How to learn 5 languages ​​at once and not fuck up

Hello, my name is Alyona, I’m 25 years old, and I want to become a polyglot. According to my calculations, soon I will speak good or very well in seven languages, not counting Russian and Ukrainian. If I do not screw up. In this article I will talk about how to teach five languages ​​at a time, because at the moment I have only this experience.

1. Not all at once

Now I’m studying English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Turkish.

Here it is immediately worth mentioning that all these languages ​​appeared in my life not yesterday or at the same time. I suddenly learned English at school, after school I did a little bit myself, to put myself in a British accent and “clean up” the grammar.

Spanish I teach myself from 13 years to this day. Approximately until 2010, I taught him somehow, sometimes I could not open the notebook for 5-6 months, but these times have passed, and in November of last year I successfully passed the DELE C1 exam. I’ve been teaching English and Spanish for almost seven years now. That is, even when I do not do them, they are still here, with me, because I share them with others.

I made several attempts to learn Italian. The first was at 14 years old and lasted about three weeks, for which, incidentally, I managed to write half a notebook for 96 sheets. Ironically, the knowledge gained in those few weeks almost fully recovered a few hours later 9 years, when I again began to learn Italian. However, the bulk of my studies fell on the summer of 2015, when I was intensely learning the Italian language marathon Language Heroes for three months. By the end of the summer, I could already support a one-hour conversation with a native speaker, although, of course, I had mistakes and spaniisms.

Turkish I know a little since childhood. Well as “I know”: I could always order myself food and orange juice and orient in Turkey, I knew a lot of random words, but did not know grammar at all. In the spring of last year, I began to correct this, I finally learned the present, some cases and a few new words. But by summer I threw Turkish.

Brazilian Portuguese I began to teach in January, on the same language marathon. It was even more difficult for me than Italian, because the Portuguese is even more like Spanish and very difficult to control so that the Spanish does not interfere.

Accordingly, it can not be said that I teach all these languages ​​in the same way and with the same intensity. If I did not crave C2, then English and Spanish could already be supported, not studied. Now I am preparing for the English exam at C1 level, so I again had to sit down for textbooks. But, for example, no exams hang over me now, so I recently read the novel of Mario Vargas Llosa and wrote out everything new and interesting in a notebook, and also read rap with Calle 13.

2. YouTube

I guess you thought I’d advise watching a lot of videos on YouTube. This is by itself, but I want to say a little about something else. An integral part of my language development was my YouTube channel. I started it in 2013, uploading a video in which I speak Italian a week later studying (more precisely, a week and three weeks more nine years before). And at the end of the year I laid out my first video in Spanish. Now he has more than 20 thousand views, and the channel has more than 700 subscribers, most of whom are Hispanic.

Now, as soon as I begin to learn a language, I almost immediately record video in this language and spread it on my channel. Even if the carriers do not come and leave comments (as it was and probably will be with the Turkish), after a while I will remove the other videos, and then I will compare the results and enjoy the progress. I correspond with people in the comments, and with some then I even communicate in Skype and Facebook. To one such friend I recently sent to Argentina a postcard with snow, and he could not get enough of it!

3. The series

The role of serials in my study of languages ​​can not be overemphasized. Thanks to “Sex in the big city” for English, “Wild Angel” – for my Argentinian Spanish, Las Aparicio – for Mexican Spanish, Avenida Brasil – for what I was learning Brazilian Portuguese, just looking one series after another with Russian subtitles.

In general, my scheme is very simple: if the language is at the initial level, then the series is worth watching with Russian subtitles. If the language at the middle level (about B2) – no subtitles, if there is such an opportunity. In any case, even with subtitles, their benefits are undeniable, because you endlessly listen to a huge amount of real conversational speech. The film is also cool, but the problem is that you do not have time to recover, as it has already ended.

The main thing here, perhaps, is that the Spanish sounded like a Mandarin Chinese before I looked over 80 episodes of “Wild Angel” without translation and subtitles.

4. Extensive reading

Extensive reading – this is when you read a large volume of interesting literature, in which there are no more than 5-10 unfamiliar words per page. Reading is fun. That is, I want to say that if you just started to learn Spanish, then immediately take “One Hundred Years of Solitude” – this is probably not the best idea. In most popular languages, you can easily find adapted books for any level, but in general, having A2 or B1, you can take care of the search for some author who writes easily and interestingly.

My English and Spanish would be very different, if I had not read a bunch of books on them.

This despite the fact that I read very carelessly, I’m too lazy to pick in the dictionary: if the meaning is clear, then I go further. Although now, after so many books have been read extensively, I am finally learning to read intensively and use a notepad, pen and marker. Often, I write out not only words or phrases, but also an entire sentence or a paragraph with these words and combinations, and also I highlight them in the book with a marker. Similarly, I always work with articles – they are not as long as books, with them I do not have time to be lazy.

5. Culture and context

If you ask me why I teach these languages, I will answer that it’s because I like them. And I like not only them, but also many countries in which they are spoken. And in these countries I often like cooking, literature, music – whatever. Therefore, I will always find how I use the language, even if there is no opportunity to go to the country. And any text, any podcast, any song for me will be times more useful than poking into random words on Memrise. That is, I actually have nothing against Memrise, and if it works for someone, then it’s fine. I even sometimes create sets for myself out of hard-to-remember words. But for me this approach, unfortunately, does not work. I almost do not remember words outside the context. I need a dialogue, text, situation, or even better – a couple of exercises after that.

6. Type of perception

It is very important. At one time I realized that I’m not an audiologist. My conversational skill is ahead of my listening comprehension skills. In order to remember a new word by ear, I need to hear it ten times, and sometimes more. And it’s not a fact that I will remember it correctly. That is why for me the study of Egyptian Arabic by the method of Pimsler was not working.

On the other hand, I try from the very beginning of studying the language to listen to podcasts and watch TV shows, so that my ear gets used to the sound. And the best way to remember for me is to see and write by hand.

Spanish is the language that I studied the longest independently and consciously. So, on it I now have a fifth notebook for 96 sheets, and that’s not even considering all the records on A4. But here it is necessary to understand that if you are an auditor, then for you this method can become a waste of time. But if you have been learning the language for almost no time, without writing anything by hand, then think about it – maybe there is a reason.

7. Language for three months

It is impossible to learn a language in three months, if you are not some genius. But you can create yourself a very good base or even go to level B1 (it depends on your input data).

In general, returning to the topic of the five languages ​​at the same time. Since I participate in Language Heroes, I have been intensively engaged in one language for three months: I quickly go through one basic textbook, study basic grammar, listen to many podcasts, write a lot on sites like and, try several times talk for a long time with the media, watch the adapted video. If there is, then I read the adapted books. And all this in large numbers.

The rest of the languages ​​at this time I’m doing in the background. If there is a textbook, then I slowly walk on it, watch movies, from time to time I communicate with native speakers in Skype (when there is a mood), listen to radio and podcasts. At the end of three months I try to “release the main language” into the fields “, that is, start absorbing culture on it and just communicate. Then, after a while, I can again take up this language intensively, but in general I try to teach here such intervals.

In general, to learn five languages ​​at the same time is very difficult psychologically.

Therefore, by the summer, I am going to withdraw Portuguese and Italian from active study, in order to make room for an energy-consuming French. French, I actively studied for several months in 2012, independently, being not so experienced in learning languages ​​(Spanish does not count – this is indeed the most grateful language of all that I met, even the Slavic language was not given to me so), so the first time I will be work on reading and pronunciation.

In the fall, German will be added, which I taught for seven years at school and for which I have something like A1 level. In general, the trick is that this year I decided to bring to mind all the languages ​​that I already dealt with and with which I will not need to spend time studying the rules of reading, conjugation of the verb “to be” and the theme “My family”. Of course, by the end of the year I will not be able to read Madame Bovary in the original, but there are chances that my main goal – to speak German – will be achieved.

Why is this all?

Well, first of all, it’s beautiful. And if seriously, then I have a million reasons. For example, recently I read one cool detective novel by two Catalan writers, which is not translated into English or Russian and, most likely, will not be translated. And I can not describe how I was happy with my knowledge of Spanish while reading.

And I will never forget how, at a hostel in Vilnius, I went to the kitchen to make tea, saw three Mexicans there and decided to talk to them. It was difficult to decide, because I only heard that they spoke Spanish, but what exactly they said, it was unreal to hear. However, my fears were in vain. At first they were surprised and asked why I was studying Spanish. Considering that at that time practice happened to me about once or twice a year, it was not very easy for me to talk, but I quickly dispersed, and they tried to talk to me more slowly and did not use slang.

Can you imagine that the native English speaker should be surprised that you speak his language and admire it? What do you tell him that you love Kasabian, and he is this: “Wow, you know Kasabian, who would have thought!” And with Latin America, I have this happening all the time. In Italian and lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) culture, I’m just immersing myself, but in general everything is the same.

But the most wonderful thing is to observe the reaction of the dining room or restaurant staff in Turkey when you go in and order everything in Turkish.