9 Tips for Learning Multiple Languages At Once
Are you asking yourself, “Can I learn multiple languages at once?”. It all depends on you and how your mind is set.
Human brains are hardwired in different ways. In Spanish, we say cada cabeza es un mundo (every head is a world). In other words, to learn is to own knowledge and make it yours.
If your brain is hardwired to learn languages, it’s a brilliant idea to learn multiple languages at once. If, on the other hand, you’ve never learned another language, it might be advisable to stick to one language to begin with.
Keep reading to find out why it’s a good idea and how to learn multiple languages quickly. Get ready to access 9 helpful tips for getting started!
Why Is It a Good Idea to Learn Two Languages at Once?
Is it good or bad to learn two languages at a time? Scientists have proven that learning languages enhances your brain by making new connections between brain cells. Learning a language—or two languages at once—makes you smarter since your brain becomes more powerful.
Learning two languages at once also saves some time. Depending on how much you practice and the difficulty of the language, it may take up to two years to speak a language fluently.
Can you learn 3 languages? If you learn two or three languages simultaneously, you’re going to take the same amount of time (virtually) but get two or three times the result, opening the doors to more countries and cultures.
Languages and Their Roots
Have you ever heard that languages have roots?
Romance languages include Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, Romanian, Galician, and Catalonian. They’re all variations of Latin, so they share common words, roots, and expressions.
For example, the word “street” in Spanish is la calle; the word la rúa is less common but still acceptable. In Galician and Portuguese, “street” is “rua,” while in French, it’s “rue.”
When languages have the same roots, learning certain words or the syntax makes it easier. You have two options when learning multiple languages at once:
- Learn two or more languages with the same root
- Learn two or more languages with different roots
The path you take it’s up to you. Some people find it easier to learn Portuguese and Spanish because they are highly similar.
However, some students might confuse the words and mix them up. For them, it might be better to learn Portuguese and German, for example, since they are highly different.
9 Tips for Learning Multiple Languages at a Time
Whichever path you want to take, here are 10 tips to learn multiple languages at once.
1. Listen to Music in the Languages
Adding songs to your playlist in your target language helps you hone not only your listening skills, but also your reading skills. Read the lyrics and sing along to learn a ton of new words.
This same rule applies to movies and to videogames, as well. Start with a movie you’ve seen before, since you won’t focus on the plot as much as the new words you’ll be learning.
For example, if you watch Star Wars in Spanish, when you see Darth Vader tell Luke that he is his father, you won’t be surprised. Instead, you’ll be paying attention to the dialogue in Spanish (or your other target language). Try repeating your favorite phrases to gain even more fluency!
2. Stop Thinking Logically
The easiest path to learn a language is to stop thinking logically.
How did you learn your mother tongue? When you started learning how to talk, the only thing you did was repeat what you heard, because you needed others to understand you.
My advice is not to get mired in grammar rules as a beginner. Instead, stop your brain and repeat like a parrot. Believe me, it works wonders.
3. Name the Objects Around You
This is a simple trick to improve your vocabulary. Imagine that you step into the kitchen. What do you see? The stove, the trash can, the sink, a knife, plates, pans, and many more things. Look at them and switch your language.
How do I say “stove” in Spanish? La estufa. How do I say “trash can” in Spanish? El bote de basura. How do I say “sink” in Spanish? El fregadero. How do I say knife, plates, and pans in Spanish? El cuchillo, los platos y los sartenes.
Next time you come into the kitchen, repeat the exercise. If you’re learning multiple languages at once, be sure to do this in two phases. For example, apply Spanish to the kitchen and Italian to the living room, and then switch them up the next day.
4. Pick Up Slang
This is a more advanced tip, so leave it for when you feel comfortable with the language and you’ve gotten the basics down.
If you want to sound like a native speaker, slang is a must. Once you feel comfortable, start listening to rap music in your target language. That way, you’ll learn a ton of slang. This enables you to sound much more like a local, and not like you learned everything from a book.
5. Don’t Mix Your Languages
Why is it a bad idea to learn two languages at once? Because mixing them up may lead to not speaking either one of them.
This is why it is highly important not to mix your languages. Make sure that you’re speaking either one or the other, no matter how alike or different they may be.
6. Read in the Languages
Reading in your target language is a must.
If you’re eager to start reading but feel you’re still taking baby steps in your target language, why not read books for kids? The illustrations and the more simple language help a lot. Once you feel comfortable with them, start stepping up your game and move into books for adolescents and teens.
Get your favorite book in your target language, too. That way you’ll know exactly what you’re reading and will learn many new words.
This advice even works if your target language has different characters, for example the “ä” in German, the “ë” in French, the á, é, í, ó, ö, ú, ü in Hungarian (they have 14 vowels!), or Manji in Japanese.
7. Practice with Friends
Learning multiple languages at once is ideal for meeting new people or introducing your pals to a new hobby. This way you can practice together while helping out each other.
Challenge each other and play simple games in your target language to get better together.
8. Get to Know a Native Speaker
Practicing with your buddies is one thing, but practicing with a native speaker is next level.
Most native speakers appreciate it when they hear a foreigner speaking their language, even if they struggle with it.
In my personal experience, knowing a native speaker has boosted my Italian and Spanish skills. My friend Emanuele has taught me many things in Italian and I’ve taught him several in Spanish. For instance, I got better at applying “il congiuntivo passato,” which is the equivalent of el pretérito del subjuntivo (subjunctive preterite) in Spanish. I’ve also learned slang words, synonyms, and words in Genovese thanks to this intercultural exchange.
9. Immerse Yourself in the Languages
The best way to learn any language is to spend some time in a country where that language is spoken. If you want to learn multiple languages at once, countries with multiple official languages are spectacular.
For example, Canada could be a great destiny for a Spanish speaker who aims to learn English and French. Paraguay is an amazing place if you’re looking to learn Spanish and Guaraní. Spain is the place to go if you want to learn Spanish and Basque, Catalonian, or Galician. In Guatemala you can learn Spanish and Kakchiquel Maya, in Mexico Spanish and Náhuatl, in Perú Spanish and Aymara, or in Switzerland learn German, French, and Italian.
Immersing yourself in your target language and culture helps you out enormously.
Have You Thought About Learning Spanish?
As you know, learning another language improves your cognition and decision-making abilities, making your mind even more agile than it already is.
What makes Spanish so special among other Romance languages? Its versatility. Spanish will open the door for you in 21 countries on three continents: the Americas, Europe, and Africa! It also opens more doors within the U.S. since more than 53 million people speak Spanish there! And if those two reasons aren’t enough, Spanish is the third most common language on the internet?
Sign up for a free trial class at Homeschool Spanish Academy today and put these tips to use. Learn all about our affordable pricing options and tailored, 1-to-1 classes. Include Spanish in your languages to learn today!
Join one of the 40,000 classes that we teach each month and you can experience results like these
“Getting to know wonderful teachers who care about me and my growth in language and education. Evelyn Gomez and Erick Cacao are two of the most extraordinary people I have ever met, and talking with them in Spanish at the beginning of classes is always so fulfilling and greatly contributes to my happiness, joy, and wellbeing.”
“HSA offers very affordable, quality, one on one classes with a native speaker. My son has greatly benefited from taking classes. We have seen his confidence increase as well as his pronunciation improve, because he learns from a native Spanish speaker. HSA has quick, personal customer service. Our family has been very pleased with our experience so far!”
– Erica P. Parent of 1
“HSA offers very affordable, quality, one on one classes with a native speaker. My son has greatly benefited from taking classes. We have seen his confidence increase as well as his pronunciation improve, because he learns from a native Spanish speaker. HSA has quick, personal customer service. I have appreciated the one on one interaction and teaching that my son gets from his teachers. He has gotten to know his teachers, which has increased his confidence in speaking Spanish. Our family has been very pleased with our experience so far!”
– Maple, Parent of 3
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