Have you ever learnt two languages at once?

This is the first time I’ve done this kind of blog, in that it’s an open question to all of you who read.

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it in a previous post, but I’m learning Spanish. I’m about level B1 and go to a weekly two-hour course. I started properly learning in September 2013.

I’ve always wanted to learn a Scandinavian language. I don’t know what it is about them, but I think it’s the German link. I have a “Swedish in 30 days” set I bought a few years ago but never really started. I taught myself a bit of Danish before I went to Copenhagen in 2015, but afterwards never carried on. 

The problem is (which is really a true first-world language-lover problem): I don’t want to give up Spanish, but I think it’s finally time to pick up a Scandinavian language (I’ll most probably start with Swedish). However, I would want to do a class in Swedish, not just teach myself, due to motivation reasons.

So my question is: have any of you ever had experience learning two languages intensively at the same time? How was/is it? What languages were there? Do you have any tips?

I look forward to hearing about your experiences!

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14 thoughts on “Have you ever learnt two languages at once?

  1. I am learning Spanish, German and Russian (and will start Chinese in October)

    I started with Spanish, as am moving to Gran Canaria and it gave me the motivation to learn. I’m doing pretty well – Have got to A2/B1 in a few months. It also reignited my general love of languages. I’ve always since I was little had a language “study book” on the go!

    So I decided to change my degree with the Open University- now I am studying for a degree in language studies with Spanish and German (I figured I may as well learn two to C1 than 1!) I am currently trying to get through German independently to shorten my degree (or I’d have to do an extra 2 years devoted to German)

    With the Open University is had 30 credits spare so will be doing an intro module in to Basic Chinese because why not when the opportunity is there. Russian is then purely for personal reasons- my girlfriend and her parents as well as several friends speak Russian and I would like to understand a lot more rather than just be left sitting there like a lemon.

    1. Hi there!

      Wow, that is a lot a one go. I’m now doing Spanish and Swedish, and that’ll do for now! Thankfully with living in Germany for the past two-and-a-half years and speaking and writing German every day, I don’t need to study it anymore.
      It’d be interesting to hear how you start to cope with all those languages at once, particularly with Basic Chinese! I tried learning Basic Japanese on my year abroad in Germany, but decided against it in the end because I wanted to focus on my German for my degree.

      Thanks for reading! And I hope my blog helps you along with at least the German part of your degree πŸ™‚

      Dan

  2. I tried to learn German while learning Spanish at the same time. I used Assimil. However, my training partner flaked on me so I stopped studying as that was the initial reason I started.

    Plus, when I latch on to something I don’t let go until I master it. With Spanish I always feel as if I have something else to learn. Plus, I spend so much time trying to learn things I am afraid to turn that focus onto another language.

    1. I’ve never heard of Assimil before. What is it exactly? Would you recommend it?

      I’m a little like that too. I considered dropping Spanish altogether but then thought it would be such a shame to have wasted all the time and effort I put into, and I know if I tried to self-teach it I wouldn’t try as hard as if I were to carry on going to weekly classes!

      1. Assimil is outstanding! I would recommend it for advanced beginners though and not for someone just starting out. (I don’t think you would have a problem.)

        Assimil comes with a book and 4 CDs or mp3 if needed. It has 100+ lessons that start from easy to difficult (advanced beginner to intermediate). Spanish is on one side and English on the other. You listen to the short conversation and get the feel for the language naturally. It also has practice sentences, grammar notes, etc., for each lesson.

        It tries to be humorous with the lessons and keep it from feeling like a chore. It also promises to expose you to 3000 words before it is over. The goal is to get you to a B1 level of the language. Once you get to lesson 50 they ask you to go back and write out each lesson along with continuing with the program. The double exposure is to strengthen your grasp of the language.

        It takes no time to finish a lesson and since the the lessons are no more than a minute you can listen to it multiple times a day.

        I used different Assimil courses, from different years (2014, 2001 and 1987) and I learned a lot. My ability to read well is due mainly to Assamil. I also loaded the CDs onto my computer and onto iTunes and Google play so I could listen to them while on the go.

        Most polyglots swear by it.

        I hope that helps.

  3. I think mostly if you’re really interested in the both languages you can certainly do it. You might have to look at your current schedule and figure out how you’re going to account for the two languages πŸ™‚

    1. Hi there!

      Yeah, I guess a lot of it does depend on your interest and general willingness to learn the languages. I’ve decided to carry on my Spanish and pick up a Swedish class, so I’ll see how that goes! πŸ™‚

      Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading!

      Dan

  4. Hi Dan! I don’t see a problem in learning 2 languages at the same time. Especially if those languages come from different language families, like Spanish and Swedish. It would be probably tricky to try mastering (e.g.) Spanish and Italian. You might end up mixing them a lot πŸ™‚ I currently learn Japanese and also want to improve my Spanish. Cheers, Cristina

    1. Hi Cristina!

      Thanks for your answer. That was my thought too: Spanish and Swedish aren’t very similar, so there’s not much chance I would mix them up.

      If you’d like, I’d happily post some things about my Spanish in a similar style to my German posts (but, of course, my level of Spanish isn’t anywhere near as good as my German, so I wouldn’t expect too much detail!).

      Thanks for reading and thanks again for commenting.

      Dan

    1. Hi there!

      Brilliant! I hope you’re learning a lot from my blog. Obviously I don’t really go into the basic grammar and vocabulary (which I could try at some point!), but I always enjoy learning unusual words that you won’t necessarily find in a textbook. Let me know if there’s anything specific you’d like me to write about – I’d happily have a go at whatever may help you! πŸ™‚

      Thanks again for reading!

      Dan

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