Multi-Language Practice Feature
I'd like to suggest a feature where you get quizzed on more than one of the languages you're currently learning/sharpening.
This would be pretty difficult... wouldn't want to do this if you didn't have a firm grasp of all languages involved.
It could also be lots of fun., potentially.
You're evil, and I want to try it!
Actually I have been mashing up Italian and Spanish for years... I can keep French in its gear, and German just likes to beat me up on the details, but it stays nicely in the German gear. Spanish and Italian just love to dress up in each other's clothes and play tricks on me like a couple naughty siblings who look very much alike but have slightly different hair and eye color. Sometimes when I can spot the Arabic influence it's helpful, but not enough.
If anyone has any tips for keeping similar languages from bleeding into each other all the time, I'd be most appreciative.
I have a couple of sentences memorized in each language that kind of help me slip into gear (for the dissimilar ones at least). They're also good introduction sentences for speaking to people in other languages, because that's when I'm most likely to use them. For example, if speaking German I'll say in German, "I learned a lot of German but I have forgotten a lot of German too." In Italian I'll say something like "I've been to Italy three times and I would like to practice more," etc. This also signals to the person that I'm going to make mistakes and they might want to slow down a bit, and usually the conversation goes about as well as it can after that.
For some reason this doesn't work as well with the most similar languages. Now, that takes a good 15 seconds, however long the sentence takes to say, really, but honestly, 30 seconds isn't so bad to switch. I'm sure someone here with more experience has some good trick. I hope!
As long as you don't belong to an extraterrestrial super-intelligent species, half a minute to switch from one language to another seems perfectly normal to me. On some (admittedly very bad) days, it even takes me longer to express myself in my native language ... Lola's tips are very helpful and I actually do the same: just a little small talk about the language in question (for how long I've been learning it, what I like about it, what I find difficult/easy etc.). That should get you started and as a welcome side-effect, your conversational partner is informed about your current level. As for the Spanish/Italian dilemma (what a lovely and striking metaphor, by the way!), I'm also still searching for a solution. The only one I came across so far is to volunteer for being kidnapped by an extraterrestrial super-intelligent species and having my brain pimped.
Nice idea, Polly, I would totally sign up for a temporary kidnapping situation like that. I mean, I have before (doing the exchange student thing) and it worked really well. Now if only the legal kidnapping ring were as well-run and inexpensive in Italy as it is in France, I would have done it already.