Learning More Than One Foreign Language

I don’t just want to learn Russian. I’m greedy when it comes to foreign languages. I want to learn many of them. I even have the slightly irrational goal of learning all the major Slavic languages – Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Polish, Czech, Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, Bulgarian – just because I love Slavic languages that much.

So, my question for any language learners out there is: when is an appropriate time to add a third language to one’s agenda? My three-year anniversary with Russian is coming up and I speak Russian pretty well at this point (though there’s still loads more for me to learn, of course). Obviously I am going to continue with my Russian, but I have considered the idea of adding another languages to my studies. (Remember how I was considering adding Spanish?) Does anyone have any thoughts on this?


3 thoughts on “Learning More Than One Foreign Language

  1. Hola, Hello.
    If you consider you are ready for the next step then you might be ready. After three years of Russian the basis are strong enough not to interfere with another one. I won’t recommend you a very similar one though.
    I have always seen my students who speak Italian having several problems to find the differences between both languages, Spanish and Italian.
    You can visit our Blog if you want to give Spanish a go,
    good luck and let us know about your decision.

    El Blog para Aprender Español


  2. Hi Natalie,
    I’m a Ukrainian born in Central Ukraine in USSR times, which means my first language is Russian and I only started studying Ukrainian at school, since the 5th grade. Then Ukrainian became the official language and lots of things on TV was now in Ukrainian, and people in the country got proficient in the language that way. The big part of the country still speaks Russian though. But they know Ukrainian and can use it if needed.

    I see Ukrainian in you list and what I want to say is that Ukrainian doesn’t differ much from Russian, and you can master it easily, I suppose.

    UA differs from RU in the following:
    * Its vocabulary. A lot.
    * The grammar is identical, except for using apostrophe instead of “ъ” and “ь” in some cases (there is a set of rules for this) and a couple of tricks with participle’ endings.
    * pronunciation is softer for hard consonants

    If you decide to learn the language, I’d suggest you also pay attention to this:
    * The language problem in Ukraine is “суржик”. As I’ve mentioned, local people became proficient in Ukrainian, but lots of them (government people, teachers – those who are required to use Ukrainian, I mean; plus some common people who speak Russian but because TV is mostly in Ukrainian now, they mix their Russian with Ukrainian if they don’t bother to keep their language clean) don’t bother to speak ideal Ukrainian and, instead, speak in “суржик” (they occasionally mix Russian and Ukrainian words and pronunciation; this sounds ugly).
    * Western Ukrainian is a bit different from official Ukrainian. They have some Hungarian and Polish words in their vocabulary and pronunciation differs a bit. But it’s still easy to understand if you speak “official Ukrainian”.
    * Naturally, professional TV people and top online media use literate and official Ukrainian.


    1. Vera, thanks for your comment. I’m interested in learning Ukrainian someday, so I liked reading about the language. I’ve heard of суржик but I wasn’t clear about what it was, so thanks for explaining! 🙂


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