https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danielconcasco

Keeping Portuguese and Spanish separate in your head?

I'm brushing up on my Portuguese again. And I'm running into the same problem I always do, I keep mixing up my Spanish in my Portuguese. Whichever language is stronger seems to creep into the other.

Right now my Spanish is much stronger than my Portuguese, so I'm finding a lot of Spanish keeps coming out when I want to speak Portuguese. I know it's not a huge problem and I will be understood in most cases or can correct my mistake, but I was wondering if anyone came up with any ways to separate the two.

Portuguese was the first language I studied here and the first I learned to any real proficiency on my own. I don't want to speak broken Portuñol (Portunhol?) :)

March 16, 2019

26 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Christiana691682

lol, do not try to seperate the two....put them together using Spanish for Portuguese speakers and Portuguese for Spanish courses. After an initial Chaos period - they sort themselves quite nicely. Unconventional, but it works. I am discovering that eliminating my native language altogether in my studies gives faster results and instant responses in my target language instead of mere translations. Clozemaster is a great way to practice this as they have many language pairs available.

March 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danielconcasco

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone!

I tried the Portuguese for Spanish speakers and I felt like it made it worse :). Maybe I should finish reviewing the Pt for Eng first.

March 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RomainRoberts

You are absolutely right!

March 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/angus390025

I was wondering if anyone came up with any ways to separate the two.

Never gonna happen, on duolingo. I mix up all the Romance languages.

When you're actually speaking one of them, in real life, you'll get into the groove. Since I have been on duolingo, I have been to Mexico twice, for about a week each time, and France once, for about two weeks, and all those times I got into the groove. Never mixed up any language with the one I was using to communicate with the locals.

But when you're on duolingo bouncing around in between several very similar languages, especially in the evening after dinner and a few glasses of wine, you might write things like "Yo parlo avec els crianças." What? How did I get that wrong?! Oh, I see... of course. We're doing Spanish.

March 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bootfall

Hmm, for me, it helps to identify and focus on the "cues" for each language. These cues come in various forms, and most develop through time and in-person practice (not sure if you are only studying on Duo):

  1. Practice each language with a different person--when you see "John," tell yourself "Con John, hablo español"; when you see Susie, tell yourself "Com Susie, falo português." Using multiple languages with the same person scrambles the signal to your brain.

  2. If you are familiar with any regional/national accents in either language, you may be able to use those particularities to further differentiate the language. If I imagine a sentence in a Dominican accent vs. an Azorean accent, there's no way the former could come out Portuguese or the latter, Spanish.

  3. Tie words and phrases from media (songs/tv/etc.) in the target language to your speech patterns. The rhythm, rhyme, and exaggerated pronunciation of lyrics burn phrases into my mind with perfect grammar and accent. Similarly, the over-dramatic acting of soap operas in either Portuguese or Spanish can make the language very memorable.

  4. Note if you have a subtly different personality in each language. If you take note these "alter egos" you may be able to push yourself toward one or the other, making the language that goes with that persona come more easily.

March 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Boujleba

In my experience as someone who spoke Spanish as a second language and learned Portuguese as a third, my brain would conflate the two and mix them up at first which was extremely discouraging as learning Portuguese was making my Spanish worse. However, you just have to take the leap of faith of pushing through, and your brain will learn to sort them out and separate them and all will be well.

They are just so similar that the subconscious brain lumps them together for a while until you have experienced enough suffering and also exposure for your brain to get the message that they are two different languages and mixing them up is not something that you want!

One thing that I think helps increase the effectiveness of my brain keeping them separate is to learn to speak in an accent like the carioca accent because the difference in pronunciation is wider, which helps remind the brain to stay in the Portuguese direction rather than the Spanish direction. For example, if you pronounce 10 as "deish" rather than "deiz" it is further from the Spanish "diez", which to me seems to keep my flow better in Portuguese as it is a subconscious reminder that what I am speaking is definitely not Spanish.

Having some mix-ups or Portunhol tendencies will probably never fully go away if you became fluent or nearly fluent in one first and then learned the other, especially when it comes to new words or words you think you know but aren't sure if it's from the other language, but that is a blessing and a curse. A curse because you will sometimes accidentally spout some Portunhol, but also a blessing because you might think a word is one thing because you're actually mixing up the two languages and you end up being right or nearly right, whereas if you hadn't known a similar language you wouldn't have been able to communicate what you were trying to say at all.

March 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SuperLearner007

As a fluent speaker in both languages, I can only recommend you stay patient. Once you start using both languages at a higher frequency and start being able to switch between the two, that strength battle won't happen anymore.

What you do need to pay attention to (this is a problem even for me) is writing. If you get to used to the grammar/orthography in Spanish, you might add some accents that don't exist in Portuguese (the other way around as well but less) and if you get to used to grammar/orthography in Portuguese you'll do some terrible misspellings in Spanish.

Good luck!

March 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pedrom.9

I am from Brazil and finished a long time ago my Spanish tree here. What I did to do not mix things up was studying Spanish from English. Maybe you could do the same, PT from EN, and SP from something else. OR you could try PT from ES and/or vice versa. But either way, keep patient, try listening to some media from each language to strengthen your speech

March 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DanielCortesGP

I'm from Brazil too, and I think the same way you do, it might take some time to get used to the new way of learning, but maybe that will help. I learn Japanese through English and it has been very productive although it is not my mother tongue

March 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pedrom.9

Doing the same here. Let's practice man!

March 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SuperLearner007

If you don't mind - "studying", not "studing".

March 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pedrom.9

I don't, It was a typo. Cheers

March 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dlhgl

The following topic came to my mind - maybe it will be useful for you?:

Is your brain used to a certain language at a certain time of the day?

I am still experimenting myself, but it seems to work for me when I do the same language at the same time each day.

March 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SuperLearner007

That's really interesting. Thanks for sharing!

March 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tony979198

I am learning six languages concurrently: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. I grew up in Switzerland with German as mother language. And I have now lived for many, many years in the United States with English as my primary language. While growing up, I also learned French and Italian in school, and was able to hold conversations in those languages before coming to the United States. But over many years of disuse, I lost my former language skills and even started to have trouble with German even though this is my mother language. A few years back, I decided that I want to be a language tutor for family and friends. In order to understand the psychology behind language learning, I created a language mix for myself so that I can experience a learner’s difficulty at different levels of knowledge. Eventually, I want to be equally fluent in all these languages. It is not as easy as I first thought it would be. It takes a lot of time and practice. I have completed all available combinations of these language courses on Duolingo with 26 courses on level 25. I have completed the Spanish from Italian only up to crown level 1 and wait until it gets out of the Beta release before continuing. In addition, I am constantly reading books in French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese on Kindle in order to improve my vocabulary. I am also involved in conversation groups in various languages. Here are a few observations that I made along the way: 1. When I switch my language combination, it usually takes a few minutes before I feel comfortable with the “new” languages before my confidence returns to express myself with ease. 2. I now can read in various languages without translating the text. I intuitively know the meaning of the sentences in French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese. Some of the sentences cannot even be very well translated anyways. Each language offers its own cultural experience! 3. With time, I arrived at a point where I started to think in the new language. This experience is not consistent, but I am getting much better at thinking in my new languages. I think it is important to achieve this state of mind to really become fluent. 4. It is supremely important not to become discouraged by difficulties. Any kind of negative feelings cause you to lose focus and with that, you start making more mistakes and become even more desperate. That’s the downward spiral that brings people to giving up. Don’t allow this to happen to you. Always end your Duolingo sessions with a positive experience, even if you just practice something that you already know very well. The best way for me to anchor any language in my mind, is to read in that language. Perhaps, read an entire novel, or two, or three. There are whole collections of foreign language novels available on Amazon for Kindle. Look up Golden Deer Classics. Search in the target language. For Portuguese books, write your search text in Portuguese. Many of these books are extremely inexpensive, like 99 cents for 50 books you need to read before you die. Many of these books are perhaps a couple of hundred years old. Not only will you learn your language much quicker, but you also get an interested glimpse in the minds of people who lived 100 or 200 years ago. You can travel the world without stepping out of your living room and you can even time travel into the past. Of course, not everyone has the time to spare to indulge in learning multiple foreign languages at the same time. I am in retirement, but I still have a family to maintain. Perhaps, I am semi-retired.
We can achieve anything we want to achieve if we put our heart into it. Just don’t listen to “your friends’ good advice” when they tell you that you are wasting our time, while in fact they are wasting theirs. Don’t focus too much on your difficulties, just keep practicing. One day you will be amazed that you actually achieved your goal against all odds and despite all the difficulties!

March 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danielconcasco

I tried to keep all of your suggestions in mind for the past few days.

I went back to an audio course, "Portuguese Sentence Magic", but Mark Frobose. It teaches the modal verbs and a few adverbs to give the building blocks of sentences.

I also started reading this book again, out loud.

https://www.amazon.com/First-Portuguese-Reader-Beginners-Bilingual-ebook/dp/B07JQQKXFM/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=portuguese+reader&qid=1553008990&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1

Just for good measure, I baked a bolo de fubá and I think it's helping me sound more Brazilian.

March 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NatalieMcN8

I’ve had success by quizzing myself on the words I find challenging. I use a flashcard app and make three flashcards per wordset: one with the English (my native tongue) word on one side and both Spanish and Portuguese on the other; one with “English (P)” or “English (S) on one side and the Portuguese or Spanish word on the other. This also allows me to make cards that differentiate between European and Brazilian Portuguese: “English (B)”.

Here’s a four-card set for “Juice” Card 1 Front: Juice Back: Jugo/Sumo/Suco

Card 2 Front: Juice (S) Back: Jugo

Card 3 Front: Juice (P) Back: Sumo

Card 4 Front: Juice (B) Back: Suco

March 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lang1000

In some Spanish speaking nations it seems "Zumo" instead of "Jugo" is used more. In PR. and some other Spanish speaking nations, they use the word "Jugo" while they refer to the bitter liquid that is found between the outer orange peel and the inner skin has "Zumo". Its the liquid that sprays out when you start peeling the orange. There is an old thread on this - https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/3244/JUICE-ZUMO-o-jugo

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mydogisapug

If you are "speaking" in your head, then phonology is one of the most important factors in separating the two. The two languages have quite different ways of being spoken, with Portuguese having nasal vowels, dropped consonants, different sounds and dialects, etc.

March 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danielconcasco

I'm not just speaking it in my head, I speak it all out loud, since the phonology is the only thing keeping them from spilling into one giant Romance puddle with my long lost Italian studies. :)

March 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/michelleyam

I study both languages, so I run into the same problem. :)

One trick that helps me is after I answer the question in the exercise, then I'll answer it in the other language in my head. And if I have time, I write down both answers on paper, as that seems to help with memory building.

March 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SirPugsly

I speak Italian, but I learnt it using English. I found I learned Spanish quicker and more precisely by learning it using Italian, rather than English. Try to learn with Spanish instead of your native language, it may help.

March 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tony979198

If English is your primary language, you can do 6 different Duolingo courses to improve your Portuguese, Spanish and English as well. 1) you can learn Portuguese and Spanish from English, 2) your can learn English and Portuguese from Spanish, and 3) you can learn English and Spanish from Portuguese. As you do so, complete any one of these trees first at crown level one, and then start another language combination and repeat the same process.
Ideally, you also want to read a book in that particular foreign language, be it in Spanish or in Portuguese. Rotate through the trees to become accustomed to mixing languages. Reading will improve your vocabulary and your grammar. If you use a phone app, join a club and write in the foreign language. It will take a while to complete all the trees all the way up to crown level 5, but by the end, you will have gained a lot of confidence. Go to newspaper websites in the foreign languages and join conversation groups if you can. It is good to stick with one language combination all the way through from the bottom of the tree to the top. The beginning seems to be difficult, but if you commit yourself to succeed, you will! Don’t be intimidated by the challenges. Whenever you switch to a new set of languages, you will notice an apparent setback at the beginning, but your confidence will return quickly, and you will start to feel at home again in your new set of languages (English/Spanish, English/Portuguese, Portuguese/English, Spanish/English, Spanish/Portuguese. Portuguese/Spanish). Make sure to complete all the stories in Portuguese and in Spanish on the Duolingo website. And listen to the Podcasts in Spanish. You can also go to YouTube and find video courses in Spanish and in Portuguese. I like “Professor Jason”, but there are others. Practice makes perfect, it really does. Of course, there are many other good approaches to succeed. There will be failures along the way. Learn from all experiences and introspect as you move along. You will find your own way. It may also help you to read “The Science of Self-Learning” by Peter Hollins. The electronic version is available from Amazon for $3.99. It teaches you how to overcome the psychological barriers. It is important not to scatter your focus. Stay on one pair of languages for some time. Try to complete all units in the tree before moving to the next level no matter what the obstacles. You may not want to start reading until you have completed at least 2 crown levels of the tree. Find reading materials that are a little challenging, but not too much. Just keep going and find your own rhythm. Be involved with people who are enthusiastic about what you want to achieve. I am writing here only about what has worked for me. Everyone must find his own personal method and you can only find out what works for you when you persevere and observe your own struggles and make adjustments along the way. Every experience is valuable. If something does not work, count it as an experiment does has brought you closer to your correct path.

March 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mona449442

Rejoice, it can be worse. Like, for instance, you can have several languages mixing up in your head (Italian, Spanish and Portuguese). I have been in the confusion period for a long time. The approach I have recently taken is to start reading more in Spanish than put it aside while I am studying Portuguese. If I get better at both languages, maybe, just maybe, things will change for the better.

March 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danielconcasco

Well, Italian was the first language I ever studied, so those words do occasionally join the Romance soup in my head ;)

March 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/blurflux

If you're using a computer I'd recommend listening to songs in Portuguese or Spanish while you are going through either course.

March 18, 2019
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