Posted: 2017-12-07 18:49
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Some people might suggest that you would only ever want to learn two languages at once if you have a healthy streak of masochism in you. There is a grain of truth to this: If you approach learning two languages simultaneously the same way you 8767 d approach learning a single language , you are asking for trouble (remember, the worst case scenario here is that your brain explodes–not a pretty outcome).
Once you 8767 re ready for the different pace that two-in-one language learning entails, it 8767 s also more than worth it to plan out exactly how you 8767 re going to divide your time between the two languages you 8767 re tackling. If you can write out a daily schedule, all the better. And make sure you 8767 re getting in regular practice on both languages. If you do one language for a week, then do the other language the next week, and so on, you 8767 ll likely find yourself in a one-step-forward-one-step-back dance that ends exactly where you started!
Remember that ultimately, only you can judge how well your learning strategies are working for you. Take note of how things are going (a journal is a great way to do this) and adjust your language learning roadmap accordingly. The more adaptable you are, the easier it is to learn languages–and, happily, the more you learn languages, the more adaptable you get! This is, well, doubly true when you 8767 re learning two languages at once.
Even if you 8767 re absolutely sure that you 8767 re in it for two languages, setting a priority language is an effective way of minimizing the confusion factor—just like it 8767 s easier to eat one entree and one dessert, you 8767 ll find your appetite for language learning expands when you have one “priority” and one “side” language on the table. And progressing more quickly at one of the two languages you 8767 re working on will help stave off the feeling of running in place that can occasionally creep up on two-at-a-time language learners.
Why go to the trouble of doing this? The answer comes from a psychological effect known as “ priming.” Priming has to do with how the things you think about now affect the things you will think about in the future. For example, if I were to say the word “cat” and then ask you to immediately list ten words that come to mind, it 8767 s more likely that “dog” would be one of those words than “potato”—you 8767 ve been “primed” to think about things related to cats.
The first step is to accept that if you 8767 re taking on two languages at once, you 8767 re in for a bigger learning curve than you would be if you were targeting a single language. Things will just take longer. Although learning a second language is definitely easier than learning a first language , learning two languages at a time really can be twice as hard as learning one.
A big part of minimizing the confusion factor essentially boils down to giving the two languages you 8767 re learning strong, clear identities in your mind. In the end, perhaps the best way to do this is through immersion –the more you use a given language in real-life situations, the more you internalize it as something with an identity unto itself. Putting the languages you 8767 re learning to practical use will do wonders for helping you keep them distinct.
Learning two languages at once stretches your mind in a totally new way. Having to frequently switch back and forth between new languages keeps you alert and ultimately provokes you to be more proactive in the way you approach learning languages and organizing your time. And meeting the challenge of learning two languages at once head on isn 8767 t just exhilarating in and of itself–it hones your language learning skills in a way that will make learning future languages faster and easier.
But when you 8767 re learning two languages at the same time, you can practice translation by cutting out the middleman of English : Simply translate between the two new languages you 8767 re learning! Besides giving you a chance to work on both languages at once, this exercise helps get you “thinking” in the languages you 8767 re learning rather than constantly returning to your habitual language.
Maybe the most exciting aspect of learning two languages at the same time is being on the cutting edge of language learning. People have often shied away from doubling down on language learning because, approaching two-in-one language learning the same way they 8767 d approach one-at-a-time language learning. They come to the conclusion that the challenges of studying two languages at once outweigh the benefits. As a result, there is less information out there on learning two languages at the same time, simply because fewer people have done it—which means you are in an excellent position to discover interesting new language learning techniques along the way.
Here 8767 s another way to mix things up (literally) with some multilingual multitasking. If you like your language learning with a large side of flashcards , take some of your flashcards for both languages and mix them together so you 8767 re quizzing yourself on both languages at once. Besides letting you practice the two languages simultaneously, this technique gets your brain quickly switching back and forth between the different languages you 8767 re learning, a skill that will make you a more effective two-in-one language learner.
Well, I submit to you that although it 8767 s important to pick two very different languages to avoid confusion, going back and forth quickly between the two languages you 8767 ve picked paradoxically helps you keep them separate. Practicing switching from one language to the other at the drop of a dime will help you build the flexibility necessary for keeping the two languages separate and alternating back and forth without getting overwhelmed.
The idea here is that much of the structure of Italian and some of the vocabulary will transfer over to French, so you 8767 ll be learning Russian from scratch and learning another Romance language rather than learning two languages from scratch. Notice that this approach is different than learning Italian and French at the same time since it involves building off of a language you 8767 ve already internalized. It also helps minimize the confusion factor since the two languages you 8767 re learning become “the one like Italian” and “the weird one” rather than just two unknowns.
Similarly, if you learn the word for “cat” in Spanish and then go to learn the same word in Chinese, you 8767 ll find that you already have cats on the brain, so the word in Chinese “sticks” in your memory more easily. Going from Spanish “cat” to Chinese “potato,” on the other hand, requires a bit more overhead because you have to shut down the little part of your brain that thinks about cats and fire up the section of your brain that deals with potatoes. Switching from Spanish “cat” to Chinese “dog” is less work, since dogs are associated with cats.
If there 8767 s one thing that sets successful language learners apart, it 8767 s knowing that language learning is a skill that can be developed. And nothing makes you a better language learner than tackling two languages at the same time. If learning a language makes you better at everything down the road by making you a more flexible thinker , learning two languages at once makes you doubly better at everything by making your brain downright elastic.
One of the best reasons to study two languages at the same time is that doing so opens up new, more efficient learning strategies. When you learn one language at a time, you run the risk of relating everything back to your native language and making the language you 8767 re already fluent in your permanent point of reference, so the new language becomes an “extension” of the language you 8767 re familiar with rather than something you internalize on a deep, intuitive level.
Tyson & Ashley. Their journey captured America''s hearts when they beat one in 75 million odds to deliver two sets of identical twins after a long struggle with infertility. Now the quads are turning two and keeping mom and dad''s lives busy. The family''s house isn''t just where they lay their heads, it''s also where Ashley and Tyson work. Since their kids are their priority, they built a business around them, selling baby gear inspired by the quads. However, the family is running out of room and it''s putting a strain on everything. Ashley is hoping to build a house custom made for them ground up, but Tyson is worried about what their budget can withstand.
Weston & Brooke. To call Brooke the hottest future mama in Houston would be accurate, since she''s a champion pro wrestler. At a party a few years ago, she "sank her claws" into Weston, and they''ve been together ever since. Brooke and Weston were just starting to talk about getting engaged when she found out she was pregnant. Being in the ring and being pregnant don''t mix, so as happy as Brooke is about the baby, she''s panicking about her next move. Then, Weston decides he wants to quit his day job and start a new business--just a few weeks before the baby is born! Brooke is terrified they won''t be able to support their child, and is reconsidering her retirement from the ring.
The truth, though, is that it is never, ever, ever a good idea to study two mutually intelligible (or even moderately similar) languages at the same time unless your life depends on it—and even then, you may want to take a good look at your options. When learning two languages simultaneously, the first order of the day is to do everything you can to minimize what I 8767 ll call the confusion factor –the chance of getting words and grammar from the two languages mixed up.