Learning Speed with Similar Languages

Hello everyone,

just a quick question has anyone had any experience with learning similar languages for example the romance languages and noticed an increase in speed of learning?

for example I know that if I was to learn French for example my understanding of the sexes for each word and the rules behind them would be much higher because I am very much similar with these rules because of Spanish.

Many thanks


It took me several years to learn French to a fluent level, living in the country. It took me about six months to become relatively competent in Italian afterwards. I was reading children’s literature within a few months of starting, and then 19th-century Russian novels in Italian translations at the 6-month mark.

Learning Greek, by comparison, has been a very long and slow process. Very little carry over from other languages I know, and relatively poor sources for beginner and intermediate language content. Romance language learners are spoiled.


Yes, your speed will definitely increase learning a second Romance language, no doubt about that.

Two caveats are:

It’s great to have similarities between the languages, but this can also create its own problems. Little things that are similar but not the same will probably trip you up.

French is the ‘outlier’ of the Romance languages (i.e. the one that is most different from the others, especially pronunciation). Going from Spanish to either Portuguese or to Italian would be easier because they are more similar to Spanish.

Very interesting once I am happier with my Spanish I do plan on learning another romance Language.

Same here. Likely French, but maybe Russian first. Still deciding. I have at least 194 hours left to decide. :wink:

i have knowlege of spanish and i’m studying french now and i can tell you my knowlege of spanish has helped me understand some aspects of french grammar because they are things similar between the two which makes it easier . however there is also significant diferences between french and spanish and i don’t mean just the pronounciation ,different rules on the uses of prepositions ,genders,tenses etc but once you get a understanding of one it should get easier just a question of learning the diferences

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why 194 hours left?

French and Spanish sound too different to get any advantage in listening or speaking. In reading i would think there is some overlap and discount. But you’re still going to have to put in thousands of hours.

You will get more discount going Spanish - Italian OR Italian - French. You will probably get a greater discount just from the fact that it isn’t your first second language as opposed to it just being a direct cross-over between the two different languages.

Like the others said, it definitely does help, but you also have to look out for the many differences, especially false friends. I haven’t done this like that myself, but I’d really make sure to know Spanish well. I started Italian last year and knowing French and Spanish at my current level definitely helped me more than French helped me when I first started Spanish. It had been a few years since I last had French back then and I never was really good at it. Also, the bigger your vocabulary, the more likely it is that you’ll see the similarities to words you know in French as common words in one language may be related to uncommon ones the other.

that is what I was thinking once I have reached 20k or even 25k I would then think about moving on.

That will then constitute 1,200-1,400 hours total learning time for Spanish. That’s enough and then I’ll move on. You’ll never be perfect, and you’ll always want to do better, so I got to cut it off somewhere.

It’s good to have an endpoint, particularly if you have an interest in other langauges you want to get to.

I would suggest basing your finish line on 1) what you want to/have achieved; 2) whether you are satisfied with that; 3) picking nice round numbers/LingQ avatar levels; and 4) your other priorties–in that order.

I was thinking about cutting mine off once I reach 20k known words in Spanish then perhaps moving onto more than likely French.