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How to learn many languages at the same time? - Lingostan Forum

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  • How to learn many languages at the same time?

    I always had a very high level of English, having started to learn it when I was 11, and until the age of 37 I spoke only Italian (my native language) and English.Then, 3 years ago, I started to learn Spanish, French, German, Chinese and Indonesian. I am about A2/B1 in these languages, except Spanish where maybe I am B2 since it's very close to Italian. Now the problem is, having all these languages in my head has started to take its toll on English, I no longer have that high level, I can still read and undertand everything but my accent it's not good like it used to be, and sometimes I rake my brain for even the most common words when speaking. This I guess it's only too normal and being busy with my job I don't have much time to equally practise all these languages. What is your experience with learning or practising several languages at the same time? How do you manage to avoid confusion in your head or to lose what you learned in languages you started to study earlier?
    https://www.lingostan.com

  • #2
    So similar to my story I currently have to distribute my time between Italian, Chinese and German, and though I'm not going to give up any of them, I wouldn't recommend anyone to do the same either. My English is not suffering yet, probably because I have to use it on a daily basis - all major skills except speaking. But there was a lot of confusion at some point, and still it is not completely gone, but I control them much better than a couple of months ago when I just started German. Also, sometimes I just don't have the time, and at other times I feel so tired that I start cursing myself for doing this to my life. But I'm stubborn, and if I said I would start French in August, then French in August it's going to be. And I won't be content with A2/B1. My goal is to reach at least C1 for all the new languages by 2027. With three already in progress and three more on the wish list there are really interesting years ahead. And people continue tempting me with more interesting languages.

    Some will say madness, but I like it.

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    • #3
      And if anyone can do it then Irina can. I confess that I'm not as committed a multi-linguist as you two but I'm ahead of the curve for the average Brit!
      My only experience of learning two languages in parallel was learning French and German at school, back in the 1960s! And they were sufficiently different not to get in each other's way. More recently I studied Spanish for two years (evening classes 2 hours a week plus homework). I'm currently getting into Italian, admittedly in a rather unstructured way (I hope to find a more formal course in September, when most of these courses start); occasionally I find myself thinking of a Spanish word but not too often - I gather this is not unusual given the similarities!

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      • #4
        Thanks for the compliment, Laury

        Thinking of a Spanish word when you lack an Italian one is only natural. Things get much more interesting when I think of an Italian word while trying to say something in German or Chinese. I wonder where they all go when I'm supposed to speak Italian.

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        • #5
          Actually one of the fun things about learning other languages is the fun of finding words that are same, or similar, in different languages. Of course with English as my own language masses of our words come from either French or German, the two languages I learnt at school, and there's masses of words that are very similar to each other in French, Italian and Spanish, but when I made my false start at Russian a few years ago (I can read the alphabet which helped a lot when I visited that lovely, interesting country) I was amazed to find words like "Metro", "Pharmacia", "Restaurant", "Buffet"....

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          • #6
            Oh, Russian has picked up a lot of loan words from almost every European language. And from some non-European. Still doing it, in fact, and very actively - mostly from English.

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            • #7
              I guess most languages are doing it. In fact I guess most languages always have done it. France has adopted a lot of English or American words - the Academie Francaise, which "oversees" the language and tries to control its development, and for which there's no English equivalent, has tried to stop these imports but they're losing the battle.

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              • #8
                They would lose it sooner or later. Can't stop what is just a natural process and as old as humanity itself.

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                • #9
                  Well no. Starting to learn a language from scratch and learn it properly takes time, practice, and a lot of memorizing.

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                  • #10
                    I don't think anyone here is going to argue with that.

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