Improving Spanish and Portuguese at the same time

I speak both languages at an intermediate level (Spanish app. B2, Portuguese app. B1+) and would like to reach a good C1 level soon (my passive Spanish is C1 but I’ve still got problems to express myself as fluently as I’d like to). Unfortunately I tend to mix up the languages, so I’m wondering whether I should stop learning them simultaneously. I’ve been thinking of various possibilities, like concentrating first on Spanish and then on Portuguese or learning one month Spanish and one month Portuguese or even alternating weekly. So what do you think, what would work best or what would make more sense? Do you have own experiences with learning two similar languages at the same time?

Perhaps my experience and advice can be helpful for you: I am learning Danish and Norwegian at the same time. (Danish since October 2009 and Norwegian since July 2013). What helps me is that I build up clear distinguishing rules between both languages. For expample that at the end of a one-syllable word in Norwegian the konsonant is dubbled “takk”, but this is not done in Danish “tak”. And there are other such spelling rules. As well as pronounciation rules, for example the letter “u” is pronounced in Norwegian as a German “ü” whereas in Danish as a German “u”. What also helps me when studying Norwegian is that think of the Danish equivalent words. These two techniques help me too to distinguish both languages better and to avoid interferences (= mixtures).


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I understand your Problem. When you more than one Language know, is it easy the Languages to mixen. For everyone gives it this Problem, believe I.

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I would focus on one language at a time. Maybe go alternating months.

In my house we mix languages because we can. My entire family speak franglais, and I don’t mean what they speak in New Brunswick.

Why don’t you just learn one passively/actively, and the other only passively? That way you can understand both and not have to worry about mixing up your output.

I admire @Fasulye’s ability to separate similar languages - If you can set up ‘containing rules’ as she does, wonderful. I am much more prone to mixing up languages and so I’d do it like Steve says, find a rhythm of alternating, a rhythm that suits you.


Thanks for your detailed explanation. My problem is slightly different, though. I normally don’t mix the languages when I’m writing them, it only happens when I speak and it has become worse since I’ve been studying both languages actively again. I often realize it as soon as I’ve spoken the word. It happens with words which are similar like “volver/voltar” but it also happens that I speak Portuguese and suddenly use “pero” instead of “mas”.

You made me laugh :slight_smile:

That was my first idea and it’s still the one I like best.

Unfortunately that won’t help me to reach my C1 goal. My passive knowledge of both languages is quite good. I’ve been reading Spanish literature for about 20 years and don’t find listening to native speakers difficult, either. With Portuguese it’s a bit different as it’s a language I’ve used while living in Brazil, so here I understand colloquial expressions much better and don’t even have to pay much attention when Brazilians speak, I simply understand it. I need to improve my active skills for both languages and that’s only possible when I speak and write a lot. And when I speak a lot in both languages, I start to mix them up and that’s annoying (probably more for me than for my interlocutor).