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Should I study two languages simultaneously?


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I would like to learn how to speak German and French.  I am wondering, would it be better to learn one language at a time or to begin with both languages?  Has anyone here learned two or more languages at the same time.  What was your experience?  Would you recommend that I attempt to do this?

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I'd say it's dependent on the individual. I personally wouldn't be able to cope, but you might. I'd just get confused, and maybe even mix the two together. But if it's something that you think you can tackle, go for it. Young children have the capacity to learn more than one language at the same time, but as I understand it; that ability to retain knowledge diminishes as we get older.

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I don't think I can study two languages at the same time, as it would probably confuse me.  I'm studying Nihongo right now, and I will be confused if I study Korean or Chinese together with Nihongo.  As much as possible, I will want to study my chosen language with undivided attention.  In the end, it all depends on the person's determination on whether he is able to learn two or more languages all at the same time.

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If you can handle it, go for it.  It will seem confusing at first, but as you get to know each language, you'll be able to pick out the things that make each language unique.  Personally, I think between a Romance and Germanic language, it should come a little easier than, say, two Romance or two Germanic languages (though that would theoretically make the grammar a little easier), or even trying to swing multiple dialects of the same language (eg, Gaelic, Valyrian).

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It can be done, but it takes a lot of time. I think it might be easier to start one language, and focus on it for a little while, and then start the second one...

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Well, for me to learn two languages at the same time I don't think it would be a big problem. Howevr, it might be for others. I studied two languages at the same time in high school and while it was quite normal for me, there were other students that were making one sentence using both languages. I couldn't understand why, but I guess it's different for each person. I'd say give it a try because if you don't you won't know what your abilites are.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 5 months later...

Hello! 

I have attempted to learn more than one language at a time. I found it to be very difficult and challenging and I was seeing very slow progress in both languages. When I chose to focus on one over the other I saw a dramatic improvement. It could have been due to the differences and complexities of the languages (French and Mandarin), but I chose to focus on just one. It would be nice to have learnt two at the same time, but overall the process would have been much longer. 

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I actually try to learn multiple languages at the same time, so that way I can compare and contrast the phrases and speech patterns and understand the differences between each of the languages, to see how many of the dialects intertwine within each other espcailly since almost every dialect derives from Latin...

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I actually try to learn multiple languages at the same time, so that way I can compare and contrast the phrases and speech patterns and understand the differences between each of the languages, to see how many of the dialects intertwine within each other espcailly since almost every dialect derives from Latin...

Same for me, comparing grammar structures and words helps me a lot, and it's also incredibly interesting. When the languages are very similar, like Italian and Spanish, it is a bit of a problem - I tend to mix up words, a lot. But still I'd go for doing multiple languages at the same time. Because if I had to wait until I master any language, I'd never ever start on a second one. Learning is a life-long affair. I may get better with time but I cannot say I really "know" any language, not even my native one, it's just not possible. There's always more and more to learn, and it never ends :)

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I would recommend you to focus on one language only. Get a good grip on it, and then move on to the other. Trying to learn 2 languages at the same time will just confuse you, in my opinion, and cause you to mix up words and sentences and their meanings. Not even mentioning the problems with mastering proper grammar. Don`t rush things. There is no need, as you can easily get a grasp of a certain language when focusing on it for a year or so.

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I have difficulty focusing on studying just one language so I personally cannot study two simultaneously. It is up to you though, if you are motivated and focused enough to extend the efforts to learn two languages then go for it! It might be hard though because there's always the possibility of mixing up things but if you have excellent memory and skill to learn then I don't see why it could be an issue.

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It's possible to learn two languages at once, but it's also easier to mess up that way. I was learning Mandarin Chinese and Japanese at the same time a year ago. The two are very similar so I often mixed them up. I remember writing my name in Japanese on my Chinese test one time without even realizing it. I would recommend sticking with one language, mastering it, and then going to another language. 

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Your native language is English if your profile is right?
Then in that case what you can do is this:
1. Start learning German first.
2. After a few months while learning German, learn French.
3. Set a clear deadline for both languages (could be the same day).

This is because even though English and German are both Germanic languages and French is a Romance language, English and French share lots of vocabulary and (I think so) they have a closer grammar to each other too.
I did the same with Japanese and German.
I started Japanese first and after I got comfortable enough to have a conversation in Japanese for some amount of time, I started learning German (which is so close to Dutch, I actually had very little to learn).

But there is a sharp edge to it: it will be a pain to keep up with your progress if you concentrate on 2 languages at a time, but if you make it to the end, the feel of accomplishment is much greater than it is when you learn 1 language at once.

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It depends on the languages.  I think for two languages that are very similar (Spanish and Italian) it is not beneficial because they are so similar it is easy to confuse the two. However, I studied Latin and Italia and I saw a lot of similarities between the two.  I think that studying Latin really helped me understand how the Italian language was derived.  

I think it would be easier for people to study two very different languages such as Chinese and Italian then two languages that are more similar.

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I have not tried learning two languages at the same time but based on what I know from some people's experiences, it can be done. So I reckon it all depends on one's language learning ability, enthusiasm and time given for learning. I even would not count in time as a factor to learn a language or two. It is all a matter of enthusiasm, interest and persistence/patience. If one really wants something done or achieved, he or she would go for it regardless the obstacles. But if the willingness is not there or the interest is missing, there will be many reasons for not doing it. Hence check yourself for those attitudes and linguistic ability. All the best to you!

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