Brun Ugle wrote:I’m a bit curious about what kind of mistakes you mean and what you learned from them. How would you approach the language if you were to start now, having learned from that experience?
Well, I doubt anything I can share about this is very revolutionary. Apologies if this is rather long-winded.
But for starters, I had, kind of, studied more than one language at a time, when I was in uni and learning Latin, Ancient Greek and Hebrew for my grad program, but the difference there was I had specific benchmarks to achieve in each language, and none of it had to do with me being able to interact with speakers of those languages, as it was all for reading texts.
With learning contemporary "living" languages, the kind of approach I took with learning these 3 ancient languages--basically, to buckle down and study the textbooks--wasn't cutting it for me when I started learning Breton, and the dumb thing about it was, that wasn't how i started with Gaelic either. How I started with Gaelic, as a self-learner before I started taking classes with the AGA, I was making use of multiple resources, especially different media, which included lots of listening to/reading native speakers and connecting that language to its culture and speaker community. But it wasn't a conscious thing I did, as I was simply using what resources I could find, and lot of them, like Speaking Our Language and Litir Bheag/Litir do Luchd-Ionnsachaidh, were produced by the Gaelic speaking community with the very specific goal of getting learners to progress. I just didn't realize at the time how those kinds of resources were helping me genuinely progress with Gaelic, as opposed to going in circles or doing false start after false start.
So when I started with Breton, which has a lot less available resources for learners outside of France than Gaelic does, I simply thought that grabbing the first textbook I could find and going through it would be enough to get me started, and it just wasn't. It wasn't until I really went and found resources that would help me connect Breton back to its community, even if they were above my level, to really show me how people used the language, like Breizhweb (Breton TV online) and the #brezhoneg magazine (which is a superb learning resource) as well as social media like Twitter and blogs by Breton speakers, that it started coming together. But that took a while for me to figure out that was the lacking component.
When learning more than one language at a time, I find using resources that connect me to speakers and the culture of the language--specifically for experiencing how the language is used by speakers and to start developing an intuitive sense of the language--to be quite critical, because the amount of time I can spend on each language becomes more limited and so making use of my time in the most constructive ways possible matters more. I try to do this with other languages that I have taken up since, and I find that when I don't follow through on this, I just don't make as much progress.
A few other things, that relate to the whole idea of making the best use of one's time when learning multiple languages, from my own experiences:
A) While I don't think you need to be an expert in your TL1 before starting a TL2, I find it very helpful to be very aware of differences between your TLs, in particular with phonology, syntax and morphology. I don't think you have to be an amateur linguist to do this, but it helps to make an effort to compare your TL1 and TL2 and consciously note important differences in how the language is put together. This seems like an obvious thing, and in a classroom setting it's something a teacher would point out for you, but as a self-learner, it's something that takes additional mental energy to do for oneself, so at least for myself, I'm often tempted to skip over it. And that's proven to be a pitfall in the long run.
B) If an approach doesn't seem to be getting me anywhere, regardless of how much praise it's getting from others, I need to change my approach. I really cannot let myself be too swayed by others' opinions when it's clear something is not working for me. This is why I don't use Anki, for example, which was one of the things I tired to use with Breton early on. I have nothing against it, but as a language learning tool it just doesn't work for me.
C) if someone is offering to help me but ends up wasting my time, I really just need to forget about them and move on. I'm a pretty self-sufficient person when it comes to learning things on my own, and while getting help is generally a good thing, sometimes people who offer help are doing so for more self-serving/self-gratifying reasons than what I want to deal with. And for reasons I can only speculate about based on my personal experiences, minority/threatened languages like the Celtic languages seem to attract these sorts of characters a bit more than mainstream ones.