Professional Teacher
Learning Multiple Languages At Once?

I've heard pretty strong cases for both sides of this argument, but what's your opinion? Is it better to only focus on learning one sole language at a time, or is trying to improve on a couple a time an effective method of learning too?

For me, I typically have one dominant language I'm spending the majority of my language learning time on, but other languages never completely go on the back burner. There will still always be times where I'm listening to Croatian music for instance, or watching a French YouTuber, so there's always at least a little bit of learning happening in a few different languages.

Sep 30, 2016 4:34 AM
Comments · 11

Hi Nicole, 

I used to really believe it's only possible to learn one language at a time.  Now, 3 years later I have the complete opposite viewpoint . Haha.  The reason for me anyway, as many people said already, is if its your hobby to learn, you may get bored of one language for awhile, but that doesn't mean you are bored to keep learning a new language.  So for me, when my mind can not take studying anymore Japanese intensely,  and I need a rest, I pick right up with Vietnamese where I left off.  And I seam to learn both equally fast this way.  

Although Japanese is my dominant language, Vietnamese is actually easier for me, so I enjoy the ability to study both at one time.  I do believe however, if you must become fluent in a particular language in a specific timeframe, you are better off forcing yourself to dedicate all your time to that language study, but it requires much more drive and dedication to do this in my opinion. It may not be entirely enjoyable without a break. 

October 5, 2016

Hi Nicole !

I think Nicole is right, a lot does depend your goals.

If you want to be fluent quickly, it might be better to be more focused and spend time on one language. But if you enjoy the process and are in no hurry, then with some planning, you can do more languages at once.

I am doing Spanish and German, but my Spanish is good, so I can spend less time on it, compared to German. And they are two very different languages, so there is less interference.

In any case, I think some thought should go in planning your time around these activities.

I guess, the most important thing is to choose multiple languages that are different from each other in order to give the brain the possibility to separate them in our memory.

Best of luck with your language learning ! :)

September 30, 2016
Hi, water boils only when you keep it on the fire.  
September 30, 2016
Many of us learned more then one language at school for example, so I don't see why it would be a problem. Then there is a question of how you define learning a language. I'm only learning one language intentionally but using others in my daily life so I'm learning them too, I think. I'm even still learning my native language the way I see it.
October 6, 2016

I think each language helps strengthen the other(s), by providing both similarities and contrasts.

For example, learning or at least familiarizing yourself with a language that puts the verb at the end of the sentence (such as Japanese, Korean, or Farsi) will open your mind to other languages that put the verb at the end.

Alternatively, a language with features that contrast those of languages you already know helps cement the features of previous languages, by reminding you what the previous language is NOT. For example, in Polish the word order is "white car", while in Spanish it's "car white". I knew Spanish before learning any Polish, and when I found out that it's "white car" in Polish, it made Spanish seem normal by comparison, because I had begun to assume that all languages other than English would be "car white" languages.

So the languages compare and contrast.

October 6, 2016
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Language Skills
Arabic, Croatian, English, Finnish, French
Learning Language
Arabic, Croatian, Finnish