Learning Multiple Languages, and Priorities

Hello all!

Before I explain my situation, I would like to also explain that I do not plan to become a “hyperpolyglot” or anything like that. There are about five or six languages I would like to master in my lifetime, and really nothing more.
For those of you who are curious, they are German, Swedish, Slovak/Czech, Russian, and Japanese.

Now, the problem with having set languages that I would like to master is that I jump around way too much because I already know what I want to master. I am at various levels in all of my languages, some on LingQ, others not. However, I really need to focus on one language at a time. I find this very hard to do, and I was wondering if anyone could help me by maybe throwing out some suggestions.

About priorities; they are the reason I’m in this mess! I’m in a German class in school (German is my best foriegn language) I plan to move to Sweden (Swedish is 2nd best) I’m friends with an exchanged student from Slovakia (my heritage is Slovak and I feel like these next 6 months are my only chance to really learn Slovak) and I have a lot of Russian friends in school that I enjoy speaking with. I like to study the two Slavic languages because I’m trying to further understand the grammar.
The only language on my list that I am not currently involved with or pressured to study is Japanese.

I’m only 17 years old, so I am quite young and have PLENTY of time to master every language on this list. So, it’s kind of funny that I’m having all these problems right now.

Is there anyone else out there with similar issues? Anyone who can offer solutions?

Also, general ‘learning multiple languages’ thread.

Don’t stress yourself too much, because that is a bad thing in language learning. You said that you may be have the next six months for czech/slovak. If it was me, I would do the czech/slovak for the next 6 months and after. But for me I do 2 languages at a time. At the moment, I’m brushing up my rusty french and learn german from zero. After I want to learn spanish or italian and swedish, then spanish or italian and last but not least finnish. You can try to do 2 at a time, if you do have the time for it though. I’m not in the work force or in public school, so I do have all the time that a old retiree has when he/she retires.

I feel like I should say that your situation pretty closely mirrors mine, I actually plan on heading to Stockholm when I finish high school too! Considering your circumstances I don’t think you really need to restrict yourself to one language, or at least restrict yourself to thinking about it that way. I don’t know how good your Swedish is right now, but unless you wanted to completely immerse yourself in the culture from day one, I wouldn’t be in any rush to learn it intensively until you get there. That’s especially true because you have an opportunity to do just that with Slovak, since you have a friend, which is exactly what you’d move on to do Swedish with! So you’re guaranteed a clear plan in three languages, German, Slovak, and Swedish.

I guess this is the disadvantage of being in such a multicultural environment, you get lost in the sea of language opportunity!

I haven’t been pressured to learn a single language intensively yet, but I have a feeling I’m eventually going to need to stop my current habit of drifting across languages, and focus.

Anyways, it’s very nice to see someone with such a similar a situation! I’m very curious about how the experience of moving to Sweden will go, maybe you could fill me in? Also, where is your high school, out of curiosity? Bit envious of such a multicultural environment.

Good luck!

I think you should focus on Swedish for now. You´re planning to move to Sweden and, from what I´ve heard, most Swedes will switch to English unless your Swedish is realllly good. Knowing Swedish will make learning German much easier because the vocabularies are quite similar. Well, I guess you already know that.^^

In general, I´d try to focus on one language until you´re somewhat fluent. One sharp knife is better than five blunt knives.

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Hi! I’m in a pretty similar situation. I’m 18 (currently taking a gap year between high school and university) and have 3 “set in stone” languages that I intend to master, as well as other languages I’m interested in studying…

It’s always difficult when your enthusiasm jumps around and you can’t focus on one target language - I empathize!

I think there’s nothing wrong with pursuing various interests, especially at such a young age. If there’s no desire to hone in on one language, then maybe focus on 2-3? Because you feel the next few months are your only time to learn Slovak, I would do that. You would immediately begin Swedish when you arrive in Sweden. (And because almost everyone in Sweden speaks English, you can easily manage your way around the country when you first arrive.) Hopefully you can continue German through school and not regress if you intensely study Swedish. In general, I would be weary of studying 2 similar languages at the same time, particularly if you’re not at least upper intermediate/lower advance in one of them.

Don’t stress too much! You future plans seem awesome and everything will come to fruition in due time. :o)

I think this depends on the individual. I have found that at an early stage in a language, concentration and focus is the most effective way to learn. I would spend 80% of my time on one language.

I agree with Paule. I would focus (80%) on Swedish so that I hit the ground running there, and dabble (20%) in one Slavic language, probably Slovak, since that is where the interest is greatest. When you eventually turn to German and Russian, your Swedish and Slovak will stand you in good stead. And after that you will have the experience and confidence to tackle any language you want. Good luck.

will_tobin1 - Thanks for your input! I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Apparently, it’s a nice destination for Russian and Ukranian families to move to! My German teacher also speaks Spanish and I know he learned Latin in school, but I’m not sure how much of it he knows. The Spanish teacher, I often converse with in Russian. I don’t even know how many languages she speaks, but she has spent her whole life learning and teaching languages!

Paule89 - I agree with you 100%! Now that I think about it, I’m at conversational levels in German and Swedish and the only thing I really need for those two languages is to accquire vocabulary. I understand the grammar VERY well! Russian can wait. I’m okay with basic Russian, and that would be easier after I learn more Slovak. I think I can just focus a lot on Slovak.

mayamarie - Thanks a lot for your thoughts :slight_smile: I agree it won’t be that hard getting by in Sweden, and I should have mentioned my Swedish is at a level that I can have basic conversations, and ask for help or the meaning of a word or something. I’ve been learning it without LingQ for about a year and a half. Even though I have been learning it for that long, I am not happy with the level I am at. But I hope to be speaking Swedish every day for the rest of my life once I move there, so I’m not too concerned about that. :slight_smile:

Steve - Thanks a lot for your input, Steve! I always appreciate when the master himself gives me advice! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

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"Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. "

Do the Amish let you speak German with them?

I actually worked at a grocery store and would talk with Amish people often. Pennsylvania Dutch is similar to German and I could kind of make out what they were talking about sometimes.

Hey, Cymatic! I can relate. I was doing 5 languages when I was at high school. Fortunately, nobody had told me it was a sin :wink: It seems that you have already decided, so just a quick note about Czech and Slovak. I haven’t met anyone who’ s tried to start with both of them simultaneously, so I’ll be just guessing here. I think it could be completely fine for understanding, but if you want to speak Slovak actively, you may get huge interferences. You may end up speaking some sort of Czechoslovak. That being said, if you don’t mind sounding funny (which we often do anyway, when speaking a foreign language) your Slavic esperanto will probably be understandable on both sides of the border. Good luck with our beautiful languages and all your other beautiful languages :slight_smile: If you ever need a Czech tutor, I am right here.