Is it possible to learn a few languages at the same time? In short, yes, you can learn two or more languages at the same time. In learning several languages, the most important thing is to find and maintain a balance. It’s unlikely that you will find any miracle methods. In any case, each person needs an individual approach.
The brain often needs to learn similar topics at the same time. The whole educational program is designed to process and filter information from several categories at the same time. So what’s the problem?
Learning a foreign language requires extra time and energy. Both must be well allocated if you plan to be fluent in a new language. Also, language is not a purely academic activity. We certainly need to learn the grammar and vocabulary of a foreign language through traditional teaching methods: memorization, exercises, and practice. However, we also need to connect those words with our emotions and memories.
Learning a language activates many parts of our brain, which requires much more effort than just memorizing formulas. In fact, studying a language trains the entire brain. This makes learning a new language challenging; two new languages requires twice the mental stamina and flexibility.
If you are interested in languages and need to choose several, pay attention to the following questions:
- Passion. What languages can’t you live without?
- Time. How many languages does your free time allow you to study?
- Level. Are you starting from zero, improving your skills, upgrading your level, or regaining a language you’ve learned before?
- Difficulty. Arabic, Swahili, German or another Romance group language?
- Honeymoon effect. A favorite phase of learning for many people because rapid progress is noticeable. The stage is exciting, but temporary, and can eventually lead to errors of sunk costs.
- Related languages at the same time. Be careful with related languages (e.g., Spanish and Portuguese). Choose languages that are different from each other. Similar languages can overlap in words, grammar, emotions, memories and other factors, causing confusion. Therefore, learning Spanish and Italian, Dutch and German or Portuguese and Romanian at the same time is not a good idea as you might think.
Time Management while learning two languages at once
Studying more than one language at a time is a lifestyle choice, just like playing sports. Learning one language can be treated as a hobby, with periods of abandonment and then catching it up. Studying more than one language requires a lot of dedication and consistency.
Try to make lifestyle changes before you start learning a new language. Apparently, your initial plan will turn out to be unrealistic. Or at least somewhat not that viable than you expected. A natural solution may be to abandon the new language. Why so? Very often it happens that people start learning a language with initial motivation, but because of chaotic actions (due to the lack of a clear strategy and patience) lose motivation and give up learning a language.
For example, you decide to get up an hour earlier than before. However due to sleepiness, headaches, and stress, you can get only extra 30 minutes in the morning. Sometimes even less. It’s better and makes more sense to find that time for a foreign language you already know to recover your proficiency, rather than chaotically run through great amount of new information and words which you physically can’t absorb in this time. After all, you start thinking your learning process is ineffective and loose motivation. To avoid the problem, be more flexible and develop your own strategy that fits your timetable.
The simplest scenario: two languages simultaneously
Polyglots do not recommend starting to learn several completely new languages from zero at the same time. Learning several languages from the very beginning requires an enormous amount of time and mental energy. That it’s not worth the trouble. Different levels of languages allow you to better distribute your time, energy, and attention between them. It also reduces the risk of confusion between languages.
It is advisable to learn languages every day. Start with the weakest language and spend more time on it. Accordingly, you can use less time for the second language.
Another approach is to prioritize languages and allocate time according to importance. The second highest-priority language can be studied every other day instead of every day. Take into account the complexity of the languages and your priorities.
A common combination is a difficult language + a relatively easy one. In this case, you should spend more time on the difficult language and study the easy one when you need an easier load. This helps not to burn out. Don’t neglect the easy language either. You can find a certain time of day for it. Try to take part in a language challenge.
Learning multiple languages is easier with Langavia Personal Dictionary
If you decide to take the leap and learn two new languages at once, you may find it helpful to create and keep your own dictionary in Langavia service to make the process easier. The unique algorithms, designed specifically to accelerate memorization of foreign language vocabulary, based on interval repetition, will allow you to learn one, two or even several languages at once way faster. You’ll be amazed at your progress! You can also switch cards with your friends to make it easier to find words and expressions you don’t know yet.
You can easily study multiple languages at the same time in the Langavia Personal Dictionary app
By the way, earlier we published an article about the fastest way to learn a foreign language. Check it out! It’ll be extremely helpful for you!
Studying more than two languages simultaneously: 7 Tips
Try to learn languages every day. Start with the weakest language and spend an hour and a half on it. Spend a little less time on an intermediate language, and the least time on a language with a higher level. In any case, spend at least 15 minutes daily on each foreign language.
Here are some examples of how to organize the process of learning two or three foreign languages:
- Watch TV shows and movies in the target language, choosing a different language each day of the week. For example, do Mondays of one language, Wednesdays of a second language, and Saturdays of a third language.
- Be sure to watch the news in each language at least once a week.
- Read. For example, look up recipes in a foreign language 1. Read Wikipedia in the language 2. Read the daily news in the language 3.
- Do regular language exchanges. Try to communicate with native speakers at least once a month in each language.
- Listen to songs in language 1, radio in language 2, and podcasts in language 3. In the next month, change your routine.
- Connect with people on social media. Facebook is great for grouping and discussion. Participate in at least one discussion in each language. Review topics you’ve commented on at least once a week and add comments.
- Make a schedule for studying grammar and vocabulary. You can spend a whole week on one language, and the following week move on to another. Or divide it by months: January – language 1, February – language 2, March – language 3, and so on.
According to one, learning two languages at once may be ineffective because it creates problems with mastering each language separately. This happens because you can’t completely concentrate on each chosen language.
According to another theory, switching from one language to another on a regular basis can be challenging for your brain and can make you feel overwhelmed at some point (especially when you are just starting to learn both languages). But that’s not bad at all. As a result, your ability to learn the language will increase and future language learning will be faster and less difficult.
In addition, read this article. It will give you a better picture of how long it will take to learn the language.