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Learning multiple languages simultaneously

I'm quite far along in Spanish and am considering starting German. I'm wondering if those of you who are doing multiple languages simultaneously ever have trouble keeping them separate in your mind? Any tips for the best way to organize learning more than one? Is it best to separate lessons, such as by doing alternate months or weeks? Or does frequent interleaving work just as well?

October 5, 2013



I've had no trouble at all keeping French and German separate in my mind. I practice both every day, with no confusion or mix-ups. They're very different from each other.

I waited to start German until I'd finished the French tree, then reviewed it for a whole month to solidify everything in my mind. Since I do both every day, I try to leave a few hours gap between sessions. If you'd rather do your sessions one after the other, I've found it better to do the German first, then French.

The only concern I've had so far is that I have to split my time between multiple languages, so each one gets less attention. It hasn't been an issue, though.


That's encouraging! I'm doing the same, first French, then German. I'm dreading the German, but really need it. It's nice to know it shouldn't be confusing while i'm keeping up my French.


French and German are a great combo. That's what I am doing. :)


I would say since you are far in Spanish, that you can definitely start German now (especially since they are so different and it won't be easy to confuse them) but, for more comments on this topic see: http://www.duolingo.com/comment/890121


I think the benefits of studying little and often easily outweigh any possible confusion. I find that I very occasionally confuse Italian/Spanish spelling/vocabulary, but the acceleration in learning that comes from understanding the similarities is significant. So I deliberately aim to do something in all languages every day. I also started with the language I knew most of and went some way through the tree before adding the one I knew some of, then the one I knew a little of, and finally the one I knew none of.

So I suggest you just go for it alongside your Spanish.


Thanks everyone for the comments and tips. I'm going to give German a go.

BTW, I think the Duolingo community is probably the most positive and helpful community I have ever encountered online.


I was worried about that as well, when I started italian after learning french for like tweo weeks, but eventhough I had problems in the beginning, it's fine now. They do have many similarities, but once you got the basics of both, it is easy to keep them apart. (I studied French for one hour daily, afterwards I did German (to get out of French) and then I did Italian for an hour. Now I don't need that routine anymore, it works just as well without :)) Being German myself, I think learning spanish and German shouldn't really be problematic. Both languages are far too different to get mixed up^^

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My opinion is that learning three or more languages helps rather than hinders the learning process for all the languages you choose. For example the commonalities between French ,Italian and Spanish in vocabulary ,gender,syntax and grammatical structure enhance the learning process and the differences also help to consolidate understanding. All languages share a grammatical framework that is a key part in learning any language .Some languages share the same features whilst those with differing features can often give clarity to features of different languages that were previously difficult to understand. In your case although there are fewer commonalities between Spanish and German than Spanish and French ,all of the grammar and syntax you have learned getting to an impressive level in Spanish will be extremely helpful in your German. This type of question comes up quite a lot among language learners and is always from the fearful point of view that you may be confused sometimes using features of a different language in the one you're supposed to be using - how terrible ,you made a mistake !!(But next time you'll be correct.) By now given the evidence of your level 21 Spanish you know how good Duo is and know that you can further enhance it with other materials so give it a go !! Good luck !!


Once you have a firm base and enough of the language is locked in, there'll be less confusion. If you were to learn two from scratch simultaneously it'd be a lot harder. If it's only one more language, you might consider just adding on the same amount of time or more to the time you spend learning Spanish. That way you work more on understanding the second language while still building on the first.


Learning multiple languages at once is very doable but just make sure to avoid very similar ones like Spanish & Italian unless you have a pretty good base in one of them. What works great for me is to focus for the first few weeks on a new language, then when I get somewhat comfortable with it, I enter it in my "weekly language rotation" so to speak. A day or two of German, followed by 1-2 days of Italian etc...I don't have a set schedule. I just go with the flow and how I feel. Being consistent is what is most important. I wouldn't suggest going months without learning a language. It has to be somewhat part of your life.

Make sure to vary your learning material to avoid getting bored. I do Duolingo, Assimil, Pimsleur at night when I'm too tired to read and of course try to listen to as much music as possible. Reading/singing the lyrics as the song plays will help you greatly for your pronunciation. Remember everything can be free on the Net hehe.


Where do you find German music for free online? What German bands are good for a beginning listener? I like Rammstein, but could never sing along with that. Is there a German version of Bon Jovi or The Eagles or something that I could listen to?


I like http:.//www.radiogoethe.org/ (german radio station). Very diverse music to discover new bands. There's a new "show" every week. You might like: 2raumwohnung , Silly , (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0cgKpBNnKU), Silbermond. If you like bands like Rammstein: Unheilig, Ommph, Metallspürhunde, KMFDM, Oomph!, Riefenstahl Megaherz, Böhse Onkelz, Subway to Sally, Eisbrecher, Eisenherz, etc.


Hi, check out Die Toten Hosen or Die Ärzte. You can find a lot on youtube.


You are gonna get confused if you study two languages. I personally find it difficult sometimes to seperate the languages. Even really different ones like French and German. My brain is so used to learning French, that when i study German, often my brain will automatically start translating in French. My fingers will often go towards the keys to write 'Je' rather than 'Ich', I laughed the first few times, but it keeps happening! I don't know how people can study all of the languages on here.

You will also make mistakes with very similar words. I write 'est' a lot instead of 'ist'. Yesterday i got a question wrong when i wrote the French word for vegetables rather than the German. I will sometimes put unecessary articles in front of nouns in German, which is a French thing. You have done it right though by waiting, i imagine i would be much more confused if i was learning two from the beginning. I was previously looking forward to the Language Incubator, but i'm really not sure i can learn another language for a while. My brain will not be able to handle it!


Well, in my case, I find that French and German are different, so I can practice both without much confusion. Although I initially started learning German on Duolingo without having any real base in it (save only for some Rammstein lyrics, perhaps!), I decided to stop halfway through the skill tree to brush up on my rusty high school French because I thought I had a better chance to improve and maybe master it to a decent level. Having finished the French skill tree, I went to back to German and I'm planning to continue in both. For me though, it's a question of focus; I mean when you think that you're dividing up the time that should dedicated to one language on two, I feel it's counterproductive at times. Ideally, I'd rather focus on just one language before moving on to the next, but there's this fear of forgetting the basics of the other one, so I'm always giving the one I'm focusing on more attention without completely deserting the other.

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