IWTYAL 025: I’m torn between two languages

itunesButtonDoug asks: “I know I need to focus on one language, but I’m torn between two languages. What should I do?”

In this episode:

  • Why it’s important to focus on one language
  • The difficulty of leaving behind one language
  • Why a language is never “lost”

Three ideas for choosing which language to focus on:

  1. Learning one language well will be beneficial for all the others
  2. A language is never lost – you can always come back to it
  3. The “Rocking Chair Test”: Imagine your 80-year-old self sitting in a rocking chair looking back on your life. Look at your current dilemma through those eyes. What should you do?

Today’s quote:

Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

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  • Nina

    This was, and still is, a huge question for me. I’ve been learning French for quite some time, and I was insane about my goals. I wanted to become fluent until next year, to just speak with my cousins from France. Now I found a greater “love”, which is Arabic. My ultimate goal for French is to be fluent before I travel to France (and the time of that doesn’t matter that much), and also to learn Arabic well, both of them in the future. I tried to ignore Arabic from all my heart, but I just couldn’t. A significant person came into my life and because of him, I want NOW to learn his language. I highlited “now” because I wanted before that to learn it, but somewhere in the future.

    My goals have changed. I will still use Duolingo for French, but with smaller daily goal (I’ve changed it from “Insane” to “Serious”) and to watch soap opera. Regarding Arabic, I will learn the pronunciation, script, pronouns, and then basic sentences and vocabulary from it. Then my friend will, when and how he wants, teach me vocabulary. I don’t know.. I just want to be sure of my aproach, and to change it in the futre, if needed. It’s a question about being torn between a love and a dream.

    I know that’s not according to your advice, but I just wanted to let you know that I had the same problem.

    • Thanks Nina – I’m really glad you left the comment to let me know. I’m struggling with that right now, because I’m leaving Egypt soon and I really want to learn another language (German), but I’m finding it hard to think about leaving Arabic behind.

      There’s no “right answer”, only a process of searching for what’s best for each of us.

      • Nina

        I absolutely agree with you. I searched for it, and figured out suddenly that Arabic is not really important for me right now. I will stick to French, and I only need to find motivation in little things, my dreams, and reading about the French culture and stuff like that, listen to the radio, the songs etc etc. It’s kind of silly, but today, my cousin from France left me a <3 in the comment of my album of my family and me on Facebook. I write to her a little from time to time. I sometimes feel really stupid because my lack of perseverance, because I miss really really great things because of that.
        Thank you Olly for your response! I hope you'll find out soon what language you should learn!