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April 2018

Multiple Language Learning

Tips for learning more than one language at once

For the ambitious scholar of languages, learning simply one language may not be enough. The world is a big and beautiful place with so many diverse people in it that it’s understandable for lovers of culture to desire knowing as many languages as possible.

But learning more than one language at once is a daunting task, not unlike rolling two great boulders up a hill. It’s not impossible, of course, and in this article we’ll discuss some tips to help you tackle more than one language at once.

Pick the right languages

If at all possible, choosing the right languages for simultaneously study can help a lot with language learning. For example, studying two romance languages like Italian and French can be more confusing than two distinct languages like Italian and Russian. This is because the similarities between Italian and French can cause  mix ups in the mind of the student. Italian and Russian are different enough that there is less of a chance of confusing the two.

On the other hand, once you’ve become familiar with one romance language, like Italian, other similar languages like Spanish become far easier. Still, it’s best to wait for greater familiarity with one language before starting another similar language, rather than starting them both at the same time.

Separate your worlds

When studying more than one language at once, it may be helpful to study each language on different days. This helps your mind separate the languages. Studying one after the other can cause problems like fatigue, while also increasing the potential of confusion. For example, if you’re studying Italian and Russian, study Italian one day and then study Russian the next. Alternating days is a good idea to ensure you’re regularly visiting the material. It also allows you to give each language a fresh amount of energy and attention.

It’s also a good idea to carve out a certain time in each day devoted to language learning in general. If you’re more mentally refreshed in the morning, opt to study upon waking. Be practical with your scheduling to avoid continuously missing study periods.

Balance your inspiration

It may be that you’re more inspired to learn one language more than the other. Being realistic about priorities is important, but it’s also good to balance your inspiration. If you’re really set on learning multiple languages, you’ll want to keep a good amount of motivation for each language. Remind yourself why you’re learning each language in the first place. If your inspiration is unbalanced, you may find yourself gravitating to one language over the other, then eventually abandoning the “less interesting” language all together. Inspiration is like the fuel that drives your language learning; don’t let the fuel run low.

Be realistic with your expectations

As with any new endeavor, there’s always the surge of initial motivation that comes with dreams of language mastery. When you’re learning just one language, the heightened expectations are already sky high. Learning more than one language at once requires tempered, realistic expectations so that you don’t one day become disillusioned and quit. It’s no easy feat learning multiple languages; remind yourself of the fact and pat yourself on the back for taking the challenge in the first place.

Have you ever studied more than one language at the same time? What are your tips for learning multiple languages? Share your advice with other language learners on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” TELC English for more articles!