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Using multiple base (primary) languages

Just wanted to see how many others are using multiple base languages, and if they have found this helpful?

After using English as the base (primary) language for a few years, I have now started using Spanish as a base language and found it to be very useful. I have Spanish paired with Portuguese, French and Italian.

Technical Issues: It is a bit more work to navigate from one base language to another. I think it's a bit easier doing so on the mobile app than the desktop.

It took me a while to discover how to switch base languages: 1) In the mobile app, you have to select "Add a Course" then scroll to the new base language and select the 2nd language from there; 2) From the desktop, you have to left click on your profile pic at top, drag down to "Add a new course", change the base language at top right "I speak ?", click on the course you want to start. Once you add the new course, it will appear on your profile drop-down list and you can skip the above steps when switching.

One of the drawbacks, I found is keeping track of levels and points in the secondary/tertiary base language can be tricky since your Duolingo profile only seems to list the XP for your first base language (English). If you switch to another base language, the desktop version will still show the XP for your first base language. I haven't found a way to change this, however I did find a workaround on the mobile app.

Overall, I've found switching the base (primary) language to be very beneficial. I'm convinced it improves fluency since you are not relying on one particular language to learn a 2nd language. For example, if I'm learning French from English, and then I switch to French from Spanish .. I'm not relying on English to learn French. This can only enhance your comprehension of French since one language (English or Spanish) is not the exclusive gateway to the other.

I'd be interested if anyone else has been doing this.

April 4, 2018

1 Comment


Hello :-) In Duolingo lingo, this is called "laddering". I do this, too: I learn Spanish from French and Italian from French.

This helps me write more in French, at the same time increasing my skills in Spanish and Italian. And it is a great help to overcome my interferences between French, Spanish and Italian (whenever I try to think a sentence in one of the languages, vocabulary from the other languages sneaks in ...): I just have to think in these languages, and keep them separated while training them. This is really cool. :-)

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