Do you get your languages mixed up?

Trying to decide whether to study Spanish and Portuguese or Spanish and English at uni. I'm worried that if I go for Spanish & Portuguese I'll end up getting really confused and won't improve as much as I would if I just focused on Spanish. I'm also worried about going to two countries on a year abroad. Does anyone have any advice??

This question was asked on 18th November 2014 and has been read 3624 times.

  • Emily Gallacher · 8 years ago

    I study spanish and french at uni and since spending a lot of time in Spain during my summers, my brain predominantly thinks in Spanish. I think this is just because it is my stronger language I can think of how to express myself in Spanish quicker than French words can come to the surface. 

    I'm currently in France on my year abroad and I think most of the time it does still take a while for the French words to come especially when under pressure to answer quickly to questions etc. However, I am surviving and I probably am going to find it easier when in Spain.

    I'd say if you're going to choose 2 languages to make sure that you improve them together and at the same rate. However it will be difficult because after a while you will probably end up having a favourite or stronger language.

  • David Joels · 8 years ago

    I study Spanish and Chinese at uni and spent last year in Argentina and China. I cannot recommend highly enough splitting your year abroad, even if you only do one language. Double the experiences, double the friends, double the fun. Everything you learn from your first place you can put towards the second.

  • Georgia Eardley · 8 years ago

    I study French and Italian, and I would say I get some smalls words mixed up such as 'mais' or 'ma' =but. However, I would say learning two languages with similar grammar actually helps you reinforce what you already know, and as said above, being able to split your year abroad will be amazing :)

  • katy baines · 8 years ago

    It totally depends on you. I went to uni doing French and Spanish and ended up dropping French because it just wasn't for me. If you feel like you have a natural affinity for only one then it's not a bad choice! But if you only want to drop one because of the fear of confusion or spending the year abroad in two places then I think you should try it out at uni first! At least where I go, they're pretty flexible if you want to change.

    Buena suerte!

  • Currently Frances Haynes · 8 years ago

    I study Spanish and Portuguese! I'm currently doing my YA in Lisbon so Portuguese is much more natural to me than Spanish right now, but before this, Spanish was easier for me as I'd been learning it for longer.

    In general, I haven't found mixing the two languages to be a problem. This is partly because Spanish and Portuguese sound fairly different (I'm mostly talking about European Portuguese here), and they *look* different written down (accents are different, for instance), so that helps me not mix them up. If you do go for Portuguese, I'd recommend trying really hard to get the accent down quickly.

    Times when it's been a problem:

    1) When I've had days like Spanish language -- Portuguese oral -- do Spanish homework -- Portuguese tutorial

    2) Sometimes I've been lazy with learning Portuguese vocab.

    Times it's helped:

    1) In general, Portuguese is the language I've learnt most easily so far, mostly because of Spanish.

    2) In Year Abroad situations, it's helpful when I need to guess a word.

    3) This is quite specific, but I really like Medieval (and some Early Modern) literature, and Portuguese has really helped me understand older Spanish. I guess it might also be useful with certain dialects or if you're interested in linguistics.

  • Siobhan Elward-Jones · 8 years ago

    personally, when I started my degree, I was Spanish/Italian. Unfortunately I got the two confused so much that the only option I could see was to drop the Italian. Now I am a single honours student, but keep up the Italian through sites like memrise and reading the coursework books. I think it completely depends on you, and on your university (mine wasn't very helpful when the whole class complained that the italian teacher was useless). The only thing I can suggest is to just make people aware that you are doing both languages-maybe they'll sympathize, then spend a lot of time revising your notes. Try to focus one day on one language, that way its less confusing than an hour or so on each. having saying that, when I was in Spain, I lived in Galicia and picked up their regional language without any problem to me back at uni-I associate Galego with my Spanish friends, and Spanish with my university. 

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