I think I'm just weird


I can’t focus on 1 language. I was learning Italian, then after a couple of months I switched to Spanish and now after another 2 or 3 months I lose the drive for Spanish and I’m thinking about starting French…
Should I stick to one language or follow my heart and learn whatever I want to be learning at the time knowing I might change my mind again?

Just curious of your opinions on this matter.


Yeah, I can totally TOTALLY relate to this! :-0

After a couple of months of regular focus on language A, perhaps after making some modest progress, it just starts to lose its fascination, right? And so we start to dabble instead with language B…which however also loses its interest after a little while. So we start to dabble with language C…and so on…and so on…

I never used to be like this when I was younger - I first noticed the tendency in my mid thirties.

I don’t know whether there is something intrinsically about middle age which makes it harder to make a sustained mental effort for months on end, or whether I just had a much better motivation for learning when I was younger? (Perhaps both things are true in some measure, actually.)

But it’s a real problem - without regular concentration for a period of time it’s very hard to make a meaningful breakthrough.

(Of course it’s much less a problem for keeping up to speed with any languages that we already know well. In my case, for example, I find it easy to read or watch TV in German just purely for pleasure.)

It’s all about goals. What do you want? Maybe you just don’t feel like being fluent in a language just yet.
I mean, of course you’d like to be fluent if it happened magically but you may not feel like putting the kind of concentration it takes to get there just now.
Maybe you want to dabble, know a bit of one language, then another. That’s perfectly ok, only you wont become fluent this way. You’ll know about those languages, learn how they work, etc. Get some feeling, pick up some words, increase your ability to “decipher” texts based on a general knowledge of similar languages and of sentence structure. t’s not a bad goal to have. Some day you may feel differently but give yourself time. You have absolutely no reason or pressure to achieve any given level. Consider that for now your hobby is learning about many languages (maybe, specifically latin ones?), get some feeling of them, …

In my opinion, the ultimate criterion is this:
Do you enjoy the process? What kind of process do you enjoy? The one that makes you stick to a language and gradually become more proficient or the process of tackling not very complicated texts in languages that you know a bit about? The process of “deciphering” as much as you can based on limited knowledge? That’s also a nice skill to have and it can be enjoyable.

Just remember this: you have absolutely not need or obligation to “master” a given language in any given time. For you, language learning is a hobby! A sport, allow yourself to enjoy the activity.

+Jay. I don’t think it’s a “problem” or related to age, per se. It’s just that your interest changes in different phases of your life. You might be enjoying some “dabbling” now. Just do it!

I’ve gone through all phases myself (maybe I’m too old??)

  • First languages that I absolutely want to learn, without much certainty about whether I’d be able, trying lots of bad methods, …
  • A period of not feeling like “plunging” into a new language. Learning other stuff, enjoying the comfort of the languages I already know, wetting my feet on the shore of one language ocean after another (ah, where’s my Chinese, my Greek,. my Japanese, my Arabic).
  • And again, finding a new world, a culture that suddenly attracts me (even I dislike bits of it, it’s no blind love). Now I sure don’t feel like dabbling at all. No I want to learn this language really well! Even if it takes me decades. I may be tired sometimes but I enjoy each day, each text, each audio track, each conversation, no matter how awkward. I’m getting farther and farther from the coast. Just hope I won’t capsize! :slight_smile:

If you’re sitting for exams and need a passing grade, then stick with it! Otherwise, your direction and motivation are up to you. I agree with all that +ftornay wrote. Find something to motivate you to stick with a language if, intellectually, you want to stick with it. Without the motivation, what is the point in forced continuation.

I’ve dabbled in Latin, French, German, Arabic, Esperanto, and just lately, Finnish. It’s interesting and, perhaps, useful to know a bit about those languages, and I don’t at all begrudge the time I spent on them though I never intend to pursue fluency. (Maybe German someday?) So if that’s what you want, I’m in no position to criticize!.

Now Russian for me is another matter. I’ve found my motivation to build on several years of study done several decades ago. I’m resisting the urge to look into other languages that interest me so as to not distract me from this.

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Thank you all for your time and effort to reply.
I feel like I want to speak so many languages right now and I have trouble prioritizing. I’d love to speak Italian, same for Spanish, and now I’m thinking about French. I know it’s gonna be difficult to become fluent in these 3 relatively soon, but just being able to keep a simple conversation in these languages would be a great success for me. Then I may choose which one I’d like to really ‘master’ first, then perhaps another.

Maybe get to an intermediate level in one or more of these languages and then visit the country? I remember my language journey in Spanish became all the more fun when I spent one week in Spain.

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Age + alcohol can do that to you.

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Or even just alcohol

I’ve yet to learn a second language but I’ve heard many people give up when they hit A2, I’m not sure what level you’re reaching in each language, but it could be that you’re switching at the very point where people tend to give up, only you’re starting a new one instead. I’ve seen a lot of people who reach A2 in multiple languages doing this. Could this be because the transition from A2 to intermediate is when things get tough?

I’m at that stage myself right now and it’s getting really difficult for me, I’ve suddenly realised how little I know and how much work there is ahead. The initial excitement wanes and you start looking towards other languages to get that same buzz you had before, and so the cycle is repeated. So maybe it’s just another form of procrastination, or else you may be addicted to the rush of the early part of language learning.

Sorry if this isn’t the case with your learning but I think it might be for some, and they haven’t recognized it.

That would be actually my 3rd language. I think you’ve made a very good point, sir. I think that could be the case with my Italian as I believe I was definitely A2 when I switched to Spanish. I might have been negatively affected by not making a visible progress + I got inspired to learn Spanish and both these things made me move on to the new language.
As for Spanish, I believe I’m still at A1 and I don’t see the language to be that difficult. I think that ‘excitement rush’ is something that’s affecting me as I get easily influenced by my emotions. I watch a movie where the action takes place in Mexico, I want to learn Spanish. Then I read the Count of Monte Cristo which is all about France - and I want to learn French, pretty irritating, isn’t it?
I think I just lose interest after a couple of weeks, plus there’s usually that new rush for a new language.

Finally, I think I just lack the content I’d love to work on in a language. I always work on some basic materials or a few texts from people who are so kind to provide me with. Then I don’t look for things in that new language to be working with on my own. Or perhaps that’s just because I’d need much better knowledge of the language before I could read texts I’d be interested in.

I guess I’m still at the stage where I experiment a lot and I’m yet to find the way and the language(s) to fully unleash my learning potential.

Well your English is excellent so at least you have reached a good level in another language. There’s probably nothing wrong with trying out new languages and moving on during the early stages, I mean it’s often said that you need to have a big passion for a language to learn it to a high level, there’s no rule that says you have to get to B2/C1. Perhaps those A2 languages just didn’t ignite the flame? Anyway, you can always go back to them if you so wanted.

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I think +hellion is quite right. The most difficult part of learning a language is going from an ok beginner/low intermediate level to a level in which you start feeling comfortable in the language.
+Grigo92’s difficulty finding interesting material is also related to this: your level’s too high for introductory material but too low to tackle real content with ease. Steve talked about this stage in his last blog post.
Now I feel that I’m beginning (just beginning) to get out of this bottleneck stage in Russian, and it feels wonderful!

Hello Greg92,
I still remember that I did in 1992. I did not study very hard. If all this time, I had studied, today I would be a genius. I think if you study all day a bit, a long time you can reach an important level in French, Italian and Spanish. Your fluctuation between languages is normal in LingQ, it is something like a pandemic ill. I think, also, Steve has some symptoms. :slight_smile:

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Yeah, exactly. Years will pass no matter what. The only question is, how will we use this time?

Besides my alternating between languages, I also jump between learning methods. I use lingq, then I quit and go for memrise or duolingo, then it’s lingq again haha. But I guess that’s quite fine as long as I have some contact with foreign language(s).

hi, I’m looking for improve my English And I speak Spanish It’s nice language continuo learning Spanish.

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Also, I use sometime Duolingo. However, the important thing is the accumulation of hours. I use lingQ, Duolingo, I read paper books and electronic ones. I read about philosophy, politics, novels, a bit of everything. But, I keep studying. Maybe, you can do the same, after all, it is normal. The concentration is abnormal for the average people. :slight_smile:

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I think I’ll give French a try. Worst case scenario? I don’t like and I’ll have to come back to Spanish/Italian :slight_smile: Thanks, guys, I really appreciate your replies!
Adieu :slight_smile: