How much time should it take to learn a language very similar to your native language?

His German is very advanced. He tried Africanns and found it very easy. No interference. He also did Italian to A level (about B2) in the British system. He knows what he is talking about.

He said he has zero speaking ability in Afrikaans. That’s interference in my book, if he tried to learn it and wasn’t able to speak.
If he means that he hasn’t tried to learn Afrikaans but that he finds it easy to understand, based on his German knowledge, but not to speak, that’s again a rather irrelevant example for a Spanish speaker who’s committed to learn Italian.

It is neither. From what I know, he dabbled in quite a few languages, including Chinese and others that are not showing statistics here, but did not take the time to take them to high levels (after finding out the mechanics of the various languages). His German was highly praised by native speakers over the years when he had different accounts and user names. I don’t think there could be any interference if he just continued to pursue it (Africanns). The spannish speaker is at the beginning stage of learning Italian. His “commitment” shown is the stated wish of reaching C1 in four months as evidenced in this thread. If he can say Spanish and Italian are very similar, I don’t see why someone at a high level of German cannot say similar things about German and Affricanns and use his experience as an example, even though he is not a native speaker of German.

I think we’re not understanding each other. I’m not doubting his “right” to say that Afrikaans and German are similar, etc.

The way I see it, the conversation goes like this:

  • Adrian31 said that he expects it should be relatively fast to learn Italian because it’s very similar to his mother tongue.
  • Steve said that this may not be the case because sometimes “with very similar languages it is often more difficult to let go of the sounds and structures of the language you are more familiar with” [what I call “interference”]. Steve cites as a proof his difficulties with Portuguese due to his previous knowledge of Spanish.
  • Prinz_Jogi agreed with Steve, adding the examples of his own difficulties with Afrikaans (because of interference from his previous knowledge of German) and Spanish (I guess because of interference from English ??]
  • I’ve argued that in the examples given by both Steve and Prinz_Jogi, the interference is between two languages that are not their mother tongue. They’re trying to learn a new language very similar to another one they’ve already mastered but which is not their mother tongue. Adrian31’s asking about learning a language which is similar to his mother tongue.

Notice that I’ve been in a similar case to Adrian31, which is what you’re discussing. I’m a native Spanish speaker who has learned Italian (neither Steve nor Prinz Jogi have had that experience). I didn’t feel a terrible interference and I’ve never felt completely unable to speak Italian because of interference from Spanish. Because of my own experience [and other reasons that I can elaborate upon if you want] I don’t agree with their answer to Adrian31.

Notice that Prinz_Jogi’s German level, his many past accounts (of which I had no idea), etc, have absolutely no bearing on this discussion.

I understand what you are saying.

To me, the examples of those two are not used to say the exact same thing.

Prince_Jogi may have said “I agree”, but he may be just agreeing that it will take longer time than imagined. His own exemples are to explain that language production still takes time to develop, although comprehension can be quickly achieved. His comment and examples are not necessarily confirming “interference”, or Steve’s interference-sounding experience.

I mentioned his high level of German only because you rejected his German-Africanns example, which I consider as valid. I feel you are a bit too absolute about interference. At a certain point of learning French, I felt it was too early to study Spanish or Italian - concern about interference; but past a certain point, this concern diappeared.

I mentioned his old accounts only because I had mentioned native speakers’ marvel at his German and the related comments may be hard to find under his current account.

Again, I didn’t reject his example because I think he has a poor command of German. I’m in no position to judge that and I don’t think it’s relevant to the current discussion.
I just said his experience with Afrikaans doesn’t necessarily apply to Adrian31’s case.
My own experience with Italian is very different.

You may be right that I misunderstood his comment, in particular his “I agree” sentence. However you may also misunderstand it yourself. I think only Prinz_Jogi himself could clear that up, don’t you think?

His level of German would have absolutely no relevance in this discussion, if you didn’t automatically assume he had interference problem.

Interference or no interference is dependent on languages levels. Further above, you rejected his German-Africanns example on grounds of inteference problem.

I used the words “may be” in my last post. So I did not exclude the possibility that I might be wrong. Everyone who has eyes can see that his exemples are for the second sentence in his comment, which implies four months may be too short a period to reach C1. Nothing wrong with that.

You with your background can make more pertinent comments in this matter, others with different backgrounds can make relevant comments too.

I knew a fellow in college who went to Italy one summer and came back saying that Italian was easy and that he learned it in a few weeks. Of course, I don’t know what A/B/C level he might have reached, but I suspect he just meant that he could find his way around town and chat up girls at the beach. For your average boy in college, that’s probably all he needs! I believe this guy had an Hispanic heritage, but he grew up in New Jersey, and I don’t know whether or not he spoke Spanish.

This thread makes me wonder what language might be closest to English in the way that you say Italian is to Spanish. I doubt there is one so closely related, given how English has been “polluted” with so many different influences. I have read that West Frisian is close in some respects, but I expect that it will be a long time before that language shows up on Lingq. A few years ago I found a comment on the Internet by a Frisian speaker who said that he could almost read Old English. That language, however, is absolutely a foreign language to speakers of modern English.

I would bet that most language learners would agree that verbs are one of the most challenging parts of any language. With a very low level of German I can see how the relationship between German and English can help with some of the grammar of verbs – Ich habe gesagt / I have said. The usage of have/haben is identical in this simple example, though there are still some complexities of German conjugation. “Someday” I would like to start seriously with learning German and would be interested to see what other similarities exist.


Guys, I think there is a misunderstanding here. I was agreeing with Steve’s comment. To that extent I wasn’t specifically addressing the original post of the thread.

Steve was talking about learning Portuguese after already knowing Spanish, right? (And Spanish is not his native language.)

I was likewise talking about:

A.) Listening to Spanish after already knowing Italian.

B.) Listening to Afrikaans after already knowing German.

(Apropos German, don’t be fooled by my relatively modest LingQ statistics! I have a university degree in the language, I lived in Germany for quite a long time, and I have read many millions of words in the language. Of course my level is still FAR below that of a native speaker! But I can passively understand almost anything - just as a matter of fact :-D)

You still dare mention your high level of German? It is deemed irrelevant, not by me though.
By the way, you said more than listening in your original comment. If there is any misunderstanding, it has for a large part to do with that.


As regards Afrikaans. I’ve only dabbled. Mostly I’ve just listened to audio (Linguaphone for example.)

Ok. In that case, we agree. It’s clear that having been exposed to a language similar to the one you currently are trying to work is a two-edged sword: you get a lot of passive understanding “for free” but you get interference when trying to make that knowledge active.
That happens to everybody but the exact advantage/disadvantage balance changes.
When you have a native or near-native mastery of the first language you maximize the “good” part whereas you get somewhat less interference when trying to speak [I can elaborate on that, if something’s interested]. The balance tilts more to the “advantage” side. That’s my experience with Italian, you do make mistakes but you’re far from feeling a huge barrier when speaking. If both similar languages are non-native, the interference is larger and it may take quite a while to overcome it.

I wonder how much time it took for you to learn your mother tongue. Do you suppose that your 15-year-old son or daughter has already mastered your language?
I think that learning a language means living your life with that language. You will be learning your language as long as you live.

I took classes of german for a year. I agree that in most cases the usage of verbs is the most difficult part of learning a language. I didn’t feel that my knowledge of English was of any help, but this may be different for a native speaker, I don’t know. I still have a lot to learn of English.

In the case of Italian, the usage of verbs is extremely similar to that of Spanish. The differences don’t stop me from being able to understand what I read.

I don’t think that the comparisons are very good. To learn English I used books that persons of those ages wouldn’t be able to use. I used very complex books that I knew very well.

Is a very complicated subject, but I think that an adult has tools to learn languages that allow him or her to learn faster than a child.

If you are an adult, you can use textbooks and dictionaries that are not available to children. You may read books you want to read. I agree that adult learners are at an advantage in this respect. The problem is that children in English speaking countries speak English more fluently than adult learners of English as a foreign language. Of course, I don’t want to talk with those children.

The fact that those adults are not fluent can be attributed to different reasons. Maybe they aren’t using the correct methods to learn a language.

Immersion can be a disaster, even for persons with experience in language learning. Personally, I wouldn’t try immersion before having at least a B2. I know Asian immigrants who can’t speak a word of Spanish.

You say that those adults aren’t fluent. ¿How many of them read in English? ¿How many of them use Audiobooks? I’m not going to ask how many of them use shadowing or more complex techniques.

"The fact that those adults are not fluent can be attributed to different reasons. Maybe they aren’t using the correct methods to learn a language. "
I agree with what you say. Choosing correct methods is important. If you are interested in reading English novels, you do not have to spend too much time speaking with native speakers of English. You should put more emphasis on reading fluently than on speaking fluently. If I were interested in speaking with children in English speaking countries, I would read children’s books in order to be accustomed to phrases that are used when they describe their own world.

¿Me podrías ayudar con algo? Qué significa cuando un verbo termina en “ne”. Por ejemplo, “esserne”

Como en español, los pronombres se “pegan” al infinitivo, en el proceso se elimina la “e” final: hacerlo = farlo; ponerlas = porle, …
Igual pasa con los “pronombres adverbiales” ne y ci\vi, que no existen en español. Essere + ne = esserne.
“Ne” significa algo así como “de eso”.
P.e. en la canción " vivo pero leí" se dice: " non esserne geloso" = “no seas celoso [de eso]”