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3rd language- when is it time?

 Language Learning Forum : Questions About Your Target Languages Post Reply
10 messages over 2 pages: 1 2  Next >>
jtmc18
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5169 days ago

119 posts - 140 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish

 
 Message 1 of 10
12 June 2008 at 7:13pm | IP Logged 
When is it time to take up a third language? I've been studying Spanish almost daily for three years now. I just returned from more than twenty weeks in Guatemala and Mexico, during most of which I took private classes. Now I'm living with a Mexican family. I speak Spanish every day and, although I still don't feel as comfortable with it as with English, I am fairly well advanced. With so many Spanish-speaking friends I am now focused primarily on regional use and not on the basic structure of the language.

And yet I am never satisfied with my Spanish. I think I want it to be perfect and get frustrated because it never is. I plan to return to Latin America for another five or six months this fall and stay with Spanish-speaking friends there. My original dream was to speak several languages but somehow I became fixated on one.

When is it time to start another language? Am I there? Have I already passed that point? Will my Spanish ever be as solid as my first language, or should I stop expecting such a moment and move on?

I have read all the warnings about studying two languages at a time. But is that essentially what I would be doing if I began another? My Spanish-speaking friends think I'm fairly proficient, and I did considerable translation work in Guatemala. And yet dinner table conversations still sometimes confound me. Where is the boundary between "studying" and "speaking" a language?




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tricoteuse
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Norway
littlang.blogspot.co
Joined 4602 days ago

746 posts - 846 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, Norwegian, EnglishC1, Russian, French
Studies: Ukrainian, Bulgarian

 
 Message 2 of 10
13 June 2008 at 2:20am | IP Logged 
I think you can definitely move on to a third!

For me, I consider a language "done" when I only use it and not study it. I never ever study English for example, so that one is definitely "done". Of course it is not perfect and it could improve, but it does not really interest me that much, I prefer to move on to other languages. I study French only because I want university points for it, but other than that it is also "done". I use my French to talk to friends and read books, but I don't do any exercises or actively study vocabulary. I understand everything people say to me in English and French, and I think that is a good sign I don't have to be too worried about imperfections when I speak. It's not like my Swedish is always perfect either ;)

However, you can definitely study several languages at the same time even if you are not very proficient in them.
1 person has voted this message useful



jtmc18
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5169 days ago

119 posts - 140 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish

 
 Message 3 of 10
23 June 2008 at 7:29pm | IP Logged 
I have dabbled a bit in other languages, but have never truly dedicated a lot of effort to any except Spanish since I wanted to be as fluent as possible in that language. I think it may be time to add another one, since I have finally come to the realization that fluency is a subjective concept. My Spanish isn't perfect, telenovelas still challenge me, and there are many regional words and expressions I still don't get, but I think these things are going to take a lifetime to sort out and I don't want to be twenty years older before I learn a third language.

That leads me to the next question. Should I be careful about which language I study next? For example, would Portuguese or Italian interfere with my Spanish too much? Or would one of those languages complement my continuing progress in Spanish? What about an unrelated language? Should I just start from scratch?

If you've ever spent years primarily studying only one other language, what was your experience like when you finally decided to take up a third one?
1 person has voted this message useful



tricoteuse
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Norway
littlang.blogspot.co
Joined 4602 days ago

746 posts - 846 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, Norwegian, EnglishC1, Russian, French
Studies: Ukrainian, Bulgarian

 
 Message 4 of 10
24 June 2008 at 2:31am | IP Logged 
I am a bit biased when it comes to this since I strongly dislike romance languages, but I really, and I mean really, don't understand why people want to learn Spanish AND Italian (for example). Why not move on to something more exciting, something different, something that will give you a whole new take on languages and how thoughts are expressed? The last thing I would do if I were you would be to go with one of those languages. The only thing that could make me study them would be if someone paid me to do it.

You have a Germanic and a Romance language, so if you don't want THAT big a challenge, why not go for another Germanic one? You have never learnt one from scratch, so that may be interesting. And if not, there are lots of other interesting groups out there. How can people *not* want to learn a slavic language, for example? :)

I don't really remember what taking up my third one was like, perhaps only that it was much more difficult than French, but also much more interesting (I despised all things French at that time). One year after that I also started Arabic (you see, I go for different groups! ;) and that made Russian seem easy. I do however remember that I was much more "oh what the hell" when I studied French, and that's perhaps the key to my success with it. I read very much which was absolute key to absorbing the language, but without the anxiety I feel when reading Russian (slight panic when I don't AT ALL understand a structure and why on earth they use genitive there but instrumental there...). I still don't think I knew much more French before I started reading French novels, than I know Russian now. Yet I did it with a shrug and a "who cares?" ;)

So, tell me, what are your other language candidates? Don't care about difficulty rankings and such. Your dream language, what is that?
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Cainntear
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Scotland
linguafrankly.blogsp
Joined 3935 days ago

4400 posts - 7688 votes 
Speaks: Lowland Scots, English*, French, Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Studies: Catalan, Italian, German, Irish, Welsh

 
 Message 5 of 10
24 June 2008 at 8:59am | IP Logged 
If you can't motivate yourself to do further study on a language, don't force yourself. If it's no fun any more, take up a new one.

Just have fun.
1 person has voted this message useful



furrykef
Senior Member
United States
furrykef.com/
Joined 4396 days ago

686 posts - 868 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, Japanese, Latin, Italian

 
 Message 6 of 10
25 June 2008 at 10:41pm | IP Logged 
tricoteuse wrote:
I am a bit biased when it comes to this since I strongly dislike romance languages, but I really, and I mean really, don't understand why people want to learn Spanish AND Italian (for example).


As somebody who can read and write Spanish with decent proficiency (listening and speaking still need some practice, but I'm improving) and wants to learn Italian, I can answer this. It's because I love the way Italian looks and sounds. And, what's more, not only do I love the way it looks it sounds, it's also very easy to learn! That sounds like a win-win to me.

Of course, there are all sorts of languages I want to learn. In addition to Japanese, I'm also interested in Latin, Chinese (either Mandarin or Cantonese; I'm not sure which I would prefer hypothetically, but from a practical standpoint I would probably choose Mandarin), Classical Chinese, Korean, Finnish, probably German, and quite possibly some others as well. Will I ever actually learn all those languages? Of course not... I don't have the time to devote my entire life to language learning, though I wish I did.

- Kef

1 person has voted this message useful



portunhol
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
thelinguistblogger.w
Joined 4176 days ago

198 posts - 299 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: German, Arabic (classical)

 
 Message 7 of 10
15 April 2009 at 8:19pm | IP Logged 
At this point, I would say that the absolute best thing you can do right now is not stress out so much. Let your environment teach you and spend less time trying to learn in artificial ways. You've been studying hard for three years, you know what you're doing. Just let it flow.

Comparing your Spanish to your English is pretty unfair. Judge your Spanish based on it's ability to do what you need and want it to rather than whether or not it is comparable to your English. When you've been living in Spanish for 20+ years then you might want to compare it to your English.

To finally get to your question, I would say yes. Don't leave your Spanish alone. Make sure you don't abandon your friends, books, movies, etc. in Spanish. That said, French, Portuguese and the other Latin languages will now be about 1/3 as difficult as they would have been otherwise. I suggest that you pick one and have fun.
1 person has voted this message useful



leonidus
Triglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 4250 days ago

113 posts - 123 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, English, French
Studies: German, Mandarin

 
 Message 8 of 10
15 April 2009 at 9:21pm | IP Logged 
Wow, portunhol, you digged out a pretty old topic. Perhaps the topic starter is satisfied with his Spanish now :)

By the way, it also depends on the purpose. If you're striving to be a translator, then obviously you need to polish your language a lot before you can invest time in another one, especially if it's an advanced kind of translation or interpreting.


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