The Difficulty of Learning 2 Separate Languages Effectively

NewbieLearner   Monday, May 10, 2004, 22:58 GMT
I am new to language learning. I am a resident of the US and like a large portion of the US population I speak English exclusively, much to my dismay. However, I have taken it upon myself to venture out and begin the study of other tongues. I was wondering if anyone had experience learning two foreign languages AT THE SAME TIME. I am particularly interested in learning Japanese and French myself. Now, I know that I am a beginner and that these languages are from totally different language families, but if I am extremely determined how well do you estimate that I COULD fare learning both at the same time? Thanks for any and all responses!!
Dulcinea del Toboso   Tuesday, May 11, 2004, 01:29 GMT
Being "extremely determined" is what will help you most of all; I think you can be successful, especially because Japanese and French are so disimilar.

However, despite being determined, the biggest factor in how quickly and thoroughly you learn these languages is your age. Ideally, one should learn a language (or multiple languages) before the age of 8 or thereabouts, where the process is nearly effortless. Later than that, up through the teenage years, does require deliberate effort but it's still easier than when you are older. I learned Russian as a teenager and am still surprised how words that I thought I'd forgotten just pop back into my head when required.

Another factor is how you go about learning the languages. A classroom is preferable to self-study for most people and exposure to a native speaker (for pronunciation and correction) is very desirable.
Miquel   Tuesday, May 11, 2004, 19:50 GMT

More difficult: I'm learning ancient and modern greek at the same time.
NewbieLearner   Wednesday, May 12, 2004, 00:41 GMT
Thanks for the advice. I am 20 years old at the time of writing and so I am just barely finished with the teenage years. I think I will be able to accomplish what I want to since I have the determination. If anyone is interested I will update my results along the way to keep an open-ended dialogue.
Lavoisel   Wednesday, May 12, 2004, 07:06 GMT
Hi, NewbieLearner!

I'd be willing to answer any of your question about French (it's my native language).
I don't think learning two languages at the same time is much of a problem. In France, we begin to learn a first language when we are 12 and another two years later.
On the begining, I would use some English words if I didn't know their Spanish equivalents, but then I quickly got used to differentiate the two languages.
Now that I am studying computer graphics, I am no longer taught any language, but I have decided to keep learning English on my own. Although I no longer learn Spanish, I understand the Spanish texts most of the time, and I am still able to make myself understood in this language.
Learning two very different languages like French and Japanese is in my opinion a good choice, because differentiating them will be easier. It is very unlikely that you write a kanji in the middle of a French sentence, for exemple.
But the two languages also bear some similarities that may be usefull. For exemple, I find that the Japanese sound "u" is somewhere between the French "u" and the English "u" in "sun". The sound "é" exists in both languages. I also know that Japanese has borrowed some words to French ("café au lait", "coup d'état", "croissant").

Anyway, good luck, and please keep us informed!
NewbieLearner   Thursday, May 13, 2004, 04:14 GMT
Thanks for the encouragement Lavoisel! I very much appreciate the offer to aid me with my French questions! I will definately take you up on your offer if you usually frequent this board. Or, if you don't mind, perhaps we could exchange e-mail addresses for future reference? If not, I understand. If so, please post a reply message to this one and I will send you my address. Thanks!
Lavoisel   Thursday, May 13, 2004, 21:55 GMT
Sure, here is my email (I have put it on a jpeg picture so that the damn spammer bots can't read it).
However, there are some other French who use that forum, and I use it quite often myself. Thus, you may also want to ask your questions here; especially if you need several opinions about a particular question.
Anyway, I am always glad to help, whether on this board or via an email. :-) I would be glad if you could help me improve my English as well.

Talk to you later!
NewbieLearner   Thursday, May 13, 2004, 23:22 GMT
I am very appreciative! I will send you an e-mail in the near future. I will attempt to help with your English if you like, but it seems to me that you are already quite proficient! Cheers!