Learning a language for the purpose of learning others?

Hello all,

Recently, I have been thinking of learning French. I have been thinking of learning this for the sole purpose of learning future languages using French. Has anyone else done this, if so, was it enough motivation to keep going and fully learn the language so that you were able to use it later?

Which language are you really interested in learning, via French? Why not learn them first. Then get back to French when you are more motivated?

The reason I was interested in learning French is to use Assimil.

Ah, I see.

@ Le Jr - me too! haha! I just spent an hour looking at Assimil stuff before I saw your post, fair dinkum. I know what you mean - there are a heap of Assimil languages only available in French and/or the advanced versions are only available in French.

Alternatively, we could just use Michel Thomas, Teach Yourself and LingQ:~ !
OR…I reckon completing French with ease (113 lessons), & the Using French (Assimil - Advanced, 70 lessons), would give me enough knowledge of the language to go ahead & use other Assimil stuff not available in English.

I recently received an Assimil course, and it looks quite fun & interesting - so no doubt the French would be just as good. In my mind, these other courses would enrich my LingQ experience.

I was planning on using only LingQ, in fact I am only wanting to learn to read it. I don’t really have a huge desire for speaking or writing it.

I like Assimil. It is a good resource, but it is nothing really special. It certainly isn’t so good that it is worth learning an entire language to use it.


If you actually have desire to learn French aside from just using Assimil resources I would say go for it, if not don’t. Why?
Well IMO in order to use a course with base L2 to learn L3, L2 would have to be mastered to a point where looking at the L3 translation into L2 wouldn’t impede learning (not knowing words, thinking you know what a word means then you end up learning the wrong word for an idea, or just simply time of register for words). To reach this level I believe it would take upwards of a year for the average learner maybe shorter if more time is put in per day. I assume this level to be around B2 but obviously the higher the better.
Assimil isn’t the only great program out there, many people love the old Linguaphone courses, and I’ve heard good talk about the old Berlitz courses, look around, Assimil’s a great resource but it might not be worth spending upwards of a year to learn the language that will help you learn the language that you actually desire…

I don’t know about learning another language in order to use it as a base for learning yet more languages, but I have used French and Spanish textbooks to tackle other languages. I love doing it because it helps me with French/Spanish at the same time.

Thanks for the interesting responses - something to think about.

I’ve met PHD students at Uni who successfully studied only the written language in order to read original source documents for their thesis. I was also thinking of studying some Latin before tackling romance languages. It’s not necessary of course, but none of this would go to waste, as simply being able to read literature in those languages would be fascinating. I can also add these to my degree as electives.

In addition, I studied a year each of Latin and French back in high school, & it would be interesting to revisit them.

@watupboy - I once studied German in its written form only and was writing sentences within 2 days in order to communicate with an online acquaintance (shocking my husband who has some passive understanding from his childhood in Holland). I’ve also tried it with Italian, though I quickly forgot everything when I stopped writing in both languages. So I think it’s quite possible to be at B2 within 6 months, especially through reading, although there’s no rush.

I don’t think they have Korean in Linguaphone…but Assimil has a French version, for example.

Hey, if I keep it enjoyable, it will work.

@Julz- Interesting that you bring up learning Latin and French in high school. I too learned Latin for 4 years, for the benefit of expanding not only my English vocabulary, but also languages I knew I’d be learning in the future

I know Assimil is not the only course available (my favorite of the book courses I’ve done), but it is more of a test to see if I could do it, and it is a challenge I would enjoy for the simple fact that I can use it to learn other languages. Like said earlier, Assimil offers a majority of its courses in French, so it might be beneficial to learn French to use it.

1 Like

Yeah, in my case, I want to learn English not just because it’s important to me, but most of online languages courses or resources are in English. I’d like to learn German or French for example when I’m able to speak English fluently.

@AlanC - your English is quite good already - I can’t express in any of my L2’s everything you just wrote! :slight_smile:

@Julz611 Thanks. I’m glad to hear that.
My writing is still too poor, I have to practice more. For example, that took me 5 minutes to write!

I don’t think it is a smart idea to learn French just to get access to language materials written in French.

  1. You need to have a damn good level in French to do so. If not, you won’t understand everything, grammar, explanations, everything will be so inefficient that you will be begging to learn your target language with explanations in your native language.

  2. Unless you were forced to do so for a job or for love, I don’t see how you can learn a language to a high level without motivation for it.

@caza - hmm, but remember we’re talking about just learning the written form of French…and one could always refer to other dictionaries, grammar refs etc to clarify things.

Remember us humans are funny creatures - I once studied a course in formal logic, including truth functions and derivations, just for the heck of it: “If first year Uni students can learn it, so can I!” mentality. Same thing with the Rubics Cube. (yep, I did it). It might actually be a fun experiment to see how much written French I can learn, treating it as an extinct language without recourse to pronunciation or audio.

I will have to wait anything up to 6 weeks for Amazon to send Assimil French (my preferred method) to Australia by row boat…after some funds come my way in a week or two. Perhaps I will post a message when I’m ready to start French? I will be working on my Chinese at the same time though, including learning 800 characters. Pity I couldn’t start the same time as Le Jr - that would have been fun.

Ooh, I see I’ve reached my 100th post of drivel, lol.

1 Like

@Julz611 Congratulations on your baby drivel step (and on your Rubic’s Cube success, I could only do it by following very detailed instructions…) Since reading this thread I’ve looked at my Assimil “El nuevo Francés sin esfuerzo” again and I think the Spanish explanations dealing with French and Spanish grammar are great, always just enough, not too much and not too little. The book - bought for its Spanish content rather than the French texts - was a £2 bargain at Oxfam’s because there was no audio material with it.

Although it may not be the most efficient way to learn your TL through another completely new TL, you sound intellectually curious and determined enough to actually do it and profit from it in both languages. Good luck!

1 Like

@SanneT - thanks for that! My beauty secret is…um…immaturity, lol. Frankly, I’d just finished brushing away some tears after reading my little boy’s school report card, and then did what I usually always do, just get up again and laugh at life.

He’s 7 year’s old, in grade 2 - yet they couldn’t even rate him as "emerging’, “consolidating” or “independent” in any skills except for his music ability which is itself at toddler level ie. uses his body to explore movement, uses percussion instruments. He did score for willingly participating in painting. Everything else was on the bottom level “receiving support”. We’re not talking about academics - not even up to that - but being able to name peers or body parts, putting shoes on or adjusting clothing, recognising symbols etc. (Of course, ‘normal’ school children are rated A, B, C etc).

He is still my pride and joy, and loved just as much as my eldest genius-IQ son.

One reason I’m studying languages is I have an interest in communicating with other parents (especially with the Japan Down Syndrome Society). My idea of “fluency” is to be able to express heart-felt emotions and communicate with like-minded parents of other nations with disabled children.


@Julz- How about I’ll wait until you get your Assimil course. If it’ll be about 6 weeks, then I will have enough time to get to a better level in my other languages.

@Julz611 Your little son sounds as adorable as my eldest granddaughter who is now 5 years old. She functions at the lowest levels of normality according to official tests - she suffered oxygen deprivation at birth - and is years behind in her development, but she comprehends ‘fluently’ both English and German and her word production in either language is increasing every day. She is as bright as a button even if she can’t yet do the tasks other children can. She is determined to succeed and it is a joy - and a shining example to me - to watch her growing up against all the odds.

In comparison, what are a few language hiccups? I’ve learnt to just get on with it at my own pace.