https://www.duolingo.com/AchilleTal

Polyglots

I was born in Quebec and my mother tongue is French. I move to Ontario for 12 years and now I speak better English than French. I am just starting out on my Spanish and I do not find it confusing since the other two languages are safely stored in my brain.

I see many of you have multiple languages you are studying at the same time. I was wondering "just how confusing is it?" Specially if you are studying Portuguese, Italian and Spanish.

4 years ago

13 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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It is SO confusing! I want to say something in Japanese and either ASL or Spanish jumps to the forefront of my brain, which then congratulates itself on a job well done and takes a lunch break. :P I have read from others in previous discussions that it will become easier and less impossibly tangled with time. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/palocortado
palocortado
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I'm going to go against the flow here, and say that it needn't necessarily be confusing to learn a number of related languages at once. I've had my fair share of confusion (which I'll describe), but under some conditions, don't mix them up at all.

When I first started out with Spanish, I was a semi-fluent French speaker. My French hadn't quite settled down in my brain though, so in my Spanish classes, I'd regularly frustrate my teacher by using French words and making them "Spanish" by adding an 'o' at the end. Within about a month though, I had absorbed the patterns of Spanish and no longer mixed it up with French.

Since then, I've become a rather fluent Spanish speaker, and then started learning Italian, Galician and Portuguese all at the same time, but surprisingly didn't mix them up very much. Whenever I used a word in Spanish (or in another Romance language) to replace the one in the right language, I was aware of the fact that I was doing it, and mostly did it to get my point across.

I think the reason I didn't mess them up so much was that I focused on one mode of input for each language. I was living in Galicia then, so learnt Galician by speaking it. I learnt Portuguese through books, and Italian using podcasts. Even though when it came to actually speaking it (which I did get plenty of opportunity to do) I had to navigate between the languages, given that I was retrieving them from different parts of my brain, it seemed easy to stick to one language or the other. I'd picture the word I had read in Portuguese while recalling it to say it out loud, I'd replay the voice of the Italian woman on my podcasts when retrieving the phrase to speak it, and would picture the scenario in which I had heard the Galician phrase or word.

It might not be universally applicable, and languages that are very different typically wouldn't cause this mixing-up problem to this degree, but if you're learning languages from the same family, my experience seems to suggest that categorising your input modes helps.

I'd love to hear from someone who's tried something similar! Cheers!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lazouave
lazouave
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Spanish and Italian are really confusing. I often write one word or two in Spanish while practising Italian. My main goal is Spanish so I'm focusing on this one, and I do Italian "for fun" because I know some Italian people.

German is easier because 1) it's not a Romance language so it's not confusing and 2) I studied it for nine years at school so I'm only refreshing it a bit here.

However, I will not try any other language before I feel really comfortable with Spanish. I'll be more serious about Italian when I don't confound it with Spanish anymore ^^ Only then will I learn another one (Swedish, preferably). I'm afraid I might get confused with more than three languages.

I think the main challenge when you learn several languages is not necessarily the confusions that may occur (some people switch languages really easily) but finding time. The best way to learn a language is to practice it everyday. That's not hard. But if you have ten languages to practice daily, either you cannot practice them all, or you spend less time on them. As a result, you progress slowly. Unless you can spend your entire life doing that, but unfortunately, that's not my case ^^

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/InlyAlvare

I feel glad spanish is my native. I am having issues re-learning portuguese now that I am fluent in italian. I won't even talk about my pronunciation in french. I just wish I could stop the whole situation between italian and portuguese. It's like my brain is trying to convince me I can't speak more than three.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
AlexisLinguist
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"Safely stored" is the key, as well as languages that aren't too similar. As of now, the languages that I am studying vary greatly from each other, but that will change when I start Portuguese again. Maintaining the "barrier" between each additional language is necessary, or your mind will be a language-tangled mess. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OnesimusUnbound

DL becoming an incubator of polygots :-D. Some studies languages that don't share the same language family tree. Some, like me, uses the language laddering method.

I hope to hear the outcome of our different learning strategies to become polygots.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BrPz74

Laddering method?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hucklebeary

Thanks for the link. Interesting.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LauraBPeters

Thank you so much for the link. I want to stop sucking at two languages! Today, I began to learn Spanish with German as my base language. I'm so hopeful that it will be helpful to me.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sarahkamper
sarahkamperPlus
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I used to try to work on multiple languages every day, but it was harder to make real progress. I've found it's easier for me to work on one language at a time and get it cemented in my brain. I can learn faster that way, and I don't get confused as easily!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/indigobloom

I so badly want to be a polyglot!!! I even have the languages all picked out (Spanish, French, Polish, Ukrainian, Japanese-I took it for one semester in high-school and loved it) But I too worry about confusing them and losing it all when I get overwhelmed trying to keep it all fresh, and then the danger of mixing up words... Is it worth it? I learn very slowly so that would take years anyhow haha

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/stajduharc
stajduharc
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I just found out about reversing the languages and laddering. I got over 15,000 points in less than one day. I hadn't previously considered that I could reverse the languages. I already speak, English, Spanish, French and Portuguese, so it was really cool when I found out I could mix up all the different combinations and also immediately test into a level. I am doing the following combinations:

English to Spanish / English to French / English to Portuguese / English to Italian Spanish to English / Spanish to French / Spanish to Portuguese / Spanish to Italian French to English / French to Spanish / French to Italian Portuguese to English / Portuguese to Spanish / Portuguese to French Italian to English

I immediately got several thousand points within minutes in each combination by taking the initial test. My native language is English, but I speak Spanish with native fluency and also know Portuguese and French. It's actually easier to go between French and Spanish than French and English because French grammar and Spanish grammar are much more similar. I went straight to level 11 from French to Spanish and level 9 from French to English. I would have thought that they would be the same. At any rate, I am doing this to reinforce some languages and learn others. It is a very powerful tool, however, Duolingo is just one piece of the puzzle. You have to use every resource available. Many people think that it is enough to become fluent. Not even close.

By the way, Spanish and Portuguese so similar that it is easier to make a mistake with that combination. French and Spanish are different enough that it hasn't been a problem.

3 years ago
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