Is Learning Two Languages at a Time Possible?

I had a brief exchange with barkerstravels at the fluent in three months forum. In his progress thread, he was debating whether or not to stop learning Mandarin, his current project, and instead focus on Italian. He wants to learn several languages. This article is inspired by my thoughts on the matter.

Is Learning Two Languages at a Time Possible?

Yes, sure. in theory.
Learning two languages at a time Even three or four. If you use the method I use, then you can use it for as many languages as you like. You can also use it for non-languages, at a basic level. Theoretically.
In practice, assuming that you’re not trying to be a language hacker and take the short cuts that’ll eventually comprise a long way around, you only have so many productive hours in the day. Ergo, there is only so much you can realistically expect to learn.
If you learn two languages at a time, then you’re only spending half of your time on each language. Even if they are closely related, such as Spanish and Portuguese, the fact still stands. More importantly, you’re only giving half of your will power to any one goal. You’re only training your brain to work to half-capacity on learning new skills.
We don’t want to train our brain to work to fifty percent capacity at anything. We want to train it to work at 110%, so we can gradually get better at learning new stuff as well as actually learning new things.

So, what is better than learning two languages at a time?

Instead of learning two languages at a time, commit yourself more to your single language. If you’re working on a particular project, and you think that you’re giving it your all, give more. If you’re thinking, like barker is, that you are really inspired to learn Italian, don’t quit or try and work at learning the two languages, and certainly don’t quit your project entirely and try something new. Instead, say to yourself, “My goal was to be conversational by the end of December. I really want to learn italian, so I’m going to push myself over my limit. I’m going to achieve my goals in two months instead of three, which means I’m going to start learning Italian in December instead of January.”

  • You aren’t learning two languages at a time, but you’ve done something even better.
  • You’ve trained your brain to work to maximum capacity.
  • You’ve learned much better time management.
  • You’ve trained yourself to stick to your goals, and achieve them quickly.
  • You’ve still managed to keep up the enthusiasm for both projects.
  • You’ve set the ground work for being even better at your second project than your first. After all, if you’ve committed to learning fifty words a day instead of 20, when you start your second language, you’re going to be learning new vocabulary at twice the speed you originally were in project one.
Language Bug