Learning Multiple Languages

What are your views on learning multiple languages? Is it “harmful” if I decide to learn more than once all at one time? Would learning them all at one time aid me? Or if I took turns (i.e. French one week, Spanish the next, Italian after, German after that etc., with it going round in a cycle) be best? What are your opinions?

This subject comes up from time to time. My own experience is that I need to focus on one at a time, or at least focus 80% of my energies on one. However, I do find that studying more languages improves me in all languages. It depends on our study habits, time available, and level in these languages, I think.

I had English, French and Latin at school and was nearly equally bad in all of them. Here I play with several languages and am enjoying myself hugely. I do concentrate on French and Spanish and dip into the others from time to time.

I don’t think it’s harmful in any way. You might find it a bit overwhelming trying to get into the basics of several languages at once, or you might mix them up. But I’d say try it out, if it doesn’t work then just concentrate on one at a time.

I don’t think so you should try to learn more than one language at a time, for my own experience I started to learn english several years ago and I can’t neither speak nor understand english fluently, I know the personnel situation of everyone is different and of course the skill to learn languages of every person is different too but for me is better if you concentrate all your efforts in only one language learning.

When I first started studying languages, I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to concentrate on. I grew up in a home where German was spoken, studied Latin in high school and Spanish in college. My husband’s grandfather immigrated from Norway so I studied a little Norwegian before a trip there. I tried studying Spanish, German, and Norwegian for a while, and found it very difficult to study multiple languages at the same time.

Since we are planning an extended camping trip to Quebec in 2011, I decided to try French, too. After experimenting with multiple language learning, I decided to concentrate on French. I still write to email friends in German, and I try to write a little in my Spanish and Norwegian journals each day. French is probably the most difficult language for me, but I like challenges and am determined to learn French.

Oops. I’m learning Spanish, French, Russian, and Dutch at once. I put more effort into some than others.

Q: What are your views on learning multiple languages?

A: My view is that you should experiment and find what works best for you and then, most importantly, you should be persistent.

Q: Is it “harmful” if I decide to learn more than one at the same time?

It is not harmful, unless your family decides you are insane for doing this and they have you committed. Even then it is not harmful unless you are given medications against your will which cause horrible side effects impairing your ability to do things like briskly walking with ramrod straight posture while reciting T’ang poetry loudly in a public park.

Q: Would learning them all at one time aid me?

A: It will help you, or you will be confused. If you are confused by this, then you should study one language at a time. If you feel stimulated learning more than one at a time, then you should continue doing this. Learning more than one language at a time, is a lot of fun, actually.

Q: Or if I took turns (i.e. French one week, Spanish the next, Italian after, German after that etc., with it going round in a cycle) be best? What are your opinions?

A: I would set a certain amount of time for each language every single day and take a short break between languages. I’m not going to even suggest what amount that should be because people vary in their ability to concentrate.

Just experiment and see what works for you. Personally, I suspect that it’s best to only be a beginner in one language. As a beginner (defined as someone who cannot interact with authentic content), your first goal is to become an intermediate (someone who can interact, at least to some degree, with authentic content and native speakers). Being a beginner in several languages will (probably) delay you becoming an intermediate in any of them.

I took an exam a Chinese exam in the morning, TOEIC in the afternoon last week. I felt it was not harmful at all. In my experience. it is very interesting to know many languages. I enjoyed learning them at the same time.

I enjoy learning them every day.