With so many resources online, you may want to learn more than one language at once. Learning several languages simultaneously has become quite common among students. In this post, we will give our answer to the question: Can you learn two languages at the same time?

There are so many good courses, and many of them free, that you may want to try them all.

Sometimes we get excited about a language and want to start learning it. And then we get exposed to another language and we want to learn it too. And the list can continue growing to three or four languages.

But one of the determining factors about learning a new language is consistency. If you continually practice, you will become fluent in that language. Being able to sustain this for some time is key.

Jumping from one language to another, just learning a few words in each one of them, will not help you. Proficiency is out of reach for a person that follows that path. And chances are that a couple of years later, you’ll just have a blurred notion of the language. Or even worse, you may have completely forgotten the few expressions you learned.

Our recommendation is to pick up one language and stick to it until you have mastered the basics. This could take you about 6 months to a year, depending on which language it is and how often you practice.

After this, you could move to another language. And please don’t neglect the first one you have started to learn.

Immerse yourself in the language

Once you have selected a language, immerse yourself in it. This includes its culture, history, and common beliefs. If you could even visit places where natives speak the language, it would be even better.

The more focused you are, the better.

So, what if I’m on track learning a language and all of a sudden I have the vehement desire to start learning a second one? What should I do?

Learn 2 Languages at the same time Infographic

Can I learn more than one language at the same time?

Even though we don’t recommend it, we know that you could. Learning two languages simultaneously is not for everybody. We must warn you that.

So before you start learning more than one language at the same time, please consider:

1. The languages you’re trying to learn should have different origins.

For example, if you start to learn Italian and Spanish at the same time, you’ll get all mixed up. The origin of Italian and Spanish are well known. And they are both traced back to Latin. It would be better for you to learn Italian and Hebrew. Hebrew is a Semitic language. This means it has a completely different origin.

Comic_Learn_two_languages

You will not have this problem if you’re learning one language at a time. If you want to only learn Spanish, that’s fine! If you want to learn only Italian following italianlg.com, that’s even better. Considering these three languages we have mentioned, the hardest would be Hebrew. That is if your first language is English. But if you’re only learning Hebrew, that’s ok.

However, if you insist on learning two languages at the same time we won’t say “no”. Even though Hebrew is the most difficult (among these three), it would be better to include it in the pair. Italian and Hebrew, or Spanish and Hebrew would be better than Italian and Spanish. For those wanting to learn two languages, please don’t combine a pair with the same origin.

You may ask why? Let’s keep on with the Italian and Spanish example. You will notice that Italian and Spanish are very similar. So, while learning both, it would be hard to separate them in your brain. And the last thing you want to do is produce your unique language mixing up these two.

2. How familiar are the languages you want to learn?

Let’s imagine you made up your mind to learn Italian and Hebrew. One language will always be harder to learn than the other. In this case, which is the hardest? The answer is Hebrew. Why is it harder? Because Italian is closer to English than Hebrew. Italian and English share many things together (starting with the alphabet). On the other hand, while learning Hebrew, there are many things you’ll learn from scratch.

Now familiarity is not only determined by how close a language is to your native tongue. There may be occasions where other factors play a big part. Your family ancestry can make a language easier because you’re “familiar” with it. No matter how distant from your first language it is. Your cultural background could also have to do with this familiarity factor. And an important point is the availability of resources. A language can be difficult but if there are plenty of tools to aid you, it can bend what’s considered hard.

When deciding to learn two languages at once, please take “familiarity” into account.

A quick note here on organizing your schedule. Practice more the language that is harder. When practicing both on the same day, practice first the hardest. And when you struggle to learn, move to the one you enjoy most.

It would be good to determine which language will be harder for you. Setting this clear from the start will help you organize your study.

3. If you only speak one language, do not attempt to learn more than three languages at once.

Polyglots have not only become fluent in several languages. They have also learned how to learn them. Does this make sense to you? A polyglot could attempt to learn three languages at once. But somebody that only speaks one language, should not try it. If you only speak one language and try to learn three, the most probable result would be you won’t learn any of them.

Interesting facts about Italian

Have you have made up your mind to learn two languages at the same time? Are you considering Italian as one of them? Then you’ll find these facts about Italian interesting:

a.) Italian is a Romance language; this means it developed from Latin. This makes it fairly easy for English speakers. This is reasonable because it shares a lot of vocabulary with English.

b.) Italian descends from Latin. So it will open the door to easily learn other Romance languages. A person that speaks Italian won’t understand Spanish, French, Portuguese, or Rumanian. But you’ll cover the learning curve pretty fast.

c.) You have plenty of resources available online to become proficient in Italian. You could click here to check out one we would recommend.

Wrapping up!

Learning two languages at the same time is possible. We don’t recommend it, especially if you only speak one language right now. But we know it’s possible!

Remember you’ll need a lot of determination and be well organized to succeed with both. I wish you all the best!

Please share with us your experience. You don’t necessarily have to agree with what we have said in this post. Have you been learning two languages at the same time? Are you making up your mind concerning pursuing two languages? Feel free to leave your comments below.


20 Comments

Debbie · March 13, 2019 at 8:44 PM

Hi Henry! This is an ongoing discussion I have had with a friend. She insists our children should learn 2 languages at the same time. And I believe that one at a time is the best way to go.

Your article has confirmed that I’m right. I’ll share your post with her. Thank you very much!

    Henry · March 13, 2019 at 8:55 PM

    Hello Debbie! Yes, that’s my advice. Let your children start with one language. Give them 6 month to a year of daily exposure to that language. And once they have mastered the basics, let them start studding the second.

    I’m glad you found this post useful! Keep well!

Buck · March 13, 2019 at 8:46 PM

Great article! 

My wife grew up learning Spanish and English at the same time. It was the norm in her family, which I always found super interesting! When you grow up listening to two languages, you learn them both effortlessly.

With that background, her knowledge of Spanish made Italian readable. And further on it also made French pretty easy to learn, she says. 

Growing up in a home where two languages are spoken is one thing. But learning two languages at the same time as an adult is a completely different story. I agree with your recommendation of learning one language at a time. Again, this was extremely informative.

Thanks!

    Henry · March 13, 2019 at 9:08 PM

    Hi! Yes, exactly! 

    “Growing up in a home where two languages are spoken is one thing. But learning two languages at the same time as an adult is a completely different story.”

    Thank you very much for your comment. You have hit the nail right on the head. Keep well!

Jeedajoy · March 13, 2019 at 8:49 PM

Learning languages is an amazing thing that I find just as great as life. The various methods human beings can use to communicate through language enable us all to get connected and create strong bonding. The more we are open to others, the more we’ll get to comprehend peace and embrace it. 

I’ve been to Italy in a tour along the western cost from Rome to Amalfi, 2 years ago. I loved it! I loved nature, its language and food. 

I want to learn Italian, and have been making my mind if only studying Italian or learning two languages at the same time. But I’ll follow your advice and learn only Italian for now, because it’s the language I feel more attached too. My native language is Arabic, which is a difficult language as I hear. Aramaic is the origin for both Arabic and Hebrew (as you have mentioned in your example). There is not much common ground between Arabic and Italian, nor between Arabic and English. But if I already learnt English, I may not have such a difficult time learning Italian. At least I hope not! 🙂 I’m glad I found your site, and I know it will help me a lot!

    Henry · March 16, 2019 at 6:54 PM

    Hi! Thank you for your comment and I’m glad you found this site useful. I’ll be more that happy to assist you during your journey learning Italian.

    I know you’ll enjoy this wonderful journey. And you have a huge advantage over many because you already speak English. And there are some similarities between Italian and English.

    I wish you all the best! And don’t hesitate to write when ever you have a question.

Mikay · March 13, 2019 at 8:53 PM

Learning two different languages at the same time is really tedious. But I’m being pushed to learn French and Italian. So I want to ask you: Is that a good decision? I know both descend from Latin. But they are not as similar as Italian-Spanish-Portuguese. Would you advice me to learn French and Italian at the same time? Or learn one first and then the other one?

    Henry · March 17, 2019 at 2:17 AM

    Hi, Mikay! Even thought French and Italian are not as close together as Italian-Spanish-Portuguese (as you have correctly stated), they are still close. I’d advice you to learn one first and then the other one. Just my personal advice.

D13 · March 13, 2019 at 9:33 PM

Hi Henry! I agree with you and I believe it’s better to learn one language first and after the other. But my brother has been planing to learn two languages at the same time. I’ll use your article as proof to sustain my point. Thank you very much! And I’m sure this post will also help him.

    Henry · March 17, 2019 at 4:03 AM

    Hi! Thank you for your comment. Say hi to your brother too, and tell him to consider the points I’ve mentioned in this post. I wish you both all the best!

Aaron Skudder · July 11, 2019 at 3:11 AM

I love to learn languages.  I started learning Portuguese about 10 years ago.  Last year I started learning Spanish.  I found that I got confused because Spanish and Portuguese are similar.  When I did not know the Spanish word I would fall back on the Portuguese word.  I married a Vietnamese woman.  After spending time in Vietnam I decided to learn Vietnamese.  Now I am learning three languages.  I will stick to your advice and stop trying to learn Spanish and focus on Vietnamese.  It is good advice on choosing very different languages.  Vietnamese is vastly different from any European language.

    Henry · November 11, 2019 at 4:08 PM

    Hi Aaron. That’s a good desision. Learning one language at a time. Or at least, if you need to learn two, they should be of different origins.

Chika · February 4, 2021 at 6:33 AM

This is a huge encouragement for me. I have always had problems learning to speak languages. I noticed that after learning a bit of vocabulary, I understand way better than before. So I just stick to learning with the intent of understanding. Iactually do not actively try to learn to speak anymore. It’s just beyond my reach. But I notice that as I understand more I can naturally express ideas better. I’m starting to take away the “stress factor” from my learning process.

    Jonathan Henry · February 4, 2021 at 5:00 PM

    Hi, I am glad you shared your approach with us. It seems to be a good one and I’m glad it’s working for you! Keep us the good work!

Alex · February 7, 2021 at 1:13 AM

Consistency is absolutely necessary when learning a language. When I began learning Italian, I also wanted to learn German at the same time. I found that this significantly impacted my ability to practice either of them consistently. I have since focused on Italian and things are going much better. I still intend to learn German, but will do so at a later date. I also agree that immersing yourself in a language can significantly boost your abilities to learn that language.

    Jonathan Henry · February 7, 2021 at 1:42 AM

    Hey Alex! Yeah, I absolutely agree with you that consistency is key. Nobody should sacrifice consistency with the excuse of learning two languages.

Geoff · March 24, 2021 at 11:12 PM

I have read your post with a smile on my face as I don’t think I could learn one language at a time, no mind two and your suggestion of three wow lol.

I certainly agree that you could not learn more than one latin language at the same time, as there are too many similarities and you would be totally mixed up and not learn any language at all.

Thsnks for your advice but I’ll stick to one at at a time!

    Jonathan Henry · March 24, 2021 at 11:30 PM

    Hey, thank you for stopping by. Yeah, it’s better to get immersed in a second language and see good results than to start learning three and get them all mixed up. Or even worst, not learn anything at all.

Nina · March 24, 2021 at 11:22 PM

I really like your website. I have clicked everything possible and find it very informative and all-encompassing. I have to say I tried Duolingo for learning Italian but didn’t do very well. We were traveling there and I wanted to learn some common terms. While there, I started to direct conversation using French. So I see why it’s important to learn one Romance language coupled with an entirely different type of language. 

I do not have any advice for you. It looks good and is conclusive. I will have to bookmark your site when I decide to follow through learning Spanish. Practice is the key and since I started a blog recently, I have put all my efforts into my website. 

As I was exploring your site, I came across a picture of Cinque Terra. I love it! We were there but in the rain and fog so we really could not appreciate it in all its beauty.

Good luck and kudos to your website!

    Jonathan Henry · March 24, 2021 at 11:49 PM

    Hi Nina, thank you for your kind words.

    It’s wonderful that you have been to Cinque Terra. Italy is beautiful!

    Learning another language is a journey. It does not always come out as planned but that adds a richer experience.

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