Should You Learn Two Languages At The Same Time? | Polyglot Language Learning Tips

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hey everybody

happy wednesday now today we have


really nice topic we're going to be

talking about

this idea of learning two or perhaps

more languages

at the same time is it a bad idea is it

a good idea

and if so how to do that right so i'm

going to be focusing on a specific

principle that i think is really really

important uh if you're going to be

learning more than one language at the

same time

so without further ado let's jump in but

can't do that before we have our sip of

wednesday morning coffee


now the reason why i thought about

talking about this today is that i've

been getting

lots and lots of comments asking for my

opinions on

you know is it a good idea to learn two

languages at the same time

but of course as many of you all know i

am in fact

learning mandarin chinese and german

right now

at the same time so my basic answer

to the question is i think it's a

perfectly fine

thing to do i think that's a great idea

depending on your goals your

your schedule your timeline right but

i think this is a great opportunity to


an important principle that i think

i have sort of implicitly followed for

many many years now which is that as i

look back

and i think about all the times i've


learned several languages concurrently

i only ever have one beginner language

at the same time so in the case of

mandarin chinese in german you know i've

been documenting my whole journey

learning mandarin

for quite a while now and you'll notice


i really focused on mandarin chinese

pretty much exclusively

for quite some time now part of this is


you know the whole point of that chinese

series i'm doing

is that my schedule is absolutely

insane right now right and so i don't


three four five six hours per day to be

learning languages i only was able to


30 minutes to one hour per day now i'm

doing a bit more although schedules

even more crazy now but somehow fitting

it all in

but the point is that i had a limited

amount of time and

mandarin chinese was at a beginner level

it required a lot of

attention from me and so i decided to

just focus on that until i could bring

it to

an intermediate level and i made a video

you know in the last few months where i

was just

elated so excited that i felt my


was finally you know trickling into that

intermediate level

i made another progress update after

that i then documented my first

chinese conversation my good friend jake

and then now i'm doing all this

extensive reading

so i really focused on bringing mandarin

to an intermediate level at that point

i brought back in german now i'm also


the process of bringing german back up


uh my previous level which i would say

it was like a high intermediate before

and then

finally pushing it into the advanced


but again the key principle there is

that both languages are intermediate now

in the past i've told stories about how

i learned

quite a few languages concurrently over

the space of a few years and i really

brought up

about six languages to a some level of


and that took quite a lot of time and it

also took a pretty sophisticated

habit system and i've spoken quite a lot

on this channel about different systems

i have

like my three tier prioritized rotation


which is really interesting i have a

whole bunch of stuff that i do

but even throughout that time as i was

bringing all these languages

up to higher levels and maintaining them

i still never had more than one beginner


at a time so let's talk a little bit


why i think this is important first of

all i should say

you know if you have lots and lots of

time every day that you can dedicate to

language learning it's fine if you want


learn more than one language at a

beginner level

certainly if you can dedicate you know

two hours to one language and then two

hours to a second language

every single day i have no doubt

you know that you'll succeed and you'll

do fine over the course of time

but still the question is there of is

that the most efficient thing

um even then i think

you'd probably still be better off

focusing those four hours

um one language and bringing it to an

intermediate level

first you're gonna get there a lot more

quickly and then bringing the second one

in but i also think that a lot of people

don't have that much time right for some


30 minutes one hour that's as much as

you have

um i do think that if you use dead time

and i've spoken a lot about this also my

book i wrote a lot about this

dead time can really unlock a ton of

additional study time per day

but here's the thing most dead time


require at least an intermediate level

depending on what you're doing so now

let's talk more about

why it's really helpful to have either

one beginner one intermediate

um or two intermediate or whatever

anything above intermediate

but certainly only one beginner language

at a time

it's because once a language is in the

intermediate phase it starts to become a

lot more stable

now even this intermediate level you

know it's quite a wide range first of


there's a very large difference between

what i think of

like low intermediate versus high

intermediate that's a big gap

but even in anywhere in the intermediate


your language is still going to atrophy


quickly if you don't study it and you

don't use it but it's a lot better

than the beginner stage in my experience

when you're a beginner

you know it takes so much effort just to

learn new

things you know you learn like 10 new

words and they just

disappear they're gone you know

especially if the language

is very different than your native

language or one that you already know

so i just think that in the beginner


the language is so much more brittle it

requires so much more time to just get


stick and also there's just less things

that you can do

so once your language skills get to an

intermediate or advanced level

there are so many more activities you

can do right and so

you could be extensive reading you could

have graded readers you could listen to

podcasts maybe you find like an

easier version of a podcast once you get

more advanced

listening to native or authentic

podcasts you could watch tv shows movies

you could

maybe get more of an advanced textbook

if that's what you want to do or

a grammar reference if you if you really

want to focus on that it doesn't matter

the point is there are so many things

you can do at the intermediate and

advanced levels

it becomes very easy to segment your


based on a diverse set of activities

so for me right now with german i'm

mostly focusing

on reviewing all the babel german

courses i've already done those in the

past but it's just

a lot of fun for me i really enjoy it

and it's a nice way to just

review all the basics of german and i'm

really enjoying it

now with mandarin chinese i don't need

to do that right mandarin chinese i've

studied all these things a lot more

recently it's all a lot more fresh

right now in mandarin i'm mostly focused

on trying to solidify

that knowledge trying to get more

comfortable with those basics trying to

expand my vocabulary

but also you know trying to internalize

and solidify

the vocabulary that i already know and

all these things right so with mandarin

chinese i can focus

on the activity of extensive reading for

the time being

and then i'm doing my more like textbook


app study with german but i could also

be doing podcasting with german or

different things the point is it becomes

very easy

to separate my time between the two


and they don't atrophy as quickly

so i find i'm able to maintain and also

build momentum with these two languages

at the intermediate level

whereas again when my mandarin was


it really required quite a lot of time

and i certainly think if mandarin and


were both beginner languages for me it

would be really tricky because

you know german has a whole bunch of

stuff with its noun cases and

its grammatical structures and the

second verb comes at the end and

like there's a lot there that would be

new for me

as an english speaker that would really

require a lot of time to wrap my head


and of course mandarin is just

completely different in a lot of ways

and so again that requires a lot of time

so it just

i think i would be a lot less successful

if i tried to take on german and


both as beginner languages and you know

the cool thing is that yes

as languages become even more advanced

and certainly

highly advanced maybe even near native

you know these kind of really high


it's even nicer because there's so many

things you can do

like you can just turn on a movie and

watch that for

a couple of hours and it's amazing right

you could just you know crack open one

of these books and just read a novel for


couple of hours per week there's so many

things you can do

to keep your language skills sharp and

they're going to also atrophy a lot more


so it becomes easier and easier

to create a sophisticated system that

allows you

to maintain a number of languages and


improving them and maybe even have one

beginner language that you're bringing


that's easier if the majority of your


are at that intermediate or even


level so i hope that makes sense this is

just kind of

me thinking out loud based on my recent


um if i had more time i would be also

actively maintaining my my french my

japanese i'd be doing

all kinds of things italian is desperate

for attention you know i wish i could

study italian

but this is what i can do right now with

my current circumstances

okay everybody i hope you have a

wonderful wednesday and with that

i will take one last sip of what's

probably now cold coffee and i wish you

a wonderful day

still good still good by the way i'm

really bad at this

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