This is not a question about learning 2 languages at the same – I have read through the threads on that as well as Luca’s and Steve’s thoughts, etc. For me I don’t think it’s a good idea because I am focused on learning Mandarin Chinese and have been studying it for about 2 years off and on (lived in China for the last year and a half) and want to keep the intensity up on that – have been making good progress, especially lately. However, I do want to check out a European language on the side, a language just for diversion sake as a break from Chinese. I took Spanish 4 years in high school and passed (reading) proficiency in it in grad school – my level is pretty low but I do have a grounding in it. The other language I am interested in exploring is German, which I have no background in at all. So I’ll have to decide between the two. I have a lot of time for language learning so I think it would like to dabble with a 3rd, just learn about how another language works without pressure to get to a good level in it. When I get to high intermediate in Chinese, then can devote more time to the third European one (whichever one I choose to dabble in). Curious to know what people’s thoughts are (or actual experiences) on spending 20/30 minutes a day on a language – that is, trying out an additional language to a very limited degree while focusing on the main one. The potential downside is that there’s not enough momentum to sustain interest in it over the long term…but if one works on it regularly in short intervals, this may not be an issue.
It can’t hurt. Allowing your brain to get used to Spanish or German by spending half an hour a day on it will lay a great foundation for when you have more time to dedicate to them in the future. Hell, it’ll probably help out your Chinese too! I’m kind of doing the reverse, spending lots of time on German, as I’m currently living in Hessen for a few months. I try to spend between 30 mins and an hour each day on Chinese.