Sunday, July 10, 2016

Learning many languages at the same time

Firstly, it's not a good idea, because "all the --- all the time" is the best way to learn a language. If you could, you could sit with one language for a year or so, and then take on the next one, otherwise you could get your "language core" muddled up.

But, in Finland, the kids are started off with their first second language on third grade (about 10 years old), the second comes on seventh grade (about 13) and the next on 8th grade, and then on 10th (gymnasium/high school 1st - about 16) some add one or  more new ones. As the education is now-a-days (or was when I was in school), in practice that is studying more than one language at a time. We went from the Swedish class to English to German to Russian to Latin to French to... some the same day, some different days. I don't feel I got them mixed up.

Another reason for focusing on one language at a time is that you learn faster the fewer things you try to learn at a time. Just imagine learning to type with your toes while learning to play piano with your fingers... no can do. :-D

Luca gives a great example of two students who get the challenge to learn 10 languages in 10 years.
Now... I am just a dabbler... I am not doing this seriously enough, so I haven't been doing what I tell people to do :-D So I do not speak all the languages I have ever studied. :-D But... I find the challenge very attractive. I would like to try, first try to learn 10 languages in 10 years all at the same time; give all the languages 15 minutes a day, every day... and have at least 1/2 hour between languages.
Then I would try Luca's way of doing it. After all, it takes just 20 years. I'm 46 now. I would be 66 with 20+ languages. :-D (According to Luca, though, I would be 66 with 13 good languages and 10 messy ones on top of the mess I have at the bottom :-D)

Luca gives the following guidelines:
(he explains more on his page. If you are interested, go read it there.)

1) Choose a maximum of TWO languages at any given time.

2) Choose two languages that are distinct from each other. (Preferably from two different families)

3) Try to choose an “easy” language and a relatively “difficult” one

4) give the difficult language 70-80%, and give the “easy” one 20-30%.

5) Study both languages every day.

Niels have a bit more to say about this, he has 9 rules

he adds to this:

6. learn a language you are more familiar with and a language that is totally new to you

7. treat them as the priority language and the side language

8. manage your study time!

9. give your languages clearly separate identities.
     From color coding and using different letters to dressing up to a different persona
     and have a beverage typical to the culture of your language at hand.
     Like, study English wearing a bowler and drinking tea from a teacup with saucer and spoon
     and Japanese wearing a kimono drinking green tea from a bowl.

10. Use your two languages as L1 and L2 - study Chinese in Spanish and Spanish in Chinese :-D

11. Shuffle your flashcards and study them together
     paradoxically enough this actually helps your brain to keep the languages separate!

12. Study the same theme in both languages at the same time

Lindsay reminds of a couple of important things here, that go for all language learning and not just learning more than one language at a time:
- be kind to yourself and be realistic. It's not bad to adjust your schedule or plan to match the reality when you notice you were a bit idealistic.
- have fun
- all the --- all the time. "Languagify" your everyday. Use the Hidden Moments. Find a way to add language to what you do every day any way.
- find a way of sneaking in languages to the things you do for fun and relaxing and rewarding yourself. Watch your movies and tv series in a language you know but with foreign subtitles. Listen to music in your goal language when you exercise. Try foreign candy. Cook something delicious after a foreign recipe. Watch foreign cooking shows. Go to a foreign restaurant. Change the default language at Facebook and Pinterest to your target language. Read comics in your target language. Learn to praise yourself in the target language. Read blogs written in your target language about your hobbies and interests.

But - bilingual kids learn both languages at the same time. Doesn't harm them in any way. So why wouldn't you?
I remember one little tidbit; there was a man who thought everyone has their own language when he was little, because he spoke one language with his father, another with his mother, the nanny had her own language, the gardener yet another and the cook spoke a fifth language... :-D

P.S. When I was researching to write this blog entry, I happened to see a Korean word... and usually I'll just jump over letters I don't know that well... but this time I tried to read it. And I did. And I understood what I read...
There are a few feelings that are as good as that *_*

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