Learning more than one language at once?

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ReubenA
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Learning more than one language at once?

Post by ReubenA »

I'm aching to start learning Spanish.. excited by the idea of how much easier and faster it will be compared to Thai - but I'm still not satisfied with my Thai level and feel if I pick up another one, I'll need to split my time between them and it'll slow my progress dramatically. On the other hand I know a girl going to uni studying 3-4 different languages at once.

What are your thoughts on learning 2 (or more) language at the same time? Is it possible? Or just very inefficient?
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PatrickK
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Re: Learning more than one language at once?

Post by PatrickK »

Benny Lewis from Fluentin3months wrote a post about learning multiple languages throughout time, and how to avoid mixing them up:
http://www.fluentin3months.com/not-mix-up/

I think the problem of mixing them up is a big one, especially in the early stages of a language before the language is engrained.

The polyglot dream wrote about it here:
http://www.thepolyglotdream.com/learnin ... same-time/
farang84
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Re: Learning more than one language at once?

Post by farang84 »

From my experience and the experience of others, it is very possible.
When I was in high school, I studied French and taught myself German. During university, I majored in German and studied French, Latin, and Biblical Greek (sadly, not much of the Greek has stuck with me).
Now, I'm studying several other languages - some seriously (like Tagalog) and some semi-seriously (like Norwegian).

The key for me is pacing. Too much at one time leads to burn out. Also, I do think the amount studied should be proportionate to the opportunity to practice. The less chance to practice what you've learned, the less you should learn per week.
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PatrickK
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Re: Learning more than one language at once?

Post by PatrickK »

farang84 wrote:From my experience and the experience of others, it is very possible.
When I was in high school, I studied French and taught myself German. During university, I majored in German and studied French, Latin, and Biblical Greek (sadly, not much of the Greek has stuck with me).
Now, I'm studying several other languages - some seriously (like Tagalog) and some semi-seriously (like Norwegian).

The key for me is pacing. Too much at one time leads to burn out. Also, I do think the amount studied should be proportionate to the opportunity to practice. The less chance to practice what you've learned, the less you should learn per week.
Do you have any schedule or is it random during leisure? I'm curious of your routine balancing learning 3 languages simultaneously.
farang84
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Re: Learning more than one language at once?

Post by farang84 »

I have no schedule whatsoever. I just do whatever I feel like at the moment. I have to review frequently - case in point, I'm going over Tagalog for Beginner's again (now on Ch. 11..yay ) after getting to the 23rd chapter or so (out of 32)...because I left it dormant so long, I felt I needed to review. The good news is that much or even most of what I learned is still in my head and it feels like review, rather than learning from scratch.

Most of what I do during my free time involves language study. For languages I'm just trying to get vocab built up in, I use memrise. For languages I'm actually serious (Thai and Tagalog) or semi-serious (Burmese and Lao) about studying, I have books and write, write, write.
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PatrickK
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Re: Learning more than one language at once?

Post by PatrickK »

farang84 wrote:I have no schedule whatsoever. I just do whatever I feel like at the moment. I have to review frequently - case in point, I'm going over Tagalog for Beginner's again (now on Ch. 11..yay ) after getting to the 23rd chapter or so (out of 32)...because I left it dormant so long, I felt I needed to review. The good news is that much or even most of what I learned is still in my head and it feels like review, rather than learning from scratch.

Most of what I do during my free time involves language study. For languages I'm just trying to get vocab built up in, I use memrise. For languages I'm actually serious (Thai and Tagalog) or semi-serious (Burmese and Lao) about studying, I have books and write, write, write.
Do you do any skype sessions or anything for speaking practice, or do you focus purely on reading/writing?
farang84
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Re: Learning more than one language at once?

Post by farang84 »

If I'm by myself, I focus purely on reading/writing for vocabulary building and grammar structure practice. As for speaking...

Lao - when I go to Laos, I'll try it out :)

Thai - everyday here in Thailand

Burmese - I'm just trying to get a feel for the language - this is slow going and my schedule isn't allowing me to focus on it so much

French - sadly, not much opportunity to speak with natives

German - I talk on skype (phone or video) with a good Austrian friend of mine

Tagalog - I speak it when I'm in the Philippines, but my speaking level is far below my reading level. I suspect this will be changing in the near future.

So, for most languages, I don't use skype (other than German). I wouldn't say my sole focus is reading/writing - but it is my main focus. I pretty much build a reservoir and if the opportunity to be in a community that speaks that language presents itself, I can get to speaking within a few days of adjusting to the sounds and rhythm of the language.
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PatrickK
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Re: Learning more than one language at once?

Post by PatrickK »

farang84 wrote:If I'm by myself, I focus purely on reading/writing for vocabulary building and grammar structure practice. As for speaking...

Lao - when I go to Laos, I'll try it out :)

Thai - everyday here in Thailand

Burmese - I'm just trying to get a feel for the language - this is slow going and my schedule isn't allowing me to focus on it so much

French - sadly, not much opportunity to speak with natives

German - I talk on skype (phone or video) with a good Austrian friend of mine

Tagalog - I speak it when I'm in the Philippines, but my speaking level is far below my reading level. I suspect this will be changing in the near future.

So, for most languages, I don't use skype (other than German). I wouldn't say my sole focus is reading/writing - but it is my main focus. I pretty much build a reservoir and if the opportunity to be in a community that speaks that language presents itself, I can get to speaking within a few days of adjusting to the sounds and rhythm of the language.
Sounds like you stay busy. Putting a few hours a day into Thai keeps me well busy, though I'm very intrigued to explore more languages. I feel like right now my time is best spent focusing on Thai while I'm here. I know I'll have a few months break away from Thailand soon so want to soak up as much as a can now. I'm a bit worried about how much I'll forget when I'm away.
farang84
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Re: Learning more than one language at once?

Post by farang84 »

The key might be not to overdo it. It's better to learn 500 words and retain them then learn double or triple that, but forget them. Also, keep engaged. If I notice I haven't had a chance to use my German in some time (say a week or two) I will read news in German or join a German language chatroom in order to keep up my fluency.
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PatrickK
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Re: Learning more than one language at once?

Post by PatrickK »

Good advice. Retaining is certainly more important. I've found learning 50 words/day and retaining them is very doable, as long as I am actively using them as I study.
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