Learning Multiple Languages with Pimsleur?

Hey guys, have been learning French with pimsleur, and am upto start of Unit 3. I have recently taken up Italian and Polish. I realise Italian, while it may be easier due to similarities with french, it can get tricky, as i may get words b/w the languages confused. But so far, so good, feels a lot easier than when i started french, as i guess i have a better background into the languages. I’m struggling a bit more with Polish as it feels totally random… every word.

I guess my question is, learning multiple languages, is it a case of too much, or if i do a bit each day on each language, i will be fine? As i said, i feel good so far, and i know it gets harder, i just want to spread out and learn from other languages as well.

Whats the best way to learn when not listening to pimsleur… speaking the new language in my head, reading books? Has anyone learnt a new language successfully with a certain technique???

Hi Heropsychodreamer,

Many thanks for joining our community and sharing your experiences. As your current situation shows, it is possible to learn several languages at the same time. That means, you can learn more than one language if you spend a little time on every language every day.

For example, in the morning you can listen to the Pimsleur Polish tapes while in the afternoon you listen to Pimsleur Italian. In the evening you record a few sentences in Polish and then you write a short email to your Italian friends.

The next morning you wake up happy and you log on to english-test.net where you find a lot of interesting discussions on how to learn languages one of which is called Can I learn 2 languages at the same time?

By the way, your name sounds intriguing and we would like to learn more about you. For starters, you might want to give us some information on why are learning new languages? And why have you picked Italian and Polish?

Speak to you soon,

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hi there.

Well… i fell in love with French 2 yrs ago, while travelling through europe (i am australian by the way, so dont have great exposure to other langauges)… and i decided to learn it. Pimsleur, in my opinion, was the easiest way to improve, as i could constantly learn new words/sentences while also going over old ones. Its been great… and while i cant always go through a lesson daily… i try to as often as i can.

Now i’m into the 3rd unit, its getting tough, but am enjoying the challange. I actually found when i was in france not long ago, i could speak the language, but couldnt understand what they were saying… so i’m also now focussing on building up the vocab. (I dont think Pimsleur has as much focus on vocab, just the usual words… but thats ok still, cos i’m understanding the structure, i can find more vocab in other places)

I chose Italian recently (it was either that or spanish)… i wanted to see how i went with a similar language, and so far its been SO much easier. I guess because its all very similar, i just need to learn the words, and the structures are basically the same. French and Italian also have many words that are used in english, so its not totally daunting.

Polish on the other hand… thats been tough. Pronunciation of a lot of these words and remembering them has been a challenge but i’m getting there. Funny thing is, i’m part Polish… haha, so i’m gonna stick through it, with the added benefit of my family to help me. So you know, i’ve never been taught a word of Polish.

Now my girlfriend who is half indonesian wants me to take up indonesian (bahasa i think its called???)… so thatd be interesting… but i can say the odd thing.

I’m studying in International Business… so a background in some languages would be really handy, and i just love learning new things!!! Id like to be fluent one day in at least one language, but i’ll keep it going, and see how it goes! Its been great fun so far!

Hi Michael,
Isn’t the Internet an exciting medium? I have never been to Australia (not yet) and thanks to the WWW I can speak to you. Why did you travel to France and what do you think of the French when it comes to speaking English? I mean, did you speak French when you were there? Also, how did you come across Pimsleur, did a friend of yours recommend it to you?

You are right, Pimsleur is great to get you started and you can use the tapes to build and refresh basic phrases. In addition (at the same time) you should listen to other resources too to reinforce what you have learned through Pimsleur.

Yes, a Slavic language is probably more challenging to you than Italian, Spanish or Portuguese. Interestingly enough, Polish also contains quite a number of English words such as fajne (fine), sukces (success) and skuter (scooter). Well, of course there are more such examples.

Where do you want to work once you graduate?

Speak to you soon,

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Hey, yes the internet is excellent, and so many resources. I travelled through Europe, where i had friends all over the place… i was went to France to see the sights, and then the south of France as its just the most beautiful place.

I tried to speak french while i was over there, and i could initiate a conversation, but once they responded… a lot of the time it was too much for me to take in… as i get better and learn more words, itll become easier though.

I found pimsleur off the net, searching for learning tools.

Yes, i’m keen on listening to Rosetta Stone, to learn from a different view… plus movies, books etc. Just have to find the time. French is my main language of interest… at the moment, the others are there still of interest, but i really want to become fluent in french especially.

I didnt realise polish included a number of english words… i am looking fwd to learning it, as my family are a great learning tool… and i’m only just starting… so i hope it will get easier… but nothing gets easier without practise i guess!

At the moment i’m looking to major in Accounting and Int Business… so probably accounting, but int business may open more doors… we’ll see, i’m only starting university, so theres a long way to go!!!

Honestly… nothing impresses me more than a person who can speak multiple languages… now obviously they may live in a country that borders another (unlike mine!), but i’m not going to let that stop me.

What langauges do you speak??? By the sounds of it, a couple!!! I also figure, even if i’m not fluent, knowing the basics of many languages would be handy, in case i tour europe or something someday soon!

Michael, I think it’s always a challenge to interact with people when you start learning their language. Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone are great programs because they provide you with the basic phrases. For example, if you can say and use the following phrases in the target language you will be able to expand your vocabulary through interaction with native speakers:

  • Could you repeat that, please?
  • How do you spell this?
  • What part of speech is this? (Is this a verb, a noun or an adjective?)
  • Could you explain that word/phrase, please?

When you hear a word that is, try to say it to a native speaker so they can tell you if you pronounce it correctly. Have fun pronouncing words without knowing the meaning of those words. Don’t bother about the meaning, concentrate on the pronounciation. This is the only way of learning of new vocabulary. If you enjoy communicating with people and making new friends, it will be easier for you to learn new vocabulary words and sounds.

That’s interesting. Do you remember the key words you put into Google (I take it you used Google?) when you Pimsleur turned up? I mean, what exactly were you looking for when you came across Pimsleur?

I’m not sure how many English words the Polish language has absorbed but I do know that Polish contains more English words that any other Slavic language.

Do you use a specific Accounting textbook? What do you like about accounting?

What about the many tourists who visit Australia and the foreign students who study in your country? Do you get a chance to speak to them?

Well, I started to learn Russian at the age of 6 and ever since I have been using this language on a daily basis. As you know, Russian is belongs to the Slavic language family and if you speak it you also understand the other Slavic languages and it’s easier for you to learn them. For example, I’ve picked up some phrases in Polish and if you like you can read more about in a short story called How good is your Polish?

Let me know what you think,

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Hi Torsten

I understand how to say most of them. But good idea, will get them into my head! I dont really know anyone who speaks French… so it makes it tough (which is why i want to give Polish a try, and possibly indo… because i can talk to people) But as i said, i’m determined to become fluent in french someday… someday. I know i’ll need to fly back over a few times to help accomplish that.

I play volleyball down in Australia, and we havehad internationals come over. THey all speak multiple languages… they say they learnt it all at school. I keep in touch and they try to help me a bit, one is german, one is dutch… both speak french. I caught up with them last time i was over that side of the world… good to know people!!!

I’m sorry, i dont remember where on the net i found pimsleur… when i started, i looked all over the place for french tools… web sites, search engines… i somehow found it though one of the above.

I do use specific books for accounting. I enjoy the number crunching, i’m great with numbers… its all very easy… unfortunately new languages arent so easy!!!

I love the russian language (since i’ve started studying french, i’ve found a love for nearly every language… and how they differ!)… i would have chosen Russian as my 3rd langauge, but i felt polish would be easier, as i have people to help me!

where abouts in europe are you from? Is russian all you speak? Are you interested in learning new languages as well?

That sounds weird to me… i dont doubt you know what you’re talking about… but isnt knowing the meaning of the word important? Or does it slow you down… as in knowing the word means you have to translate it in your head.

Hmm, maybe this methods works only for me. Here is how I learned German, my mother tongue, and I have been learning Russian and English: Whenever I hear a new word or phrase – be it in a conversation, on TV, the radio, an audio book, etc. – I first make sure I can pronounce it. I simply repeat the word or phrase several times until I feel comfortable pronouncing it.

Then, if I get the chance, I ask a native speaker what the word or phrase means and how it spelled. Or I try spelling it myself using Google.

To illustrate you can take a look at Where do you cash checks? Of course you also take read a text in silence and simply look up new words in the dictionary.

The question is, how many words will you memorize this way? Will you ever be able to say and use those words? I mean, how does Pimsleur work? You first listen to phrases and try to repeat them, don’t you? What about your native language, how did you learn that? Did look up every new word in the dictionary or did you first pronounce it?[YSaerTTEW443543]

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Michael, have you tried to practice your languages through Skype or any other voice communication program? You could speak French, for instance, with people from Europe without having to travel there physically.

I live in Leipzig, Germany. Have you ever heard of this place? Yes, I am interested in learning new languages – I speak a few Italian phrases and practice them whenever I get the chance. Leipzig has become quite an international city and you can hear a variety of languages being spoken with Russian being the most popular one (after German of course).

Of course you can find Polish speakers here too – Poland is an EU country about 1.5 hours away from Leipzig. As for your other question, my native language is German and I have been learning Russian and English. I understand a little bit of French and can speak some basic Polish, Czech and Italian.

My goal is to be able to live and work in any country so I can practice and improve my language skills and experience a different ways of life.

What about you, where in down under do you live?

Talk to you soon,

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Hi Torsten

No i havent tried Skype yet… sounds like an excellent idea, but not quite yet, i’m still learning, and i need to build up my vocab… i think once i can understand french movies and news a bit better i will start the conversations. There is no point if i cant understand what they say. But i am getting closer. And i am understanding more and more… hmmm practise!

Yes, i’ve heard of Leipzig. Was in Germany over the new year. For a few days only. Around Stuttgard, Heidelberg, Minz and Weizbadon. I loved Heidelberg especially.

I agree with your goal… for me, to be able to travel around europe and speak at minimum, the basics would be fantastic!

I live in Melbourne… South East part of Australia… beautiful city… not many french speakers… well not that i know of!

Going on your other message… i agree that just continally listening and hearing the sounds of the words is so helpful. I need to keep learning my vocab, to understand how what it means… but the more i listen to french, the more words i pick out… like how at the start… someone would say something, and it just feels like its one big word… cos its so fast. now i’m starting to split it up. So its good. But to understand what the word means already obviously makes it A LOT easier.

I’m also starting pen pals… though my written french isnt great… its probably time to learn!

So you speak Russain, English and your native German… is italy your next big language… or just a smaller project? Any other languages that interest you??

Yes Michael, it makes sense to build your vocabulary so that you will understand more and then you can engage in conversations. However, you can also sign up with communities like PalTalk where you simply listen to other people. You don’t have to say anything yourself, just listen and pick up some new phrases.

You have probably also noticed that when you travel abroad it is not so important how well you speak the local language how you approach the people living in that area. If you try to speak their language and you ask them to help you, they will do so – at least in most cases. If they understand that you are interested in their culture and language, they will want to share something with you.

What about the university, youth hostels, internet caf?s and other places? Have you tried to find French speakers there? You might want to ask pub owners or shop assistants, who knows, they might tell you how many (or how few) of their customers are French speaking.

Of course it’s ideal if you can pronounce a new word and also understand its meaning at the same time. This will make it much easier for you to memorize and use the new word and soon it won’t be a new word any longer…

Pen pals is a great idea – I used to have some and if you like you can read How to get to Heraklion? in which I describe how I started to learn English…

At this point, Italian is a language I enjoy hearing or listening to. Someday soon I will travel to Italy and stay there for a while so I can mingle with the local people and learn the language more actively.

By the way, can you distinguish different English accents? I mean, can tell what country a person comes from when you hear them speak English? (native speakers as well as ESL speakers?) Is there any English accent or dialect you like most?


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Hi Torsten

I have noticed that a large number of people throughout Europe speak english and were happy to help me out. Especially in Netherlands. I have always heard about french rudeness and arrogance etc… but they were some of the nicest people… and to be honest, i tried to speak french and i was friendly, so there is no real reason to not be polite in return. They were very kind though.

Im finding it interesting watching french movies etc nowadays. Or just hearing french in general. I’m slowly moving into the stage where i hear a word and dont need to translate it to english, because the french version is just as recognisable (though saying that, i need to still keep building up my vocab!!:))… and as i’m not needing to translate as much, and am understanding more and more, i’m becoming even more motivated to learn!

Great to hear about your italian, and your plans on travelling down to italy and improving you knowledge… i guess have the knowledge of how you learnt two languages, makes it SO much easier to start again as you know the better and more efficient ways of improving.

Yes, i am very good at understanding accents… not only for English, American, Australian, New Zealand etc accents… but french, italian, german, swedish etc. My favourite accents are Irish by far, and french. I can also speak in irish, french, british and american accents. Obviously not 100% identical to their accents but its not tough to mimic them.

I guess, if i could speak german, you could tell that i had an australian accent when i spoke??? Can you pick english accents up?? I guess it just takes time, to pick up how different people/nations pronounce words differently.

just a question on pimsleur… at the moment i’m re doing the 2nd unit… so that the words i learnt are firmly implanted in my head :slight_smile: What should i expect after the 3rd unit? Is there are large difference at the end of the 2nd or 3rd? Can i understand faster spoken french? I guess… i am asking how far does the 3rd level take me. i know i wont be fluent or anything and will still take me a lot of study to do so… but will i understand significantly more??

Kind regards

I’m happy to hear this. I think when it comes to cultural differences we have to beware of stereotypes and generalizations. Because of the history the French do take pride in their language and culture and there might be occasions where some of them are reluctant to communicate in English. This might be because of some events in the French/British history or some political influences. On a personal level, however, I think most people are friendly and open up to you when they sense you come as ‘a friend’ (this might be a simplified explanation though).

I wish more people would follow your example. I agree with you, once you get into the habit of watching movies the target language you will be able to make progress in your learning constantly. And what’s most important: Understanding new words will boost your confidence which makes you feel good. You can learn only if you like what you are doing. The hardest part of learning a new language is to get started. Once you have overcome your initial inhibitions, that second language becomes part of your daily routine and then it’s not longer ‘new’ or ‘foreign’.

You are right Michael. Also, if you know why are learning a language you find it much easier to learn it. When I started to learn English, the language was a bit like Latin to me because we could not imagine how and where we might use it. (the only country we were allowed to travel to freely was the Czech Republic). The reunification of Germany changed the situation dramatically. Now, I can travel to any country I want. The UK and Ireland are just a 2 hour flight away. (at a cheap one for that matter)
I can even go to Australia and live there for a while…

So you must have had a lot of exposure to all these different accents. Where do you hear an Irish accent in Australia? I know one Irish person who moved to down under and he is running a website called MemoryMentor and I think he likes Australia pretty much. I guess the sun shines more in Australia than in Ireland. By the way, I like the Irish accent too – especially their distinctive intonation. (they tend to raise their voice at the end of a sentence).

To be honest, if you spoke German I’m not sure I could tell you are Australian. I think I can distinguish between the main English accents, primarily from listening to audio resources or watching CNN where you can hear a diverse range of English accents (native speakers as well as ESL). I can also identify most Russians when they speak English.

But what about songs? I mean, can you distinguish where a pop or rock singer is from when they sing?

I think when you complete the 3rd level and you are comfortable with all the material it will be easier for you to understand spoken French and also to pick up new vocabulary. I recommend in addition to Pimsleur you listen to other authentic sources on a regular basis. Integrate them into your daily activities. For example, if you have a car and you use it everyday, listen to French dialogues or audio books in addition to Pimsleur. Mix Pimsleur with other materials you will see the positive effect this will have on your learning.
Also, because you can distinguish between differen accents, I suppose you like music? If so, do you have any songs in French?

Talk to you soon,

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Hi Torsten

To be honest… i believe that people who say the french are rude… or tend to generalise about these type of things have had a bad experience… met a french man who wasnt so polite, and just except that as being the culture. Honestly… i met one or two rude people along my trip… some guy in Amsterdam pulled a knife on me, the first person i met!!! i got away fairly easily though… but its just the minority who are like that… I’m not going to say Amsterdam is full of horrible people because of that one situation, because thats just not true!

Yes, my confidence grows as i become better with the language. And its different elements to the language… like at first, i could speak better than what i could understand. Now, i can understand a lot more, but it still takes a while to say the right words. I do believe itll all come together one day… and to be honest, i need to start reading more, so my spelling improves! But one thing at a time… i believe once i can understand more clearly… i will be able to get into more conversations, and that will improve my talking skills. It all goes hand in hand.

To be honest… one of the reasons i come to this website… this forum, is to hear other people talk about their experiences… how they find pimsleur, how they learnt a new language… techniques, methods etc… i like to hear that people have worked hard, and become fleunt… hearing that i think is the biggest way to boost my confidence… because if others can do it, why cant i? Its just about work ethic then. And other stories can inspire me to work harder… its great to hear.

I guess my main exposure is simply tv… and movies… its great… i large variety of movies with locations etc… it just gives me an ear for an accent. I do know a few irishmen down here… actually, there are a few irish pubs, and plenty of good people behind the bar.

I cant really tell as easily with songs… i can pick out an irish accent… and european accents are noticable, but i cant pick which one is which. But no, not as well.

I do look forward to finishing the 3rd unit… one day :slight_smile: And yes, by the time its all done, it will probably just a whole easier to pick up new things, because i will have a stronger base to the language.

I love music as well… though i havent got into french music… another good idea though. To be honest, it can be so easy to immerse myself in french… music, movies, pimsleur, books… etc etc.

I’m very glad you say this, Michael because it shows that stereotypes are just what they are – oversimplified images we obtain by listening to others who in turn have heard something from somebody else. It’s better if create an opinion based on your own experiences and facts rather than hearsay. That’s why travelling and speaking to people who live in other countries is so useful. Which brings us back to the importance of language…

Michael, I also think that speaking is the most complex of the four language disciplines and it usually requires a higher level of knowledge and a combination of skills. Speaking means, you have enough ‘pre-fabricated and readily accessible language chunks’ – so you can express your thoughts. On top of that you have to be able to pronounce those phrases quickly and precisely enough. Having a spoken conversation also requires a quick reaction – so you must understand what you counterpart says and at the same time produce an answer to their question. That’s why I would not bother with speaking too much – just concentrate on the input, listen and read as much as you can and you will see that your subconscious mind picks up new phrases constantly. The more language you put into your head, the easier it will become for you to produce output.

I think a language is just a habit. And to change your habits or establish new ones, you need the support of other people. You need somebody you can talk to and exchange experiences. Otherwise it’s much harder to keep the learning process going. So, I’m glad you have found our website and I look forward to talking to you on a regular basis.

Speaking of TV and English accents – what TV shows are there on Australian TV? I mean, here in Germany about 80% of all shows and films are American but 99% of them are dubbed which I find quite strange. Why not show those films in the original version and put subtitles on? What do you think about this? (we had a discussion about this question here: Dubbed version of American movies?)

Talk to you soon,

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Hi Torsten

I couldnt agree with you more! To build up your own opinions from your own experiences is so important. And yes, being able to know the language brings you to a more intimate position. To learn cultures and traditions etc.

That is so interesting what you say… and i have heard it before… i think in one of the other posts, someone (could be you) was saying that even when asleep, you mind in still working, and subconciously you are still going through the new words/phrases etc. I do try to speak a bit every now and again, but not too much… you are right, learning through hearing and reading is the best way to progress… once that starts to take shape, the rest will follow a whole lot easier.

TV shows in Australia??? Well there is still a lot of American TV, coupled with Australian Drama shows… we dont get many foreign movies… we have one channel which shows foreign shows at night, so a french movie may be on on everage once every 3 nights… the french news (along with all the others) is on every weekday on this same channel. The french (or other language) movies arent dubbed, but have english subtitles.

Talk to you soon,

Exactly. I, too, have often fallen into the trap of transferring the experiences I had with one person onto an entire nation playing the generalization game. The solution really is to collect as much information about the other culture, mentality and traditions as possible. Also, based on experiences, language shouldn’t be the purpose (unless you want to become a linguist) but rather serve as a means to achieve a purpose. I started learning Russian when I was 6 mainly because my father was a Russian teacher and my parents wanted me to be good at school. I always had good grades in Russian but it wasn’t until I was 15 that I started learning the language in earnest. (because that’s when I met a real Russian for the first time…)

I think the psychologists call it the ‘alpha-state of the mind’. This the phase you are in when shortly you after you wake up, you are not really awake yet, but the subconscious section of your brain is already absorbing information. So, when you develop the habit of putting new words into your head right after you wake up, you will expand your vocabulary faster. As a matter of fact, the subconscious mind is the most powerful part of the brain when it comes to storing new words in your mind. Have you ever tried to have Pimsleur or another tape play in the background while you are doing something else? Even (or especially) when you don’t concentrate on the tape, the words will go into your head. That’s how you learned your mother tongue. You were not aware of the fact that English was spoken 24 hours around you. The language was just there – you were constantly surrouned by English. If you gradually change your language environment from English to French, your mind will absorb the French vocabulary as it absorbed the English vocabulary…
Speaking of French vocabulary – I was driving today morning to the city of Jena and I have lots of tapes in my car. One of them is Let Be Must The Queen (strange title!) by Guesch Patti. I listened to some of the songs which I like quite a lot and I thought about our conversation. Do you know Guesch Patti? What do you think of her music?

So, the Germans seem to be one of the few nations that dub almost every single film, movie or interview. We spend so much tax money on teaching our children English at state school and then we don’t even trust them to understand a cartoon…
So, if you watch of a lot of US TV shows, you must be pretty familar with American idioms and slang. What about Aussie lingo? Are there any specific Australian phrases that only you would understand?

Have a good weekend and speak to you soon,

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Hi Torsten

For me, growing up, i never wanted to learn another language… it was never a big deal for me, and not a big deal as an Australian… so i believe. I learnt a bit of Italian and Japanese during my school days, but never really got into it… and i never made an effort to learn Polish off my family. I do regret it now, i could be 1 or 2 langauges up already :slight_smile: But better late than never… i’ve got a long life ahead of me, so we’ll see how it goes. I guess growing and having the potential to travel in europe etc, helps me to understand the benefit in knowing the language… because to know the language, i reckon that culture would go hand in hand. I’m learning a bit about french culture inadvertantly… but am enjoying that!

I will try to do some French Study in the morning… though i can make no promises… this will be a challange for me, as i’m a grumpy morning person… haha… i prefer to sit and watch TV! I’m a real good night studier, but will give it a go! Maybe for me it can be a simple thing like learning a short list of words in the morning. I will give anything a try! I havent tried putting something on in the background either, though i’m getting some french music and maybe that could be a new thing.

I dont know Guesch Patti? I’ve never really heard much french music, if any… but will make an effort to try and start.

I am fimiliar with American slang… and yes, there is certainly a lot of Aussie lingo that the english or americans wouldnt understand.

Funny thing… i’m watching more and more american movies in french now… and i am starting to understand a fair bit of what they are saying… i am not using sub titles so i can purely focus on the words. But watching a proper french movie on out international movie channel, i didnt understand much at all. Like i dont think they spoke much faster, but i just didnt understand a lot of the words… that was surprising… maybe i will grandually pick up more in time!?

Anyway, best to be off
Talk soon

You are absolutely right here, Michael. Learning a second or third language makes sense only if it serves a purpose. There are people who learn languages for the sake of the language itself. They want to study the structure and history of the language. Then, there are people who want to communicate with other people. They want to find answers to questions, maybe they want to advance in science and technology and most of the sources on that subject are written in a certain language. There can be lots of reasons why people would learn a second language and as you grow up your reasons change.

So, is your French training program coming along? If you watch TV in the morning, why not watch a French show or film?

Can you give us some examples of Aussie lingo? I’d be interested to see how our moderators and users respond to Australian slang and how much of it they might know…

By the way, have you taken a look at the other discussions that are going on here? What do you think about our Received Pronunciation?

Talk to you soon,

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