studying more than one language at a time

I'm thinking of trying this as an experiment... trying to learn French and Italian at the same time. I mean same vocabulary, same grammatical constructs, all in parallel with each other in both languages. I've studied Latin and Spanish (but not together) so I'm pretty comfortable with Latin-based stuff. Has anyone ever tried this? Is this doable or will it just turn my brain into oatmeal?

* Originally posted by matt65000.

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  • I know Gabe doesn't recommend this. I have tried Spanish and Italian at the same time and got totally confused. French and Italian are actually closer (more congruent) than Italian and Spanish so it might even be worse. The grammar is different (French is not pro-drop) and the pronunciation is very different as is the spelling. It seems likely that you would have problems with any two romance languages. It would be interesting to know if anyone has accomplished this simultaneously. If you have a solid basis in Spanish, picking up either Italian or French will be easier for you. Just one at a time.

    * Originally posted by James.
  • How about refreshing one language (Russian) while learning another (French)? Would that be a good idea?

    * Originally posted by jaderosary.
  • It probably depends on what you mean by "refreshing". Russian and French are so different that it should be easy to keep them separated if you are really good in Russian already. A polyglot named Luca Lampariello recommends that you do this when studying a new language in order to maintain the one already known. If you are at the same level in both, it will be trickier to keep the words apart when you have pictures to associate them with, and the pictures are similar. Luca uses bilingual texts (especially the Assimil series) extensively.

    * Originally posted by James.
  • From past experience, you can do more than one language at a time, but the more different they are the better. You also need to provide your brain with time to set down one language before picking up the other.

    I used to use tapes for one language right after another and I found that I'd respond to the current questions with the previous language automatically.

    Create some sort of a moat in order to reduce this. You can only study X language on even days and Y language on odd days. Or perhaps you only study X language in your kitchen while Y language is only studied in the living room and so on.

    This isn't ideal, but cues to tell your brain which language to use can be quite effective. I remember trying to order coffee in a Starbucks in Guangzhou when I was there a couple years ago and I could barely speak any language as I had the option of probably at least two different types of Chinese as well as English. In the end, I could barely resolve which language and wound up barely squeaking out the bare minimum English to get the job done.

    This is more or less exactly what you should be trying to avoid. To the extent possible it's one language or another, not both. Code switching can be helpful, but it's never ideal.

    * Originally posted by pfrank.
  • So. how did it go? :D

    * Originally posted by Slache.

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