View Full Version : Does multilingualism interfere with your thought processes?

10-05-06, 09:18
There are so many members here who speak more than 2 or 3 languages.

My question is: Does multilingualism interfere with your thought processes?

I speak at least three languages, and I sometimes find myself unable to continue with my train of thought, unable to speak freely..like a mental block. Speaking is more difficult than writing in any of these languages..

I'm wondering if this has anything to do with multilingualism.

I think I'm not very good at abstract thinking.. maybe this only shows that I'm stupid....:relief:


nice gaijin
10-05-06, 10:24
It doesn't happen so much when I think in my mother tongue, but if I try to think of anything in Spanish these days it comes out in Japanese, but that's probably more from a lack of practice and motivation.

10-05-06, 10:25
Does multilingualism interfere with your thought processes?

No. Once I start thinking in one language I tend to continue to think in that language. I can also think simultaneously in two languages but I can't tell whether my thought process slows down or not.

Speaking is also not a problem. You have to understand though that in our country Filipino and English (not to mention local dialects) are used interchangeably in conversations.

Mikawa Ossan
10-05-06, 10:35
It happens to me, when I want to express a concept that is easily expressed in one language but not the other. Unfortunately, I can't think of any good examples at the moment.

I think that it's very individualistic. I simply cannot think in two languages simultaneously. Heck, I have trouble thinking in just one at a time! But seriously, some people are more adept at switching from one to another than others.

10-05-06, 10:40
I can only speak English and French fluently. I'm learning Japanese but my ability is woeful. However, recently I've been to Spain and Germany, and I don't know Spanish or German but my brain went into 'foreign language mode' and I kept thinking in mainly French but with Japanese particles/sentence structure. :mad:

I think it's ok if you only speak 2 languages. Once you get to be fluent in more than 3 languages I'd say it might be a bit confusing sometimes! :relief: I guess it depends what the people around you are speaking; like in sl0thmachin3's case if they use the 2 languages interchangeably it wouldn't be a problem. If you're in a country where you speak that language, you could just switch to that, but I think it's when you don't know the language but your brain registers 'Hey! it's foreign!' that you get the problems... :p

Mike Cash
10-05-06, 15:01
Both my kids are monolingual Japanese, which normally isn't an insurmountable burden in my life. The one thing I've had to caution them about in the past is that I am incapable of listening to two people in Japanese at the same time, so they need to address me one at a time.

10-05-06, 17:42
It doesn't happen so much when I think in my mother tongue, but if I try to think of anything in Spanish these days it comes out in Japanese, but that's probably more from a lack of practice and motivation.

I've had the same problem ever since I started learning Japanese. It seems like I'm always using Japanese particles instead of Spanish ones.

Then again, perhaps I haven't experienced the full impact of such a phenomena since I'm far from fluent in either Japanese or Spanish.

Ma Cherie
10-05-06, 20:42
I have issues with my Japanese interfering with my French and my English interfering with my French. It's not so bad with Japanese and English. But when I'm speaking French I sometimes forget about the le/la/l'. Because in English and Japanese there's no such think as masculine/feminine.

10-05-06, 21:01
I sometimes have this problem like the OP said. It's because so bad my French has gone downhill and I tend to mix Japanese words in it. My English goes rather well, but my Dutch has gone downhill too. I think studying multiple languages can influence your think pattern. Good thread !

Ma Cherie
10-05-06, 21:09
Learning different languages at the same time can interfere with your thought process. :mad: Maybe it's some kind of psychological thing.:souka:

11-05-06, 06:55
I sometimes find myself saying a sentence using two different languages. The thing is, there are certain things that are unique to a language and only that language can express what I really want to say.

What I have found out when I started learning Japanese is that sometimes when I first look at an English word, for that fraction of a second, I had the temptation to pronounce it in the romaji way....

16-09-10, 00:15
Learning different languages at the same time can interfere with your thought process.

I have to respectfully disagree - as far as I remember from studies red it only interferes if the languages you want to learn are quite close like i. e. Spanish and Italian.

When I started working after maternity leave I had problems remembering some of the professional jargon at the right time.

I usually don't have problems with this in my strong tongue, but it happens more frequent when I'm speaking another one, although I quite often fill the gap with a word form another language.

03-08-21, 00:58
As I am aging, sometimes I cannot find the word in the language I am speaking at the moment but I can think of it in the other language. English is the language I sometimes have the block in.

27-01-22, 08:37
I notice that it occurs to me, but very rarely. I just can forget how the word spells in a language I speak in the moment, but remember it in other.

11-02-22, 13:08
I can speak 3 language. English, hindi, punjabi and can understand all of them and also can write them.

13-09-22, 18:58
No, it's easy for me.

As I read the human brain is remarkably adept at learning new languages; in fact, studies have shown that children who learn a second language before the age of 10 perform better on cognitive tests than monolingual children. This is because the process of learning a new language involves forming new neural connections in the brain, and the more connections you have, the better your cognitive function will be.

So don't worry if you unable to speak freely. Just be sure to practice regularly