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Time and Multiple Languages -- What do you think?

Hello there. I'd like to gather the community's opinion on something. You see, I have a goal: to learn 4 languages. However, I know that in order for each to receive individual care--quality care--I'm going to have to learn each one by one. And that's okay. Anyway, I wanted to know what you guys think about intensely studying one language for an entire year, only moving on to the next after that year. By then, I should have a working, competent knowledge of the language.

For the curious, the languages I'm pursing are (in this order, year by year): Hebrew, Japanese, Icelandic, and Modern Standard Arabic.

December 20, 2017



Nah, for most people one year isn't going to be enough to gain a working, competent knowledge. Certainly not with such different and very much non-trivial languages as those. (It would be different if you picked Esperanto, aleady spoke German and picked Dutch, etc.).

The bigger problem with this approach is that you are going to need to consolidate what you've crammed into that one year by practicing it later, otherwise you'll lose most of it pretty quickly. So the last year you'll be trying to learn a new language from scratch while also trying to hold on to three languages that are trying to escape from your brain.

'm certainly not saying you should start with all four at once. But I'm definitely recommending eventually doing all four every day or week, after you've started them sequentially. And maybe being more realistic about your time frame. You might also need tp decide which one(s) to prioritize during times when juggling all four feels too much.

(I'm doing 3--4 languages every day, and have previously learned 3 other foreign languages up to fluency.)


I'd definitely agree with what you're saying about 1 year being insufficient to get fluent in a language (unless you're studying it full time at uni/living there)

Remember that the average person lives to like 80, so you've probably got more than four years left in your life to spend learning languages


I agree with annika_a; you are unlikely to be able to maintain your level of knowledge in any new language if you stop studying/using it for gaps of a year or more. I'd pick one to start with, master the basics (something around A2) and then keep doing it whilst you start the next one. You might consider concentrating on different languages on different days of the week. Arabic and Hebrew have considerable similarities, so I'd get one to a somewhat higher level before starting the other. You're not going to confuse either with Icelandic or Japanese, however, so the dissimilarity of your choices is a boon for concurrent learning.


If you want to truly learn a language and be able to use it years later, focus on one at a time until you can carry on a conversation. They say after you become fluent in a second language others after that are learned faster.

Those are some totally different languages on your list, will be a challenge.


Honestly only a languages oriented person can achieve decent level of control in a year- and even then, you'll have to keep practicing it ("use it or lose it"). It's really subjective... I'm not pressing myself with Welsh (I hate memorizing things like grammar rules but I remember quite a bit of vocabulary by now) but listening to the radio I can NOT pick up most of the words spoken - big part of it is rhythm/speed but also fluency. Remember, Duolingo can't give you 100% fluency only building blocks.


I'm learning several languages at the same time and this doesn't seem to be a problem. Languages you are going to learn belong to different language families, so if you have time you can study them simultaneously. Provided you have enough time....


I would suggest learning a language to the point where you can use it, and only then stop studying it. After that, you can keep using it to retain your skills.

My English is at the point where I use it regularly for work and fun, so it is fine. I have lost much of my Swedish and French due to disuse, because they were not at the level where I could reliably and comfortably use them and thus keep them up.

(You can study several unrelated languages at once, if you have the time to commit to that. It works for some people.)


I think your plan is good, if what you mean by "moving on" is developing a good working knowledge of Hebrew before moving on to Icelandic, and then continuing to work hard on Hebrew even while working on other lnguages. I studied Russian 6 hours per day for nearly a year while in the military. But then never used it, and had the chance to do the same with Korean a year later. After 2 years away from Russian I could barely form a sentence, much less carry on a conversation. Unless you are particularly gifted, the saying appears true that "If you don't use it, you lose it."

I also tried studying Spanish while attending a Korean College (I had studied Spanish 4 years in High School), and found that even though the languages are vastly different, I ended up scrambling them on occasion, and the same happens even now, as I am trying to revive my Spanish.

Your goal is very ambitious. As others have said, it will take some serious time and effort to gain real proficiency in a year, though I expect you would certainly be able to "get by". My guess is that after studying Hebrew fof a year, it may become more important to you and produce more satisfaction to improve your Hebrew fluency rather than gaining only a basic ability in 4 languages, with lots of what you learn disappearing from your memory.


You could try laddering, although not on Duolingo for these languages.

That is, Hebrew for English speakers (including the Duolingo course), then Japanese for Hebrew speakers (using other resources while Duolingo has no course for this), then Icelandic for Japanese speakers, then Arabic for Icelandic speakers. :)

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