January 9


Learning more than one foreign language at a time? – No problem!

By Katharina

January 9, 2016

Comparing different languages with each other can be highly interesting. Similarities and differences are shown and thereby, learning more languages at a time can be easy. This is especially true for languages from the same language group. For instance, if you know English, it is quite straightforward to learn other Romance languages. Why? Because English is based on Latin.


Do you want to learn various Romance languages?

In this case, you could proceed in this order:

  1. English
  2. Italian
  3. Spanish and French simultaneously
  4. Latin, Portuguese or Romanian


Romance languages are often similar. There are outstanding grammatical characteristics that are found in the different languages. Furthermore, words and phrases for daily objects and activities are used which only differ slightly.

French has developed away from Latin. The substantial decay of inflexions in the oral language is the main difference to Italian and Spanish. This makes it rather difficult to recognize a French word as an Italian one without being aware of the history of it.

With regard to the written language, Spanish and Latin are most similar. However, the Spanish language differs significantly from Italian and French concerning phonetic particularities and an altered word pool.

In general, the Italian language has been changing fewest of all. The alterations over time regarding spelling, pronunciation, syntax and usage of words are minimal, compared to the changes of the English language.

Those, who have learned a specific language, will have no problem in reading newspapers in the other related languages. However, this does not mean that you can understand the same language when somebody speaks it. The differences in written Portuguese and Spanish are insignificant, however, the oral perspective is highly different.


Examples of comparisons

These are a few examples of comparing languages with each other: W-questions usually start with the letter “W” only in English and German.

  • Who is writing a book? – The author

Who? English

Wer? Deutsch

Qui? French

Chi? Italian

Quien? Spanish

  • What is the author writing? – A book

What?  English

Was?  German

Que?  French

Che?  Italian

Que?  Spanish

  • When is the author writing? – Every day

When?  English

Wann?  German

Quand?  French

Quando?  Italian

Cuando?  Spanish

  • Where is he writing the book? – In the library

Where?  English

Wo?  German

Où?  French

Dove?  Italian

Donde?  Spanish

  • With what does he print the pages? – With the printer

With what?  English

Womit? German

Avec quoi?  French

Con che cosa?  Italian

Con che?  Spanish

  • How does the publisher react? – He will publish the book

How?  English

Wie?  German

Comment?  French

Come?  Italian

Como?  Spanish

  • How much is it? – Less than 10 $

How much?  English

Wie viel?  German

Combien?  French

Quanto?  Italian

Cuanto?  Spanish

  • Why are the readers buying this book? – Because they are interested in it

Why?  English

Warum?  German

Pourquoi?  French

Perché?  Italian

Por qué?  Spanish


Do you want to learn Scandinavian languages?

Not only Romance languages are worth comparing, but also languages of other language groups, such as the Scandinavian languages:

  1. Swedish – the, commonly viewed as the easiest Scandinavian language
  2. Norwegian
  3. Dutch

Learning either Norwegian or Dutch becomes far easier when you know Swedish beforehand. Besides this, Swedish is usually understood and spoken in the other Scandinavian countries as well. Therefore it can almost be used as Lingua franca, like English in many countries of the world.

Make use of the similarities and differences of the different languages to master foreign languages simultaneously!


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About the author

Content Manager and blogger Katharina Rucker has devoted herself to the Birkenbihl Approach for language learning since 2011. Since 2014, she has been working as a freelancer in the field of online marketing: www.rucker-marketing.at

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