Learning 2 languages at the same time

Hello everyone,

First, I love Lingq and I completely agree with your idea of learning languages Steve.

I’m a French student and next year I will have to take classes of 2 languages (I’m obliged) and I was wondering if it would be manageable to start 2 new foreign languages at the same time ?

I already speak English, Spanish, a bit of Arabic and French obviously. I just started learning German 2 weeks ago with Lingq and I will take a beginner course next year (I don’t want to but I have to).

But recently, I learned that it is compulsory that I attend 2 language classes next year. I could choose English classes but it will really be boring… And before deciding to go for German next year, I was hesitating with Russian. So now I’m just wondering, why not the 2 at the same time ???

What do you think ? How could I spread the time between both ? Will it be too much confusing ? Take a lot of time ? Steve, did you already experienced that situation ?

Thanks for any advice,

Two rather difficult languages… You make big challenge to yourself :slight_smile:

At least one should say that German and Russian are very diiferent from each other, so that wll be less confusing than if you choose 2 roman languages simultaneously :slight_smile:

When I first applied for admission to University I had to take 2 qualifying courses before I could be admitted full-time, since I was applying as a mature student without a high-school diploma. I chose to study Introductory Spanish 1 & 2 and Introductory German 1 & 2 at the same time and was enrolled in a 6 week intensive summer program. We had class 2 hours per day in each language every day, 5 days per week x 6 weeks. I started with German at 8:00 til 10:00 AM and then went to Spanish at 10:00 AM til 12:00!

At that time I didn’t know anything about learning languages besides what I was told by the teachers and so I studied my a** off every afternoon and night, reviewing lists of vocabulary and memorizing grammar rules to try and keep up. What I did was I studied Spanish after I got home from my Spanish class and the German at night to prepare for my 8:00 AM German class the next morning. That was how I tried to get the 2 different languages in my head without mixing up the German with the Spanish.

I have to say, that with respect to the German, I really didn’t learn how to speak it even though I received an A in the class. I still remember “aus auser bei mit nach zeit von zu” (prepositions for use with the dative? case that we learned by rote) but I really was never able to speak with any degree of fluency at all. I think this was because of the “grammar-translation” method of spending time learning rules and translating sentences (language focus) we used exclusively instead of spending more time on meaning focussed input, output and fluency as well. (These are Paul Nation’s four strands that he talked to Steve about in one of the English podcasts.)

I think that if you can separate your study time into blocks and find a way to keep focussed on one language at a time during your study time that there is no reason not to study more than one language at a time in spite of many people recommending the contrary. Of course you won’t learn as fast because you will likely spend half as much time as you would on any particular language than you would if you were only studying one. Fact is, it seems 2 language classes are required anyway so just don’t expect too much if you take two different languages especially from a class since they usually are pretty boring. I mean how much of “le sange et sur la branche” and “le carte es dans le sac à dos” can one mind handle! However, having said that, if I had to do it again, (and I hope I never see the inside of a language class again as long as I live!) I would take 2 classes of the same language since they usually are connected like beginner 1 and beginner 2. This way you’ll get more of a complete introduction instead of just the super boring yo soy, tu eres, el es, nosotros somos etc., etc. and a bunch of other stuff by rote.

Anyway, for a person who knows a very little about a lot of things, I think there is value in that and I enjoy being a generalist, but when learning a language, I think the usual goal is to be able to communicate and that is tough with only the basics you get from the first half of an introductory course.

So good luck and above all, try to have fun!



I kind of forgot to reply to your question. I am sorry. Right now I am doing both Russian and German at LingQ. I had been doing a little Portuguese as well. I guess I am fairly well along in all of these, since I can read and listen to literature in these languages.

Nevertheless my passion right now remains Russian. So I think you need to have a major language, your main effort. A second language is possible, but will probably be the minor one. I just think that pursuing a language becomes an all consuming interest, where you want to devote as much time as you have available to learning it. A second language can be a distraction.

Nevertheless, if I were in your shoes I would not do English, since you know well enough for now in your own opinion (unless of course you want to take it in order to improve your average grades!).

I would decide on one language as my major, let’s say German for now, and treat the other as a secondary effort where you will acquaint yourself with the language, get a bit of a taste for it, with the intention of attacking it in earnest later on. Of course, that is where formal education with its tests etc, comes in, forcing you to produce the language and be tested. Maybe what you should do is take English to get higher marks, and study Russian on your own at LingQ.

I have a major interest in English, both because I need to know it very well for professional reasons, and also because I really like it.
There is a somewhat unexpected thing I learned at LingQ: being really good in a language requires a LOT of effort an time. Since I already knew a lot of English, I thought one year would be enough for achieve that “very good” point in English, but right now I’m more or less at my 9th month and although I indeed made a lot of progress, I’m in serious doubt I’ll achieve what I wanted in one year.
But I had another interest, more vaguely related to professional issues too, in French. When I realized I would need a lot more of studying English, I decided to start French slowly. So I’m working on something I know well, as an advanced learner, and in something I know almost nothing about, as a complete beginner. I’m enjoying this contrast, and I think this is an interesting mix.

Well, I need to learn Englis as soon as possible because i don’t know work in a factory, i need work in an office, the same like i worked in my country…

Congratulations! You are a very important person. You can learn English!

hi…I am from India and desperately want to learn english to improve my communicative skills…I flonder sometimes while speaking english and loose my confidence while speaking in a gathering…tell me ways to improve it…although i have started reading more and improving my vocab

Thank you for your advices,

I though a lot about it, and I think I will take German only as I don’t think I will have enough time for each language (we have quite big timetable in the French educational system) and your’re right, the classes and tests will require the same amount of work for both.

Thank you again,

i’ve been study mandarin for some years now, but really want to pick up cantonese. i’ve learned bits of it here and there, and it actually seems very easy to learn having such a foundation of mandarin.

however, i only have short spurts of interest to study it because my attention keeps going back to mandarin which is of most importance for my situation.

i thought of taking the train to work and back home, which takes about an hour each way, and while on the train listen to mandarin on the way and cantonese on the way back, or vice versa.

maybe that will keep me going with cantonese. but i find myself wanting to spend all my time on mandarin, causing cantonese to fade out again…

we’ll see what happens, but i agree with steve that one should be (or will end up being) the main language, also that studying two languages in school where they force you to be tested and produce the language when you may not be comfortable will likely make a mess out of your learning.

i’ll see if i can tackle two at a time on my own though, going at my own pace and on my own.

I’m feeling the same problem as LFJ between English and French. The issue is that it is very easy to find a lot of interesting content if you’re advanced enough, while easy content tends to be kind of uninteresting… so, one needs much more discipline to stay with the new language in the beginning. The approach I’m trying now is to start my study session by French and stabilish a minimum time I spend on French before going to English.