Can You Learn Two Languages at Once?

People always feel pressed for time, and that makes them do some things that are not always good. There is an opinion that learning two languages at once is an example of such phenomena. However, not everyone agrees with that statement.

Can you learn two languages at once? There is no decisive answer to this question because the experts in Linguistics have different opinions: some say that it is a great idea to learn two or more tongues at once, while others disagree.

Can You Learn Two Languages at Once?

For this article, we tried to find out the answer to this question, and here is what we have got hold of.

In 1984, two scientists W. Littlewood and L. William have published a book called “Foreign and second language learning: Language acquisition research and its implications for the classroom,” where there is a whole chapter devoted to the simultaneous learning of two and more languages.

In 2018, the article “Language Learning Sans Frontiers: A Translanguaging View” by Li Wei and Wing Yee Ho was published. It confirmed the statements presented in the first book.

We will present to you the main points from these works you should consider when answering the question “Can you learn two languages at once?”

Advantages

We will start with the advantages of trying to kill two birds with one stone.

Faster Learning

If you are learning 2 languages at once, you will probably achieve a high level of fluency faster than learning them one by one. This works really well with the tongues that are similar, i.e. belong to the same language group, like Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.

However, if you take different dialects, for example, English and Chinese, learning them together will only slow you down.

Occupy Yourself

If you have a lot of free time, learning 2 and more lingoes at once is a great idea. This way you will be able to separate them and achieve better results.

However, it will be better to find a private tutor because you may end up confused if you learn them by yourself. Furthermore, if you have different tutors for both classes, your studies will bear better fruits.

Comparison and Analysis

Learning two languages at once can contribute to the deeper analysis of both tongues because you can compare the structures of grammar not only with your native tongue but between languages you study as well.

For example, if English is your native and you study Spanish and Italian, the process of studying will be easier because the structures of two foreign tongues are similar.

Disadvantages

The most important disadvantages you need to consider are the following.

Confusion

It is easy to get confused between the languages, so you will master none of them. Few people can easily separate two tongues, while for others it takes an effort. People often confuse their native tongue with the extra one they learn, and with three languages in the mind, it will occur even more often, as well as interconfusions are likely.

Impossible to Learn Alone

If you want to learn 2 tongues you are not familiar with by yourself, you will probably fail. Most people need professional help to learn just one tongue. We have already mentioned that it is advisable to hire private tutors for learning two languages, and this point only proves it. Hiring two tutors takes more time and more money, twice as much as hiring just one actually.

Multitasking

Even though a lot of people say that multitasking is good, it is actually bad for brain functioning. The same refers to our subject of discussion: you will find it more difficult to focus and remember things. Vocabulary will get mixed and the grammatical structures will not be clear.

Tips for You

We have told you about the good and bad sides of learning 2 tongues at once, and it is up to you to decide. However, the answer to our question is yes, you can learn two languages simultaneously, which is why we also give you some tips on how to achieve this.

1.   Learn Similar Languages

Different tongues will confuse 90% of people, so don’t risk it. You should find similar lingoes, like Italian French, Portuguese, and Spanish, or Swedish, Estonian, Danish, and Icelandic. It will be easier to compare grammatical structures and to learn vocabulary.

2.   Make One Tongue a Priority

It is impossible to learn all tongues at the same time, and at some point, you may want to quit. However, if you have one that would be prior to you, you will be able to stop studying the other one, which would be less important.

This tip is crucial for keeping you motivated and for avoiding burn-out.

3.   Make Plans

Practice is the key to success and discipline is the best way to never stop practicing. When you have 2 study targets at the same time, planning is as important as ever, so make sure you have a plan for your classes. There is no need to fit practice into your everyday schedule, but you should leave at least 2 days a week to learn your priority language, and 1 day to learn a less important one.

4.   Work with Two Tongues at Once

A good way to learn 2 new tongues at once is to make the translations between them. Let’s take an example we have already used, if English is your native, and Spanish and Italian are new for you. Take a text in Spanish, translate it into Italian, and do the same vice versa.

5.   Study the Same Topics

It will be easier for you to study the same topics in both tongues because there are many common words even in languages that seem different.

Can you learn two languages at once? Definitely yes, but it is a very bold idea that requires a lot of effort. It will not work for everyone, and it is okay because we all study differently. Just find the best way for you.

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