Studying Multiple Languages: Language Prep and Development

I just want to share what I am doing right now, and hopefully you guys can
comment on it.

Right now I have an advanced level of Mandarin. However, I still need more vocabulary
and listening practice.

I am also learning German. The problem is that I don’t want to devote anytime to listening to
German as I don’t have that much time to listen and read to other things besides Mandarin. Therefore, on
Sunday, when I have more time, I will learn the vocabulary from a new chapter of my German book by writing it out several times. It takes me about 1 to 1 hour and a half to learn the new 30 or so words. I just write them until I know them. Then during the following week, Monday through Friday, I will write out the new dialogue (which contain the words that I studied on Sunday) and read the previous chapter. This takes about 30-45 min a day. Then on Saturday, I will just read all previous chapters, which takes about 45 mins to an hour. All my other time is devoted to Mandarin. (I also listen to Mandarin while I learn German Vocab)

I only like to dedicate myself to one language at a time (in terms of listening AND reading) and I will be focusing on Mandarin for the next year. After that year, I will focus on German (listening and reading, more than 3 hours a day).

I have to say it’s working. My vocabulary is growing and when I hear German I can notice the words that I have learned. I feel like when this next year is over, I will have read and written so much German that when I
start REALLY listening and studying it, I will already have a big passive vocabulary. So I will have a head start.

So does anyone else do this or have a similar techniques for learning a second language which is not
the real priority at the moment? I guess the only thing that makes my technique different is that I am usually always listening to Mandarin while I do this.


In my experience, I have found that I need to get to a certain level in a language before starting a new one. It might be the 1000 hours threshhold or thereabouts. I once read the brain has to form “language centres” and that each language has its own. Initially therefore learning two languages concomittantly may not be as productive as it would be once a certain level has been attained in one of the languages being studied. From that it seems it would be best to allow one languages to settle at a certain level and then start a new one. It sounds like this is what you are doing.

I remember at one university, students were not allowed to start learning two languages that were too similar. Italian and Spanish in this case. This was learning ab initio.

Imyrteshem- Is this for speaking? Speaking requires speed of thought and this when problems can arise when learning two languages at the same time. I think even bilingual children goes through a short stage where they will say a sentence with the odd word from the other language not even being aware that they have used two languages together.

I think language acquisition is only genetic insofar in that all humans have that capability.

I think you might still have the first three stored in your latent memory. I have had one such experience where the language was still there but just needed to be “retrieved”.

I suppose that if someone started two languages with a high transparency level from scratch, they could mix them up to a certain extent. Something like Spanish and Portuguese or Czech and Polish.