me.

Whether or not you live in Russia, if you don't love the language you won't put any more than the minimum effort into it, and as such you won't learn as quickly as someone who lives there and loves the language, both. I could move to Germany and learn German enough to get around but I am not crazy about the language and I would definitely not enjoy it.


Yes, that I can affirm. Ive got a friend who lives there with me, and he got fluent in russian in the first year we were there, but the difference is that he actually loves this language, the culture and all, so he really focused on learning it..


Exactly my point. You'll be able to communicate, sure, but if you lack interest you won't learn quite as quickly as someone who avidly learns everything they can because they have a passion for it.

Piguy3 for some reason sees the need to dispute this with me... And I'm a bit confused as to why. Clearly I posted this to try to answer your questions and offer help -- I'm a bit baffled about the seeming argumentative attitude.


Why am I not simply willing to go along with everything you've posted here? B/c I'm not big on counsels of despair. I'm not prone to let inappropriate generalizations go unchallenged. "if you don't love the language you won't put any more than the minimum effort into it" — those are your words, not mine. Of course, I would never contest that things are going to be easier if you come in with some particular affection for a language. But it's just obviously not the case that one will only ever put in the "minimum effort." In fact, it's pretty clear the OP has already put in way more than the minimum effort. I'm certain that one could live in Russia for years and never learn to understand much of anything at all. Meanwhile, he understands a lot. He wants to learn Russian. You encouraged him to just give it up — or if that's not what you meant to do, it sure sounded like it. So, yes, I certainly disagree with things you've said in this thread, or at least how you've said them.

what got me fluent? My love for it, after I realized that my distaste for it was holding me back. I still didn't enjoy learning it. But after a long while it caught my heart.

See, this is useful. If that's what you meant to express, then you certainly didn't express it in a way I think liable to be well understood with "So either decide you love it and stick with it, or drop it entirely." It sure sounds like you did neither of those things with this language, and, lo and behold, you wound up fluent anyway. Yes, you wound up loving it, but you didn't for a "long while." And even if one doesn't wind up loving a language on aesthetic or whatever grounds it is on which we love languages or not, one may well still quite appreciate being able to communicate proficiently in it. This is my case. It's probably the case for quite a few of those hundreds of millions of people around the world who have learned English as a second language.


I've attained fluency in a foreign language I don't have any particular subjective affection for. Wound up being the one I speak best. Subjective "love" is only definitive if you decide to let it be.


I never said it was impossible, and your personal anecdote is great but it does not go for everyone. I have also gained fluency in a language I don't particularly like -- and guess what -- I grew to love it, and now I love it sincerely. I originally detested it. But what got me fluent? My love for it, after I realized that my distaste for it was holding me back. I still didn't enjoy learning it. But after a long while it caught my heart. This is my personal story again it doesn't apply to everyone.


That was not a 'counsel of despair' at all -- it's an encouragement to really make sure you love it so you learn well. I passed on advice that a native Russian speaker gave to me. He was born in Russia and came to the US where he learned English and now he is back at university learning how to speak his language with proper grammar and such. He's already natively fluent but he has made it very clear (and many other Russian speakers I know agree) that since Russian is a hard language, you will not speak it with a high level of proficiency if you don't like it enough to devote a lot of time to it.

You're making petty arguments over my word choice.

I encouraged him to really get into it -- or if he decides he doesn't want to, that's his choice. Have you realized how many times I have said "I respect people who are learning Russian," "best wishes to you," "just have fun," "don't stress," and so on? And you have been here to complain about my word choice when I am trying to be helpful to another learner. His responses to me have not given me any indication that he disregards my ideas or disagrees with me like you do. This is getting pretty ridiculous and I will direct further comments to the OP.

Maybe next time it would be better for you to uplift and support the OP and not criticize someone who is trying to help, even if you don't agree. I see posts I don't agree with all the time and I don't usually dispute them -- I leave my own comment trying to be helpful to the OP. Different things work for different people and I'm not going to spend time here arguing about what I said. If you disagree that's totally fine with me. You're entitled to your opinion just as much as I am to mine. But there is no argumentativeness on my end and I honestly find arguing worthless.


Why do I find forthright discussion of differing views valuable? In large part because it brings forth valuable points and experiences like the commendable example of your own self-mastery in the matter of learning the above-referenced language when you found that your personal distaste was not at the service of your true good.


I think you could say I am "so-so" in this language.. I understand fairly well what people say, I can communicate, sometimes with some difficulty, sometimes easier, what I want to say, so I think im on my way haha


You're better than I am then! Russian is probably the language I know the least grammar of, among the ones I speak or am learning. I really respect those who put a lot of time into Russian. I simply don't have the time for it with the other things I do. I play classical violin, I'm an EMT student, I am an animal rescue volunteer, I study a lot on my own.


Italian and Russian have little in common, as they come from two entirely different language families. Which means that you'll have little to no problem confusing them. I highly recommend this channel for studying Russian. Their lessons are filled with easy to understand visual explanations. As for how I study multiple languages, I just do all of them each day.


Already subscribed to her channel haha Thanks for the tips


Find out what works for you. For example, some people are OK with learning one language in the morning and one language in the evening, but for others this is not enough space for their brains to 'switch' from one language to the other.

Other people do 2 days of Italian (in this case) followed by 2 days Russian (etc.), but check that you are still retaining the Italian - and vice versa.

It's useful to learn one to a comfortable level, and then start the other. But that's not essential. And if Russian isn't your favourite language, try to make it more fun by approaching the languages from all angles: films, music in the Russian language, reading your favourite books in the Russian language - whatever you fancy.

It's definitely possible either way, but it's just what works for you. Luckily they are not languages that you will get confused between, because they're very different. :-)

When you get more confident with them both, it would be a very good idea to try to do a Duolingo course of 'Russian for Italian speakers' or 'Italian for Russian speakers' to learn them both at the same time! Good luck.


reading your favourite books in the Russian language

This would be a tremendously large ask for a beginner, probably more likely to be discouraging than helpful. Side-by-side texts (or, frankly, popping some Russian text in Google Translate to use as a reference while working through the Russian) could be great things to help an upper-intermediate learner make his way to advanced, but from what I gather here, that level might be a ways in the future.


Very true. Definitely an idea for when he progresses, though.


Yes, definitely Ill do that in the future, I also love to read, and I saw that, when I was learning english, as I started to read books I like in the language, I definitely improved much more.. Great tip about the "russian for italian speakers", surely will do that.. Ill intercalate, 2 days of russian and 1 day of italian, while still reviewing both everyday (God help me doing that haha)


Sounds like a great plan :) Good luck!!


Don't try to balance the two out. When one is stuck in your head, the other will start coming along. I would suggest doing Russian twice as often as Italian, just to start off. Once you can get around in Russian, you can shift your focus a bit.


Yes, Im doing that from now on.. Studying 2 days of russian to one day of italian.. I think I would at least learn the basics of italian while improving the russian I know.. Thank you for the tip




  • 1) How long have you been studying Russian and living in the country?
  • 2) What is the level you have reached right now? Are you still a complete beginner?
  • 3) How much time do you want to put into those languages daily?

  • 4) Do you have high hopes that the DuoLingo tree will be able to didactically teach you Russian in the best way possible to focus on learning words for SPEAKING and using those in useful phrases (to actively produce the language)???

I would focus for the first ~8-12 months only on Russian (as I can compare learning a single completely new language with Portuguese from scratch).

Actually try to catch up with the review intervals you will see on Memrise as more and more words/phrases you learn and courses you have finished.
The more you learn, the more you will have to review daily / weekly. It is that simple!
Don't even try to compare the repetition intervals (SR) from DuoLingo with Memrise (including short-term 4-5/12/24h)!!
There are very powerful Memrise user scripts and Chrome extensions you can even use for making review forecasting and reviews (e.g "all typing" and RECALLING instead of tapping/multiple choice) more powerful.

Personally I would simply not learn both languages at the very same level (you are both level 6 on DuoLingo) with the same time investments.

I guess the previous suggestion to use Italian as a time / pause filler and take it more slowly, to mix it in when you are exhausted on your Russian pensum, is a nice idea (even only 7/10/15 daily new words will let you progress forward in the long run).
For Russian you would need an initial boost for multiple months if you have to start from scratch, don't you?
Try to learn as fast and much as you can in the beginning (I know, that is not that easy - I can clearly see that with my Portuguese).

But don't try to learn something and then put the language AWAY for several days.
That won't help IMHO to fight against your own forgetting curves!

I believe the best thing you can do is to learn a language daily and to focus on the review (words/phrases learned 4-5/12/24h ago) and also review grammar periodically.....additionally mixing in listening, reading and speaking - once you hit the upper-intermediate break through point.

If you do not only focus on DuoLingo (you better don't), but you try to do several resources in parallel (e.g Memrise, 50languages, Mondly, Language101), and even add speaking/reading lessons with teachers, you will eventually see how your (daily) time flys away....even if you only focus on the Russian language first!

Wish you all the best on your way.


I live in russia for 2years, but the thing is that I don't have much time to study it, bc I actually study medicine there, so its just too much to focus, and I ended up leaving russian in second place.. The russian I know its the day-to-day russian, which I learned as I listened the natives speaking, and I can understand fairly well what they say, and I can keep a basic conversation, but I know that I need to improve much more.. I guess Im gonna try to get a better level on russian, but intercalating with italian, just so I dont get that feeling that im stuck to something i dont really like.. Thank you so much for the tips :D


You will not find many russian people who know the Italian. Yes, It would be wise to study them both so you could comunicate with the people and still have a hobby language


Thanks, thats what im going to do


6 languages at the same time


I really wish I had the time to study more.. My goal is to know italian, russian, german, dutch and japanese..

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