How to learn two languages at the same time
Some of you may remember my blog post about how to learn several languages at the same time. It’s a topic that many, many people are interested in for some reason! The post I wrote about it a couple of years ago is actually one of the most popular posts on the 5-Minute Language blog ever.
And that’s great! I’m happy to see that so many people want to learn more than one language. But…
There are also people who don’t care about being polyglots. They don’t want to learn multiple languages but one is not enough. So, I thought it’s time to share something with them. In this post, I’m going to talk about my favourite tips for learning two languages at the same time.
Before I start, I just want to make you aware of a video I made on this topic. It’s published on my YouTube channel and I want to invite you to subscribe to that to make sure you don’t miss any of my language advice I post there!
How to learn two languages at the same time
Take a look at the tips below if you want to know how to learn two foreign languages at once.
Associate a different study routine with each language
Having two separate routines will help you see learning each language as a separate task. For example, if you’re learning Spanish and Russian, you can have the following routines:
- Only learn Spanish on the bus on your way to work
- Only learn Russian in your favourite coffee shop
That way, you’ve got two separate routines that you don’t mix up, and there’s a clear distinction between your two languages.
Use personas to keep the two languages separate
A persona is a character you embody when you learn a language. It’s almost like having two separate personalities. For example, if you’re learning French, your persona can be that of a French impressionist painter. Imagine what this person is like, how they speak and behave, and try to ‘become’ them when learning French.
Use a completely different persona when learning your second language. If it’s English, for example, you can pretend to be an American rapper. It’s very different to being a French impressionist painter, isn’t it?!
A persona can also be a character from a film or a book. Be creative and choose two very distinctive personas!
When using this method, you will again create two separate contexts for the languages you’re learning and you’ll make it less confusing for yourself.
Choose languages with different levels of proficiency
It’s easier to learn two languages at the same time when you’re at a different level with each of them. For example, if you’re at the intermediate level with one language and a beginner with the second language.
The difference in your levels of proficiency will create two separate contexts and you’ll be less likely to mix up the languages.
Learn two very different languages
There are some benefits in learning two languages which are similar to each other. I’m going to cover this in the next paragraph and I’ve actually written a separate post about the benefits of learning languages which are similar to each other.
But for now, let’s stick with learning two very different languages at once. For example, I’m learning Japanese and Spanish. There is no way in the world I’m going to mix them up because the writing system, the vocabulary and the grammar are completely different.
If I was learning French and Spanish at the same time, though, it might be more confusing because of the similarities they share. In fact, this has happened to me. When I first started learning Spanish, I would use French words unintentionally instead of Spanish ones!
Now, let’s move on to the next tip, which kind of contradicts this one!
Learn two similar languages
The reason I said this tip contradicts the previous one is that you shouldn’t do both at once. You should choose one of them – the one that works better for you. We’re all different and some of us will find it useful to learn languages which are similar while others will be extremely confused by that.
So this tip is about choosing two languages that share a lot of similar vocabulary. This can certainly speed up your learning.
Schedule your learning
My final tip is about scheduling and planning your language learning.
First of all, make sure you have a good balance between the two languages. If you’re learning two languages at the same time, you want to make sure you don’t accidentally abandon one of them.
Here’s an example of a schedule based on language weeks:
- One week for one language
- One week for the other language
- Then one week for the first language again, and so on
And here’s an example based on language days:
- Learn one language on weekdays
- Learn the other language on weekends
Try not to learn both languages on the same day. Go to sleep, get up with a fresh brain and learn your second language then 🙂