When I started making my first steps to learn a foreign language, I didn’t even think that someday I would be able to speak multiple languages.
I mean look at those multilingual guys. They are very smart and talented in languages. I’m just the opposite, lazy and not good at languages by any means.
During my language learning, I broke these misconceptions and now I want you to do the same. Stop thinking that learning multiple languages is impossible, because it is not.
In this article, I am going to prove it by my own example telling you my language learning story.
Italian — 9 October 2013
Before starting I was hesitating for some months. I really wanted to learn Italian, but I was not sure whether or not it’s a useful language for me. However, after my trip to Europe, I fell in love with Italy and I had no choice, but to learn Italian. In the future, I will not regret this because I’ve learnt so many things related to Italian culture and people.
So I got a little self-learner book and after a couple of months I started reading in Italian. The stories were so interesting and I was eagerly translating all the unknown words. It took me two months or so to learn basic vocabulary from those stories and I was ready to use my knowledge.
I downloaded a language learning app, called HelloTalk where I talked to many Italians with very bad grammar, but it didn’t stop me. The advantage of chatting is that you can check verb conjugation or translate a phrase while speaking. So I decided to take full advantage of it.
And after six months I was ready to speak Italian with a native speaker for the first time. Of course, I was a little afraid of judgment, but anyway I had my first skype session and it was great. I was lucky enough to meet a very nice person that encouraged me to speak even if I made a lot of mistakes. And also it was a similar-minded language learner and we had a lot of things to talk about.
And during the whole process of learning Italian, I was listening to a great podcast and a youtube channel called ItalianoAutomatico. I’m still using it to maintain my Italian, but mostly to discover a lot of interesting things.
That was basically it, after ten months of reading, listening and speaking Italian from scratch I was pretty confident with it. I reached an intermediate conversational level. I had no problem communicatng in this language. It was time to pass to another language, which was French.
French — 3 July 2014
I decided to learn French, because I wanted to study International relations at the university. And in order to do this, I had to pass a French exam. I had two months to learn the basics. I started learning French just like Italian, using the language as much as I could.
In order to learn basic vocabulary fast, I started translating some texts with audio. I used authentic material written and read by a francophone, created by FrancaisAuthentique. A great podcast to learn French naturally, which I love listening to every day.
After two months I passed the exam without any difficulty and I was even able to hold a basic conversation. Later on, I listened to podcasts, watched a lot of films and videos on youtube, read articles and at the end of the day I was very good at understanding the language.
The next six months I spent trying to gain more exposure in French so I started writing and speaking. I wrote more than 20 articles on italki where native speakers corrected my mistakes and in such a way I really improved my grammar.
As for speaking, I used skype and during the summer I had the opportunity to work at the local hostel where I’ve met a lot of French people (and also some French-speaking Canadians). It was really helpful and motivating because everybody said that I speak really good French.
Once I reached fluency in French I started thinking about a new language to learn and I chose Spanish.
Spanish — 10 May 2015
I took an interest in learning Spanish when I was learning Italian. Those languages are very similar and when I started it, it helped me a lot. I almost haven’t used grammar. Of course, to understand the difference between Spanish and Italian I took a look at some basic rules, but it was for like two or three weeks.
So I started speaking Spanish from day 1 with my Italian friend who spoke Spanish. And, as always, I found a podcast of my interest in Spanish. It was SpanishPodcast. I love this podcast because of the colloquial expressions and cultural features they address. So I’ve listened every day and my comprehension and speaking abilities are improving very, very fast.
When I am home I usually watch some youtube videos in Spanish. There is a lot of information in Spanish.
The other way of learning Spanish was music. Mostly, I listened to the songs of Alvaro Soler y Juanes. And, since I started dancing salsa, I listened to a lot of music from Latin America. I’ve met some guys from Colombia in my city and I spent the whole day speaking Spanish with them. I’ve learnt a lot of things about their culture and life in Colombia. So it’s a great experience.
It was the easiest and the coolest language I’ve ever learnt.
English — Long Ago
English was actually my first foreign language. I’ve been learning it for more than 10 years. I’ve never spoken it though. It was in the last years when I’ve learnt it up to a confident level more or less. I used it as a tool to learn other languages and in such a way English was deeply incorporated in my day-to-day life.
I used to think that English is not as interesting a language as Italian or French. English is everywhere and as a student of English for more than 10 years I associated it with an infinite and boring grammar.
Now it’s the language I use most, apart from my Russian, and I want to be able to speak English with native-like fluency. I want to work with this language and in this language, so I need to improve it. It’s a great language that connects people from all over the world.
For those who want to learn English naturally I highly recommend Luke’s English Podcast. I actually started learning English with this podcast, but then I decided that I prefer the American version of English.
Now my goal in English is to reach native-like fluency and in order to do it I am going to make English a part of my life. I am going to listen to podcasts on various topics, read literature and write on this blog. And most importantly I am going to speak with native speakers as much as I can. So feel free to contact me to run a language exchange!
German — 2 January 2016
I started learning German in a very relaxed and unforced way, just listening comprehension and a little bit of youtube videos. But for me German is not so easy.
It is probably the hardest language I’ve ever learnt, because it has nothing to do both with my native Russian and with the other Romance languages I have learnt. Although English helps to learn similar vocabulary. For now I have no need to focus on this language 100%. So I will learn it slowly, but surely.
Portuguese — 6 March 2016
A bit later I decided to add Portuguese to my language study. I’ve never learnt 2 languages at the same time before and now I will try it myself.
Portuguese is a very easy language to me because of the three Romance languages I speak. I don’t study grammar at all, I just speak with native speakers and I listen to podcasts. I am sure that after six months I will be speaking fluent Portuguese.
Ok, that was my language learning story. I hope my example shows that learning multiple languages does not necessarily take many years. In my case, it was 2 years more or less. And you can lear languages in a very enjoyable way.
I am not saying that I am perfect at any of these languages, but in each of them I can hold a conversation on different topics in a way to understand and to be understood.
The most important thing for me is communication.
If you want to get more information or resources on the languages I have learnt, feel free to write it in a comment below. Also, if you want to run a language exchange I am always ready to engage.
Thank you for reading and see you soon!