Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Does learning other languages distract you from English?

This is a great question that we got from a listener this week.

Our listener wants to know if speaking four languages outside of English will influence his ability to communicate with natives in an English-speaking country.

Get our answer in today’s episode!


“Hi Lindsay and Michelle. My name is Alex and I’m an everyday listener of your show and I’d like to start off by thanking you in advance for your amazing work. My challenge is my accent. I moved to America last year from Ethiopia and I get frustrated and embarrassed when I am asked to repeat myself often by my American friends and this fear of being frustrated has led me to being very quiet in class discussions even when I know the topics well. I speak four languages including English and I wonder if those languages are interfering with my fluency in English. What should I do? Is my accent really strong or am I mispronouncing my English words. Please help me break out of this cycle of frustration. Thank you once more for your time.”


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Our feedback to Alex after listening to his voice recording:

  • You have a nice vocabulary
  • We think you speak clearly
  • Do you listen to a variety of natural voices every day?
  • Remember that sometimes the issue is the other person. Natives get frustrated and ask you to repeat. They might not even try to listen to you.


Does learning other languages distract you from English?

Lindsay learned French first.

She learned French back in high school and college.

After learning French in school she didn’t speak or practice much but it was the only foreign language she knew.

Later, when she started learning Spanish she got confused between the two but only in the beginning.

Quickly her Spanish caught up and she got more confident.

After a while she never got confused between Spanish and French.


We think it’s good to reach some level of conversation fluency in one language at a time.

However, after that point you can maintain all of those languages at the same time.

Polyglots do this so there’s no reason you can’t do it too!


Another tip:

Read blogs by polyglot- Benny Lewis at Fluent in 3 Months

Olly Richards is a polyglot who came on our show for Episode 487. Check out his episode here.


Do you have questions from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

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