https://www.duolingo.com/JasmineNoel95

Learning One Language...

I see so many people learning loads of different languages at once. Am I the only one who couldn't possibly even think to do this? I definitely get the appeal, and honestly I truly envy anyone who is able to do this while actually retaining information, but for me things would get too muddled in my brain, and to fully learn one language - listening/comprehending, reading, speaking, grammar, etc. takes SO much effort and time.

So I guess at the end of this I have a few questions for those of you who learn multiple languages at once...

  1. Are you actually dedicating yourself to all of these languages, or do you have a main one (or two) but dabble with a couple of others for fun?
  2. Do you think if you focused on just one language you would advance quicker?
8 months ago

23 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/El_Gusano
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 15
  • 9
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 3
  • 1105

Hi Jasmine!

Let me answer your questions based on where I'm at in this process.

  1. Yes and no. In the beginning I sampled a variety of languages to get a taste of them, see which ones I liked. So I got to level 5 in several languages. Once I figured out a batting order I pretty much focus on them one at a time here in Duolingo. First I did Spanish and finished the tree. Then I finished the French tree. Then I got both of those to level 25 while outside of Duolingo I started attending language groups. Then I focused on Italian and finished that tree. I added Italian to my list of local groups I attend and started going to Italian groups. Now I'm focused on German here on Duolingo while attending language groups in the 3 languages I've completed so far. Occasionally I dabble with Romanian because I find it interesting.

  2. Would I advance quicker on only one language? This depends. Let's say you're performing some yardwork. You mow a lawn and of course, you're going to have grass all over the sidewalks, driveways, street, etc. So you do a quick sweeping to get let's say 80% of the grass swept up. It's pretty easy, it's pretty fast. Now if you wanted to get every bit of grass off the sidewalks, driveways, street, etc, it would take probably about 4 times longer with considerably more effort while making only the most minor difference in appearance to your customer. Languages are not very different and it depends as well on your goals. My language goals with any given language is to study to the 80% of spoken vocabulary. That's around 3,000 words in most languages and coupled with some grammar, that's fairly easy to attain. If I spent four times the amount of time studying ONE language, it would make a much smaller difference than learning four more languages to the 80% mark. So focusing on one language is fine... to a point. And if your point is conversational speaking, then continuing to study would actually slow noticeable advancements.

This doesn't even take into account the factor of enjoyment which is equally important. I find enjoyment in the challenges of more than one language and I've already attained fluency in Spanish so I know I can accomplish this again. But trying new languages and making large advances keeps me happy and keeps me going which overall is better than getting bored on only one extra language and getting burned out on it. So more languages keep me in the game which is the overall point.

For me, at least.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Izim_M
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 20
  • 1373

Even though I'm taking a few courses on Duolingo, I also prefer to focus on one language at a time. I never start a new course here until I reach level 25 in the previous one, which seems like a good goal that represents a decent foundation in the language. After that I only occasionally review it on Duolingo, but I still try to practice it with other resources. Once I reach level 25 in a language, I also usually review all of my courses before starting a new one.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/poche112
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 13
  • 6
  • 1493

THat is exactly what I do. Get to level 25 and beyond before starting a new one. I reached level 25 on my latest tree last week and I will spend a few weeks brushing up on my older trees before starting on French.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WitlessBittern
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 16
  • 14
  • 14
  • 14
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 511

I actively wish I had this kind of patience. It keeps things looking so neat and tidy...

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AWeintraub

I kind of felt the same way after seeing so many people learning SO many languages. Honestly, I think learning multiple languages can help you learn each one even better, like just stretching your brain out. But at the same time, and like I've seen echoed by multiple people on this thread, it is usually best to get to a certain proficiency in one or two before moving on to studying many more.

I'm still at a pretty low level, so I wouldn't think about seriously studying a second language for a little while. Although, Swahili is a fun break when I get burnt out on Spanish! (and it's not at all similar so I don't feel like I would get confused or mix them up)

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WitlessBittern
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 16
  • 14
  • 14
  • 14
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 511

This is a very wise approach. 1-2 languages with little overlap, focusing on 1 of them.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kelsie_Green
  • 25
  • 25
  • 18
  • 12
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 2
  • 2
  • 263

I know I only have a few languages I'm working on here (I have more I started on Rosetta stone or IRL classes that I haven't started on Duolingo), but I'll answer anyway as someone who plans to pick up the rest on here eventually.

  1. I was dedicated to one language (I wanted to learn German in high school and college, so I took it for 4 years and started Duolingo in between), but then I switched to dedicate myself to a different one (I started dating a fully bilingual Mexican-American so I started Spanish lessons and Duolingo). Because I've always been interested in learning languages and decently good at it, I still dabble in a few others for fun. For example, I watch a decent amount of anime and my middle-school friends were obsessed with Japanese, so I've picked up some Japanese throughout the years and want to learn more for fun. I tend to focus mostly on one at a time with occasional refreshers of the others, and then do a handful of lessons in my "fun" languages here and there when I'm in the mood.

  2. Maybe, but not by a lot. At this point my brain is decently good at separating the languages and grammar rules so I don't get confused. Learning one foreign language really opens up your mind to learning others. Once you learn how to think in a different system, it's easier to adapt to more different systems, in my experience. I do mix up a few words (and especially word genders) sometimes though, and it's still hard for me to switch back and forth - I feel like I need a little warm up between every switch to get my brain in the right "mode."

Cheers!

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WitlessBittern
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 16
  • 14
  • 14
  • 14
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 511

You'll definitely advance quicker if you're just learning one language. Many of the people you see with many languages are either focusing on 1-2 at a time, or just dabbling around for entertainment.

I try to work in one language that's similar to my native English, and one that's different. The two processes seem to occupy different places in my brain. When learning Spanish I'm constantly comparing and contrasting it to English, hunting for root words, common concepts, etc, but with Chinese it's been more of a memorization game so far.

Trying to learn, say, Spanish and Portuguese at the same time? You'd have to be an extraordinary individual to keep everything straight. Same story with 3+ languages of any type.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/merkavar

My guess is people who have been around a while have played around in multiple language.

The do requirement for low levels is pretty low, so getting 2-6 levels wouldn’t take much.

But then there are people with multiple level 20+ languages. I don’t know if they learned them at the same time or just one after the other.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DragonPolyglot
  • 25
  • 19
  • 17
  • 15
  • 14
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 5
  • 3
  • 3
  • 191

If the person in question has been on Duolingo for up to 5 years, it's possible they could learn a few languages well in that time span, especially if they are closely related.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/El_Gusano
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 15
  • 9
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 3
  • 1105

Hey! Were you peaking at my profile?? You dirty bird you! Haha!

Love your languages bro! Let's represent!

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DragonPolyglot
  • 25
  • 19
  • 17
  • 15
  • 14
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 5
  • 3
  • 3
  • 191

¡¿Qué?! ¿Tu perfil realmente tiene 5 años? Ah, no me sopreza, tienes tres árboles en el nivel vienticino. En cinco años es muy posible.

Also thanks!

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/spiceyokooko
  • 25
  • 23
  • 7
  • 329

I've been here longer than 5 years, I joined in January 2013 and still struggling along with Spanish!

In fairness I did take a long break from duolingo but I always intended on coming back.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Leslie_Duo

Wow, I don't think I've ever seen anyone w/ as many languages being learned as you! ¡Felicidades!

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/El_Gusano
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 15
  • 9
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 3
  • 1105

One after the other. Although I had them all at level 5 at the same time, in the beginning.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DragonPolyglot
  • 25
  • 19
  • 17
  • 15
  • 14
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 5
  • 3
  • 3
  • 191
  1. I'm dedicating myself to 5 on Duolingo at the moment (Spanish, Swedish, Italian, Welsh, Japanese), dabbling in others with the intent to focus on them later (especially Greek and Korean), and dabbling in yet more out of interest and fun. And no I did not start learning all of them at the same time. I actually didn't know many of the languages I'm learning or am interested in existed before I started Duolingo, which I did because I wanted to learn more Spanish.

  2. Absolutely. But I'm okay with taking it slow, and for me this is more of a hobby. In fact I'm learning Welsh just because it's unique and one of my heritage languages (not to mention I adore it). Sometimes you can use the knowledge of one language to understand another language, but you would need to spend more time on one language before learning the other.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Mod
  • 25
  • 19
  • 18
  • 17
  • 7
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4

Hi JasmineNoe7,

I can't speak for everyone, but, I can speak for myself. I'm not learning several different languages. I like to sample other languages. In fact, my goal is not fluency in any language. Mainly, I am interested in retaining the basics of Spanish and American Sign Language. For Japanese, I wanted to "race the tree". That is to say, I wanted to see how fast I could get the trophy (33 days). :)

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/poche112
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 13
  • 6
  • 1493

I concentrate on one at a time but do a small amount of practice on the others at least ever few days. It was easier with the old golden tree system, when I was working on Spanish I would just switch back to Italian every couple of days and polish up any skills that were not gold and then go back to Spanish.
I did do the Italian for Spanish speakers course, so I guess I was learning two languages at the same time in that one.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/David-AllenGSW

Hi Jasmine. I'm focused more on Spanish. Yes I would advance in Spanish

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/R_Alvarado1995

interesante

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Khai_Pham03

I'm a Nigerian prince who desperately needs lingots so I can get out of my country otherwise I will be beheaded Pls send lingots.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CatW.SelinaKyle

really or are you just a spammer? :)

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CatW.SelinaKyle

I do the doulingo courses in French and Spanish to practice for my school courses, the other languages I do because I enjoy learning.

4 months ago
Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.