Should you learn simplified or traditional Chinese?

Upon deciding to learn Mandarin Chinese, you need to choose whether you’ll learn Simplified or Traditional as a writing system. Fear not – here’s a guide to help you! 

In terms of writing systems, mainland China, Singapore, Malaysia uses simplified characters. Japanese uses a form of Chinese characters in their writing system, called Kanji. These are mostly written in the traditional way, so perhaps if you’re learning Japanese as well, Traditional may be easier. The same goes for when Chinese characters are used in Korean Hanja. They are, of course, pronounced differently.

Who uses what?

Consider which country’s Chinese speakers you interact with mostly and what your availability of resources would be. Simplified is the most widely studied writing form of Mandarin China as its the standard for Mainland China.

Mandarin spoken in Mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia is written using simplified characters. Most resources teaching “Chinese” or “Mandarin” will be written in simplified. It’s arguably easier to learn as it’s less complex than traditional characters. 

Mandarin Chinese and Chinese dialects from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau use traditional characters. Cantonese, another language mostly spoken in Hong Kong (and some parts of Malaysia and Singapore), also uses traditional characters. So, you can have one sentence written the same way but pronounced completely differently depending on the dialect or language! 

简体字 – jiǎntǐzì
Simplified: less strokes per character 

Simplified Chinese, as it indicates in the name, simplifies each character, so they are easier to write and memorize. It’s also easier to read in a small font or thick pen writing compared to complex, crowded Traditional characters. Simplified characters were introduced to improve the literacy of everyday Chinese people. The first round of simplifications that the Chinese government implemented started in 1956, with a goal of reducing complexity.

Some people say that because of character simplification, Chinese characters lost aesthetic and traditional values, including the meanings the base characters held. However, during the reformation, the everyday peasant needed to learn writing and practice strokes when paper was rare.

繁體字 – fántǐzì
Traditional Chinese: maintaining original meanings

Traditional Chinese, on the contrary, keeps the original forms which have evolved over the course of a thousand years. The base characters that make up a more complex character often contain key information in understanding meaning. For example, in traditional characters, love (愛)is written with the character for “heart” in it, whereas the simplified rendition of love (爱)does not contain a heart! 

TL;DR: Choose simplified if you want to go to China, enjoy mainland/Singaporean/Malaysian TV shows etc. Choose traditional if you want to go to Taiwan or if you’re studying Japanese too. Choose Cantonese if you wanna talk to people from Hong Kong and watch cool Cantonese dramas or enjoy awesome cantopop music. Speaking of, here’s my Mando/Canto music playlist on Spotify if you’re wondering what I listen to.

Click to access my list of Chinese resources to kickstart your studies!

My personal choice

This is one of my most-asked questions! Not many people know that I actually started with Cantonese before I did Mandarin Chinese, meaning I started with traditional. I had a friend from Hong Kong who did a homestay with my family and he taught me Cantonese, and therefore my first introduction to Chinese characters was through traditional forms. Only later did I pause Cantonese and decide to pursue Mandarin Chinese (Taiwanese accent). Most of the Chinese resources I could find use simplified Chinese characters. Luckily, awesome apps like Lingodeer now include settings to switch between traditional and simplified.

I switched over to simplified for a while, but then when I realized I have a big love for Taiwan and want to travel there, I chose to move back to Traditional. Most of my language partners are Taiwanese too. So you can say I’m learning both at the same time. The keyboard on my phone is in Traditional Chinese, but I’m comfortable reading simplified too. 

Since I’m learning Japanese too, and Kanji often uses traditional style Chinese characters, it’s also a natural choice for me to continue with traditional.

Ready to learn Chinese? Get started with these resources:

Where to begin learning Chinese:

Learn Chinese in China with Omeida Yangshuo academy

Yangshuo, China

Study Chinese in a beautiful part of China at Yangshuo Omeida Academy! Click here for more info and be sure to use my discount code “LindieBotes” to get a 200 RMB discount on tuition!

Kickstart your Chinese studies on Lingodeer

Did you know the app Lingodeer teaches Chinese using both traditional and simplified characters? You can choose the style of characters you want to learn. Lingodeer has lessons for extreme beginners to intermediate learners, focusing on daily topics, character reading, writing and pronunciation to vocabulary you’ll find useful and fun to learn. Grammar is explained in detailed grammar notes and there are fun games to test your level and ensure your improvement.

Use my code LINDIE15 to get a 15% discount on any subscription to Lingodeer. Just click on Membership on the desktop website and select “I have a code”.

Happy studying!

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Should you take a language test?

Are language tests useful?

In the online polyglot community, you’ll often see people post their language exam results or share study techniques to prepare for an upcoming exam. We’re seeing more people with full-time jobs unrelated to languages are taking exams in their free time. 

On the one hand, language exams are useful if you’re looking for a very standard way to prove your level. This is generally when you’re applying for a job in another language, regardless of the field. Companies or schools require a certification to see if you can communicate in the language. That being said, I don’t believe language tests are true reflections of one’s level in a language.

Language tests are standardised expressions of your level but don’t take into account nuances and natural fluency.

I’ve met people who have passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) at level N2, the second highest level, yet struggle to form a coherent sentence when speaking. That’s because there is a difference between memorizing vocabulary and having great test-taking skills, and actually being able to communicate fluently in a language as a result of immersion and enough speaking practice. 

The same goes for Korean-based English education. Educators in Korea pressure students to take exams, memorise advanced words and essays. Classrooms are full of students racing to finish test papers and score high marks, and silent for the most part when it comes to conversational skills. Most Korean school students have an exceptional level of advanced English vocabulary, but struggle to speak because they don’t get adequate practice. It’s easy to memorize words and paragraphs by rote and in turn neglect natural speaking and listening practice. We should be careful not to fall into this trap when we prepare for language exams. 

Why I take level tests now

With the above in mind, I always thought it would waste my time and money to take a language exam. I took a DELF exam in French years ago but of course my level has fallen significantly without practice and the test probably expired since then. In that case, it was useless for me to take it – I just took it cause my school required it.

With the above in mind, I always thought it would waste my time and money to take a language exam. I took level B2 in the French DELF exam years ago as my school required it. This was to prove that I completed a course at the Alliance Francaise successfully. However, I haven’t touched French for a while and a quick online test showed me that my level dropped to B1. The certification has also since expired. In a case like this, taking the DELF exam really wasn’t any use to me. 

But this year, I’m taking the Korean and Japanese standardized exams (TOPIK and JLPT, respectively). This is for two reasons:

1. To test my own level
2. To be a motivator for me to study 

To test my own level: I can somewhat figure out what level I’m at roughly (beginner, intermediate, advanced) but specifically can’t say which CEFR or TOPIK level I’m at. Having a standardised framework like a language exam helps other people understand my level and manage expectations.

As for the second point, personally I need some kind of motivation to keep me going. My Korean level has been stagnant for the past few years – I’m at a level good enough to help myself in daily life but not advanced enough to understand politics, science or advanced news. This is called the intermediate plateau. By having something slightly intimidating like an exam loom in the distance, I feel pressure to study, learn new vocabulary and put time and effort in to actively improving my level.

Related video: How to get past the intermediate plateau

That being said, I am not planning on working in Korea or Japan for the next 2 or 3 years, so for now that’s not something the certificate will prove useful for. If you’re planning on working in a country of your target language, taking a level test will prove useful.

How do you know if you’re ready?

Let’s face it, we never feel fully ready for tests, right? I studied for JLPT N3 for 3-4 months and still freaked out a few days before the exam.(Don’t worry, I passed and there was a happy ending). Every school exam feels like that too – it’s just because it’s unknown and you don’t know what will show up in the exam. That’s OK and that’s normal! If you’re asking how do you know which level you’re ready for, you can take practice tests online to gague your level before you sign up for a specific level. 

Tracking your progress outside of tests

If you’re taking tests yearly, it’s a good way to see where you’ve improved or stayed stagnant. If you’re not taking any tests, you can track your progress by filming yourself or writing a diary and checking back on how much you’ve improved. My friend and online polyglot inspiration Steve Kaufmann said his talk at Polyglot Conference that he tracks his progress by asking himself: How much could I say before and how much can I say now? It almost sounds too simple, but that’s such a pure and personal way to track your own progress. I remember listening to songs I last heard a few years ago and saying “wow, I clearly understand a lot more of the song lyrics than I remember”. What a nice feeling!

Related post:

Whether you choose to take a language exam or not is up to you – but just remember, it’s OK to fail. It’s OK to make mistakes. An exam doesn’t reflect fluency very accurately and should just be taken as a guide. Enjoy the process and use it as a motivator to study. All the best, friends!

You can casually check on an app too!

Check out Lingodeer – you can test out levels to gauge what your current level is. This is not an official certification but can give you a rough idea of whether you’re beginner or advanced. Use my code Lindie15 to get 15% discount on any subscription type for the app. Just register online at lingodeer.com!

How I study Korean vocab for TOPIK

Sample test and creating a study plan

There are 17 weeks until the TOPIK 2 Korean proficiency exam in April! Time to sit myself down and make a study plan, I thought. Bur first, before anything, I took an online past paper test to see what score I can expect and where I need to improve. 

Then after crying about how badly I did on the test (kidding not kidding), I made the study schedule. I wrote down the weeks and dates, and what I plan on doing for studying. I also leave two weeks open before the exam to review all my work. I only made the schedule up to 3 weeks from now, which is by when I estimate to be finished with the current vocabulary book I am using.

Getting a book to follow

I bought a book called “한국어 벵크 TOPIK 2 한권이면 OK” to prepare me for the test and it came with a smaller handbook for vocabulary, listing all the important words that appear in the textbook. Realising that I can read two pages on the bus on the way to work and two pages on my commute back, I committed to studying 4 pages of vocabulary each day. When I’m on the bus I use a yellow pen to mark any unknown words, either main vocab words or words that appear in example sentences. I don’t try to memorize anything at this stage yet – all I do is familiarise myself with the words and identify which ones are new. 

My study schedule notebook is the one on the right.
I put a smiley face each day to track my mood also!

Using Quizlet to review

After finishing the last 2 pages of vocabulary on the way home, I reach home and then enter all the new words into a deck on Quizlet. I create one deck for every two days. That means Monday and Tuesday vocabulary words (8 pages from the handbook) have their own deck, and then Wednesday and Thursday’s words have another deck.

I do this so that my flashcard decks don’t get too long and that I can quickly review them and put them aside for review later. I don’t want one deck to have words from ages ago that I know already combined with new words. 

I then do all the exercises on Quizlet (flashcards, matching, test) until my retention/accuracy is around 90%. 

(MT stands for Monday/Tuesday in case you’re wondering)

Related post: Improve your Korean in 6 unique ways

Adding words and example sentences to my notebook

After feeling comfortable with these new words, I will write them in my notebook – leaving out the ones that I’ve already memorized. Take note that there’s a difference between short term and long term retention. I’ve learnt some of these words before but just needed a refresher – I won’t write these words down – only new ones!

My note taking structure is as follows:  vocabulary word in pink, definition in blue, example sentence in black. I only write the definition if I really can’t remember it or if it’s one that is easily confused with other words. I try not to use English in my notes. It’s better to learn words in context of example sentences and glean the meaning from there than rely on English translations which might not always capture the nuance. Where necessary, I will write Chinese characters (한자) if it helps me remember a word. 

Review and repeat

I review the example sentences throughout the day alongside Quizlet. The next morning I’ll do the next day’s set of words on the bus and after 2 days of words I have a new Quizlet deck to work from. 

What’s next?

This is just how I learn vocabulary. Listening, grammar and writing are other skills that need different study strategies. I believe neither of these should be done in isolation! When I watch Korean dramas, I make sure to write down new words too. It helps with my listening as well. Writing and reading go hand in hand, so I make sure to read as much Korean as I can through articles online or novels I have at home.

What I learnt at Polyglot Conference 2019

The annual Polyglot Conference was held at Kyushu Sangyo University in Fukuoka, Japan this year! I stayed in Fukuoka for 6 days and 3 full days were spent at the conference. It was the first Polyglot Conference I was able to attend and what an experience it was! One that I will treasure for my life.

Some of the speakers this year included:
Steve Kaufmann
Elisa Polese
Alex Rawlings
Rebecca Howie
Prof Alexander Arguelles
Dr Emmanuel Ternon
Sara Maria Hasbun
Judith Meyer
And myself:

All of the talks from this year will be uploaded to the Polyglot Conference YouTube channel in a few weeks or months, and I’ll be sure to post a link to them when they’re up.

For now, you can take a look at my vlogs; and here’s my summary of stuff I learnt this conference.

1. Take charge of your language learning process

By far, my favorite talk from the conference was Professor Alexander Arguelles’ presentation called From Start to Finnish. He spoke about how he took an immersive Finnish course at a Concordia Language Village camp for two weeks and what methods he used to learn the level as fast as he could.

While other students at the camp were adapting to the language slowly, Prof Arguelles sped up his language process not only by studying diligently but by speaking to the camp guides as much as he could. It was an exclusively Finnish environment and he made sure to listen and absorb as much as he could. Every day, he’d get up at dawn and prepare conversation topics for the day, looking up vocabulary related to philosophy and religion. He had a grammar guide which he studied and was able to have a decent conversation within days of starting to learn the language.

I was impressed with by how he made use of the native Finnish speakers around him to have them teach him correct pronunciation, intonation and vocabulary. He would drive the topics and steer the conversation in directions that would be beneficial to his learning.

Some concluding remarks by Prof Arguelles

[Taken from Prof Arguelles’ presentation slides]
Just from his third day in the immersive Finnish camp, he knew he needed:
– to take charge of the learning process, not just follow the way the camp was going
– prepare conversations each day at dawn
– scope out staff with sympathetic personalities from whom he could elicit knowledge and therefore control the learning process
– not use his own methods but use the rhythm of the camp as much as possible in a continuous cycle of grammatical study, reading aloud, comprehensible listening input (lectures), one on one conversation and targeted practice (eg phonetics).

It was so inspirational to see how seriously he takes his learning and how fast he was able to reach a conversational level in Finnish. He mentioned how he can study for 12 to 13 hours on end each day and not feel tired. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that. I take my hat off for him!

You can see his Finnish journey in a series of episodes on his YouTube channel.

Speaking at the Closing Panel with Prof Arguelles in the middle

2. Passion drives progress

One of the key things that will get you to fluency in a language is passion for learning. Wherever you are, make an effort to learn something new and use the language. I met so many language learners who can barely speak English but came all the way to the conference for the sole purpose of learning and practicing what they know. If you have passion, you’ll make progress. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t shy away from situations where you can learn something.

I was touched so see how some of my Korean friends at the conference were not afraid to speak up using broken English to ask a question after a talk. Even if it took them a long time to search for words and form a question, they tried and that’s what matters. Stepping out of your comfort zone and taking the plunge to speak a foreign language: that’s what will build your confidence, build your vocabulary and drive you to fluency!

Someone who particularly inspired me is my new friend Dean, also knowns as Pinoy Polyglot in the Making. Dean saved up for months to make it to the conference and he truly made the most of each situation! I saw him carrying around papers with Tagalog printed on it to teach people how to say things, I saw him interviewing other polyglots, and I saw him in the front row of many presentations, taking notes an actively listening! Dean is going places, and I know that because I can see his passion.

With Dean after he taught me some Tagalog

3. Personalities in polyglottery might not be what you think

Alex Rawlings gave a thought-provoking talk on the idea of different personalities with each language you speak. He mentioned how he feels freer speaking Greek and more organized and straightforward when speaking German — but then concluded that this doesn’t mean it’s the language that makes it so, but rather your own experiences with it. For example, he would generally speak Greek when on holiday at the beach, in a relaxed environment with family. German was a school subject for him, and therefore he needed to be organized and structured.

Alex gave an interesting example — he first learnt to call a waitress as “girl!” in Russian when he was in a small provincial village. At first he thought it was rude, but realised that’s how Russians do it. He started adopting what he referred to as this ‘rude’ personality when he spoke Russian, but only realized when he was in Moscow that educated city people don’t actually talk like that. So, Russian isn’t a rude-sounding language per se, but his first experience with it was in a context that helped shape such an incorrect mindset.

This made me think – I always thought each language had an innate ‘personality’ to it – but then again, it really is the people and experiences that change your perception of a language.

4. You can create immersive language experiences without traveling to a country

I was so excited to meet Rebecca Howie this year! I’ve been following her from Irregular Endings, her online design store for language goods, for a while. I attended her presentation where she ran us through how she creates an immersive language outing day for herself.

Participants of her workshop were asked to give ideas on what you can do have a successful immersive language day: like setting up a plan of where you’ll go, what words you want to use, how you will track your progress or record yourself, how to debrief after your day and review what to learn and so forth. She has a lovely stage personality and the workshop was highly informative – one of my favorites from the conference.

With Rebecca from Irregular Endings

5. CJKV Dict is an awesome tool

Dr Emmanuel Ternon, my new friend and computer programmer-turned polyglot, is the creator of CJKV Dict, an online dictionary. It’s excellent for polyglots who are learning Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.

As taken from his website, “Besides the ability to return search results for a specific word written in Chinese characters in all four CJKV languages, CJKV Dict automatically converts simplified Chinese characters and Japanese Shinjitai to traditional Chinese characters. This makes it possible to check whether or not the same Chinese characters are used in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and/or Vietnamese to write the same word.” You can use it online or in an app form.

CJKV Dict also has a Twitter account with a word of the week in all 4 languages.

Emmanuel and I with his book on Traditional Chinese Characters (available on Amazon)

6. Strength in numbers: mobilising the language community

Finally, something I’ll take away from the event is that there are so many of us polyglots and language learners out there and we need to use what we know to improve life around us. During the closing panel, someone asked something like “how can we use our skills to improve the world around us?”. I immediately thought that we all have wonderful talents to share but we don’t always bridge connections between people.

One of the speakers, Grigory Kazakov, talked about developing language learning materials for smaller languages. Someone asked him if he has actually made any materials, but he answered and said he’s merely a strategist and comes up with concepts and methods for teaching languages, but wouldn’t design a book, per se. I thought someone like me might be the opposite: I’m a trained designer but I might not have all the knowledge on how to create language learning materials. If a designer or educational material creator could partner with someone like Grigory, we might be seeing resources for smaller languages entering the mainstream market. One way we can do this is to bridge connections between people. If you know someone who does something and know of someone else who needs help, put them in touch!

My friend Becki, who speaks Japanese fluently, is learning Ainu now. She has a big collection of resources in Japanese, but such resources are only accessible to people who are literate in Japanese. If there is someone who wants to learn Ainu but can’t speak Japanese, that would pose a problem. How can we, as the polyglot community, connect people to make Ainu resources accessible to non-Japanese speakers? I was happy to see that two Ainu speakers approached Becki after the conference, but I’d be happier to see if something exciting comes of it!

See you in Mexico in 2020!

At the end of the event, it was announced that Polyglot Conference 2019 will happen in Cholula, Mexico! How exciting! I hope to see all of you there.

Thank you to Richard Simcott and Tim Keeley for arranging a successful event, and I can’t wait to see where we will go as a polyglot community in the future. You are all so special to me!

How to choose a language to learn

Which language should I learn (next)? – Every polyglot, like, ever.

It’s always exciting learning a new language, but choosing one feels like a huge level of commitment… as much as you have the motivation to learn a new language, you just can’t bring yourself to choose one to start with! It makes sense: language learning is personal. Your life, choices, thinking, entertainment, and hobbies will all be affected by the language you learn if you immerse yourself in it enough. The reason you decide to learn a language should become the motivation for you to continue.

I cannot tell you which one to learn, but I can help guide your decision-making process.

Reasons to learn a language

1. Which languages do you already speak?

This is a great place to start. If you speak Dutch, learning Afrikaans will be a breeze. Likewise, having a background in French will make learning Spanish easy. If you’re looking to add to your list of spoken languages, consider learning one that’s from a similar language family of a language you already speak. This being said, if you’re only a beginner in Korean, for instance, learning Japanese might be a challenge. Although it has similar grammar and vocabulary to Korean, it might be these similarities that cause you to confuse the two. I suggest learning one to an intermediate/advanced level before you start learning another.

Be careful not to just learn a language without being genuinely interested and passionate about it. For years I was not interested in Spanish in the slightest. It would have been so easy for me to learn it since I speak French, but I knew I wouldn’t have the motivation to continue past beginner. It was only this year that I started becoming more interested in Spanish from a cultural perspective. It became less about ‘adding a new language to my list’ and more about ‘I am learning this because I’m genuinely interested and want to know more’.

2. Which language makes you excited when you hear it?

Sometimes just the sound of a language is reason enough to get interested in learning it. So many people agree that French is the sexiest language in the world. For me, I really enjoy the sound of Vietnamese. I discovered Vietnamese music a few years ago and have since then been dabbling in the language. Years later, I still get butterflies when I listen to Vietnamese music, and each time I hear it, I get reminded how much I want to improve and continue learning. If you don’t like hearing a language, you won’t want to study it.

3. Which language do you see yourself using in future?

Can you see yourself using this language for the rest of your life? Is it important to invest a lot of time in the language, or is it a short-lived phase? My parents moved to Japan when I was in my first year of university. As a design student, I knew how prolific Japanese graphic design is and used my goal of working in the design field in Japan one day to motivate myself to study the language more. In my third and fourth year at uni, I did internships at Japanese design companies in Tokyo. If I hadn’t started learning the language in my first year of uni, I wouldn’t have been able to reach a working-level proficiency by the time of my internships. Currently I live in Singapore. A lot of my colleagues speak Mandarin, and my office has a branch in Indonesia. If I see myself working here for the long term, it might be a good idea for me to brush up my Mandarin and Indonesian too. Consider where you see yourself in a few years and which language will be most beneficial to your future.

4. Resources and likelihood of interacting with native speakers

Ask yourself for which language you can most easily find native speakers and resources right now. (Read further to find my resource list for various languages!)

Are there tutors online?
Courses you can take?
People near you who speak the language?
Language exchange events near you?

You can consider looking at how widely-spoken the language is. If you’re looking for business opportunities, lots of resources and a huge likelihood of meeting native speakers, you can pick up a language like French, German, Arabic, Spanish or even Japanese. If there’s a language that tugs at your heartstrings that isn’t widely spoken but you really want to learn it, do it anyway! Every language is valid, useful and will open doors. Language learning is allowed to be a hobby and just because you’re not using it with native speakers every day doesn’t mean it isn’t bringing you joy.

5. Cultural reasons

Is there a particular culture that you are interested in, respect, and feel like you could adapt to? Perhaps the structure, politeness and perceived rigorousness of the Japanese culture is something you find stability and order in. Or maybe you’re not afraid of straightforward conversations and saying things as they are – then maybe Korean is for you as Koreans are more direct than the Japanese. Maybe you’ve been watching traveling to France since you were young. Enjoying the culture of a language will help create unique learning opportunities and keep you interested in the language.

Bad reasons to learn a language

  • To impress people. They’ll get bored eventually and you won’t have a solid foundation to stay motivated with. Language learning is personal and if your motivation is an external source, you’ll lose hope soon. Do it for yourself and don’t compare yourself to others!
  • Only to look good on your CV. I know people who study a language for work reasons but absolutely despise it. If you dislike learning a specific language, of course you’ll want to spend the least amount of time on it and begrudgingly go trough your lessons. You won’t advance as quickly as you would if you were passionate about it!
  • A boyfriend/girlfriend unless you’re serious about staying together for the long term. Many people have told me after they break up, they have such a negative feeling towards a language and don’t want to continue at all. People and situations change, and you need a more sustainable reason to learn a language than romance. This is up for debate though. I started learning Hungarian because of a guy and even though we don’t talk anymore, I still love the language very much. Everyone reacts differently to breakups, so decide for yourself!

Getting started once you’ve decided

Language tutoring vs self-study

The benefits of having a tutor are one-on-one guidance, receiving homework and corrections, and having someone keep you accountable for your progress. If you can’t find a tutor in your area, you can take lessons online, on a site like italki. I’ve used italki for Chinese but the variety of teachers for each language is great. You can choose a tutor based on their prices, experience and availability. Something I really enjoyed about having a tutor is that my instructor would make Quizlet flashcards for me at the end of each lesson based on the new vocab we learnt together (something I was too lazy to make myself but felt obliged to use!).

Get $10 free credits with your first italki lesson purchase!

There are also fabulous reasons to study on your own, like setting your own pace and goals and not being bothered by fellow students’ lack of progress (or faster speed). Self-study means you can decide when you want to learn and how much you want to learn at a time. It doesn’t mean you need to be completely on your own though! There are excellent apps and resources to help you get kickstarted.

Learning more than one language at the same time

“Is it possible to learn more than one language at the same time?
This is a question I get asked almost every day. If you balance your time well, it’s definitely doable. If this sounds scary but you still want to learn many languages, then start with one language and learn it to an intermediate level, and then learn another language through it! A lot of the Japanese resources I’ve found most useful are books written for Korean learners of the language (i.e. A Japanese textbook written in Korean. I’ve found this particularly useful because KR/JP grammar is so similar. It makes it a lot faster to understand new concepts when my mind is already in a language that shares similarities with Japanese. Here’s are two videos that you might find useful. The first one is about learning Korean, Chinese and Japanese at the same time, and the one below it is about how it’s possible fo polyglots to learn multiple languages. (Excuse the weird transition from very long to very short hair lol).

Language resources

I’ve created resource lists on this website that might help you.
I currently have pages for the following languages:
Korean
Japanese
Chinese
Hungarian
Spanish
Afrikaans
Tagalog
Malay
Vietnamese

An app I recommend for self-study is Lingodeer. They started out with Asian languages but have since expanded their collection to include Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and more. Unlike Duolingo, Lingodeer has a holistic approach and delves more in depth into grammar. Chinese characters are also taught more intuitively, and you can switch between Traditional, Simplified and PinYin! The app is free up to a point and thereafter you need to pay to unlock the rest.

For readers of this blog, you can use my discount code LINDIE15 to get a 15% discount on any subscription made through the Lingodeer website. It’s really affordable for a year and will kickstart your language learning. You don’t even need to buy a textbook. Just use Lingodeer and make sure you’re immersing yourself in the language outside of the app too, and you’ll improve in no time!

That’s it for now!
I want to remind you that no one can make a decision for you and whatever your motivation is for learning a language, that’s unique and special to you. Keep going!

You can follow my language journey on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr.