Jump to content
Linguaholic
Accredited Online TEFL

Learning more than one language at the same time


Recommended Posts

So far I've had a slow approach when it comes to learning languages, I first learned english and now I'm learning spanish but I'd like to learn some other language like french or german. I was wondering what's you learning method: Do you learn one language at a time or are you able to learn two or more languages at once?

I'd like to start learning another language right now but I'm afraid it will get confusing and I'll end up mixing them together. What do you think? Do you mind to share your experiences?

Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends on the person,  some people can actually learn several languages at once, while others prefer to learn only one at once because it seems easier that way.  In the end is up to the person.  I personally prefer  to focus on one language at once, but that is just me.  I just feel that if I try to learn several at once I'll end up neglecting one.  In the end you have to see for yourself and find what works best for YOU.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel that if the two languages are drastically different (like French and Japanese...) you would have no issue.  Picking two romance languages would be very confusing for me personally! Just try to stick with something new and different.  Since you already know English, try German- that is not too similar to Spanish! Give it a shot, practice patience, and if you are not able to do it, that's okay!! Pick up your next language once you are done with Spanish!! 

Best of luck!! 

I envy the people that are able to learn multiple languages at once! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I would not try something like spanish and italian at the same time, it would be too easy to confuse words, and memorizing verb endings would be a nightmare ( already difficult in any language).  I would do Japanese or Korea at the same time as a romance language since there would be no overlap.  I thought learning korean was my favorite because the alphabet just made it so unique, but learning spanish after french was kinda boring..

Link to post
Share on other sites
Scribendi: World-Class Editing and Proofreading

I couldn't even dream of doing this because I will get so confused! I have tried it in the past and then I would wan tot say words in Spanish when I was speaking French and vice versa. I really wish I could just download all of these languages into my brain and I already knew them.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

@Mary84, what works for me is to not study two languages at the same level of proficiency. For instance, I didn't study BCS till I already had a good grasp (B2/C1) of Russian. Then while I was studying both (even though they're both Slavic languages), I was able to keep them separate in my brain.  

I would NEVER study two related languages at the same time if they were both new or at the same level. That's just asking for trouble.

Also, for me, I do better if I study the languages different ways. For instance, I'll use a textbook to study one, where with the other I'll read a book. I've also experimented with studying them at different times (two weeks of one, then two weeks of another), but I don't know if that's technically "learning more than one language at a time." ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was always against studying 2 languages at the same time, but I just picked up Spanish and Russian again and experiment this dual learning thing.
If everything turns out successful, I'll learn 2 more languages at the same time (but let's get fluent in Spanish and Russian first, shall I? :P).

Link to post
Share on other sites

I`m studying English to improve it from fluency to proficiency and Spanish to be fluent and at the same time I`m learning Japanese writing system (Kanji) and I don`t have any problems with this all. As somebody wrote earlier, it`s important to don`t mix languages from the same family (unless you finished learning one or you get fluent) and I think it`s a good idea to get fluent in particular language (B2) and than move to another. My Japanese learning is an exception because I`m learning only Kanji, which is also a good method to improve your memory and foster your imagination. Besides, knowing Kanji is essential to study Japanese. :) It`s good to learn languages successfully, e.g. when you get fluent in English it`s good to start learning Spanish (due similarity) and than another roman language (Portuguese, French, Italian or Romanian). Also, if you know German, it`s not so hard to learn Danish, Swedish, Norwegian or even Dutch. And so on. Look for similarities, unless you want to learn language only for practical reasons. ;) I do it for passion, but I want to improve my English becasue I`m planning to teach this language abroad...

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Voytek said:

e.g. when you get fluent in English it`s good to start learning Spanish (due similarity) 

English and Spanish are similar like Russian and Icelandic. ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I`m learning both languages (Sapnish and English) and I see many similarities in grammar (tenses) and in vocabulary (cognates). I guess, I see them in grammar due I`m a Pole. In Polish language we`ve got only three tenses. :) Any way, thereby I`m fluent in English, I`ve a lot less problems with learning Spanish, especially with the memorization of vocabulary.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it just depends on the person and also maybe even the combination of languages you are learning. For example, if you are learning similar languages and you have the type of mindset that thrives on that then maybe it would be helpful to combine the two but also sometimes the person is the type that would just get even more confused by the similarities and would be better off learning two that are very different so they don't end up mixing up the two. As for myself, I tend to like to focus on just one lesson at a time so I am more in favor of just learning and mastering one language first before moving onto the next one. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your replies, it's interesting hearing different points of view. I'm sorry I couldn't reply before, I was really busy with real life and I had to sacrifice the internet for a while.
 You gave me some great advice, and I will keep it in mind. I agree with those of you who said that it's important not to pick similar languages. I'm italian and, while learning spanish can be easier for me, I'm also getting a bit confused over several words. They are similar words but the meaning is different, so I need to "forget" for a while my native language while focusing on learning spanish. I'm trying to learn spanish pretending english is my native language, so I'm mostly doing eglish to spanish (and viceversa) translations and exercises.

I think I will just stick with spanish for the moment, and when I'll feel confident in my skills, I'll pick a new language.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's better to just wait to reach an advanced level in one language before tackling the another. And of course, use your newly acquired advanced language to learn the second, thus you'll be improving both. Is more efficient like this.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally think it would be confusing because it is not like cooking two dishes at once. Language learning takes much more than just reading through; there's retention and memorization as well as practice. I certainly feel there could be confusion, knowing some languages are similar to each other.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This question makes me recall a co-worker who got worried about his 3-year old daughter. Since they live in our hometown, the main language is Bisaya (Cebuano). Most of their relatives now live in the capital (Manila) where the main language spoken is Filipino(Tagalog). So, they want to teach their daughter this language so she can relate to her cousins when they visit. Lastly, in preparation for school, they want her to learn English. Basically, they spoke and taught the 3 languages at the same time to the child. The child ended up confused, and barely spoke. So, when he came to me, I advised him to focus on one language first. At least to develop a mother tongue. When he did that, the child just started to talk and her speech greatly improved. While I understand that language acquisition is different between a child and an adult, I can't help but wonder that perhaps we are meant to learn a language one at a time. That is, to cement one language first before taking on another language. But then again, as others have mentioned, we all have different learning curves. As for me, I'd go with one language at a time remembering a lesson back in college to consider language as a tree. It won't flourish if the roots (the fundamentals of target language), aren't firmly rooted on the ground.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I learn one language, master it (or well, I get close to mastering it), and then I learn another. I have tried learning 2 languages at once and it just didn't work out for me. I got confused and it just made things harder. In my case, I was studying 2 languages which are similiar - Chinese and Japanese. Even though I am a native Chinese speaker, I got confused and mixed some things up. Plus it was extremely hard for me to manage my time so that I could give both languages the attention they deserved. You'll find that even if you're learning languages one at a time, it's faster than learning 2 at once and not being able to get a good grasp of either. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I know for me, one language at a time is more than enough already. I couldn't possibly imagine learning two at a time (although I know it's possible and some people manage to do it! haha). I think for some people it's not as stressful perhaps. But I think that regardless whether you can succeed at it or not, the sheer additional amount of time you'd have to put into learning your languages is enough to deter me. Because you either have to put in double the time, or settle with learning them both slower than if one had your full focus.

Another thing to consider about learning multiple languages simultaneously is to be careful and not choose two similar languages - preferably not even in the same language family. I think some people might think that learning two similar languages at the same time would be good because what you might learn in one could assist you in the other but I think that's pretty rare. I think what happens more often is confusion and mixing up what belongs in which language. Would not recommend that at all.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On May 19, 2016 at 3:48 AM, lingvo said:

It's better to just wait to reach an advanced level in one language before tackling the another. And of course, use your newly acquired advanced language to learn the second, thus you'll be improving both. Is more efficient like this.

I agree. I think once you are in an advanced stage in a certain language then it's much easier not to forget certain words and lessons or get them confused with new words being learned in a different language so at this point it might be possible to mix in a new one into your learning schedule, but if you're just starting to learn on both I think it would be difficult. Although I'm sure there are some out there who might be able to do this or they may even find it easy, however I don't think it's likely for most people. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...