InLanguage Learning Tips

Learn 2 Languages at the Same Time?

Main image in the blog post over whether you should learn two languages at the same time, showing "Hi" in many languages.

It is human nature to be impatient. We want it all, and we want it now! By the way, this is not just my opinion. The prioritization of instant rewards has been scientifically proven. As language learning has experienced a lot of progress in the last 100 years, many no longer study only one language. Instead, the question of whether it is reasonable to learn 2 languages at the same time has sparked heated discussions!

This question cannot be responded with a “Yes” or “No.” As I have also tried, at one point, to learn even four languages simultaneously, I will give you a profound insight into this meaningful subject. Enjoy!

How Language Learning Changed in the Last Century

Language learning and its methods have experienced such a drastic change in the last 100 years that I will write an entire blog about this topic in the future. However, some information about it will allow us to build the foundation of the upcoming discussion within this blog entry!

How did people study languages at the beginning of the 20th century? They mostly didn’t. Only a few could afford to pay for a language-learning course or a private language teacher. Moreover, there was less need for learning foreign languages. Traveling was extremely expensive and time-consuming. Globalization was in a relatively early stage, and foreign languages were mostly not required at work. Finally, language lessons at school were outdated and less effective than today!

Teacher in an old classroom with pupils shown.

Now, you have more free and accessible language-learning material available than ever before. Just think about language-learning apps like Duolingo, the amount of YouTube videos, or website content (I linked you the best)! We have translators only one click away, grammar-explaining websites on Google, and online courses for reasonable prices.

The possibility of learning 2 languages at the same time might seem, thus, very attractive to many! But, does it make sense to learn 2 languages at the same time?

Learning 2 Languages at the Same Time Can Boost Your Progress

It can! Yet, this depends entirely on you! I have seen people on the internet claiming that learning 2 languages can decrease the time you need to master both by 33 %. This claim is not too ambitious.

Keep in mind that it is crucial to study a bit every single day to master a language. Doing so in 2 languages for a more extended period will make you learn both languages slowly but steadily. Moreover, you will not experience the loss of regular practice, like if you would leave the first language for the second. Both languages will, therefore, manifest themselves a lot better in your memory.

Then again, if you choose 2 pretty similar tongues (often belonging to the same language family, words and grammar are very much alike. You kill 2 birds with one stone! Luckily, many videos explain how to succeed in learning several languages at once.

That being said, why stop there? Why not take on three or even four languages? Well, let’s look at the downsides.

Learning 2 Languages at the Same Time Can Go Terribly Wrong

Head explodes when you learn two languages at the same time.

I am sure you know the saying: Sometimes, less is more. Indeed, this might very well be true in the case of language learning. Why?

Finding enough time to study more than one language a sufficient amount of time per day is a skill that only a few master. In that case, you will need a lot of patience because your progress will be meager. As I said in the beginning, humans tend to be impatient. Not advancing will lead to stress, demotivation, and superficial learning.

Don’t forget the importance of diving into the culture behind a language to advance quickly! You never get to do so because you are torn between 2 different languages!

In the case of 2 similar languages, many have reported to get confused regarding words and tenses. Linking words to a specific language becomes difficult! Just take Spanish and Italian as examples.

Thus, even though you might make use of the accumulating effect of studying daily for a longer period, you lose the exponential effect of truly immersing in a language, its context, and culture! You find yourself caught between 2 stools. Should you, thus, definitely not learn 2 at a time?

It Depends

Whether in your case you should take on the challenge of learning several languages, depends on many factors! Are you a polyglot with experience in self-study? Then try it. I would recommend, however, that you already speak at least 5-6 languages. I have attempted to learn Italian, Russian, and French every day and failed miserably. Learn from my mistakes!

Do you have enough appetite for spending 1 to 2 hours on this experiment? Then you may very well give it a try. Know that this could get exhausting and will not always be gratifying. Especially when both languages are not related to each other.

Do you already have some know-how in these tongues, and merely need to wipe off some dust, then there is nothing wrong with challenging yourself in this way. You might even find the diversion refreshing!

Scientific Evidence

Tree with books shown to illustrate the scientific evidence whether you should learn two languages at once.

I know, I know, science is not always the most exciting aspect. But, it helps us to form a more informed opinion about a subject. Scientists have been discussing this subject.

However, little has been researched on whether you should learn 2 languages at the same time. There are some studies, however, they focused mainly on children learning several tongues during their childhood. You will find another example here.

Well, at least I knew what my Master Thesis could have been, had I studied linguistics instead of management! So, for now, we will need to rely on self-reports and subjective evidence. Then, this might be the best time for …

My Experience and Opinion

Those of you who faithfully read my blog entries already know what I believe. I am not a big fan of undertaking too many languages.

My opinion stems from my personal experience.

I am convinced that I should have used all my time on one language early instead of spending it on 2 or even 3. With more of them, I was never able to effectively incorporate every language in enough aspects of my everyday life. I eventually got frustrated and increasingly lost motivation.

The moment I decided to concentrate all of my efforts on French, my progress took off. Seeing my progress motivated me to put on even more minutes per day into conquering the French language! This creates a very welcome vicious cycle, where one event intensifies the other.

Nevertheless, I will try to attack more languages at the same time later in the future. But, I want to speak seven languages fluently at first!

This does not mean that you have to act like me! My article pointed out which points you need to consider before making your decision. In any case, you will have to try to beat human impatience.

Good luck, and enjoy the ride!

Learn 2 Languages at the Same Time? – The Growth of an Educating Blog

In this blog, you will discover a bunch of proven tips on how to crack the language-learning game! Just give me a bit of time. I got this! And you as well! I am happy when you have the passion to learn one language, let alone study more of them. Stay motivated and dive into the world of languages. You will love it!

There will be a loooooot more articles coming! 

At the moment, I am actively posting content on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. Have a look if you can’t get enough of “Veni. Vidi. Linguas didici!”

Are you asking yourself: “Who is this guy whose words I am reading right now?” You will find some information about me here.

Words related to the word "family" shown.
#12 QuickTip: Every now and then, sit down and sketch a tree of related words on a piece of paper. This will make you remember these terms exceptionally well!
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