How Possible Is It To Learn Two Languages At The Same Time?
It might sound something that only the serious go-getters and high-achievers would do, but is it advisable – or possible – to learn two languages at once?
As an adult learner, learning multiple new languages at once can be pretty challenging, but there are people who have done it! If you wish to pick up two languages at the same time, you can glean some wisdom from the advice of polyglots who have done through the process.
1. Work out a strategy
Time management is essential when you are learning more than one language. Depending on your needs, urgency, and learning style, you can put together a plan that will allow you to learn both effectively.
For example, if you have an upcoming trip where speaking language A will be useful, you might want to prioritise learning that language first. You can dedicate 80% of the learning time to language A, and 20% on language B. After the trip, you may decide that it’s time to give language B more attention, so you can switch over the time allocation to 80% for language B.
One thing to note is this: it is easy to forget a language if you don’t use it. So if you want to learn both languages, you should never totally ignore one language for too long a period (i.e. 100% on language A).
2. Choose languages that are different
Certain language pairs share a lot of similarities, like Spanish and Portuguese, and you might think that it would be easier to learn both at the same time. However, this is not necessarily true!
Learning two languages that are quite similar will confuse the learner, as it becomes harder to differentiate the parts that are different. Instead, learning two vastly different languages may be, paradoxically, easier!
A language pairing like Chinese and Spanish is great because they are so different. Picking up two distinct languages also offers you the chance of expanding your knowledge of two very different cultures.
3. Learn one language that is more familiar to you
Rather than plunging into the deep end with two totally foreign languages, it would be more efficient to have one of the languages be something close to what you already know. For example, if you already speak English, learning Spanish or Dutch would be less of a problem due to existing similarities.
Then, as mentioned, the other language you choose to learn can be something different, like Chinese or Japanese. This helps you keep the languages distinct in your head.
Is it advisable to learn two languages at once?
And this brings us back to the question: It is possible, but is it advisable?
It depends on what you want to achieve out of your language learning journey. If there is a necessity to do so, by all means, go ahead! If you are an adventurous learner or seasoned polyglot, you will enjoy a great sense of achievement putting yourself to the challenge.
However, if this is your first time learning another language apart from your first language, you might want to take it slow and master just one language first. You can start on one language first until you have the basics in order, then only add on another language to your repertoire.
If learning Chinese is on your agenda, you can look for Mandarin lessons in Singapore to give you a leg up!