I was able to maintain relative fluency only in three languages at a time. Switching between more languages is not practical for me. Now I use only four natural languages on a weekly basis. But at various times, I was fluent in five in total.
Я тебе кохаю. Я тебя люблю. Te quiero. Ich liebe dich. I love you.
Before I was five, I spoke mainly my first native Ukrainian (Українська). Then, I lived in a Russian-speaking city and went to a Russian (Русский) school. By age twelve, I spoke a street dialect of Spanish (Español), while living in Latin America. My attempt to revive it and learn standard Castellano fifteen years later was not successful. Now, living in Southern California, I hope to pick up more of it again. I started using German (Hochdeutsch) in 1999, and became fully fluent by age twenty-eight, and my decent English fluency came around 2010. I studied English in schools previously, but the challenge was to unlearn the wrong stuff I acquired elsewhere and to deal with the referential cultural archness of U.S. English.
In general, most difficult in operating multiple languages are these three aspects:
- separating the languages clearly in the mind, provided it is difficult to know for me, which language I am currently using - it takes a few seconds to realize;
- switching between thinking modes of approaching live and expressing thoughts base on different concepts of classification of matter and various societal traditions;
- dedicating time for regular immersion.
In the past, I tried to learn French, Chinese, and Japanese - to read poetry in original and to improve my calligraphic stroke, but I did not give myself enough time to achieve much at all. I am also very attracted to Sanskrit, Thai, and Arabic, but life is too short for all languages I want to know well.