1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. Learning a new language for b…


Learning a new language for bilingual people

I am a native Spanish speaker but have spoken English daily for about 7 years now. I consider myself more fluent in English than Spanish, that's why when I first started learning French I decided to do it from English. As I was progressing I noticed how much easier it would be to learn French from Spanish given the grammatical similarities between the languages. So, I started learning it from Spanish as well and noticed that the lessons were not the same, it seems that the way Duolingo intends for people to learn French from English is different than from Spanish, and that makes sense.

If you know two languages and are learning a third, I would recommend you learn the new language from both. There are a lot of details that you might think you got from a lesson in one language that you are not sure anymore when you have to do something similar in the other one. Because the lessons are not the same, it feels like you learn more, and at the same time make connections of the words and phrases in both languages in your brain.

It's pretty cool. I sometimes get confused when doing a lesson in one language but then remember something similar that I practiced in the other one and everything is suddenly clearer.

Good luck to everyone!

June 15, 2019



Interesting post, Mariel. I'm glad you continue to enjoy Duo.


Thanks for sharing ^^


Wholeheartedly agree with you. I am learning Spanish from English, but I also tap into my French repertoire to remember words and grammar rules.


Agree fully with this approach. I translate new French words into English, German and Afrikaans.


Absolutely. I'd also highly recommend doing the reverse trees, if available, once you are comfortable in your third language. Each one is different enough that it's worth the time, and of course, more practice never hurts.


I a Spanish native speaker learning Japanese and I am reviewing my French. I started to study English when I was 4 years, and now I'm a teacher and a medical terms interpreter in English.

What an experienced language teacher told me some years ago is that you can be learning 2 languages at the same time, as long as you already have very clear the basics of the first one you are learning.

Whenever I become advanced in French, and intermediate in Japanese, I will go for either Hindi or Arabian. I feel very curious about watching documentaries. and reading news in those languages.

I just love languages!!


Cool find! It's nice to discover some nuances and subtle things by approaching the same language from another angle.


Yes, I totally agree with you. I've been doing exactly that by learning Spanish from both English and Italian and the connections help a ton.


I think part of what you're noticing in terms of the difference between how Duolingo goes about teaching is that the French for English Speakers tree is aligned with the CEFR scale to teach through A2, while the French for Spanish Speakers tree hasn't yet been aligned to the scale and is a bit more variable in what and how it introduces content. Which isn't to say that the CEFR-aligned one is inherently better or anything, and having that variation probably is a great help, just commenting on why you're seeing a difference. There's more information about that on this thread if you're curious: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/31573948


My first language is dutch i found German and Swedish extremely easy most English speakers say its difficult and because i knew English french and Italian was really easy.


I'm native English but have Swedish backgrounds which is why i started Swedish. However, I found it quite easy but I guess it depends for everyone!


I guess the one major challenge for English speakers with Swedish is the pronunciation and the dialectal variation, and Duolingo doesn't help much with either, but otherwise, Swedish is just misspelt English! :P


Nah, Swedish is a northern-germanic language, therefore it might be a little different in spelling from the proper west-germanic languages, but nothing can be spelt as badly as English, which has suffered greatly under the Normandic conquest!


You got that backwards. English is a misspelled mix of Swedish (OK, Nordic) and French.


I think it is kind of useful, as a refresher, but I wish I started from the Italian one, as it is a shorter course than the one from English. This way I would get a refresh, cementing the knowledge I have, and I also would learn something new.

On the other hand, both courses bring you up only to a certain point. Maybe I should focus more on reading or listening exercises.


I speak Spanish and english and am doing Portuguese which is very similar to Spanish, and same about getting confused haha


thats really interesting!


This has actually inspired me to do just that. Have a bunch of lingots!


I am glad it did! Hope it helps you as​ it did to me


This was a good observation! I'll keep that in mind for my future studies at this site.


Thanks for this :)


I couldn't agree more! I speak English and Vietnamese and now learning Chinese as my third language. My Vietnamese helps with understanding Chinese grammar and English helps me understand Chinese syntax. Of course there are a lot of anomalities here and there but everything becomes clearer when I got to approach Chinese in different ways! Anyway thanks for the post! :)


(◕ᴗ◕✿)hey, i do the same with my french! i learn it from english and now from russian as well (but i found that it's not that convenient in my case, i need to change my keyboard a lot while i study through russian..and i don't really like seeing comments section there, sometimes it reminds me why i prefer english over my native language)


Also for someone like me who isn't fluent in spanish, if I started to learn French I would be practising Spanish and French.


The fact that duolingo makes separate courses rather than just translating existing ones is one of the best things about it. Doing the different cross trees teaches not only extra vocabulary but also gives you extra insights into how the grammar works. I rarely come across a word that I don't know in one language or the other so it is helpful without your being completely fluent in either language. I just wish they would add tts in both directions to improve listening skills in both languages at once. This could be turned off if not required.


I use flashcards in three languages, actually! The two that I know and the one that I am learning. I've seen plenty of other bilinguals do it too, it's actually really interesting.


MMmm.. i think that depends on the language's roots. I am native in Spanish but, the same as you, I been speaking English on a daily basis. Now that I am learning Danish, which has waaaayyy more common roots with English, I feel I am improving both. Specially because my written English has some flaws that you can't feel when I am speaking it. But, if I would have to learn another language connected to Latin (french? italian? or so) I would definitely go back to Spanish. Great comment, btw.

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