How to Learn Several Languages at the Same Time
If you’ve made up your mind to learn more than one new language simultaneously, first of all, we salute your courage! However, please remember that this route is dotted with pitfalls, and you may end up learning none of the languages properly. This is because each language has its own peculiarity. For example: you may know how to learn French on your own, but those same methods may not apply to a language like say Mandarin, where your pitch and tone are important. We spoke to leading linguists for their inputs; here to help you in your quest to learn multiple languages concurrently, we offer you some killer tips in based on expert advice:
- Stagger your learning: It’s best that you start learning one language, get a hold of the basics, and then start the next one. If you start learning the basics of several languages, or even just two, at the same time, you are bound to get confused. Multi-tasking will not help you here. Get the sounds, sentence structure, basic grammar and beginner’s vocabulary before you move on to another language. Don’t try to rush through this stage – it’s the most crucial one. Learning the basics of several languages at once could lead to not learning anything in any language.
- Set separate routines: Associate different languages with different routines; let’s say you practice Italian while cooking and eating food, and learn German while you’re doing the laundry, driving, or commuting to work. You will be less likely to get tangled up in the wrong words when you separate your activities in this manner. You could also try this: watch TV shows in French, listen to Spanish songs, and read German magazines, and listen to Russian news. Make sure to change this routine after at least 2 weeks so that it doesn’t become monotonous. You can also make a few changes, like chat online instead of watch news, listen to podcasts instead of songs, and so on. There are numerous ways to learn a language without joining any institute.
- Create different identities: Let’s say Isabella is a very lively, chirpy Spanish girl who gesticulates a lot and is very animated while speaking; Anastasia is a serious Russian girl who shows few emotions; Frieda is a studious German girl who is very tech savvy; Rekha is a conventional, shy Indian girl who speaks Hindi – and so on. Not only will this help you keep the languages separate, you can have fun creating these identities that you slip into now and then to practice your language!
- Chart a timetable: Set fixed time periods for each language so that at a given time, your full focus is only on one specific language. This could be a few days at a stretch, or a few weeks if you’re finding it tough to juggle – or a few hours if you’re a linguistic whiz. You will have to go through trial-and- error, and determine your linguistic proficiency, and then set the learning times. You could also try and divvy up the languages according to the days of the week. If you’re learning 2 languages at a time, you could do one language every alternate day, or continuously for 3 days, and give it a break on Sunday. If it’s 3 languages, you could learn one language for 2 days consecutively, or go turn by turn. For example: Monday – Spanish, Tuesday – Mandarin, Wednesday – German; you get the idea.
- Change your environment: If you’re going to do all your language study at home, you still need to have a change of scene – change the room, or sit in your yard, or balcony – or simply move a piece of furniture or accessory to create a feeling of change.
- Never learn two languages that are similar: Nothing can be more confusing than that! Examples of similar languages are – Spanish, Italian and Portuguese; German, Swedish and Dutch; Mandarin, Japanese, Korean and Cantonese, etc. When you learn two or more languages that are nothing like each other, you are far less likely to mix them
- Don’t be overconfident: Alas, this is the pitfall many wannabe polyglots fall into! Yes, you may have a super ear for language, but only when you start going deep into a language you realize that there is such a lot to it. Ergo, you should avoid learning too many languages at the same time. Two is safe, and three is a bit wobbly; you should avoid learning more than that unless you’ve already become at least a little fluent in one new language.
So it is seen that there is ample scope for learning several languages. So, given an opportunity you should definitely give an attempt at trying to learn as many languages as possible, and also must remember these tips while you Learn several languages at a given time.