The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #30 November / December 2017
Extras
Learning Multiple Languages with LingoHut
by Ulrike Rettig
November / December 2017 | 

LingoHut is a popular, free language learning platform. With a recently revamped website, it is even easier to use than before.


The 12 languages Lingohut currently offers, (including English) can be learned and practiced by native speakers of 50 languages. Short lessons divided up into small chunks make learning a pleasure.

For someone who wants to become fluent in a new language, LingoHut provides a great start. If you can add live speaking practice to your regular online practice, you'll make fast progress.

But there's more: For those language enthusiasts who want to learn and practice two, three, or even more new languages, LingoHut is also an excellent resource.

Learning Multiple Languages

Should you learn multiple foreign languages as opposed to just one? Among language lovers, this is an ongoing discussion topic.

Polyglots - people who are fluent in multiple languages - often talk about this issue on their blogs or in language forums. Just google "learning multiple languages" and you'll find a number of such discussions.

In general, the advice from language experts is that languages should be added serially, i.e. one after the other. Learning two languages at the same time from scratch has proven to be just too hard for most people. It's recommended that you should wait until you've reached an intermediate level in a language before adding your next one.

For most learners time is limited. And early on, it's easy to confuse different languages. However, there are no set rules. The trick for you is to figure out what works for you.

On LingoHut you can easily try out which language(s), in what order, and on what schedule you best learn.

Multiple languages, really?

Many of us come into contact with different languages through school, friends, neighborhood communities, work, and of course travel.

Brushing up on a language you learned in school or college can be an important step for your professional life. In our global economy, knowing French, Spanish, German, Mandarin, or Japanese, etc. is a valuable asset.

(My niece recently wrote that she passed her bilingual Spanish exam and can now practice therapy in Spanish as well as English. She is thrilled.)

Learning basic phrases in a new language because it's the native language of a friend can add to the friendship. In many neighborhoods, there are shops and cafés owned by people who speak other languages. I love using my Spanish in the Mexican restaurant near us.

Spending time to learn the essentials of a language before a trip abroad will surely enhance your travel experiences. I spend about three months on a language before every trip I take to a new country. It has been worth every minute I spent.

Learning vs. Maintaining a Language


If you're learning more than one language, you may find it hard to give each of the languages the same intensity and time commitment. Work, family, and/or other important responsibilities, will force you to set priorities.

Choosing one language for "active learning" is probably the best way to go. But you can keep your other language(s) going into a "maintenance" mode.

When you're "maintaining" a language it doesn't mean you're not learning. It's just a different kind of engagement.

You can maintain a language by watching a film, listening to a song or an audio book, reading a children's book aloud, watching a YouTube video, etc.

Being in "maintenance" mode may mean you're more relaxed and, who knows, you might end up learning more easily.

Can You Stay Motivated?

Enjoyment is the key to successfully acquiring a new language. If you don't enjoy learning new sounds, discovering new grammar patterns, trying out your new skills, your language endeavors may soon be doomed.

For many self-learners, a new language is an exciting new hobby, and that often provides motivation in itself. Still, even self-learners go through ups and downs. So, it's important to learn with tools and materials that you enjoy.

If you're required to learn a new language and even if it's hard and stressful work - there still has to an element of enjoyment. Perhaps you're learning a language for school, or for your work.

Or, if you're a refugee or you've voluntarily moved to a new country, you'll need your new language for functioning in daily life in your new home.

Your schedule may or may not include school work, formal training sessions, tutors, and group classes.

LingoHut can be a tool for adding variety and some fun (and games) to your learning. Besides learning the basic language, you'll also get good pronunciation practice.

Do You Have Enough Time?


Not enough time is the Number One excuse for not learning a new language. Part of the problem may be that expectations are simply too high. It takes time to learn a new language, lots of time.

We learn a language gradually and not absolutely. As Steve Kaufmann (who now speaks 13 languages) keeps telling us: Learning a new language is a constant process of forgetting and relearning.

The good news is that there are many ways to "sneak in" some language learning, even during a busy day. Smart phones and tablets make language learning mobile and fun. They provide numerous learning tools that you can use just a few minutes at a time.

(Favorites of mine are foreign newspapers, language learning apps, YouTube videos, news on TuneIn, online news, and of course online programs such as LingoHut or our own GamesforLanguage.com).

To these you can add offline activities: listening to songs, singing in the shower, reading a page of an easy book, reviewing vocabulary cards, meeting a friend for coffee or lunch, going to language meet-up, etc.

Ultimately, being a language learner is a lifestyle choice. You intuitively change your daily habits to include using the language(s) you're learning as much as you can.

Languages Build On Each Other

This is especially true for languages that are similar, such as Spanish and Italian, German and Dutch, Russian and Bulgarian, etc.

Once you've reached a certain level in one language, then learning a related language is definitely easier. But once you have acquired a language learning mindset, even unrelated languages become easier to learn.

On LingoHut, you have similar lessons for each language, so you can do a lesson in one language, and then do the equivalent lesson in the other language. Or, you can use a foreign language you know to learn a third language, for example, Spanish from French.

One danger is mixing up the vocabulary or grammar of two languages. I have found that by practicing two languages, one right after the other, I can separate them quite well.

I'm doing this with Spanish and Italian as well as with Danish and Swedish. With time, each language seems to start occupying a different place in my brain.

Your Skills are Transferable


When you learn a new language on top of your native language, you learn to hear and produce new sounds. It takes time, but with practice you get better and better.

So, when you add another language, you are then using this new skill of hearing and producing new sounds. It's actually quite exciting to become aware of this.

Similarly, when you learn a new language, you learn that an object or concept has a different word or "label". (English "apple" is "pomme" in French, "manzana" in Spanish, "Apfel" in German, etc.)

Different labels not only have different sounds but also different spellings. It takes time to fully absorb the new look of a foreign word, but it happens. Your brain learns to do it.

In addition, language learning involves the automatic recognition of grammar patterns.

English is actually quite complicated with its contractions (pronoun + verb, negatives) and verbal forms (goes, does go, is going, went, has gone, was going, etc).

When you learn a language such as Italian, you become aware of very different types of contractions (preposition + article) and verbal forms.

With time you learn to recognize them. Once you've learned one new language, your brain has built the skill for recognizing grammar patterns that are not in your native language. That's a big step.

Learning and maintaining multiple languages may not be for everyone, but once you've been bitten by the language bug, languages can become a hobby that will continue to give you lots of pleasure throughout your life.

Yes, talking with native speakers is really important for becoming fluent.

But you have to prepare for those conversations by learning vocabulary, pronunciation, and basic grammar. Plus, you need to know how to create sentences that are meaningful.

The cost of tutors adds up, and exchange partners lose interest if you can't form a sentence and they can't understand you.

A free program such as LingoHut, with over 100 lessons for each language is an excellent and convenient platform to learn and practice basic vocabulary, pronunciation, and practical phrases. Enjoy!

Ulrike Rettig is the co-founder of Gamesforlanguage.com. She is a lifelong language learner, growing up in Austria, the Netherlands, and Canada. She speaks German, English, Dutch, and French fluently. She intends to become as fluent in Italian, Spanish and Swedish. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and leave any comments with contact.


 
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Learning Multiple Languages with LingoHut
Writer: Ulrike Rettig
Images:
Petey: Cafe; Girls at computers; Groups talking; Switchboard attendent with wall of pics

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.

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