Should You Learn Multiple Languages at Once

Have you ever thought about learning more than one language? There are so many languages in the world, around 7,000 in fact! But is it a good idea to learn multiple languages at the same time? Will it be too confusing and make it harder to learn them well? 

The good news is, your brain is capable of learning two or more languages at once! This article will share some tips on learning different languages at the same time. So get ready to let’s go!

Should we learn multiple languages at once?

The short answer is: It depends on what stage of language learning you are in.

If you’re just starting out and focusing on the basics like learning the alphabet and basic grammar, it might not be the best idea to mix up different languages. However, if you’re looking to take your language skills to the next level, it’s definitely possible to learn a new language while maintaining or improving another language.

How come we can learn different languages at once? Keep reading to find out.

How the brain process multiple languages

First, let’s look at what happens in our brain when we learn or use more than 1 language.

When it comes to multilingualism, the brain is actually good at switching between languages. It does this by activating different neural networks for each language. For example, when you speak in one language, the brain inhibits the other language systems to prevent interference. 

However, when we translate concepts from one language to another, the brain does not simply switch off one language and switch on the other. Rather, it activates both languages simultaneously and compares the concepts between the two. This process is known as code-switching and is common in multilingual individuals.

When it comes to acquiring a new language, our brain has a remarkable ability to adapt and reorganize itself. In fact, studies have shown that learning a new language can increase the size of certain brain regions. This is because the brain needs to create new neural connections to accommodate the new language.

So, can we learn multiple languages? Absolutely! In the next part, we’ll talk about what affects the possibility of learning multiple languages at once.


Is it possible to learn many languages simultaneously?

Multilingualism and becoming a polyglot is definitely not a myth. Actually, in many parts of the wold, especially at the crossroads of cultures, people grew up speaking different languages. There are also many polyglots online actively sharing their experience of learning different languages in their adulthood.

So it’s definitely possible to learn different languages together. However, the exact number of languages that one can learn would depend on a variety of factors such as:

  • Motivation: Your motivation and interest can play a big role in determining how many languages they can learn. So try to identify a clear goal for each language before you start.
  • Time and resources: Learning any language requires a significant investment of time and resources. Try to devote as much time and effor as you can. Find high quality tools and resources to help you along the way.
  • Prior language experience: If you’ve learned a foreign language before, it can be easier for you to learn another, especially if they are similar.

Overall, while there is no set limit on how many languages you can learn at once, it is important to keep in mind that learning a language requires a significant amount of time, effort, and dedication.

Benefits of learning multiple languages together

Learning multiple languages together can make full use of the similarities between different languages. For example, if you’re learning Spanish and Italian at the same time, you’ll notice that there are many similarities between the two languages. This can make it easier to learn both languages, as you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned in one language to the other.

Learning multiple languages together can also reduce your total learning time. It’s a great choice if you wish to learn multiple languages faster. Rather than learning one language at a time and starting from scratch each time, you can build on your existing knowledge and skills as you learn multiple languages.

Researches also show that learning multiple languages simultaneously is great for your brain, including improved memory, attention, and problem-solving skills.

If you find yourself losing motivation in one language, you may also want to try learning another one. For most people, learning multiple languages together is less boring than focusing on just one language. It can be a fun challenge to switch between different languages and keep your brain engaged in different ways.

What to be aware of when learning multiple languages

While there are certainly benefits to learning multiple languages together, there are also some potential pitfalls to be aware of. One common issue that can arise is mixing up languages.

Mixing up languages can be a bad habit, as it can lead to confusion and errors in your language use. For example, if you’re speaking in Spanish but accidentally use a French word, it could cause a breakdown in communication.

So how can you avoid mixing up languages when learning multiple languages at once? One helpful tip is to focus on the differences between the languages, rather than just the similarities. By being mindful of the unique features of each language, you can train your brain to switch between them more effectively.

Another helpful strategy is to create clear mental boundaries between the different languages. You might try using different environments or settings for each language, or setting specific times of day for each language practice. 

It’s also important to be patient with yourself and to give yourself time to truly master each language before moving on to the next. It’s generally recommended to reach an intermediate level (B1) in one language before beginning to learn another.

By being mindful of these potential issues and taking steps to address them, you can learn multiple languages together without falling into the trap of mixing them up. So go ahead and explore the world of multilingualism – just be sure to approach it with a careful and strategic mindset!

So there you have it. Keep in mind these potential issues,so  you can successfully learn multiple languages without mixing them up. In the next part, we’ll show you some actionable tips on how to effectively set a learning plan for multiple languages. Get ready to take your language learning journey to the next level!

Tips to learn multiple languages at once

Set realistic goals

Language learning takes a lot of time and effort. If you decide to learn 2 or more together, the journey can be even more challenging. It’s important to set realistic goals for yourself from the start. You can’t become proficient in a week or a month. Setting your hopes too high can only discourage you along the way. So be honest about how much time and effort you can realistically put into each language, and don’t be too hard on yourself if progress is slow. Celebrate small victories to find ways to keep yourself motivated.

Choose similar languages

If you haven’t decided which languages to learn together, it’s always a good idea to focus on similar languages. For example, if you’re already learning Spanish, it might be easier to pick up Portuguese, rather than Japanese. When learning two similar languages together, don’t worry about issues like mixing up vocabularies or false friends, the benefits of similar sentence patterns and grammar rules far outway the problems.

Use one foreign language to learn another

If you’ve already reached intermediate level (A2 / B1) in one language, don’t be afraid to use one foreign language to learn another. For example, using your existing knowledge in Spanish to learn French.

In the language learning community, this is often referred to as “laddering”, a very commonly used method for those whose native language is not English. By using English to learn another language, they have access to more materials. Similarly, if you wish to learn Japanese and already know Chinese, try to learn Japanese in Chinese rather than English so you can maintain your Chinese while learning Japanese.

Double your learning time

Finally, the most straightforward and effective way to learn multiple languages together is to simply double your learning time. Study one language in the morning and another in the afternoon, or switch back and forth between the two throughout the week. By immersing yourself in both languages as much as possible, you’ll accelerate your learning and build your skills more quickly.

With these tips in mind, you can set priorities, stay motivated, and make progress in learning multiple languages simultaneously. Good luck, and have fun!


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5 months ago

Personally I prefer to do two quite different languages at the same time, so mixing up isn’t an issue. And get to a similar language when I’m confident in the first one.
Not that I have a lot experience with this, but we’ll..

And laddering or stacking is a good way. I’m a native German and speak – obviously – English, so I use different sources, some have German as a basic, others English. I dabble with Dutch and use e.g. Drops, so I use Russian as the basic. Using different basic languages help me to get away from translating everything on a very early stage, coz my brain don’t pair two words, but 3 or 4.

For everyone learning more than one Romance language I suggest to check out Frederick Bodmer “The Loom Of Languages”, coz he shows similarities and differences very well. The book is 80+ years old, but still a good source.