First thing though, English is my second language. It is a mandatory subject since primary school for us Vietnamese. You would think that after 12 year of sweet education every single one of us would speak English flawlessly. Sorry to burst your bubble, but no that’s not the case. The ‘English’ we were taught at school was mostly vocabulary, grammar, and more grammar. So little attention was spent on other core skills like speaking and listening that it reached the point of ridiculousness. What can you do with a bunch of grammar while you can’t speak the language properly?
I learned English mostly by myself. Aside the crazy amount of grammar practices at school, I tried to surround myself with the language as much as possible. I watched TV shows, movies, etc without vietnamese sub or dub. I read news on sites like BBC or ABC to familiar myself with the way native speakers use words and phrases. And social networks like Twitter help me a lot too, communicating mainly by English. Though it is true that I picked up English a little faster than my peers, I believe the attitude towards learning it is what helped me the most. If you are serious enough about something, you would be determined enough go to hell and back with it.
Now, back to the learning the 3rd language thing. There is a saying that if you already learned one (aside your mother tongue), the next language you take would be much easier. I do find this is true with my Swedish learning. Yes, I am attempting to make it my 3rd language. For the ‘why’ and ‘what the heck would you do with a Scandinavian language when you’re living in Australia’ things, I would save it for an entry another day.
Learning a third language is easier than you think. Say, if your first language is English *lucky you*, and you learned Spanish as your second language, you would probably pick up Italian or French very fast. The similarities between the languages aside, when you learned a foreign language already, you would be unlikely to have question like ‘what on earth is a conjunction?’. Grammar would make more sense to you too.
Another plus is that you can learn your 3rd while keep practicing your 2nd language. Say, if you use Spanish to learn Italian, your brain would try to make connections between these two like ‘oh benvenuta/benvenuto? I know that, it is bienvenida/bienvenido in spanish!’. It is quite a fun exercise for your brain. However, sometimes false friend – falso amigo between languages would make you don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Like ‘bra’ in Swedish and English.
Learning a 3rd language or not is your choice, nobody can force you do what you don’t want to (and no I’m not taking about your mum). But hey, who knows one day it would surprise you? Learning is never a bad thing to do.