Adding a new language at this point of my program?

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Adding a new language at this point of my program?

Postby guiguixx1 » Tue Apr 10, 2018 12:54 pm

Hi all,

As some of you may know, I'm in Spain for the whole school year for an Erasmus and, while I was somewhere between B1-B2 when I got here in September, I'm now around C1 and wanted, at first, to get as far in the language as possible. My ultimate goal, rather than having X level, was to feel the language, just like I feel English.

For a couple of years, I've had problems with sticking to only one language for a long period of time to improve enough in the language, which is why I haven't improved that much in the various languages I've studied so far. That's why I wanted to focus on Spanish full time to improve it as best I could. Nevertheless, I also studied some Valenciano/Catalan this year, since I live in Valencia.

After 6 months of language immersion, I feel like a change. For a couple of days, I've been wanting to study Mandarin Chinese, a language I already studied in the past till A1-ish and had to leave afterwards. Mandarin Chinese is one of the few languages that I still cannot talk and really want to speak eventually, one of the few that are still on my priority list, and it's been on that list for a couple of years. Every now and again, I get to be in a situation where I would like to be able to speak some Chinese and each time I feel like I should really study it on a regular basis (like 30min a day) to speak it eventually.

So now the big question: should I stick to full-time Spanish (language tandem, reading books, watching movies-series-videos, put all my time into it for the remaining 2-3 months of my stay before going back to Belgium), or could I allow myself about 30-60 min of Chinese daily in my schedule (while knowing that I might be tempted to dedicate more time to Chinese than to Spanish)?
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Re: Adding a new language at this point of my program?

Postby NoManches » Tue Apr 10, 2018 1:21 pm

If it were me, I'd stick with Spanish. How often will you get the opportunity to study in Spain? You may be a C1 but sticking with Spanish while in Spain will allow you to keep advancing and at the very least, the extra time will help enforce things you have learned up to now.

This is coming from somebody who as of now, speaks Spanish as a L2 and has no interest of picking up a third language until further down the my opinion is a little biased for sure.
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Re: Adding a new language at this point of my program?

Postby iguanamon » Tue Apr 10, 2018 1:44 pm

Typically, posters answer their own questions in these types of posts. You say you haven't advanced in the past because of your wanderlust... and now you're talking about wanderlust for Mandarin... hmmm... Well, ultimately, I tell folks to do what they want to do, what makes them happy. Seems like a shame to waste the opportunity in Spain that you have to really bump up your Spanish, but you've already reached C1. If that's good enough for you, go for it. We don't have to be C2 in all of our languages. Many people stop at B2. Only you can answer if where you're at is good enough for you.
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Re: Adding a new language at this point of my program?

Postby Serpent » Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:52 pm

We have a wikia page about that: ... me_time%3F
It does clearly seem like you need a new, refreshing experience, but simply dabbling can help a lot. And maybe you can spend a weekend in another region, like Galicia or the Basque country for example? Or just focus on a different aspect of a language you're already learning. I don't know how much you've been learning about the regional varieties of Spanish but there's always more to explore.
Are you enjoying Catalan? If you need an excuse to stop learning it, well, just stop :P

I updated the wikia article and added a section about resisting the urge.
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Re: Adding a new language at this point of my program?

Postby Random Review » Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:47 pm

Been there and, er, am there.

I was in Madrid for nearly 2 years and (in spite of not really loving the Spanish language all that much*), I chose to focus the bulk of my energies on Spanish. As No Manches correctly points out: how often will you have such an opportunity in your life?

Iguanamon is also right that you have to take seriously what makes you happy. Don't make it a slog. For example I also chose to put some energy into German, because I love it.

I can tell you that I don't regret either of these decisions!

Having said that, I'm currently in China and focussing my energies on Mandarin Chinese for pretty much the same reason and based on this experience, I would advise you not to satiate your wanderlust with the beginning stage of such an unrelated language, because it is an absolute energy and time sink. I personally would save Mandarin for later and satisfy the itch with a different language that meets one of the following three criteria:

1) You are already at least B1 (i.e.. have already mastered basic grammar and pronunciation).
2) It is related to a language you already speak (like German was for me).
3) You are just curious and don't necessarily plan to ever reach a high level in the language and so are not scared of fossilisation of pronunciation and basic grammar errors, etc (I think most of us have "dabbling" languages like this).

This will ensure that you get the most from your time in Spain without it feeling like a slog.

If you do go ahead with Mandarin, consider an "input + protected output" approach (like LR, listening to podcasts and only talking with a tutor payed to correct your errors or shadowing) that won't harm your long-term level, otherwise I fear one of two things will happen: you'll either fossilise errors or it will suck vast amounts of time and energy away from your Spanish.

* Luckily I really like Spain, the Spanish (and the many Latin Americans who live in Spain) and the culture, music and literature of Spain and Latin America. It's kind of the reverse of my experience in China, where the people and culture are not my personal cup of tea, but the language itself is now turning out to be quite fascinating.
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