Learing two languages simultaneously

I have been learning french for a few months and feel that I am progressing adequately. I have a vacation planned for a spanish speaking country later this year and would like to pick up some spanish ahead of time.
My question is: Do people find it confusing trying to learn two languages at once? Would I be better off shelving the french while I start learning spanish?

I think that depends on your goals. If I were you, I would make a decision on which language do I want to focus on more. Maybe, I suggest that you should do some Spanish while learning French simultaneously. I do not find it confusing so far because I am able to prioritize which language is my main target and which language is a longer project. For example, Spanish is my main target language, but Korean is a longer project.

I already have a pretty advanced knowledge of both languages I’m mainly invested in (Japanese/French), so it’s not completely the same, but am studying these two at the same time. I started learning Italian and Latin as well, but realised that spending time on these two on top of what I was already doing was time I did not put into JP/FR.

When you’re learning two languages in the same family (e.g. Spanish / French) it might be more confusing, but I feel the most important aspect is that it’s just going to take you twice as long. I wish I didn’t need to do both JP and FR at the same time so that I read twice as much and exponentially increase speed/learning of one of these. Alas, for several reasons, I need to do both at the same time.

I stopped Latin and Italian when I saw the impact on how much time I had available to read and how many Lingqs I was learning. I want to read at least 2.000 words per day per language, though I wish I could do 5000 per day (and some days I actually pull it off :slight_smile: ). I simply didn’t have the time to even do 2k words for a third (let alone fourth) language.

Basically, it’s up to you. You can always try it out, and if your progress is acceptable to you, keep going - if not, stop (I find the metrics on how many lingqs I have learned and how many words I have read over the past month very useful in this respect)

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The level of confusion is going to differ based on how similar the languages are. I would guess that Spanish and French are different enough that this will be minimal, but others are going to know that distinction much better than I.

There’s no reason you can’t learn both beyond our time is limited. Whether or not you “should” really just depends on your goals and and needs (both personally and professionally). Just know that doing so will slow progress in both languages.

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As other have noted, the main issue is how much time you have to devote to both. The grammar of the two languages is very similar so they will reinforce each other in that respect but the pronunciation and spelling are not. Thus, speaking and listening comprehension won’t be mixed up.

It seems that your goals would influence your activities. You are not going to get up to a conversational level in Spanish in a few months, even though the pronunciation and spelling is much easier than French.
Still, I would focus on listening more to Spanish (so you can understand an answer to a simple question) and regarding basic vocabulary that you would use on a short visit – e.g., how to buy things in a store, numbers (very critical for prices and locations), vocabulary regarding directions (where is… across the street, right and left, behind, etc.,), transportation (bus, train, airport, exit, entrance), foods (on a menu), simple social terms (please, thank you, excuse me, I’m sorry, how much, etc.). That is, learn basic verbs (two forms of “to be” and their uses, to have, give, go, call, say, write, etc.) in the present an past tenses. Learn all in context (not lists of words which find never stick) which you can do by looking at Youtube videos about the places where you are going and looking at street views on Google maps of the places you will be so that you understand street signs. Listen to the Spanish that is spoken in the country you will be visiting. (Spain Spanish the Spanish in other Latin American countries are not exactly the same.)

If you have time, you can continue to do some French so you don’t lose it – perhaps, you spend more time reading and listening without active review-- while you spend more concerted time on getting the basics down for your Spanish trip. I would also practice saying out loud some basic questions and responses in typical situations. On the one hand, Spanish is much easier than French in that how it is written is how it is pronounced but on the other, native Spanish speakers tend to speak fast so you need to be able to recognized short sentences readily. If I were you, I wouldn’t be concerned about spending an equal amount of time on both or doing the exact same things. I have been studying two languages for several years on LingQ and don’t do the same things in both languages. Like everything, the more you do something, the more adept you become. At first, it may be difficult to switch between French and Spanish but if you do both every day (albeit not for the same amount of time or with the same focus), it will become easier. Good luck.

I think it is all about time. If you have enough time you can study both of them. If you have motivation, you can improve both of them.

I find this interesting because both languages have interested me and I have been trying to decide which language to study next. And while I may do “a little” Latin before diving into French or Russian, I won’t do two languages at the same time. I have never attempted this before and that’s because after talking to lots of people who have and have not, I’ve decided against it. Here’s what I’ve gathered from all that:

–The better you know one foreign language, the less distracted you’ll be if you add a second one.

–The primary distraction is time away from the other language and it will take you longer to achieve your goals in both.

–“Mixing them up” tends to happen with output and pronunciation, rather than reading and listening activities.

–The best allocation of foreign language learning times seems to be 80% on your priority language and 20% the ones that are not. For example, when I started French or Russian, I’ll spend most of my time doing one of those and 20% on maintaining Spanish.

–Don’t do any of this is you’re not really good at one of the languages.

My opinion: it sounds like the Spanish is your priority so shelve the French and do the Spanish until your trip is over and you can forget about it and return to French.

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