1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. What to learn alongside Germa…


What to learn alongside German?

I'm just beginning to learn German and I love it. However, I find myself wanting to learn another language with it.

My ideas are Dutch, Norwegian, or Spanish.

I fear Dutch and Norwegian would be too similar and cause too much confusion. I also have a friend from The Netherlands (who knows some German) that I could talk with.

As for Spanish, I had it in high school - didn't like it, couldn't understand it, couldn't speak it. But it would be beneficial to learn simply because of where I live.

So. What do you think is better? To learn a language similar or different to your target language?

February 3, 2018



Generally, it's considered confusing to learn two related languages on the early stages of studying the first, when on the contrary it makes it easier to learn a language related to one you're proficient in.

You're not a generality, though, you're a human with personal aspirations, and I bet you'll always be better at something you can put your heart into, than something you take on reluctantly, for practical reasons only. We're not "all rational" beings, you see.

The bright side, about Spanish, is the Duolingo method could very well "unlock" the language (it did for my German) and actually make you enjoy it. All the more so when you say it would be beneficial for you to understand it. I assume it's widely spoken around your area, so you could easily make friends with whom make to tedious exercice a real life pleasure and opportunity.

No univocal answer, I'm affraid, but you're the one to really decide what's good for you, as you're the one to make the efforts and suffer (I wish you the least amount of suffering ;p) throught it.

Last attempt to help you decide : try either the first lessons of all your desired languages on Duolingo; or a few videos, podcasts, articles, songs, poems, whatever you like, in each one, to see if anything clicks.

Good luck!


Thank you! I think more research is definitely necessary. So I will try the first lessons of each and watch a few things to make up my mind! It is good to know that learning another language will actually be helpful.


Helpful, and so enjoyable! I promise, the first time you say something to a native in your new language, and he answers you, meaning he understands and you understand him back, is one of the best feelings :)


A few comments:

  1. Personally, and with respect for other points of view, I tend to think that any “confusion” that may result from studying two closely-related langauges at the same time is more than compensated by the the benefits that come through mutual reinforcement, particularly through vocabulary but also through basic syntax and grammar. So you may mix up some noun or verb endings at times — so what? The points on which you will get “confused” will likely not impede your ability to understand or make yourself understood, which is the most important thing.

  2. Don’t study languages that you don’t like. 99% of language learning is perseverence and motivation, and you won’t have that if you don’t like the language, no matter how useful it may be.

  3. The Duolingo Norwegian course is often cited as the most thorough and well-designed course in Duolingo. It may be a good complement for German or springboard for the other Scandanavian languages.


Thank you! This was so helpful especially about the Duolingo Norwegian. I didn't know that!


I generally would encourage anyone to learn more than one language from one language (sub) family, but it's also true that in the early stages, it may cause confusion. I can't really judge your German level, but in any case I'd say that Dutch is too similar and confusing for now. Norwegian, on the other hand, is a Germanic sister, but still quite distinct and might be an interesting addition to your progress in German.

As far Spanish, well: I think it's a major and important language, but I also think you should learn a language because you're passionate about it. You will need that passion to fuel your motivation to continue with any language, as there will be days when you simply will not feel like doing DuoLingo. If you resented Spanish in high school, this might be an obstacle on these kind of days. On the other hand, though, you might have disliked the method in high school rather than Spanish itself, and DL may give you new interests in it.

So in short, I'd advise you to try out both Norwegian and Spanish - and why not try out Dutch too, for that matter - and after completing a few skills, take a moment to asses which one you like best and you'd want to continue with alongside your German progress. In any case, I think it's wise of you to confine yourself to only one additional language, for the time being at least.


Yes, I had a bad teacher. She skipped over major basics and was just mean in general. Good point on Dutch. I was more worried about that one than Norwegian. Perhaps a 3rd language to learn after I'm more skilled. We'll see. Thanks!


I had the same (even if he was a "he") in second year German, with a missed rendez-vous with the tongue as a long-term result. I'm so happy there is Duolingo now, to make up for lost time. I'm so loving German, today :)


Studying German is great! My recommended languages to learn along side it would probably be Italian, Swedish, or possibly Greek if you're up for it. Good luck!

  • 1614

Emilee, If you are a native English speaker, French, by far, is the closest language as far as vocabulary and etiologies of words. But the language is different enough from German that I do not think it would be confusing to you. So I think French would be a good choice if you would like to learn French. I have no desire to learn French; but if I did I would pick that as my second foreign language because the difficulty quotient is low.

Yes, Spanish would be helpful (for Americans in particular), but I too don't feel a desire to learn it at this time. I feel it is useless to try and learn a language that doesn't interest you. So, if you have a real desire to learn any particular language besides German I would go with that.

Greek would be interesting to me if I could study ancient Greek because I'd love to be able to read the Bible in the original. Even the Old Testament was translated into ancient Greek from ancient Hebrew. The first known translation of the Bible into Greek is called the Septuagint (LXX; 3rd–1st centuries BC). The LXX was written in Koine Greek.


French is a good idea. I can't say I'm overly passionate about it either but something to think about. You should try out Greek even if only to learn a few passages

  • 1614

Viel Glück. I don't think I could easily master the foreign characters in Greek, at least French has the same alphabet, I think.


The alphabet isn't really that hard to memorize if you do it using the English alphabet order.


I agree. The course would need to be in Koine Greek which is that of the New Testament and the Septuagint. There are three periods of Greek: ancient, Koine and Modern. I suspect Duolingo only offers Modern but I'm not sure. I have a couple of recommendations of books to use to study NT Greek. I started studying it at my friendly, neighborhood Lutheran seminary. You might have a seminary nearby. I audited but it was inexpensive then, not now.

  • 1614

Esther - Thanks for the info, I really appreciate you taking the time.

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.