How to stop getting languages mixed together

I did an assesment recently in French. The problem was that I kept getting Spanish mixed up with French. For example, instead of “froid”, I would write “frío”, or instead of “chaud”, I would write “calor”. How do you stop getting your languages mixed up?

It happened to me when I was starting Japanese. I kept on using French words, especially prepositions and particles. French is a very familiar second language to me. German, with which I also have a lot of passive familiarity, crept in sometimes too. it’s as if there is an “all foreign language” container in your brain.

I think it might be a sign of, dare I say it, speaking too early.

To hear this spoken click here

I think it is just a matter of having enough practices.

It happens to me in closely related languages like French and Spanish. Since my French is more advanced than my Spanish as far as speaking is concerning, I only have trouble when speaking Spanish (French words come up), but not the other way.

What I am trying now, is to minimize my Spanish speaking and concentrate on French. I still do Spanish reading and listening, but only occasionally practice speaking with my tutors. But if French words creep in, so be it, make a laugh and have fun (somehow I think it sounds cute). I believe the mistake will disappear after a few corrections.

I find it also happens with completely inrelated languages, like Russian and Spanish (yes, Spanish is my strongest).

@dooo- I like the idea of that container. I just need to work on organising it, it seems. Steve also says a language is like a jigsaw. I reckon I’m just trying to use the pieces from a different jigsaw in my French one.

@Edwin- Thanks, but I can’t just laugh! I’m trying to get qualifications in French and Spanish, so it might just be pressure.

It need not just happen in related languages. It happens to me in all languages, especially in those that I seldom use, or where my level of fluency is lower.

Your brain goes to look for a word in a foreign language and goes to the wrong place. I don’t think this is so important. If you get concentrated exposure and are in a situation where you are speaking one of these languages mostly, that is the language that will dominate. We are not normally in situations where we are constantly switching languages.

I remember back at school, both my Spanish and French teachers taught both subjects, and they didn’t seem to mix up the 2 languages. I would now like to know how they did it, but unfortunately I have lost contact with them after all these years.

I did something rather weird when I was facing Spanish and French exams back at school. When my French exam was coming up, I would break my friendship with my Spanish schoolmates. I would stay away from them to avoid any Spanish contamination. Then right after the exam, I would make up with them again, to preparing for my Spanish exam.

As for me, the problem was that I kept getting French mixed up with French. instead of “example”, I would write “exemple”, or instead of “address” I would write “adresse”. And when speaking English, I always forget to pronounce final consonance “s”.

–>>As for me, the problem was that I kept getting French mixed up with English.

The more languages you know, the more likely it is you’re gonna mix them up.

In fact, after learning how to speak English fluently I sometimes can’t remember the Dutch word for something and instead use the English word. In a conversation the other person will most likely understand you anyway or if not, they might correct you or ask you what you meant, in which case I often find the right word in my second try.

I can’t see mixing words up as being any sort of problem with languages you speak fluently, unless you’re doing some kind of test in which you have one chance to get it right or wrong.

Confusing languages will become increasingly likely whenever you’re switching languages a lot. If you have a French test in two weeks, I’d say ignore Spanish for the next two weeks and only focus on French.

When you’re still learning a languages then learning related languages might cause a problem.

French is one of the languages I’m actually most eager to learn, but since I’m also learning Spanish, I’ve put French on hold until I’m at least somewhat fluent in Spanish.