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Learning two languages would be a help or a hindrance ?

Travel Forums Off Topic Learning two languages would be a help or a hindrance ?

1. Posted by stephania (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y

Hello all, I’m looking for some advice and was wondering if there are any language learners out there who could help me…

I have just returned from a French language course in France, a final part of my degree which has consolidated all what I learnt and left me more or less fluent. It has fired my passion for language learning so much so that I am not only considering languages as a career but also considering learning another language. But this is what worries me, I don’t know whether it really is a good idea or not. I certainly don’t want to lose my French level! Considering one of my main interests is Italy, I thought about learning Italian – but slowly and steadily, whilst keeping up the French too. For this I was considering taking a viaggi di studio Montreal which would basically be going to an Italian school but in a French speaking city. So though the main focus on my language learning trip would be Italian (given that it is the new, target language), I would be mixing with French people (and so practising French) outside of class hours. Furthermore, I was considering giving one to one English lesson to French (or Italian!) speaking people as a way to earn money and a way to meet and mix with people.

What worries me is that the two languages are relatively similar and so I don’t know if this would be a help or a hindrance…

If anyone has experience of learning two languages simultaneously, please do let me know how you manage and differentiate between the two! I’d hate to try for both and end up with none!

[ Edit: Promo links removed ]

2. Posted by bwiiian (Travel Guru 768 posts) 8y

I also speak french as I did a degree in the language but I am also learning Tagalog (filipino) ) at the moment and i do not see this as a problem at all. If you are now totally fluent in french then learning italian will not harm your french language. I don't see why you think this could be a problem?

3. Posted by spongehead (Full Member 119 posts) 8y


It seems to me that you're 'advertising' for 3 language schools by inserting their links within your 'story'. But I could be wrong.

4. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 8y

Oh my goodness--the only way I could even remember Italian words was because I speak French. They're often so similar that the meaning becomes apparent even if the words are slightly different. Plus they stay in my head (as opposed to German, which I had no methods to remember and so quickly forgot the few words I knew).

I have quite a few friends who speak English, French and Italian (there's a big Italian community in Montreal), and they have no problem staying sharp with all three.

Good luck!

5. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

Depends. It really is a two-edged knife.

I had and have a similar problem with Russian, Bosnian and Arabic.

Russian is very similar to Bosnian, so initially I took it as the easy way out (when you are required to learn 4 languages as part of your degree you learn to take shortcuts anywhere you can). I was quite fluent in Russian at the time (I've forgotten quite a bit now) and did not want loose that. Yet when I took up Bosnian I quickly noted that it messed havoc with my ability to remember correct Russian grammar. The vocabulary is very similar (just like French and Italian) but the grammar is different, but similar enough to confuse. My brain had a really hard time to distinguish between the two languages. I found that after 4 weeks I could not tell whether a word or a particular form was Russian or Bosnian, so I gave it up. It was the right decision, since I was learning Arabic at the same time and never noticed the problems I had with Bosnian. There was some interference, mainly mixing vocabulary that I had recently learned, but I always got my grammar straight.

It might be different for you, knowing French already might help you a lot when it comes to learning Italian, but it is not for everybody.

6. Posted by summer910 (Respected Member 1342 posts) 8y

I learnt Italian on and off and was getting quite decent at it until I had to stop because of work. Then I decided to take up French because classes for Italian were not available at that time, and I found that grammar-wise they are quite similar, so my previous knowledge of Italian helped when it came to figuring out conjugations and grammar structures (pronunciation was another matter altogether, haha). Certain words are similar, of course, but IMO they're not as confusing as Italian and Spanish. I've stopped French now and gone back to Italian because my schedule doesn't allow juggling two languages, but I don't think taking both at the same time will greatly affect the fluency or mastery of either of the languages.

So long as you enjoy learning languages, you should do okay, so go for it!

7. Posted by dream.girl (Full Member 48 posts) 8y

I just returned from a study abroad program where I spent 5 months in France and 1 month in Spain. While I was i school in France I chose to take Spanish classes... in French. I the beginning I had basic french and zero spanish. It was a bit difficult, some moments involving "chain-dictionary translating" so I would understand things, but as I excelled in French my Spanish only got better. By the time I left France for Spain I was , like you, practically fluent in French, and spending a month in Spain did no damage to my french even though I was exposed to daily Spanish, and I also discovered that those 2 languages have very similar vocabulary and grammar points. I agree with some of the other postings, having French was an asset!

8. Posted by angela_ (Respected Member 1732 posts) 8y

If your fluent, I don't think you will have a problem. I learned French but was very shaky at it and then started learning Spanish and I got the languages really mixed up. But I think that's just because I wasn't sure on my French to begin with.

9. Posted by stephania (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y

Hello everyone,

Thanks for reading my article, thanks for all your ideas and advices. This is a big help to me. Once again thank you and have a blessed day to each and everyone of us.