https://www.duolingo.com/Lea.1717

Fellow language enthusiasts: Take a moment to *really* think about your *realistic* language goals.

  • 15
  • 11
  • 11
  • 9
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

I know it's easy to fantasize about being a hyperpolyglot, but don't let that dream cloud your judgement. From experience, I found that too much dispersed ambition can hinder your progress.

When I first came here, I wanted to learn Japanese and German and Chinese and French and Danish and Russian and Hungarian (oh, how I love hungarian...) and Greek (my precious...) and Norwegian and Esperanto and Arabic! etc... It turns out I spent a lot of precious time trying to juggle these languages, and ended up not using that time to focus more on one in specific. I could be B2 in German by now if I had spent my time more wisely.

It's better to take it one or two languages at the time. Choose that 1 (or 2) language you really want to learn more than the others and dedicate yourself to that language. Give it all you have and in some time you will feel absolutely comfortable in it, and it will give you great joy and freedom. Now you can express your fellings with all the nuanced shades of colors of that language. You can discover parts of you you didn't know were there. A whole new literary world you can not live without now that you've known it.

It's hard, but it's worth it.

Now that you feel comfortable, yourself, in that language, start learning another, and repeat the process.

This is just an advice from my personal opinion.

What languages do you absolutely want to learn to an advanced level in your life?

In my thoughtful bucket list there is German (now) and French (in the far future). Norwegian/Danish may happen, but I will no longer worry about it. What about you?

August 27, 2017

37 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Mr_Eyl
  • 13
  • 12
  • 8
  • 7
  • 5
  • 4

"I know it's easy to fantasize about being a hyperpolyglot"

I'd like to think that people eventually pass this stage. Outside of the occasional savant, the majority of the internet's self-named 'hyper-polyglots' are nothing more than walking phrasebook sections from your local bookstore. They couldn't survive in any of the countries whose languages they 'know' outside of very narrow conversations.

I wholeheartedly agree with your advice- nobody sane would say to themselves "I want to be an expert in physics, archaeology, cookery, carpentry, and piloting!" and then proceed to study them all simultaneously. Learning a single language to real fluency is just as complex as one of these.

Like you say, focus is key. Making real progress in one will enable a learner to study the other more effectively- maintenance is far easier than active study.

My bucket list? It's small at the moment. At some point in my many future holidays to Sweden, I'd love to be good enough that nobody I spoke to anywhere ever switched to English.

August 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Gunnar388832
  • 25
  • 24
  • 22
  • 20
  • 19
  • 16
  • 16
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 11
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 257

Being fluent in ten languages might be a more realistic goal :-b We always switch to English :-)

August 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Mr_Eyl
  • 13
  • 12
  • 8
  • 7
  • 5
  • 4

Next time I go, I think I'll put on my most convincing German accent, reply to everything with 'Jag förstår inte engelska' and then smile innocently. :)

August 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas86239

Genius! :D

August 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/DovahFerret
  • 15
  • 13
  • 13
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 2
  • 799

I'm fluent in 5 languages. Duolingo is honestly a diversion for me, as is language learning in general. My major in college was entirely unrelated to languages, and that's fine. I have my hobby - languages - and I have my career.

In regards to language learning, I say to each their own. For example, I have no trouble keeping Romance languages separate. Others might. And that's fine. Let people spend their time as they wish. =)

August 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/olyglotED
  • 17
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 14
  • 13
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 3

What about the synergy between languages? If you have a reason to learn them, then I don't see a problem. I believe that focusing on any more than 5-8 will cause a degree of confusion, though I still think people can become quick in basic structures and basic conversational phrases, even if they are studying at a hyperglot level. It's the ear that really flourishes. The more you train in listening to foreign languages, the better off your language learning ear will be. I learn languages in order to listen to football commentary in native languages and meet people but have no illusion that I'll ever be as fluent in German as I am in Spanish, for example

August 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Gunnar388832
  • 25
  • 24
  • 22
  • 20
  • 19
  • 16
  • 16
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 11
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 257

I very much agree that quite a few people seem to have rather unrealistic goals (combined with a belief that having finished a course at Duolingo means that you are fluent in that language). However, I do not agree (at least not wholeheartedly) with your comment about focus. The reason I use (and keep using) Duolingo is that it is more fun than any other way of learning that I have tried. I have over the years occasionally put some effort into learning German (that I studied for 6 years in school, but not much to show for it), French and Spanish. In general my efforts have lasted for half a year or less (with listening to German radio the only exception). The reason I have stayed with Duolingo is that it is more fun and quite addictive. At least to me joy is far more important than focus, one year of varied studies is better than one month of focused studies. On average I do about two Duolingo lessons in German and French each day. I am pretty sure that occasionally adding other languages is increasing, rather than decreasing that number. It makes it easier to keep the streaks alive when bored with German and French. Also I find it hard to manage more than a few lessons in the same language in a row, whilst it is easier to handle many lesson if they are in different languages.

August 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Matthew376161

I think that this is a great post. I have had similar issues before. I personally would like to learn 19 specific languages. I know that is not possible for me to do, so I plan on focusing on Russian and Spanish (one for school and one for fun) and then maybe once I'm older: Georgian, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, and Italian. Sadly, even this might not be possible for me, but in history, some people have known 40-60 languages, so I keep my hope. So maybe one day, I will be able to speak many, many languages, but if not, I'll always have a special few.

Also, if you're wondering what the 19 languages are (I doubt you are) they are: Russian, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, Hebrew, German, Ukrainian, Georgian, Greek, Finnish, Korean, French, Czech, Catalan, Hungarian, Turkish, Latin, and Vietnamese. Although, that's not realistic, but I love them all and have special reasons for each.

August 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/DragonPolyglot
  • 25
  • 20
  • 18
  • 15
  • 14
  • 13
  • 12
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 224

It's kind of hard for me since I get sidetracked a lot. Many languages have many things about it that I like and even though I try to limit myself, it's not that easy to choose for me since I have many passions.

I definitely want to be fluent in Spanish, Arabic, Swedish, Greek, Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, Greek, Welsh, Zulu, Czech, and Hungarian in the future. Spanish is the one I'm actually decent at currently. I might also add German, Turkish and Farsi to the list later. Most of the other languages I want to learn to a conversational level but I might change my mind of a few of them.

I wouldn't say it's impossible to do that. Many hyperpolyglots learn 20+ languages and get fluent in several. The record so far is a mastery in 75 languages (held by a fellow named Georg Sauerwein) and another person had a library having books in a total of 120 languages. So in theory I would like to think that if I practiced a lot, often and during my lifetime in the way I learn best, I can achieve a feat like that.

August 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/bookrabbit
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 22
  • 22
  • 21
  • 21
  • 20
  • 20
  • 20
  • 19
  • 18
  • 18
  • 18
  • 18
  • 17
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 14
  • 14
  • 13
  • 12
  • 9
  • 8
  • 6
  • 6
  • 4
  • 165

I am so glad not to be realistic. If I were realistic I wouldn't now be able to understand so many languages. I have actually exceeded my goals by miles and keep moving the goal posts outwards. I started off just wanting to be able to read in another language, now I can understand speech in at least an extra ten and I am looking at enrolling in classes to practice speaking too. Each one makes the others so much easier. I doubt that I would be much better in one if I had studied it in isolation. Why try to stop people aiming high? I suspect people are more likely to underestimate what they are capable of.

August 30, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/olyglotED
  • 17
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 14
  • 13
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 3

I'm in the same boat. Aiming high isn't easy when everyone tells you what you SHOULD and SHOULDN'T do.

August 30, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Lea.1717
  • 15
  • 11
  • 11
  • 9
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

If that works for you, great. Just remember that not everyone has as much time to dedicate to languages, and for the most busy people, spending the few time you have studying 10 languages is not so productive. You have to set your goals considering the time you have.

September 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Original_Crazy

My bucket list would consist of Italian (in progress), Latin (in progress, not on Duolingo), French, Spanish, Ukranian, Norwegian, and Welsh. I want to learn Italian because I went there once and plan on going again; it is a beautiful country with an interesting culture and beautiful language. Latin is nice because a lot of English words have Latin roots, and some ancient things are written in Latin. I want to learn Spanish and French simply because they are widely spoken, and then I could communicate with more people. Ukranian intrigues me because it is very different from Italian, Latin, French, and Spanish and I know someone from Ukraine who wants me to learn it. I just want to learn Norwegian and Welsh because I have ancestors from Norway and Wales and they are not very common languages. But for now, I need to just stick to Italian and Latin. I tried also doing French, but that was too hard.

August 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/UrBoiChipsAhoi

I'm currently learning German. When I first joined Duolingo I was planning on strengthening my Portuguese (which I was conversational-ish in already), learning French, and learning German. I got seriously overwhelmed and eventually quit strengthening my Portuguese and quit trying to learn French. I'm still currently focused on learning German, as I dream of living in Berlin someday. My bucket list includes Dutch, Russian, Turkish, Czech, Basque, and Frisian (although I'm sure I'll never get to all of these). I've fallen out of love with French.

August 27, 2017

[deactivated user]

    I believe the majority of us don't want to think about it but you're absolutely right!

    Three years ago I decided to take Czech at my University. I needed something different in my life and Czech presented an amazing oportunity since I adore Prague and have always been interested in Slavic languages. Little did I know that I would start discovering dozens of beautiful languages and soon defining impossible goals for me at that time and state of mind.

    Three years later I can say that I didn't put my heart and soul in studying Czech and because of that I can only have a basic conversation in the language. This is not entirely due to playing around with other languages and never deciding on one but of corse it did hurt my process.

    For the present and also for the near future: I'm currently fluent in Portuguese (my mother language), English and Spanish. I have some knowledge in both French and Czech and can hold simple conversations in both though my French is stronger. I'm doing Spanish on Duolingo since I never finished the tree and I'm doing Swedish on Memrise, 15 new words a day. When the semester starts I intend to repeat Czech (since there are only 6 levels and I've atendded all already). I'm also extremely hyped for the Czech course on Duolingo. Persian is also taught at my University and I'm thinking about taking the first level. Finally, Japanese is probably my ultimate language goal and I have a few amazing books for when I decide it is the right time. I want to be absolutely sure I'll take it to the end when I start.

    August 28, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/Karlsenski
    • 22
    • 17
    • 11
    • 10
    • 9
    • 9
    • 8
    • 6
    • 6
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 4
    • 228

    What I'm doing, German, French, and Spanish (I'm considering dropping it though to focus more on French)

    My language bucket list, mostly in order: Russian (Conceivable once I become conversational in French) , Yiddish (Once I get C1 or C2 in German), Dutch, Swedish, American Sign Language, and Japanese.

    August 27, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/-Avian
    • 15
    • 6
    • 3

    I'd love to learn a ton of languages, but I'm sticking to Spanish for now, since I only have so much time -eyeroll- and I need to learn it fast, for I've been traveling to a Spanish speaking country and I myself speak very little.

    August 27, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas_Wesley
    • 25
    • 15
    • 14
    • 13
    • 12
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 7
    • 7
    • 2
    • 143

    I've been working on four languages (French, Ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Japanese) for several years. I would likely be a lot farther in any one of them if I had only focused on that one.

    However, one advantage of juggling different languages is that I can switch to keep things interesting. I think this is fine so long as you don't get too crazy and add a new language every time you're bored!

    August 27, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

    That is crazy language goals, I would turn insane if I was forced with all that. I want to reach a good level of French. After that, see what happens... whatever languages I will be surrounded by, whatever will be useful... if none, then perhaps no more languages... time will tell that one.

    August 27, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/BLRT2000
    • 25
    • 18
    • 8
    • 5

    I think that in the enthusiasm of wanting to know a whole other language, people get overconfident and acquire unrealistic expectations. However, that huge sudden surge of motivation is 99% sure to fizzle out and die. Most people who have 20 flags next to their name aren't really serious about most of them. Also many people do it just for fun and not to achieve any real-life degree of fluency. However, I do completely agree with you when it comes to taking a language seriously. But I think more serious learners have a solid reason 'why' they're studying x language.

    August 28, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/RudolfJan

    I only want to learn Swahili, which takes a lot of time. I hope within one year I have some basic understanding of the language.

    August 29, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/rachael.cr3
    • 24
    • 15
    • 15
    • 14
    • 14
    • 14
    • 13
    • 13
    • 11
    • 11
    • 10
    • 9
    • 9
    • 8
    • 8
    • 7
    • 7
    • 7
    • 7
    • 5
    • 5
    • 4
    • 4
    • 4
    • 4
    • 4
    • 4
    • 3
    • 3
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2

    To be honest, I usually study the language to learn about the language...most of the languages I'm learning aren't really because I expect to ever use them, but instead to gain a basic understanding of how they sound and feel and maybe some keywords. I would never claim to be fluent or to know the language. The only one I want to learn so I can use it is Swedish, and tbh most of that learning is done offline by now.

    August 30, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/hanspersson
    • 25
    • 25
    • 14
    • 12
    • 9
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
    • 657

    A very good choice of language, obviously. :D

    August 30, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/Lea.1717
    • 15
    • 11
    • 11
    • 9
    • 6
    • 6
    • 6
    • 6
    • 6
    • 6
    • 6
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2

    yeah, I know... :-/

    September 3, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/OmegaGmaster
    • 13
    • 13
    • 11
    • 11
    • 11
    • 11
    • 11
    • 11
    • 11
    • 11
    • 10
    • 10
    • 9
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 7
    • 6
    • 6
    • 5
    • 2

    In my bucket list is Kazakh, Kabardian, possibly Chuvash and Ossetic, and also my heritage language Quechua.

    August 27, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/Woof.
    • 15
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 6
    • 5
    • 5
    • 4
    • 4
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2

    What I do: Spanish.

    Bucket list: Guarani, French, Portuguese, Vietnamese?, Italian?, German? Swedish?

    August 27, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/Captain_Duo
    • 11
    • 11
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 5
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2

    im really only working on my French and German (mainly German). Bucket list: Italian, Japanese, and Polish or Russian

    August 27, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/2LearnAndLive

    I want to learn Spanish, Japanese, and German. I started with learning Spanish, and then started a little Japanese when the course came out on the phones.

    But I realized Japanese was taking a lot of my time away from Spanish. So now I'm putting my full focus on Spanish until I feel that I am conversational in Spanish. Then I will switch focus.

    Buena Suerte, Good luck with your languages! =P

    August 27, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/ppelk
    Plus
    • 25
    • 22
    • 20
    • 13
    • 1632

    I agree, and personally I try to stick to languages of countries that I have either lived in or visit frequently. On top of the ones I'm working on, German and Spanish would probably be the most useful ones, but I'm all for small languages as well. If Estonian were in Duolingo, I'd probably take it up, since it's close to my native Finnish..

    August 27, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/rhondabook3
    • 14
    • 13
    • 13
    • 11
    • 9
    • 4

    i don't know it all seemed so good starting out...but in my case i'll have to try a lot harder doing other personal things first before i continue... kinda hard not to be like that considering the Bull---- you have to go through as some one from here... pipe dream maybe when i think back and nothing seems to be going right? there are NORMAL jobs out there that I don't seem to be good enough for.. maybe I'm just not allowed to have an identity crisis... wonder what's left after thesauruses and dictionaries .... the meaning of life has to be somewhere.......

    August 27, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/sustained
    • 25
    • 19
    • 8
    • 7
    • 4
    • 4
    • 2
    • 2

    Right but what if you don't know what language you want to learn next? In that case, experimenting with a bunch of languages on Duolingo for a little while is a great way to try to figure that out IMO.

    August 27, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/Lea.1717
    • 15
    • 11
    • 11
    • 9
    • 6
    • 6
    • 6
    • 6
    • 6
    • 6
    • 6
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2

    Yep. But be careful to not get caught in that.

    August 27, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/sustained
    • 25
    • 19
    • 8
    • 7
    • 4
    • 4
    • 2
    • 2

    I'm trying...

    August 28, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

    Many threads on Duolingo ask that exact question. I always refer them to the random generator site: http://www.classtools.net/education-games-php/fruit_machine

    August 27, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/sustained
    • 25
    • 19
    • 8
    • 7
    • 4
    • 4
    • 2
    • 2

    I'd rather not put version two of the hardest thing I've ever done in my life (learn a language) in the hands of a pseudo-random number generator, thank you!

    August 28, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

    Haha. :D

    I agree learning a language is a huge challenge. Those who ask the community what language to learn next I do not understand, how can we choose for them. If you are really unsure, I am serious that I think such sites are not a bad idea. There's always the chance that your result will be that language that you realize you didn't want, thus the random generator helps you to consciously know what you did want. However, your way works for you too, which is great.

    August 28, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/hanspersson
    • 25
    • 25
    • 14
    • 12
    • 9
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
    • 657

    I agree with this. When I started here (or restarted, really, since I made a false start a few years ago) I started studying German (which I at the time could read badly but not much more), French (which I took a year of, a quarter century ago), Japanese (which I took a year of only 5-10 years ago), Welsh (which I had no previous knowledge of), Swedish (since it's my native language and I wanted to see how the course looked) and as soon as it was released, High Valyrian (which I also had no previous knowledge of).

    Most days I would try to do at least 20 XP per language (plus making gold any previous lessons that had deteriorated).

    This turned out to be messy after a while. I have now decided to focus my efforts on finishing the German tree, both since I've gotten the furthest in that and since it's the language I know best (apart from English and Swedish). Once I (almost) stopped doing the other courses, I've increased the amount of German I do proportionally to make progress there and expect to finish the German tree before I reach 100 days here. I can notice a clear improvement in my German after starting to do only that. Not that it didn't get better before, but it's much faster now. I'm currently able to read regular novels in German for pleasure and once at that level it feels as if I will pick up more from that than from a course, actually. I'll definitely finish the tree here and try to keep it golden for a while as repetition, and we'll see where it goes after that.

    Once I'm done with the German tree (and possible the reverse tree?) I'll probably try to do French or Japanese more in a more focused way. Or perhaps High Valyrian first for the hell of it, since it's a very small tree?

    August 27, 2017
    Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.