Learning a Third Language is Easier

Learning a third language is something a lot of people need to do. There’s also conflicting advice as to whether it’s easier or more difficult to learn a  third language than a second. Luckily, the answer is that it’s easier to learn a third language than a second. Neurologically speaking, the more language learning you do, the easier it gets. Studies have shown that bilingual people pick up languages a lot faster than monolingual speakers. Within this article are a few of the main reasons why.

Why and How is Learning a Third Language Easier?

If you’ve already learnt a foreign language, you’re already in the habit of language learning. You’ll be excited to put in the hours, you’ll have a system for learning and retaining new words, and you’ll basically have built into yourself a set of habits that’ll aid you in learning a third language.

You already know that you can learn another language. This is a small part which adds up to something much greater. Confidence is the cornerstone to success. Learning a second language is daunting, because you’ve never spoken in a language other than your own before. Learning a third language doesn’t have that same fear factor, because you’ll have already spoken to foreigners in your L2.

You’ll be used to thinking outside of the box. In terms of grammar rules, tenses, words. When learning a second language, there’s a tendency to think, “But they do it wrong!” With learning a third language, you’ve already gone through this stage. You know that languages all use different routes to get to the same goal (communication.) You’ll be used to translating through different rules, and approaching unfamiliar rules in different ways.

You’ll have access to more resources. If you’ve learned a global language for your L2, which most people do, you’ll have access to a wide range of resources for learning a third language that your monolingual competition won’t have. For instance, if you learn French, you’ll have access to many Assimil courses which aren’t available in another language. Even if your L1 and L2 aren’t global languages, you’ve still got more options when it comes to language learning.

To go back to thinking outside of the box, there is also the cultural sensitivity aspect. From learning your L2, you’ll be aware that many parts of your native language are colloquial, and thus have no translation into an L2. This includes common phrases, proverbs, sayings and abbreviations. “A Penny saved is a penny earned” is an example. “Have your cake and eat it too” is another. A non-native speaker of English isn’t going to understand the proverb until very late into their English language learning process.

There are a lot more reasons, and there are a lot of reasons which are language specific. These things include loan words, similar grammar structures, cultural familiarity, and so on. If you’ve found any in particular, feel free to leave tips for your fellow readers in the comments section below.

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