Suggestions for learning more than one language
I just returned to the US this summer after three years in China. Now that I'm living in the US I'd like to brush up on my Spanish but I still want to maintain my Chinese abilities.
any suggestions for learning two languages at once ? I know there is Spanish pod among other podcasts but i wanted to know if anyone else has tried this before and what there experiences have been like.
Right-WingnutAugust 02, 2013, 01:57 PM
All our brains work differently, so there's no guarantee that my experience will be the same as yours.
But I found that if I tried to study Mandarin and German at the same time (ie. memorise vocabulary, grammar, etc. in both languages) then the two languages just became confused - they seemed to interfere with each other.
So what I settled on (and what I still do) is to study one language thorougly (through courses, teaching websites, etc.), while simply listening to the other language passively and trying to learn by osmosis. Then 6 months later, switch over.
I find that if I do it this way then the interference between the two languages (in my brain) is a minimum.
My analogy is that it works like body building. Body-builders do a heavy workout on the upper body one day, merely doing stretches and light exercises on the lower body. Then the next day they concentrate on the lower body. This gives muscles time to repair themselves (which is how they grow).
Even if when I am only learning one language, I find that alternating hard study with passive listening is most effective for me.
tysondAugust 03, 2013, 06:30 AM
Right-Wingnut's suggestion is a good one - I've tried to learn two simultaneously and confusion ensues. Maintain one and build another works pretty well. But you have to maintain, apparently.
Another option is laddering. There must be loads of "learn spanish" textbooks in Chinese. Use them as your study materials. http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/how-to-learn-multiple-languages-without-getting-confused-the-laddering-method
Thanks for the advice but as someone who taught English for 3 years in china, I really don't like the way Chinese learn foreign languages as the emphasis is too much on testing and not actually learning to communicate. I feel like any Chinese text for learning Spanish unless made outside of china wouldn't be very useful. The laddering languages idea is very interesting one though.
I am a big fan of the CCTV "Communicate in Chinese" series, at least the English version as presented by Da Shan. The series is available on VCD or DVD, with accompanying books sold separately, and I have seen a Spanish language version of the books and discs in the bookstore in Beijing. On the cover they show different presenters' picture, so I assume it was re-shot, and not just dubbed, so it might be pretty good, although I have never tried it. I have never seen these publications outside China, but you might be able to stream it from CCTV's web site from the Spanish language web site.
Here is the English web site: http://english.cntv.cn/learnchinese/
Here is the Spanish web site: http://cctv.cntv.cn/lm/AprendiendoChino/portada/index.shtml