November 22, 2015

Choosing languages and learning more than one language at the same time.

Sadly, I have to say that I am a person that puts quantity above quality. I am a jack of all trades, and I always search for something new to learn even thought I am not quite finished with the thing that I am currently working on. When it comes to languages, I managed to learn two languages to a pretty decent level and when I was working with them I didn't really try to learn any other languages. At that time everything was easier. I was new to language learning, and I could stay pretty absorbed in a new language for a longer period of time, but as I started to get more knowledge about our world's linguistic diversity I went nuts and started to change languages like socks. Today, there even exists a meme of me that humorizes this problem :)

Just to exemplify this, once I studied 15 languages at the same time. Basically, I just studied the language that I wanted on that particular day. I had a list of 15 languages and then I just went crazy. One day I could go through five to six languages and then next day either I did the same languages or I changed. I had no plan whatsoever, so everything was random and crazy. Of course, I didn't learn a lot because of the constant switching and then I decided to change it and try something new. Right now, I am learning 3 languages at the same time (This is not a lot to me). Or rather two since one already fell out. During last two months I have been pretty concentrated only on those languages and surprisingly I feel that for once I am improving. Also during this time I have realized a couple of things about learning more languages at the same time and I want to share what I have learned.

One very interesting thing that I have noticed is that you won't be able to spend the same amount of time on each language and you won't be willing to either. And this is maybe not revolutionary but it could help those who have a problem choosing a language. Do this:

  • Start learning both languages at the same time of those that you choose between.
  • Study until you start feeling that you are paying more attention to one of those languages and then gradually push the second language out.

It might seem cruel as to say, but I find this method particularly fun, because you get to learn something about both languages and then you can choose a direction in which you want tol continue.

Two months ago I said that I will study only three languages for a certain period of time that will be chosen according to what I find suitable. Since this was the end of the year I decided that the rest of the year I can spend on Portuguese, Italian and Faroese. I knew that since Portuguese and Italian are Romance languages and I already speak Spanish and some French, I could probably reach a conversational level until January. Faorese was a new languages to me, more difficult than any of the other Germanic languages that I have studied so I decided to just go with the flow and see what happens. And what is happening? Exactly what I have written before: I am unconsciously choosing a direction which suits me best.

I have realised that I have been spending most of my time (80 percent) on Portuguese, 20 percent on Italian and none on Faroese (At least in the later stages, at the beginning I did study some). Right now I know that the language I am mostly going to continue with is Portuguese, and it fits me great. The language is amazing, Portugal is really interesting and exotic since it is not as popular as Brazil and I know that I have an advantage because of my knowledge of Spanish. I am not sad that I haven't learned Faroese, the time will come. Italian? I guess I am going to do some here and there and I will possibly acquire some low conversation level, and I might to improve it later.

So, if you have to choose between languages I will tell you to take both (or even three) and see what happens. You see, language learning is a matter of experimentation. People tend not to experiment and instead they only do what they are used to. I tell you, never studied more than one language at the same time? Do that! Never studied only one language at the same time? Do that! Experiment and see what works best for you, it will be an exciting journey and you will learn a lot! That way you will be the best language learner that you can be yourself!

Good luck!

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