• Thea Enache (@sheloveslanguages)

How to Learn Multiple Languages at the same time

We’ve all been there-you're watching a TV show and suddenly encounter a new language. The sound of it is so enticing that you can’t stop thinking about it even the show is long over. Slowly but surely you start seeing that language everywhere and after some time you decide to take a closer look at it. After learning about the culture and people associated with the language, you find yourself wanting to learn more and so you tell yourself ‘Adding one more language to the list shouldn’t hurt, right?’

As time goes by, the list grows ever larger. At some point, there are so many languages on the list that you can barely keep up with it.

How do you prevent yourself from burnout and what are some useful tips to help you address the issues that come with learning multiple languages before such problems present themselves to you?

Look no further- the following tips can help you juggle learning multiple languages and enjoy yourself whilst doing so!

1. Consistency is key - but make it fun too! On a previous post written by Raquel, we pointed out that consistency is key and that there are techniques to help keep you on track that you should be aware of.

However, remember that obsessing overwork takes away the fun from learning languages and that there are many ways to make repetitive tasks such as memorizing vocab enjoyable.

Set small daily goals that become part of your routine: watching your favourite YouTuber in your target language whenever they release a video, listening to a specific podcast you love on your way home, having impromptu karaoke sessions while taking a shower every morning… to the outer expanses of your own imagination, choose whichever activity fits your daily schedule and suits you as an individual. For example, I’ve made it a habit to read webtoons translated into French while commuting or on break. They’re addictive and interesting to read, keeping me hooked on each chapter and it no longer feels like I have to force myself to study!

2. For two languages - the 80 20 rule, with a twist. These situations are very particular since there are some specific rules to follow. Firstly, you need to work in two languages at the same time. One of them must be at a higher intermediate level, while the other can be at the beginner level.

The objective of this method is to perfect one language whilst also attaining an intermediate level in the other simultaneously. Once you have reached the intermediate level the second language of your choice, you can add another ad continuum.

How it goes is as follows: focus all of your active study (80%) on the lower level language, but keep the remaining passive immersion (20%) on the intermediate-advanced language. What this does is keep you focused on the fundamentals of the language you just began studying while also immersing you in the more advanced language.

3. One language per media source. Our brains like habits, routine and a host of all kinds of things with which they are familiar. The easier you make it for your brain to associate one activity with one language, the faster it will get used to associating that activity in the language.

You can switch it up as time passes, but making a strong link between one type of media outlet and one language can make it so much easier to create a mental association between the two, further facilitating the learning process.

To illustrate this further, imagine you want to learn Japanese, Korean and Mandarin all at the same time. These are already gruelling languages, so studying them at one time can feel overwhelming. An example of this technique applied to this specific situation would include watching dramas in Korean, variety shows in Mandarin and reading manga in Japanese.

4. Reading is your best friend. From pamphlets, shampoo bottles, book reviews and Instagram captions...reading can prove extremely helpful in boosting your language acquisition, they are also fun and simple ways in which you can see how using the language can be applied to seemingly mundane situations we normally take for granted. The reason it works so well, especially with social media available as a resource, is simply because it just bombards with information and user-friendly content whenever you open the app.

Get curious! Every time you see text in one of your target languages, read it! Read out loud to yourself or even pets if possible (even if you understand close to nothing from it). Your subconscious resting memory will do the rest to cement the information in place, so all you need to do is to rest, relax and expose yourself to the content.

5. Immersion, immersion, immersion! This ties in with tip number 4, but it also includes many more activities. Anything you do in your native language, you can also undertake in any of your target languages. This includes listening to music, gaming, hosting karaoke nights with friends online, reading magazines, watching dramas, having conversations with strangers, and the list goes on and on.

This input-based approach is all about getting yourself to interact with the many languages you’re working with at the same time without feeling overwhelmed by it. Doing all these activities already feels natural, so switching them to another language just makes your day a bit more interesting too!

So what now?

Let rip and feel free to treat the comments section as a community journal by connecting with fellow language learners down below.

Let us know which tip was your favourite along with any other thoughts you might have on this topic!

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