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ah020387's avatar

Is it possible to learn three languages simultaneously?

Asked by ah020387 (49points) December 14th, 2010

Is it possible to learn three languages and their grammar simultaneously? (arabic, german, and french)

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14 Answers

seazen's avatar

No, nyet, non.

Not a good idea. Really. Focus on one first, get the fundamentals and grammar. Without practising speaking it – you won’t retain much anyway. How could one do that with three? Once you’ve mastered two – the third and fourth, especially if they are the same family (say, Germanic) will be easier. French, Spanish and Itralian, par example.

But I’m curious as to why you asked this – and what you ultimately do. I teach ESl, btw.

bob_'s avatar

It is very difficult, for the reasons @seazen explained. Then again, where there’s a will there’s a way, so it is technically possible.

@seazen What’s ESI?

seazen's avatar

ESi is like CSI. Just with English.

It’s a typo: ESL is English as a Second Language.

bolwerk's avatar

It’s probably possible or even easy for a child. Difficult to impossible for an adult, particularly one without a second language already. Heck, many adults really can’t learn anymore than what they already speak.

gtreyger's avatar

Just like @bolwerk said, it is quite easy for a child. As a matter of fact, lots of kids in Europe grow up speaking at least two languages. And both languages are learned simultaneously!

Odysseus's avatar

You can do it !
I do agree with @bolwerk , the younger you are the easier it will be.
I studied three languages languages simultaneously , admittedly one was my native tongue.
So I guess that only counts as two but if you are smart then sure its possible.

I do however find that when I get rusty and forget a word in one language I accidentally substitute it with one from the other, it makes sense to me but nobody else, haha

seazen's avatar

@Odysseus I agree: as a child I studied four languages in a special school; my native language and one-two hours a week of the others. I’d say I am quite fluent in three of the four today – but I could be fluent in all plus more if I wanted to – and had with whom to practise.

But an adult just learning three languages at the same time…? I think not.

jlelandg's avatar

As another ESL teacher I agree with @seazen. Get the fundamentals down before you go learning something else. I refused to learn other dialects of Chinese while I was still first learning mandarin (and still basically refuse today).

Charlev's avatar

My two native languages which I can speak, read and write are English and Spanish. Then I decided to learn Portuguese (Brazilian) and I bought a “teach your self book”. After that I entered the University decided to learn Russian. Now I know more Russian than I know Portuguese. In my opinion it is better to learn languages step by step, and like most people say here the younger the better….but…if you are a “language absorbent person” like me you will be able to absorb languages no matter what.

My ultimately goal is to master the following languages: English, Spanish and Russian. THen be fluent at least, in a language that is in the same family as the mentioned above. Well Portuguese is one, maybe Ukranian Danish could be the to other languages I learn…I am still deciding on these extra ones.

poisonedantidote's avatar

As someone who knows 5 languages and is working on their 6th, I have to say it’s a real bad idea.

There are a lot of similarities in languages, they are all more or less related, learning more than one language at once can and will lead to confusion.

If you are very young, (1yo – 4yo) then you can, you can with ease. But if you are any older than say 10 or 11 years old, you best go one by one.

What you can do, Is study one language, while remaining open to the idea of learning a word here or there in other languages. But if you study all 3 at once you will mess up.

Lets say we are learning English and Spanish at the same time:

In English, we say “it was a big dog”, But in Spanish you say ” It was a(female) dog(female) big” or “It was a(male) dog(male) big” Not only is the order of the words reversed, but “a” and “dog” have variations depending on the sex of the dog. If the dog is male it is “un perro” but if the dog is female it is “una perra.”

Now lets imagine you are also learning German at the same time as English and Spanish:

In Spanish a dog can be a “perro” or a “perra”, if you remove one letter “r” from “perro” and ”perra” you get “pero,” meaning “but” and “pera,” meaning “pear.”

In English a dog can be a “dog” or a “hound,” and in German a dog is “hund” similar to the English “hound”.

Now lets imagine you want to say “It was a big dog” in one of your new languages:

If you now wanted to say “it was a big dog” in your newly learned english, you would have a load of words bashing around inside of your head. The first thing your brain would tell you is a load of nonsense, e.g. “dog, bitch, perro, perra, pero, pera, but, pear, was, era(sp), era(eng), hound, hund, it, el, la, him, her, etc…”

When you go to say “it was a big dog” you could end up saying “it was him hound big” or “her dog was a big bitch” or some other nonsense.

Seelix's avatar

In high school, I took French, Italian and Spanish at the same time. With the same teacher. It’s possible, but you might end up getting some words/principles mixed up. I guess it depends on your natural aptitude for learning languages.

Eggie's avatar

I would advise it is better to learn just one at a time. If you were younger though, like at age 6 to age 11, it would be much easier for you to learn multiple languages since your brain is producing nuerons rapidly at those ages….they call it the window of opportunity. For now focus on one language at a time. When you get good in that particular language you can then start another one.

Charlev's avatar

Learning three languages of the same family,AT THE SAME TIME IS A BAD IDEA, You will NOT get mixed up while learning Arabic, German and French .. I know many people that are learning Ukrainian and Russian at the same time and they are just so confused!! And I also know two girls that get their Korean and Japanese mixed up too, because THEY WERE LEARNING THEM AT THE SAME TIME!!

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