Language Mix

There are cases when one is learning a second language that other choices may come into the mix. Like me, you might be thinking: “Well kanji comes from Chinese… I already know many characters, and the grammar is supposed to be incredibly easy…” Another thought that has crossed my mind is: “Hmm since knowing two other European languages already would make German a lot easier, maybe it would be OK to add that one in too…” And then there’s my two attempts at learning Esperanto, a language that is indeed easy and logical… And with all of these thoughts of adding another language to my studies, my conclusion was always the same. Every SRS rep, every page turned in a textbook, every hour spent listening to audio in these additional languages to learn would take away from time that could be spent learning more Japanese. There will be a time when my Japanese level is high enough that it will be OK, and that will be fantastic but that day is not today.


Now what if Japanese isn’t your second language, but a third? For me, that’s where French comes in. Though the definitions can vary, some may call it a heritage language in my case. Without going into too much detail here, my native dialect is not mutually intelligible with any others, which makes the standard variety not exactly my native language, but yet not at all foreign to me. But the truth is, since I’ve been living away from the French-speaking community, I’ve been on the fence about where the language sits in my life, and in relation to my Japanese learning. Though I try to keep it maintained, it still fits into a similar situation as the one mentioned above.


Now that I’ve shared my personal experiences on these topics, I would love to hear from you, the reader about your experiences. Have you had success with learning two languages at once? What brought you to them? Do you have a heritage language you are trying to keep up? Where does it fit into your life? How has learning a third language affected it? I hope to make a follow-up post based on reader feedback, so please feel free to leave comments below!

4 Responses to “Language Mix”
  1. Mikka says:

    Japanese is my L4. My L1 is Russian, then my parents moved to Israel so I had to learn Hebrew as well. My L3 is English, which due to my media consumption habits overthrew Hebrew pretty fast, leaving Hebrew on the conversational “ordering the pizza” level due to me not using it. Biggest clash is between Russian and English, and it happens mostly when I’m trying to say something. I speak a lot of Russian and a little of English and I write a lot of English and a little of Russian. So whenever I want to say something I sometimes have words, phrases and entire sentences come up in wrong language lol. Japanese is slowly but steadily reinforcing its place in this language love triangle.

    • Delenir says:

      Thank you for your comment and congrats on being the first to reply! I’m curious, how long did you live in Israel in a Hebrew-speaking environment? (Or do you still live there?) Do you still mostly use Russian overall, media aside? Do you find you have to really spread out your time between all the languages to keep them up?

      • Mikka says:

        Well, keeping up English and Russian is effortless, I think and do stuff in these langs every day. Japanese is of course weaker so I do have to immerse to keep it from stagnating and hopefully even making progress. It is also my main priority to learn Japanese so it does get most of the time. Hebrew I’m not really concerned with, as long I live in Israel I won’t forget it. When I move to another country I’ll probably throw in a Hebrew book every couple of months so I don’t forget it. I lived in Israel since like 10, went to school and such, so learning local language was just a matter of time. It’s interesting how older folks can live in a country for more than ten years and still speak with thick accents and even not being able to chain more than a couple of words. All this because of some fear of sounding silly when trying to imitate sounds of the new language? That makes me a sad panda.

      • Delenir says:

        You have 4 languages in your mix, wow! Thank you for sharing, very insightful!

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  • Read More or Die! 2011

    _2011 End Results_
    Total read for Tadoku:
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    October 2011 Contest:
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