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Can You Learn 2 Languages at Once?

Human beings are not very good at multitasking.

Try reading a book while cooking or see if you can study while working. It’s virtually impossible.

However, you can learn 2 languages at once.

Let’s find out how!

Learning 2 Languages at the Same Time

Learning 2 languages at the same time is definitely possible. If not, there wouldn’t be so many bilinguals or polyglots. You might be thinking “yeah, sure, but they didn’t learn those languages at the same time”. The truth is that, at some point, they must have learned more than one language at the same time if they’re fluent in, let’s say, 4 languages. Also, think about those children who are raised learning two or even three different languages at the same time and speak perfectly all of them.

Learning 2 languages is not like doing 2 completely different things. In fact, our brains are often required to learn similar topics at the same time. When you learn a language you learn its grammar, vocabulary, and how to understand and make up sentences in that language. It’s the same for all languages. You’ll just learn different grammar rules and vocabulary, etc.

Also, when you learn 2 languages, you should dedicate some time and space for one and some for the other one. You usually don’t focus on 2 languages at the very same time. Even if you move to another country with someone who speaks your language, you won’t find yourself using 2 languages at the exact same time. Your brain knows when to use one and when to use the other one.

But that doesn’t mean learning 2 languages at the same time is impossible or even just difficult. It’s possible if you make an effort. Also, it’s rewarding and satisfying.

Is It a Good Idea to Learn 2 Languages at Once?

Let me tell you one thing: it’s always a good idea to learn a language. It makes your brain more elastic, it helps you improve your cognitive ability, and it connects you with more people. So why wouldn’t it be a good idea to learn 2 languages at once?

It’s even better for children and teenagers. In general, young people learn languages easier than adults. They’re still learning their own native language so they unconsciously know how to learn a language and all of its structures. So, learning a second or a third language is absolutely possible for them. And it’s definitely beneficial to grow up speaking two languages.

Of course, if you learn 2 languages at the same time, you can get them mixed up (and it will probably happen) but it’s absolutely normal. This is because you’re making a big effort and your brain is processing a lot of new information.

Mixing up 2 languages is more common when people learn 2 similar languages, like Spanish and Italian. This option might be tricky because the grammatical structures and even the vocabulary are very similar as they both come from Latin. So, if you, as an adult, want to learn 2 languages at the same time, I recommend going for 2 that are completely different

However, if that’s your aim, you can do it. Just make sure you split those 2 different languages in your head and your environment.

How to Learn Two Languages at the Same Time?

There are different ways to learn two languages at the same time. Some are more natural than others.

For instance, some children learn two languages or even more because they have parents from different countries or simply because they were raised in a country where their native language is not spoken. Children are the best at learning two languages at the same time.

It’s a bit harder for adults to learn two languages at once, but it’s possible. Ideally, each language should be given its own space and time. This way it’ll be less likely to get them mixed up. So, if you’re learning Spanish and Mandarin, you should choose different days and locations to learn them separately. This is so that your brain unconsciously assigns different moments for each language.

Also, you should avoid learning two languages in the same conditions. So, for instance, if you learn one language while listening to music, try not to do the same with the other language. If you take notes on a notebook for one language, try to take notes on a document on a computer for the other language.

You could also choose two completely different methods. See if you like them and feel like you’re learning, and if that’s the case, go ahead. For instance, you could learn one language with the help of an app and with a language exchange partner, while you learn the other language by going to one-to-one lessons and by watching movies in that language.

As you can see, even if you learn two languages at once, it’s important to learn them separately. This way, you’ll avoid confusion.

Where to Learn Different Languages

You can learn different languages using different methods.

For example, you could go for an app. Nowadays there are many around. Here’s a list:

  • Babbel
  • Busuu
  • Duolingo
  • Rosetta Stone
  • Memrise

You could take one-to-one or group lessons. One-to-one lessons are better because they can be more personalized and you get all of your teacher’s attention. Group lessons are good if you want to practice with more people.

You could try online lessons on Italki or Preply. This is a good option if you can’t find a native teacher in your area and if you don’t have much time available.

If you want to learn for free, then you could learn with a grammar book, go to language exchange events, and watch movies in the language you’re learning with subtitles. You could even try to listen to the radio or podcasts even if you don’t understand anything. At least you’ll tune and “educate” your ears to new sounds.

The best option would be to go to a foreign country to learn one of the languages while also learning the other one. But since it’s not possible for everyone, you have all the above alternatives.

Whatever you choose, it’s always great to learn new languages so, good luck in your learning process!

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