Learning multiple languages simultaneously

One of the talks at the Polyglot Gathering was about a way to learn several languages at the same time. The speaker, Elisa Polese, explained how she teaches up to 10 languages simultaneously by comparing and contrasting them. It sounds like this technique can work quite well for similar languages, at least at the beginning. However I’m not sure if it would work at higher levels, as the differences between the languages might become more noticeable and more difficult to compare.

Have you tried to teach or learn several languages at the same time?

Over the next year or so I might try to improve the languages I know. I’m still thinking about how I’ll do this, but have some ideas.

3 thoughts on “Learning multiple languages simultaneously

  1. I’m not sure…you run the constant risk of corruption/interference and besides you get way less done per language. I think some people also use multiple languages as a way of procrastinating their number 1 language with. When #1 gets hard – go learn something else. They’re of course doing something more productive than watching TV, but ultimately it’s also a distraction.

    Assuming inhuman self-discipline and the ability to study 4 languages without any problems, it would still take you 4 times as long to get good! With many rewards in language learning around that initial conversational point, I would argue it’s better to make that your priority and only then move on to the next language (if you must.)

    I know a lot of people who have studied countless languages and can’t say or do anything with the languages they’ve studied, so ultimately I’d say: Focus on one until you get it to a useful point (at least) then consider next options.

  2. I agree with Kris. Even when learning a single language, already known similar languages interfere.

  3. I am very unenthusiastic about adding Italian, Catalan or Portuguese to my Spanish and French as they are just too similar and potentially confusing, though learning them would be dead easy.

    On the other hand, Welsh, which I’ve dabbled in all my life but never seriously studied, beckons on account of its beauty- I don’t really feel that about any other language currently.

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