I have a huge problem speaking 3 languages on a daily basis and I need some tips from someone familiar with the topic. I have to speak Greek at home, English and German at work. Sometimes I think I am either stupid or do not have the mental capacity to accomodate all three languages in my head. I switch between English and German at work all the time because we have non German speaking colleagues and I start to stutter because I cannot remember words in a language. The biggest impact is in German which due to the complexity of the language requires me to formulate the exact thing I need to say with the correct gender, declination and grammar before actually speaking. I thought this would have improved by now but I get stuck at trying to remember words sometimes which also makes me stressed. Does anyone have any tips that could help me overcome this problem?

  • 2
    I guess you'll have to live with the fact that you eventually won't have a first language anymore, but three second languages. – Robert Feb 10 at 20:43
  • Your question can probably be better answered on this SX – mtwde Feb 10 at 23:52
  • What you experience is not a language learning problem, but caused by stress and task switching. In this case, your tasks are speaking a language. There is a cognitive cost to switching from one language to another. It is as if you had to write a paper, hold a presentation (on a different topic), and homeschool your child all at the same time. It's confusing! And that is what you experience: confusion. All you can do is attempt to reduce the number of times you have to switch between tasks. [contd.] – user47230 Feb 11 at 7:01
  • [contd.] Do you really have to speak Greek at home? Most immigrant families eventually transition to the country's language. Do you have to speak German at work? Just always speak English. If your confusion increases, change your job to one where you need to speak only one language. And maybe reduce other work related (and private) stress as well. You probably have too many stressors piled on top of each other and are approaching your limit. – user47230 Feb 11 at 7:03

My suggestions, in order of priority:

  1. When you have reading material, read it out aloud. This helps with flow and will put entire phrases and sentences in your memory.
  2. Record yourself reading out and talking. It's amazing to hear an "objective" recording versus a subjective recollection. You will find that some things like a bit slower pace of talking don't matter at all, but "umming" and using expletives such as "like" or "ah so" do.
  3. Listen to audio books. There you will get used to how native speakers come across.
  • I try to do 1 but not 2 and 3 and these are amazing suggestions. Specially the second sounds really good thank you – un4me Feb 12 at 15:15

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.