I mentioned at the end of my post about Paris that I’m going to actively try to learn French. I should note that my brain is wired kind of funny in the language department – when I’m around people speaking a language I start picking bits up right away. When I sit down for a class with a book and try to learn it by reading nothing sticks. Proof of this I’ve studied in school, and failed Latin twice, French twice, Spanish once, and tried 3-4 different “teach yourself Japanese” programs involving books and gotten next to nowhere with them.

Luckily I’m not the only one like this and I’ve found quite a bit of info about people like me who can learn by hearing but not by reading. Michel Thomas built his whole teaching method around it in fact. Anyway, I’m using his tapes for French so we’ll see how that goes. In searching around for language tips, I’ve seen a few references to people talking about where your brain stores a first language vs second, third, etc in relation to how easy or hard it is to learn other languages as well as some interesting suggestions about when you should learn them.

Traditional theory would say learn one, get it locked solid, then move on to another but keep up with the first otherwise you’ll lose it. I’ve frequently heard of people who speak 2 languages attempting to learn a third only to find that one overwrites the second one they learned. A hack on this I’ve been hearing about recently is to learn several at once. The idea with this would be it’s no harder to learn 3 or 4 languages than it is to learn 1, and by learning them at the same time your brain keeps all the info together rather than replacing one with the next. Think of a file structure – adding 3 docs to one file at the same time works better than trying to add a doc of the same name to file you created two years ago.

I haven’t found any hardcore proof on this, or really and solid studies one way or another but it’s an interesting theory and kind of makes sense. Before I jump to far into the French I’m wondering if I should add on some others at the same time?