There’s much debate about whether people should learn multiple languages at once. Some would argue that it makes more sense to focus on one before moving on to the other. But in doing a bit of research I’ve discovered that there are in fact many people learning multiple languages at the same time.
Not only is it common in some parts of the world like Asia and Europe, but there are some people who enjoy the challenge and are more adept at learning several languages. This makes sense as we’re wired differently. No two people have the same brains.Still, there are a few tips you can follow if you plan on learning multiple languages at once. You’ll notice that some of the tips are already mentioned on the blog, and that’s because whether you're learning one or multiple languages simultaneously, these tips and steps form part of the language learning core.
1. Motivation Matters
We talk a lot about motivation here on Rype, and with good reason. Motivation is what drives everything you do in life, and without it, you’ll fail to reach many of your goals in life. The same applies to language learning. So, whether you’re learning one or multiple languages at once, motivation is key.
For example, someone who’s passionate about learning languages or learns a language to gain a greater cultural understanding is far more likely to achieve their goals than someone who learns a language for the sake of it i.e. because it’s cool.So, take note of your motivations, make sure they’re genuine, and when you feel like quitting, revisit them.
2. Manage Your Time
Your time management is imperative if you’re learning multiple languages at once. You will need to schedule your time to cater for both languages and account for a longer learning curve.
3. Practice Patience
Also, because you'll have a longer learning curve, practice patience. Learning multiple languages won’t happen overnight. Take solace in the fact that you’ll be taking smalls steps to achieving your language learning goals. Over time these will add up, and before you know it you’ll be multilingual.
4. Choose Languages That Are Different
It may seem logical to learn two languages that are similar because the overlap will make language learning easier. But it is this very overlap that can cause confusion - where you mix up words and grammar.
When studying a new language it’s this confusion factor we want to minimize. For example, French and Italian vocabularies are similar; so rather avoid those and learn something like French and Chinese.
5. Choose one Easier Language
Also, to make things easier and prevent the chance of burn-out - a distinct possibility when learning one language - yet alone two, we recommend picking at least one easier language. Luca Lamprariello of Polyglot Dream recommends allocating 70-80% of your time to the difficult language and 20-30% of your time to the easier language.
6. Make One Language a Priority
No doubt, you’re learning multiple languages at once because you enjoy the challenge. But if you start and you’re not 100% sure that you'll follow through, consider making one language a priority. If you fall short of achieving fluency in one, at least you’ll walk away with the other language under the belt.
7. Decide on Your Language Learning Goals
Do you want to be able to speak, write, and read in the language, or only be able to do one of these things? Your goals will play a role in how you approach your learning, the resources you use, and how much time you allocate.
8. Choose Your Learning method
Language learning requires that you understand how you learn best as this will improve your productivity. Now that you want to learn two languages simultaneously, the efficient use of time becomes even more important. So, how do you learn best? Is it with visual, writing, audio, or a combination of methods?
9. Choose High-Quality Resources.
The time pressure you’ll be under means you must pay attention to your resources. Carefully select resources aligned with your learning method and learning goals.One of the best ways to learn any new language is through immersion. Immersion is great because the more you practice in real life situations, the more you internalize the language and create separate identities for the different languages. This will go a long way to reducing the confusion factor. Use online tutors like those offered by Rype to start.
10. Create a Schedule
Create a schedule in your calendar and block out time slots for the language. Because you’ll be alternating between them, it’s important to study daily to keep the languages fresh in your mind.
11. Set Realistic Deadlines
Make sure your deadline are realistic and in line with the fact that you’ll be learning multiple languages at once. There are people who set unrealistic deadlines like learning a language in two weeks. The problem is: it becomes disheartening when you don’t achieve those goals. You’re most likely also juggling a full-time job so remember that.
12. Make It Fun
No matter what you do in life, it’s important to have fun. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point right? The fun factor will increase the likelihood of following through and achieving your goals.
Make it fun by using language learning apps, reading children’s books, and conversing with people on the street. Also, you read about topics you’re interested in. If you enjoy music, read about music in the foreign languages. If you enjoy fantasy books, why not grab a fantasy book in the target language and start testing your skills?
Motivation and enjoyment are key. Keep those top-of-mind, and you’ll be unstoppable.
Learning multiple languages at once isn't for everyone. It’s mentally taxing and can cause overwhelm. But if you pay attention to these 12 tips - some of which are essential even when learning one language, you'll on your way to achieving your goals.
Are you learning multiple languages at once? Share your experience in the comments below.