Has anyone had any luck learning two languages at once

I’m learning Italian, almost to 2,000 words. I would like to read in it and am starting to get a few sentences understood but they are beyond basic. Then again I just restarted in august after two years. The go I only learned 300 words in 3 months in 2016.

Back on point, so I will probably go further with Italian first but I was wondering if you learned a second language like Japanese, due to the variation of letters, would you be able to learn two languages at once without confusing them? Has anyone tried this? What were your problems or did you see any accomplishments or improvement?

It doesn’t even have to be Japanese, they have so much to learn, maybe Russian would be an easier one seeings it has a unique alphabet as well.
My outlook on it seems like the worse thing would be doubling your time and taking 30% away from your main language to do the second. So instead of an hour on one a day. Its 40 mins on one and 20-30 on the other.
Thanks for your feedback and answers, I really just want to here your own thoughts ideas and mostly your own experiences if you’ve ever tried doing this.

Yes, in fact I’m doing it right now. Funny coincidence since I’m learning Japanese and Italian (worth mentioning that I was 2 years into Japanese before starting Italian). What I usually do is I mainly study Japanese and leave Italian a bit on hold most of the time (my mother tongue is Romanian, so Italian is very easy to pick up, even if you barely study it). I have to admit, I haven’t been studying Italian that much recently, but that’s because I just love Japanese so much more (not to mention it’s more of a challenge).

So regarding your question, you can study 2 languages at once but you need to establish some ground rules :

  1. Have a main language. Learning both languages at the same pace could demotivate you, so I suggest spending most of your effort on your 1st target language, then what free time remains you can put it to the other one (unfortunately, that could mean the progress in your 2nd target language will become really slow)
  2. Try to not choose two very complicated languages like, say Korean and Japanese. If you go with a relatively easy language and a medium / hard one you’ll have more success with both
  3. Don’t choose two languages of the same root / that have similar vocab. So no French + Italian or Russian + Polish
  4. Lastly, try to have fun in both languages. After Memrise, go for a movie or a book in one of the two target languages. That keeps your mind fresh and you’ll reinforce your vocab recall.

That’s about it. Learning two languages is possible, but in the end you’ll see that there will be a huge gap between the two even if you may have started learning them at the same time.

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Basically, LangAddict’s dead on.

I have been learning French from German (mainly to reïnforce what I’ve learned of German and partially to stop me trying to translate from English to German when I should be translating into French (yes, I know, I’m very silly for doing that so much)) and haven’t had any problems yet. While a few words are similar in both these languages, the majority aren’t, which makes it much easier to keep them separated in my mind; I would imagine they would become very muddled if I tried to, say, learn Swedish and Norwegian at the same time. It seems best, when learning two languages, to choose two from different families.

Also, focusing on one is definitely a good idea. I spend far more time on German than French. I find that I am still learning the latter well enough, but it almost feels like free learning — picking it up passively without putting too much effort in at this point. It’s not stressful that way. You can always step it up at a later date, after all; once you have a foundation, it tends to stay with you.

So yes, you can learn more than one language at once but, to reïterate, don’t choose two too similar and try to focus more on one than the other.

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Thank you kindly for your reply, very helpful and informative.
Really cool you are learning two languages at once especially the similar ones, and yeah I was considering a movie, currently have an Italian news website saved been trying to work myself up in vocab to where I can read better. But defiantly considering other sources where I can hear or see the language used more.

Also I’m impressed, you’ve learned english now japanese and are going for italian as well, thats 4 languages under your belt, very cool my friend.

And same to you isharr, the fact your learning german and french , actually german was my original second choice until I considered russian or japanese as other options as well to start after italian. Thanks for your advice as well. Interesting your studying another language using one you are already good with, read another polygot who did that alot with his languages he was famous though probably 30 or more languages. But that would be a very good way to reinforce the one your learning while learning a new one like you said not to mention the fact that it would probably help you switch between multiple languages faster.

Yes, taking your second learning language from your primary learning language does seem really helpful. I actually do have French from English on my courses, too, just in case I come across any German ones in the other course that I don’t recognise for some reason, but I’ve not hit any yet. I have also started Bulgarian, as it has some similarities to English grammatically but, again, is from a different language family.

I don’t think there are limits to how many languages we can learn, at least passively, if we are determined enough. Be warned, however, that Japanese is scary stuff, lol (I could never wrap my head around the East Asian languages). Russian is good, too, but complex grammatically; this is why I favoured Bulgarian as an entry into the Slavic languages, in the end.

Of course, should you choose to learn German at some point, feel free to bug me. I’ve heard that assisting others in learning something can cement your own knowledge of it.

Good luck!

I wouldn’t say I “know” 4 languages though. I’m currently fluent in English and French, so that makes 3 languages + two that I’m working on (Japanese and Italian). Not to mention that I stopped learning two other languages altogether (Turkish and Russian) in favor of learning something more challenging like Japanese.

Also, isharr is right, Japanese is really something else. But if you keep at it for a year or 2 things will start to kind of… make sense on their own. Think of it like a huge puzzle : when you start you don’t know what piece to start with but near the end it becomes more and more easy to complete the whole thing.

My advice when you’re watching a movie (or news, etc…) is to not stress over anything in particular. Just sit back and enjoy it. If you find a word / phrase you don’t know you can look it up and put it in a Memrise course. Also, try not to “translate in your head”, I know it’s tempting but it will only irritate you because you won’t keep up with the dialogue.

Some students learn three languages at once (these crazy linguists), I was learning French, English and LATIN for four years and it was okay. It wasn’t okay with Latin but since it’s dead so anyway :slight_smile: if you already know some languages it won’t be so difficult to learn another one from the same group, like French helped me learning Italian in Italian language school in Sanremo, even though it all sounds completely different but still, Roman group. I don’t think this ‘unique alphabet’ trick will help you, probably only confuse you.

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