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4 Ways to Know When and How to Learn a Third Language

Language learning can be addictive. It is always exciting to learn to communicate in a foreign language, and there tends to be a point in the learning process where things sort of ‘click’ and you find you can suddenly use the language more naturally and effectively.

Making such strides in your second language can leave you with a sort of heady high, but it might be hard to determine if you are ready to move on to a third, or if you need to stick it out a bit longer with your current one. If you are considering picking up a third language, but are not sure when or how to begin, these four tips will help you to understand what the next steps should be in your language learning journey.


1. Make sure you speak your second language well


man and woman talking in a foreign language

A common mistake many language learners make is choosing a third language before they have achieved a high enough level with their second. If you start a third language too soon, you risk getting the two mixed up, potentially stunting your language learning altogether.

So, how do you know if you are ready to make the switch? You should be at a conversational level with your second language. This means you can converse on a wide range of topics and communicate most of your thoughts, feelings, and needs with ease. If you are still pausing to formulate and translate responses in your head, it is too soon. Wait until answers come more effortlessly.


2. Ensure you are motivated to learn a third


As you already know, learning a new language takes a lot of time and effort. After all, you’ve just invested much of yourself to learn a second language, right? Do you have the energy and will to start again from scratch with a new one?

If you follow our advice above, you have already passed the largest learning curve with your second language and achieved a conversational level, where using the language feels natural. As such, it can be all too tempting to look back over the learning process with rose-tinted glasses.

It is important to accept that learning a new language from scratch is always a hit to your ego. You will make mistakes, face painful hurdles, and experience the discomfort of practicing your fledgling language skills with native speakers all over again.

While the process is always highly rewarding, be sure that this is something you are keen to tackle right now. There is no harm in waiting, but starting before you are ready could put you off learning the new language entirely.


3. Let someone else know


Once you have determined that you speak your second language at a conversational level and have the energy to devote to learning a new one, it is time to let the world know that you are taking on a third language!

two women using social media on a phone

Photo by Mirye.j via Flickr

Well, not quite! Before you blast the news on Facebook or Twitter, take a step back. Studies show that announcing your goals to too wide an audience can actually have an adverse effect and lessen your motivation to achieve your goals. And yet, sharing your language mission with a select few can serve as a huge motivational factor.

So, be careful about telling too many people and stick to the golden number of three or four individuals who are either language learners, as well, or close enough to you that they feel comfortable checking in on your progress.


4. Don’t be scared of former struggles


person remembering past problems when learning a foreign language

Photo by TLC Jonhson via Flickr

While some people might only remember the good parts of language learning, there are others who are at the opposite end of the spectrum and will only recall the big struggles. If you are feeling apprehensive about learning a new language because studying the second was a difficult process, I have some good news for you: the first foreign language you ever learn is always the hardest. The more languages you know, the easier learning new ones becomes, which means taking on a third will most likely be a smoother, more enjoyable process.

Without a doubt, the best way to tackle any new language, whether it be the first foreign language you are learning or your seventh, is to make sure you have a qualified tutor to structure your lessons and hold you accountable. Our excellent native-speaking tutors will work alongside you and create custom-made courses to prepare you to take on and conquer your language goals! Send us a quick inquiry to learn more about our courses and the rockstar tutors who can guide you to language success.