My five romances. Or maybe four ..?

romaniaI was wondering recently how many languages that I can realistically learn to a B2 level on the CEFR scale given the time I have available. I like languages and language learning, but I also have other interests and hobbies, and my so my spare time, like everyone else is limited. I have maybe an hour a day free which I can invest in language learning.

Somewhat arbitrarily and answering my own question, I think  the number is …


But which five languages should these be?

Two of  my five language slots are already taken by Spanish and Italian.

The third language is going to be French, which I’m currently learning. I have found a good teacher on italki, and in addition I’m using Français Authentique as my primary learning method. It is extremely good, and as it is primarily oral can be used wherever and whenever you have a spare moment.

I am convinced that by the end of next year, I will have attained a B2 level (or thereabouts) in French.

But which other languages should or could I learn?

The possibilities are German, Afrikaans, Polish, Russian and Romanian.

Russian is appealing, but almost one million people in the UK speak Polish.

German would be useful to me as I hear it fairly regularly.

Romanian while being a romance language has around twenty percent slavic vocabulary. It has interesting grammatical features.

Decisions. Decisions.

I’m moving towards Polish and Romanian.

Anyone who reads my blog will see how I dither and flit in general, but the real positive over the past few months is that I’m really working hard on French. I’ve made huge progress and I am loving it.



Romanian. July 2015

It is a typical July day in the West Country – everyone is wearing coats, there are damp paw prints everywhere and it is raining.

And I have completed my first week of learning Romanian, or more accurately four days.

The resources I have (for now) are Teach yourself Romanian and some Pimsleur Romanian lessons, and of course some phrases on Surface languages (but more on that later).

I’ve never used Pimsleur before, and it is quite good fun, when walking a dog for example, but with a few caveats.

Firstly, the language used so far uses the formal register. My experience (admittedly talking over Skype) with Italian and Spanish is that the informal register tu forms of speech are far more useful.

Secondly, the first four lessons seem to focus on some bloke attempting to chat up a romanian woman. It is a bit, ahem, dated. ‘Hello miss. How are you?’. Perhaps a bit more imagination wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Thirdly, the pace is slow, and I am by no means a fast learner.

Bearing this in mind, it is quite entertaining, and almost therapeutic. You can buy the lessons in dribs and drabs from iTunes and so I might buy a few more, as an easy way of starting the language. Painlessly.

Romanian sentences.  I’m a big fan of learning sentences as a way of increasing vocabulary and am in the process of adding hundreds to Surface languages – these are (I hope) being translated as we speak.




Sup doods.

Well, so, I have stopped learning Polish, and being the sort of person who thinks about these things (and tries to understand my own personality) , have wondered why and where I went wrong.

In part I’m fairly sure that I don’t have the time/capacity to learn multiple languages well. I think I can handle two maximum. So I will carry on improving  the Spanish and Italian that I know and play at learning others.

There are many outstanding linguists and polyglots out there.  I am not one of them. I have read that there is no language talent or innate ability. I’m not so sure.  I can only learn so many words. And then it is one word in, one word out.

Anyway, enough of that,  I am interested in languages and don’t want to confine myself to Spanish and Italian.

And so for the next few months will play at learning Romanian.  If I can remember a few dozen useful words and phrases at the end of say, err, September and retain them I will be happy.

I put far to much effort into learning words in Polish that I would never use. I happen to know the word cockroach in Spanish and Italian (cucaracha and scaraffagio) respectively but then I learnt it in Polish. Why?

No. From now on, with my play languages, I’m going to be far more selective. Out with the cucarachas and scaraffagi) and in with the ciao, adios and la reverede. (Goodbye in Romanian if you didn’t know).

So I will play with Romanian until the end of September and see where it takes me.

I’ve recently added sentences in Italian (and Polish) to surface languages. Learning sentences is a really, really great way to increase your vocabulary and improve your fluency.  Coming soon will be French and Romanian.  I hope.

I’m also intending to write some sort of sentence learning app which I’ll add to the app stores at some point.  Intending means that I haven’t actually started but I’m building up momentum, and as the sun has turned to rain I might begin soon.

Programming (for me) as is learning Latin, is often more of a winter activity. Unless it rains.

Besos, baci & pax,