I wonder if you will have learned multiple languages in the end, the order of learning each of them has any influence and if it does, what is the most effective order to learn.

For example, suppose that you are a native Japanese speaker with decent English proficiency (B2), and are going to learn the following:

  • Korean
  • Russian
  • French
  • Arabic

It is reasonable to conclude that the order of languages closer to his/her native language is:

Korean < French < Russian < Arabic


French < Korean < Russian < Arabic (since already fluent in English, which is closer to English)

So I want to know whether there is any research that the order of acquiring languages has any influence on the effectiveness of acquiring all of them. I mean, is it more effective to first learn a language closer to your L1 and then gradually learn more difficult ones, or learn difficult languages first and then go with easier ones, or anything others that are considered more effective (such as learning a language that is closer to the one you just learned next, or deciding by the closeness of pronunciation or vocabulary instead of the total amount of time to reach a specific goal)?

In effective, I mean the total amount of time required to reach B2 or C1 (in all of them). And in closer language, I mean the expected amount of time required to reach the specific level, such as the relative difficulty chart on FSI (for English speakers).


The reason I think learning difficult ones first is more efficient is because if you learn an easier one first, you might forget it while learning a difficult one, which takes more time. For example, suppose that it takes 6 months to acquire Korean but 24 months to acquire Arabic. In this case, learning Korean first would give you 24 months of a pause after that, but learning Arabic first only gives you 6 months of the pause.

In all the languages, I'm well motivated and want to learn all of them eventually. I have enough time to devote and can move to the country to join an immersion program.

  • 2
    It makes sense to learn the "easiest" first, so that you gain confidence and knowledge of to actually learn a language.
    – AML
    May 4, 2019 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


Assuming your travel and work plans are not a factor, start with the language that's closest to your native language; in your case, Korean. A native Japanese speaker is more likely to confuse French/Russian and English than Japanese and Korean. Next, learn French because it is closest to your second language (English) and provides an easy introduction to verb conjugations in European languages. Then, you'll be ready for Russian, and finally, Arabic.

That said, life is short and there are no guarantees. You need to ask yourself which language is your top priority for personal or professional reasons and dive into that one first. In my case, my first language is English, followed by Spanish, followed by Mandarin. I attempted French, but gave up on it. I have no regrets, though, because it was on the bottom of my priority list.

  • Welcome to LL.SE. Good first answer. It would be further improved by explicit reference to personal experience or reliable sources.
    – Tommi
    May 5, 2019 at 7:40

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