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Learning two similar languages at the same time?

I remember back in 2013 when I discovered the amazing world of languages through Disney songs and movies (can't get enough of those). After four years of memorizing foreign lyrics, I found out about Duolingo and finally started learning Swedish a few months ago, since it was the language that captivated me the most.

The thing is, I absolutely adore Norwegian and Danish too, and want to get myself introduced to Danish because god bless that beautiful pronunciation :')

So, should I do it? Should I learn two Nordic languages at the same time? I don't know if I'll have the advantage of them being grammatically similar, or if that'll turn out to be a bad thing and make me confused between the two.

I'm sorry in advance if I chose the wrong topic.

September 14, 2017



You risk mixing them up in both directions when you do that. I would also recommend you focus on Swedish for now and learn it to a somewhat advanced level before starting another Scandinavian language. You will then still mix Swedish into Danish/Norwegian, but at least you are then unlikely to mix the other one into Swedish. You will still profit from the grammatical and lexical similarities.


I get where you're coming from. I'm now thinking of expanding my Swedish knowledge further and then add Danish to my "schedule", just like you said. Thank you for replying! :)


I am learning 3 at once but they arent that similar (German, Spanish, Greek). I havent done much of the latter two recently because I want to complete the German tree so i only have 2 to do. It is difficult to learn 3 at once.


Just a piece of advice, if you want to get somewhat fluent in German or any other language, I'd recommend you don't stop studying it even after reaching the end of the Duolingo tree. I finished the Swedish one a month ago and there's still so much left for me to learn and also, to revise. There are many websites out there with different ways of teaching you a language. You should try checking out Memrise, it's a really good website and it's specially useful if you've already finished a course here. Good luck :)


Go for it! The different languages will for sure compliment each other.


Thank you so much for your help! :)


Hi Xcatts!

I have found that is not about the "alikeness" grade in two or more languages where dwells the initial difficult, rather is in the simultaneous starting of such languages. At the begin, I trended to fall in a confused crossover between Turkish and Welsh vocabularies (initiated at the same time), but never between Welsh and Irish (Irish initiated weeks ago before Welsh). But as I went forward, such obstacles have gone diminished.

So go ahead! Attack those viking languages with no mercy!

Best regards!


Thank you so much for telling me that, good luck with your languages!! :)


It would be difficult, I prefer studying one from a language family at a time, but if you really love north germanic languages I would say go for it


You're right, it would take a huge amount of time and dedication to learn two languages at the same time, I'll probably stick to Swedish for now and maybe learn a few Danish basics.. Thanks for replying :)


It's best if you learn one language at a time, especially if the two languages are similar. The only way I would recommend learning multiple languages at the same time, is if you only want to have a basic knowledge of each. Such as introducing yourself and having a small chitchat. If you want to become fluent, it's best to stick to one language for now, then once you've reached your own fluency goal then learn the next language.


Thank you for your reply! And yes, I agree with you. Though I probably won't resist to learn a few words in Danish, just some basics :)


I guess I am - Spanish at home by myself and French with Duolingo and at school (I have to do it with school)


Same here! I'm from Portugal so I'm studying both Portuguese and English at school, and before high school I was also taking Spanish :)


Great :) Just out of interest how much Spanish can you understand if you were to: A) Hear a Spanish person speaking or to B) Read a Spanish paragraph? (I'm interested in knowing if Portuguese people can understand a fair amount of Spanish naturally) Also good luck with your languages! :D


I can actually understand pretty much almost everything Spanish people say, except for some different words and expressions of course. And the interesting thing is, I can read it and understand it, but writing a full correct sentence is a completely different thing ahah :) Personally, I think Portuguese is a more complex language when it comes to grammar and especially, pronunciation. I don't know if this is completely true, but Spanish people have a harder time understanding Portuguese mainly because of how fast we speak, and how hard to pronounce our syllables are to foreign people :) Thank you and good luck with yours too!!


I personally never try and start seriously studying (as opposed to messing around with, which I do all the time!) a new language until I have a firm grasp of the previous one. Otherwise I mix up languages even when they're not closely related. Well, in fairness I do that anyway, just less - I slip Russian words into Hebrew and vice versa (and occasionally one or the other into English...) all. the. time. even though I am officially kinda sorta (rustily) fluent in Russian.

I don't think it's impossible to learn two similar languages at the same time, I do think it risks making life unnecessarily hard for yourself.

It does make a difference, in my experience, if you can learn one of those languages via the one you are stronger in. If, for example. your Swedish is good enough and you can find people/resources to learn Danish via Swedish, then that can really help to differentiate them.

I think whether you can do it or not is maybe something you will only find out through experience. It's up to you if you think that potentially confusing Norwegian and/or Danish with Swedish is worth the risk to find out if learning two simultaneously will work for you.

(I can't speak to the Scandinavian languages specifically, I don't know even one of them well enough to have this issue; I know they're pretty close and that there's mutual intelligibility between them. I don't know how that compares with my experience which is mostly in Slavic languages, a little in Romance and a tiny, tiny bit Germanic languages.)


Thank you so much for such a long answer! And yes, I also think it's better to try to get on a more advanced level in one language, and just then start studying another one. Also, maybe learning more than one language at the same time could make the whole process a lot slower, since I'd have to dedicate a less amount of time to each language, and currently I don't have that much free time available in my life :') Good luck with your languages x



I think there's a strong probability it might make things slower, especially if you're a bit strapped for time. A lot of polyglots approach things this way (learn one well, move onto the next) because it seems to work. Once one language is strong, it can really help with related languages (I find this with Slavic languages), but if you're still a beginner.... that is tough.

Good luck to you too!


It will definitely make things slower since I'm still in high school and have to study for various subjects. That's what I'm planning to do now, once I feel comfortable enough in Swedish, I'll get started with Danish. And yes, I am still a beginner ahah thank you so much once again x


In that case, you have masses of time, trust me. I didn't start Hebrew until I was 37 ;)


Yes, I am looking for a language similar to French.

Do you know any language?


Romanian, Spanish and Catalan are quite similar to French


Thanks ! I'll check Romanian.


The mosts similar are the other romance languages. Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian can be learned on Duolingo. I believe you can also learn Catalan from Spanish but not from English.


Thanks for your informations! , I will think about it after I learn French.


Yes. You should.

You could teach it to other people. Also gives you more of an opportunity to help foreign people with other languages.


I've actually thought of that before too! It would definitely give me some advantages, even if I didn't know much about a certain language. Thank you! :)


A scandinavian guy at work says that the scandi languages are sufficiently similar, that someone speaking Swedish to a Dane can be understood, and vice versa.

I asked Lars because, when The Bridge (Danish crime drama) was on TV, the Danish detective and the Swedish detective were constantly conferring about the case, but there was no hint of a language barrier.


Well, I knew Swedish and Norwegian were quite similar and people from both countries wouldn't have much of a big problem understanding each other. But Danish and Swedish? I find them to be a bit different, especially in pronunciation. Thank you for telling me that :)

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