Jake
When to start a new language?

What are y'alls thoughts on when to start a new language? I'm torn between improving the ones I speak vs. Starting another one while I'm still at college and have time. My thoughts are that right now I'll have more resources to get through the initial phase of learning a language now rather than later. 



May 27, 2018 6:15 AM
Comments · 5

Jake, if you are going to keep impoving your Mandarin, then any moment I think - depends on the amount of time you have and you.

I know people who studied quite a numeber of languages in university, obviously they had to work on a new one before achieving anything serious in some of the previous. And they are good at langauges. But they are mostly 'philologists' (quite popular field here: it is everything between literary ctiticism and linguistics: a philologist is a specialist in working with texts), not linguists. Means, they had to also use them. Also it is were mostly European languages, not Mandarin. An old freind of mine knew French, Italian, Latin, Ancient Greek, German and some New Greek, and could communicate in English of course (though hardly he studied it) in univeristy.

If you won't work on your Mandarin, then...

Aegis advised here to have each of your languges at at least B2 level before pausing your efforts and to keep "maintaining" them even then. His impression is that "maintaining" a language (practicing it so that it doesn't deteriorate) takes less time/effort when it is alsready B2 at least. I find this reasonable. But aegis, likely, in interested in 'being able to communicate' in a language.

It is not my friends' situation. They deal with texts a lot, and communicate too. It is not my preferences (general linguistic curiousity and 'passive' knowlege). For me even A1 makes some sense.


May 27, 2018
I think it depends on what you want from the language.  If you want to travel and already speak English, you can get by with very little and spend your time learning several languages.  If you want to get beyond finding the bathroom you need to spend quite a bit of time on a language and spend time with native speakers.  I am from the south also and there is a lot of opportunity to use and practice Spanish.  I believe that is true throughout most of the US.  For a while I lived in northern New England.  It is the one place you might argue French is more useful and accessible.  College, however, is a great opportunity to learn a language you don't otherwise have access to.  Best of luck.
May 27, 2018

Actually, college is a great place for advanced language courses. You can easily find places to learn elementary - whatever - but it's much harder to find resources for C1-C2 level. So, I'd recommend taking advanced (literature and/or history) courses in the languages that you already speak well. 

ETA: Obviously, what I said doesn't apply to all colleges. It applies to those with good foreign language departments. 

May 27, 2018

I always think about that too! Should I improve what I already know? Or should I start something else from scratch? 

I think once you understand the basics of one language, it's possible to start another one...but do I really have that kind of time? Hmm...

May 27, 2018
I think it's mostly up to your personal preference. But i think that if you've already got the basics down with those other languages or better yet,if you can speak them at, at least intermediate level, you should be fine. Learning languages at school is always a good idea and if you feel like you'd want to try starting a new language, you should definitely give it a go :) Like you said, it's easier for you to get through the initial language learning process right now, so i think you should use that. You can always get more practice with the other languages where you've already got a solid ground beneath you.
May 27, 2018