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How To Learn Languages And What Languages To Learn

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  • Book Title: How to learn languages and what languages to learn
  • ISBN 13:
  • ISBN 10:
  • Author: Mario Pei
  • Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Category (general): Other
  • Publisher: Harper & Row Barnes & Noble Import Division
  • Format & Number of pages: 299 pages, book
  • Synopsis:

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BBC - Learn a language? Why? Which? How?

Learn a language? Why? Which? How?

Why learn a language?

Even a little knowledge of the language can make a difference in attitude when you meet people from other countries. Speaking another language helps to break down barriers.

Work and business
It can help you give an added advantage in your career if you work for an international firm or a company with international customers or contacts.

Music, film, arts and culture
If you like literature, fims or music from other countries, learning the language will help your appreciation and understanding.

For a challenge
You can learn a language in short, bite-sized sessions and you'll enjoy a sense of satisfaction from achieving short-term goals, such as learning how to say hello, introducing yourself or numbers 1-10.

Related Internet links

Which language to learn? Which is the easiest/hardest?

In general, the more similar a language is to your own in terms of sounds, grammar or vocabulary, the easier you’ll find it to learn.

Different languages pose different challenges for each individual.

For example, you may find vocabulary easier to learn in one language but its pronunciation harder. With another language you may find the opposite.

Have a taster of the 20 languages most widely spoken in the world to help you decide: A Guide to Languages

How to learn a language

There's no single universal foolproof method to learn a language. Try different ones and use the one that works for you, or a combination.

Little and often is best. Ten minutes every day tends to be more effective and manageable than a longer session once a week.

Mistakes are part of the learning process. Have a go and you'll learn much more quickly: most native speakers will already appreciate you making an effort.

Listen to language learning CDs or podcasts during idle times, such as when travelling to work.

Watch TV and video online in the language you're learning. You may not understand much of it but it will help you get used to how the language sounds and, with the help of the visuals, you'll pick up odd words and phrases.

Write words on post-it notes and stick them around the house.

Say phone numbers out loud, make shopping and other lists or memorise orders in a bar or restaurant.

Repeat activities to consolidate what you've learnt.

Visit to a place where you can use the language you're learning - if anything, it will keep you motivated.

Find a learning partner.

Go back every now and again to something you did early on. You may be surprised at how much you've learnt.

Football Spanish Radio 4 - The Language Debate




How to Learn Languages

 How to Learn Languages

 How To Learn Languages is designed for the beginning language learner, someone learning a language by self-study for the first time, or for those who have a desire to learn a language, but have had bad experiences before. You do not have to be a linguist or a full time student to learn a new language, and you do not have to have any prior experience with learning a foreign language. Regardless of your age or experience level, you have exactly what it takes to learn a new language to the level that you want, provided you follow some basic guidelines.

Get motivated and stay motivated. You have to want to do it. Whether you are learning because of a life-long desire, an upcoming vacation, a business trip, family relationships or whatever reason - you must keep this in mind and stay motivated. Your reason to begin learning is what will get you started and this must also be the reason to keep you going when the going gets tough. Your reason for learning a new language will define your goals and also keep you motivated to reach them or exceed them.

Assess your situation - what level are you at? Before you jump right in and start studying, first determine how much you already know of the language and how much you know about how to learn languages. If you're starting from scratch with no knowledge of the language at all, then there's no problem, you are at the starting line.

But, what if you've had a few classes or even a few years of high school or college studying and you want to complete that education without going back to school? Use the internet to help you determine where you are at. Use some of the freely available online resources to review, refresh your memory and test yourself. Then you will have a better idea of what you need to learn and a clearer picture of what kind of materials you will need.

Also, take inventory of what learning materials you may already have for learning this new language. The internet alone can provide you a number of supplemental resources that will help you. Try reading a few books on how to learn languages as well.

Set goals. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Set realistic goals for yourself. Not simply - "I want to speak Italian", but be more precise. "I want to finish that textbook." Then set specific, achievable goals within that larger framework - "I want to finish one chapter a week." If you set a goal that is unrealistic, you may fall too far behind your own expectations and squash your belief and motivation. If you set more reasonable goals, you will succeed and then feed your own desire to learn more. Don't get down or discouraged if you don't meet or exceed a goal, but do reward yourself when you do.

If, at the beginning of your language study, you find you are consistently falling behind, then reset your goals to be more realistic - "ok, it seems I'm busier than I thought, maybe one chapter every two weeks." When you meet your goals you will be excited, proud of your accomplishments and hungry for more. When you occasionally miss your goals, vow to work just a little harder next time.

Remember this - each day, each week you are getting closer to your final goal. Keep that ultimate goal in the back of your mind, and the short term goal in front.

Make a realistic lesson plan. Most language learning products will have some guideline for you to follow, or will give you some recommendations for studying with their method. Put this in perspective within your larger goal-setting framework. You will probably use other language learning materials in addition to your chosen method. The learning tips page  has lots of ideas how to supplement a language method. Include these materials in your lesson plan, as well.

For instance, let's say you can reasonably expect to finish a chapter every two weeks by squeezing in a half-hour of study a few times a week. But you also plan on using flashcards to review vocabulary every day, and perhaps a supplemental audio program while driving to work. Don't look at these language tools as separate - "first I'll finish the book, then I'll go through the audio program, then I'll start using flashcards" etc, or even worse - "which one should I use, the book or the audio program?" Use them all at the same time.

You may choose the book as the core of your study, but the other materials will complement that learning program in ways that just one method would not. You will find that many of the parts will overlap - that's a good thing. You will be reviewing material in different formats and that will help all of it sink in.

You are learning lots of new skills here, you are learning how to learn languages and it may take some time for you to adjust to this new skill set. You don't have to start out buying ten language methods and using them all, but you can start with one and be prepared to add other, complementary, bits and pieces into your lesson plan as you progress, and as you discover your strengths and weaknesses.

Get a method. You will need a language learning method as the core of your language study. It can be as simple as an old textbook or grammar book, or it can be a full-blown 400 page coursebook and 15 audio cd extravaganza, or anything in between. The language learning methods page   has some tips on picking a good starting method. If time or money is a serious constraint you can still put together an effective lesson plan with inexpensive but complementary materials. The internet provides lots of resources for language learners that, by themselves, would not be sufficient to teach a language, but when combined with a structured learning method make great supplements.

Use the tips on the Learning Methods pages to narrow down your choices, and make sure you do lots of research and read plenty of reviews so you can choose a method that will give you the best possible starting point.

Start studying. With your chosen method, and maybe one or two simple supplements, get started. Ideally you should work an hour to an hour and a half every day, with a five or ten minute break in the middle, and then a ten minute review later in the day. Of course, this may not be possible for many people. You should at least have one or two good half-hour or more sessions per week. That should be do-able for most people, but here's the key - cram in little bits and pieces of review or study every day, even for just a few minutes. This is where those supplements come in. Flashcards  are great for this, and so are audio cd methods. Barry Farber, in his book 'How to Learn Any Language,' calls this the 'Multiple Attack' approach. Review what you learned that first day, then review it every day for that week. The review could simply be looking over it and refreshing your memory on the key points and may only take a few minutes. Also review the vocabulary and phrases. Then review that material once a week for a month, and then once a month for a year. All the while continuing to study new material and incorporating that with the older material. This study and review routine locks this new information into your long-term memory. Pimsleur has this concept built right into their all-audio program. Flashcards, audio cds and other supplemental materials work great for review.

Start assembling and using supplementary tools. I've already mentioned flashcards several times. They are so useful and inexpensive (you can make your own if you have to, as I do) that they should be in your language learning arsenal right from the beginning. Audio cd methods are also useful as a supplement. Most methods contain at least some audio, but as Barry Farber says - "you no more want to limit your hearing of the language to one cassette course than you'd want to confine your tennis playing to one partner." An additional all-audio course (like Pimsleur) is a great supplement to any method. Dictionaries, phrasebooks, music, television and a host of other resources can be used as supplements. The language learning tips page has a number of ideas you can use with your language method. As you learn how to learn languages, you'll have a better idea of what works for you. The use of multiple sources of learning creates a great synergy that can really make your learning gain momentum.

After the method. What happens after you've completed the method? Is that it? Absolutely not. If your goal was just to learn some phrases and get an introduction to the language, then you need to ask yourself if you're going to continue studying or not. If your goal was fluency then you must accept the fact that we never really finish studying any language. Learning a language to fluency is a lifetime commitment. You will get to the level you want if you persevere. Are there further levels to the method you've just completed? Is there an intermediate or advanced level? If so, then that is your next goal. Congratulate yourself. Those first words and phrases you learned are now permanent knowledge and those early grammar points which at first confused you are now second nature, and you wonder how you had any trouble with them at all. Take a deep breath and be proud of your accomplishment before you decide to move on. You may even consider learning another new language as you continue to improve with this one. Now that you have learned how to learn languages, the next one becomes a little easier.

At this point, no matter what method or what kind of method you used, you should be at least beginning to really use the language. Reading books, newspapers and magazines, watching movies and television, listening to music, writing to people and most importantly of all, talking to people. Be the language. Use it every day, as often as you can. Continue using those supplements, many of which aren't just academic exercises but real-life vocabulary. Try some more ideas from the learning tips page , try some you haven't used yet. If you want to truly possess the language, you must work at it every day, from every angle, and it will be yours.

"All mankind is divided into three classes: Those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move."
- Arabian Proverb



How to Learn New Languages and Why You Should - More Than Shipping

Casual Friday Corner! How to Learn New Languages and Why You Should

There are many ways for people to learn a new language nowadays and I’ll let you know some of the ways they do. As you read I can tell you what are the benefits of knowing multiple languages. Hope you will enjoy this article as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Here are some of the different ways to learn a new language:

1. Watching Movies & TV

One of the ways many people learn languages is by watching TV programs or films with the subtitles on. Explore the different language subtitles on the DVD you are watching, or rent a foreign movie and read the subtitles in your own language. It’s a more relaxing and entertaining way to learn a language and you can sit there, chill out, enjoy a good movie and absorb the words and phrases without having to actively take part in learning. I personally love watching French movies, because of the way French language sounds. Yes, I am trying but I have a long way to go…

2. Listening to CD’s & Educational DVD’s

Language course CDs are great if you don’t have much time on your hands. Burn them onto your iPod, or your iPhone and listen to them while you’re lying on the beach, going for a run, trying to get to sleep at night, on the bus, in the car or waiting in line in the supermarket. Make use of all that time spent waiting by becoming fluent in another language.

3. Listening to Music

Everyone loves music because it’s fun and having fun is important when you’re trying to learn a language. Songs are catchy and easy to listen to, so try downloading or buying music in a foreign language. Repetition is the key to learning, so if you listen to the same song over and over again you will eventually know the words. Trust me, I happen to love a song that is in Spanish (I won’t tell you what song) and I truly believe that I memorized almost about 100% of the words but no, I will not sing it out loud. D

4. Visit a foreign country

By far the best way to learn the language of a country is immersion. Live in the country where they speak the language you want to learn and perhaps even stay with a host family there. By living in the country you are forced to learn the language because you are interacting every day with people in a language that is not your own. I have many friends who visited and stayed with host families in foreign countries and pick up the language in a very short time. At least learned enough to get by. The difference is that you will see the words on things like; road signs and menus and hear them being spoken wherever you go.

5. Find a foreign friend

When you’re traveling, you’re bound to meet a variety of people from different countries. Take advantage of this great opportunity to learn a foreign language and ask them how to say things in their lingo.

6. Reading Newspapers & Magazines

This is a bit more on the boring side. but if you are a determined person reading newspapers or magazines will put you on the right direction on vocabulary or grammar. Words are not always written how they sound, so reading newspapers and magazines is a great way to see them in written form. Get your news in a foreign language and learn new vocabulary in subjects such as economics, business and politics. If there are words you don’t understand, write them down and look them up in a dictionary later.

Some people prefer to learn languages by being in a classroom because it gives them a place to focus and a physical building where they can go to learn. The benefits of learning in a classroom are that you meet other people, you are being taught by someone who has been trained to teach you and you can get support if you are having trouble with anything. If you have a little money to spare then this can be a good option.

Now that I have talked about different ways to learn a new language, let me also say why learning a new language is very important in my opinion.

Why should I learn a new language?

1. The first reason is because you’ll have a lot more culture. People who have culture are people who are knowledgeable and who know their way around life. If you know another language, you’ll be more cultured simply because this would permit you to travel more and you’ll know the world better.

2. The second is because people will like you. People like people with knowledge, whom they can learn from, as long as you’re not a show-off. People like hearing stories from other countries and from others, so by telling them about your travelling with your new language you may develop new friendships.

3. The third is because you’ll discover so much. Not only will you be more open to a whole new culture, you’ll be able to meet thousands of other people thanks to your extra language. No one knows where life will take us, and knowing this extra language might just make your life completely different.

4. The fourth is because you’ll develop your mind. By learning you’re exercising your brain, and so you should be faster at memorizing and doing simple mental exercises. When you learn a new language you need to put words and verbs together, which works your brain. You’ll be very good at associating other things as well.

5. The fifth reason why you should learn another language is because it’s fun. However, you need to make it fun. Learning a language isn’t easy, but by enjoying the experience and turning it into an interactive game you can truly have a lot of fun. You can also learn along from or with someone else, which should be amusing for both of you.

There you have it – 5 good reasons why you should get a good course on any language and start learning. We all talk… I’ll learn Spanish after I retire or I’ll start learning this when I finish that… But if you don’t get yourself a course now, then you most probably will never get one. Now is the time to start studying a new language, not later. You’ll benefit from knowing this language sooner than later. So get those books out and start studying! I hope you all enjoyed my article! If you did please like it so I can win a free trip somewhere & learn a new language!!

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How to choose a language to learn

How to choose a language to learn

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version ).

Starting to learn a new language is a big decision. It requires a lot of dedication and perseverance, and it is a choice that can completely change the rest of your life. You should base your decision on both objective and subjective criteria. It is impossible to list all criteria relevant to all readers of this article, but I’ll try to discuss at least the most important ones.

Subjective reasons to learn a language

I will discuss the subjective criteria first, as they may be actually more important than the objective ones:


If you don’t feel motivated to learn, it will be a slow process. When you don’t enjoy what you are doing, your brain will find a way to avoid the activity as much as possible and gain as little as possible from the time you invest in it — we all know those moments when you’ve read a page in a textbook only to realize you have no idea what you have just read…

Enjoyment brought by learning a particular language may be the single most important factor when deciding which one to learn. If you don’t feel motivated to learn a particular language, you will likely stop before being able to perceive any potential benefits.


You should ask yourself: ”Why do I want to learn a second language?” If your aim is to study early scientific or religious works, Latin would be your language of choice. If you want to be able to speak with your distant relatives from a different country, you may want to learn their language. If you want to move to another country for whatever reason, it is definitely a good idea to learn the language(s) spoken there.

In other words, it’s no good if you learn, say, Chinese based on the objective criteria described below only to find out that you don’t use it at all because all you really wanted was to be able to speak to your friends, most of whom happened to be Polish. So, think well whether there is a reason why you prefer a particular language over another.

Character and culture

I had a very interesting discussion under my article about usefulness of learning Esperanto related to its social aspect. It seems that the Esperanto community is extraordinarily welcoming and social. If you intend to travel a lot and enjoy making friends in an extremely diverse (even though relatively small) community of people, Esperanto may be the right choice for you. If you, on the other hand, prefer communication mainly with people with similar interests or don’t travel much, you may prefer to choose another language.

More generally, if you particularly like something about the culture of the speakers of your potential target language, or if it has some other appealing quality, it may be a good enough reason to start learning it. This factor is closely related to motivation; if you enjoy learning a language because of its culture, you are more likely to stay motivated.

Objective reasons for learning a language

Even though there’s no way to objectively judge whether one language is “better” or “more useful” than another, there are some facts that may help you decide which one is the right for you:

Number and distribution of speakers

Some languages are spoken by just two remaining living speakers, others are spoken by billions. Unless you learn a language for academic reasons, you may want to learn a language you are most likely to use; not only face to face but also on the Internet and to read literary works.

Mandarin Chinese and English are both spoken by more than a billion people in the world. A slight difference between the two is that while Mandarin speakers are generally completely fluent (the vast majority of these are native speakers), speakers of English as a second language often struggle to express themselves eloquently.

There’s a wealth of information on the Internet written in Chinese, and there are Chinese minorities in many parts of the world. You will be able to find Chinese restaurants almost everywhere, and this may be a good starting point for engaging in conversation with native speakers.

Spanish is the next most commonly spoken language with about 500 million speakers worldwide. Apart from several hundred million people in Latin America and Spain, it is spoken by about 12% of the US population. There are a lot of Spanish speakers in many European cities; I don’t have any official statistics, but in Berlin (the city where I live), native Spanish speakers seem to form the largest minority among all foreign students.

French is spoken by about 340 million people, not only in France and Canada but also as a lingua franca in 31 African countries, and it is among the most commonly used languages on the Internet.

Russian is spoken by about 260 million people, and it is a lingua franca in most of the former Eastern Bloc. It is the second most popular language on the Internet (after English).

Portuguese is also spoken by about 260 million people and is used in Brazil, Portugal, and several African countries.

German is spoken by about 200 million people. It is the third most commonly used language on the Internet. It is spoken mostly in Central Europe .

Note that Hindi and Bengali are also spoken by quite a large number of speakers (400 and 250 million, respectively), but they are relatively restricted to certain parts of India and their presence on the Internet is quite low (less than 0.1%).

Also note that Arabic is spoken by about 290 million people; however, “Arabic” refers in fact not to a single language but rather to a wide range of dialects, some of which aren’t even mutually intelligible. There is a standardized form of Arabic called Modern Standard Arabic. Although there are no native speakers of Modern Standard Arabic, most speakers of various Arabic dialects understand it and are able to use it if necessary.

Ease of learning

Not all languages are equally hard to learn for all people. Whether a new language is hard or easy for you to learn depends mostly on the languages you already speak. I address this topic in a separate article .

Culture and literary works

Not only can the culture of a language make it more appealing to you. but there are some objectives factors to consider. There are lots of globally influential works written in just a handful of languages, while there are none in most.

The fact that a work is not “influential” does not mean that it isn’t “good”, and sometimes influential works are considered poorly written by many. For example, in terms of its cultural impact, it doesn’t matter now whether the Bible was well written or not, and scholars generally agree that the quality of other Greek classics was much higher than that of the New Testament. It doesn’t even matter, in terms of influentiality, which parts of it describe actual events and which are fiction; without a working knowledge of its content, it is impossible to fully appreciate most of western classical art and literature.

Reading a translation of a book is never the same as reading it in its original language. When you read an influential work, it is not just a pleasurable experience; it also helps you grow intellectually. Therefore, you may want to choose a “more influential” language rather than one with a small body of literature.

It is impossible to order languages by “influentiality”, but as a rough guide, the following languages (given in alphabetical order) produced a great number of authors influential on a global scale: English, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.



How to plan to learn two languages at once - The Polyglot Dream

How to plan to learn two languages at once

In all my years learning languages, I had never been more excited

It was September 2015. I had come up with a brand-new language project, and I couldn’t wait to tell the world about it.

I, Luca Lampariello, was about to embark on the herculean task of learning two languages at the same time: Hungarian and Greek.

Prior to that point, my language plans had always been much simpler—one language every two years—and I was generally content with it. I’ve always been able to achieve high levels in each individual language I speak within that time table, so I had never really considered altering the formula.

However, ever since I began posting language videos on YouTube in 2008 and started writing my blog in 2011, I’ve had to consider a different routine, one based on a question that many, many readers have asked:

How do I learn two languages at the same time?

I’ll be honest: For a long time, I didn’t know. I knew I could handle one language at a time, of course, but to tackle two at once just seemed like an exercise in futility. There’s quite a bit of information to be managed with each new language learned, and I always feared that with two, things would just start to run together.

But the question never really went away. As I became more proficient in my languages, and began looking for new challenges, the idea of learning two languages simultaneously stayed in the back of my mind. I even gave it a “soft-try” once, with Romanian and Japanese, but didn’t stay with it.

When this past September rolled around, the time finally seemed right to put my skills to the test for good.

Was it possible? If it were possible, could I get it done?

I made my announcement on Facebook, and was off to the races.

Fast forward to now. It’s January 2016. a few months later…

…and I’m only learning one language.

I’m still going with Hungarian, but I’ve decided to postpone learning Greek indefinitely.

At this point, you’re probably asking, “Why, Luca?”

“After all that, why would you go back to learning only one language at a time?”

The reasons are many. Before I get into them, you need to know that I didn’t give up learning two languages because it is difficult, or even impossible. It’s not impossible.

I gave up learning Greek and Hungarian simultaneously because the conditions just weren’t right.

Just like an engineer wouldn’t construct a building on a foundation of sand, I realized soon after starting Greek that any fluency I could build at that point would be constructed on weak reasons and motivations, that would eventually be its downfall.

When you’re trying to build sky-high language proficiency—as I often do—such poor foundations just won’t do.

And so, by postponing my Greek learning, I kept myself from making a crucial mistake. That mistake, when coupled with the fact that I was also attempting to learn Hungarian, could have prevented me from succeeding in both languages, leaving my original language project in a shambles.

To help you avoid making such crucial mistakes in your own learning, let me explain to you the precise factors that prevented me from moving ahead with the Greek language.

Know What’s Important to You

My initial reasons for learning Greek were extremely simple: I had already been to Greece several times, and have absolutely loved every moment I’ve spent in the country. Appearance-wise, I consider it a literal paradise on Earth, and culturally, it reminds me very much of Italy, my home.

But once I began learning Greek, I soon realized that fond memories of the country and culture are not enough. If I kept learning, I’d be missing a key ingredient that I’ve found invaluable for every language I’ve learned so far: human contact.

To put it simply, I had no Greek friends. Even on my trips to Greece, I never managed to make a connection with a native Greek that was anything more than fleeting and superficial.

When I came to this realization, it took me back to the only other time I had attempted to learn a language without having deep connections with native speakers: Romanian. Years ago, I spent several months learning the Romanian language, only to find myself completely demotivated when I had not one close friend to speak it with. My motivation was in pieces, and I promptly gave up.

I spent so much time learning Romanian, and it amounted to very little. Since I had no Greek friends, I feared that the Greek language would suffer the same fate.

Conversely, I was (and am still) acutely aware of the huge difference it makes to have a network of friends to speak to in a new language. With Hungarian, I already have several friends and acquaintances with whom I often speak in the language both in Hungary and in my daily life in Rome.

Human contact and interaction is an essential ingredient to my language learning. Without it, language learning simply doesn’t happen for me.

Your key ingredient could be the same, or something entirely different. Where I prefer personal interactions, you may prefer arts, literature, modern media, or any other aspect of the country or culture.

The important thing is you know precisely which ingredients are the most important to you, and that you do not embark on learning a language until each and every one of those ingredients are present in your language learning recipe.

If not, you’ll have to start over from scratch.

Know How Much Time You Have to Learn

There was one more factor that I had failed to take into account when beginning to learn both Hungarian and Greek: Time.

It’s amazing that despite all of the amazing advantages that modern technology gives us, it cannot truly give us more time, our most valuable resource.

No matter what learning materials I have, no matter what tech or which apps I use to learn, there will still only be twenty-four hours in a day, many of which I simply cannot devote to learning.

If we sleep eight hours each day, we’ve got sixteen left. Of those sixteen, most of us spend another eight working. The remaining eight must then be devoted to everything else, leaving a much smaller portion for learning.

It is how we spend these final eight hours—as well as any “dead time” found throughout the day”—that defines what we can accomplish as language learners.

The problem is, that same time also defines our accomplishments in anything else, such as watching our favorite TV series, playing video games, reading books, or even hanging out with friends and family.

We’re all busy, really.

And this is why it’s so easy to fall into the trap of “not having time”. Either we try to do too much, or we waste our time and do too little.

Think about it. How many times have you started doing something, only to give up because you “didn’t have the time”, or because something more immediately gratifying came along.

The simple truth is that if you don’t plan your non-sleeping, non-working time around your priorities, those priorities won’t happen.

And needless to say, if you don’t make language learning one of those priorities, fluency is out of the question.

You need to establish realistic goals to be accomplished within that planned timeframe.

Learning a single language is a task that will place stresses on anyone’s available time. With each language that is added on top of that, the demands grow greater.

As much as I was aware that learning Greek and Hungarian would take me more time than a single language would, I failed to recognize the fact that I had other, previous languages that took up my time as well.

Since my goal is always to maintain and improve the languages I already know along with the ones I’m currently learning. Greek and Hungarian could never be my only focuses. Instead, they’d have to get in line with almost a dozen other languages.

Not only that, but I’ve taken such a liking to Hungarian that it has become one of the top priorities for 2016, aside from the aforementioned maintenance of previous languages.

More specifically, my specific, concrete language goals for the year are as follows:

  • Reach basic fluency* in Hungarian by the end of 2016.
  • Reach fluency* in Japanese
  • Reach fluency* in Polish
  • Pass a C1 exam in Russian by December 2016

*For descriptions of my personal definitions of fluency, please consult this article

As you can see, that’s a lot of fluency to attain, even for someone with my language experience. To accomplish these goals, I must devote several hours to each and every one of these languages every week. And that’s not even mentioning all of the other projects I have going on.

Greek, unfortunately, just couldn’t fit into my schedule. So instead of trying to force the matter and risk having all my plans fall apart, I shelved the language until a later date.

If you, I, or anyone else truly wants to learn two languages at the same time, you need to ensure you can make language learning a priority and set realistic goals around that priority.

Make and Follow a Daily Action Plan

Although I had set out to learn Greek and Hungarian in tandem, it wasn’t long until I realized that I didn’t have the reasons, nor the time to do so.

Without the time, I was missing the final piece of the puzzle:

An action plan that I could follow every single day.

When I said language learning must be a priority, I didn’t mean just having a few simple goals to accomplish “sometime within the year”.

I meant having a set amount of time to dedicate towards achieving those goals seven days a week.

If I don’t set aside this time according to a plan, I risk learning a lot some days and a little on other days, if I decide to learn at all.

The lack of a set plan also makes it difficult to dedicate appropriate amounts of time to each new language. If you’re learning two at once, it’s best to dedicate time to each every day. which requires even more precise time management.

If you’re attempting to learn two languages in tandem, don’t leave your learning time to chance. You’ll be quickly overwhelmed, and will give up before you know it.

At the start of the article, you may have found it odd that I wanted to give you advice on how to learn two languages at once, when I actually gave up learning Greek and Hungarian together only a few short months ago.

But I hope you’ve realized through reading this that I stopped learning Greek only because I knew exactly what it would take to learn it along with Hungarian, and that I just wouldn’t have been able to make such a sacrifice at that time.

I’m hoping that if you have the time, inclination, and resources to make the necessary sacrifice to learn two languages at once, the steps I’ve listed here will help you get the job done.

To recap, you must remember to make sure you have the conditions necessary for learning. the time necessary to spend. and the daily plan to actually learn.

Only then will you truly be able to learn two languages at once.

I have already written about this important topic on my blog. You can check out my previous post about learning more than one language for more info:

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Written by Luca Lampariello

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Secondo me, hai cominciato il rumeno solo perchè credevi fosse estremamente semplice, considerata la tua esperienza. Poi, hai mollato per i preconcetti che tu, come buona parte di italiani, avete nei nostri confronti. In italia siamo in tanti, hai trovato Cinesi, Giapponesi, Russi, Americani e Svedesi… e non hai trovato un rumeno con il quale fare amicizia? Ti assicuro che se ti fossi avvicinato un pò alla nostra comunità e cultura, probabilmente avresti notato che ci sono anche tante brave persone, degne della tua amicizia.

Loved this, I found inspo from this blog to start my own http://sanasearch.blogspot.com/ and am currently learning korean and german.

I am currently trying to improve my Spanish with the Italian I learned earlier. In the past Italian interfered my my efforts for Spanish. So now I am hoping that I can avoid the confusion!

Learning two languages is a different thing then to learn and write. I am trying to learn Russian in London. but I don’t think I can learn talking as well as writing two at one time. One of my friend tried to learn two languages Spanish and Greek at one time and believe me he ended up quitting both. So, its better to start with one and learn it properly.

You’re right about people having different primary reasons. I was pretty close to a Hungarian (my ex), which originally made me aware of the language. But the first time I attempted it a year or so ago I quit because I felt I would have trouble finding good music in it (music is one of the most enjoyable ways for me to use my language knowledge, keep me motivated, and improve on it). I heard that you started hungarian recently, and out of curiosity went searching for hungarian music online, and found a ton of it. So here I am trailing you, probably by a ways, but I’m moving along.

Hi, your blog is great! I’ve just found 2 very interesting for me posts. I’ve been learning English for many years but I don’t have many occasions to use it in my country. I try to write blog to change my minds into English words. If you would like to I invite you https://nefretettezone.wordpress.com/

I learned Spanish directly in Mexico. I think is the easiest way to learn a difficult language, visit the country and go to school for it. I attended http://www.espanolenplaya.com/

I think it’s possible to learn two similar languages at the same time: such as Italian and French which is what I’m currently doing. I don’t agree with the thesis of the article, that we should wait for all of the necessary learning conditions to be met before we start learning a new language. I’m afraid if we do this and use this as an excuse to not start learning a new language, as Luca notes we should do, people will never take that first step and will remain monolingual, unfortunately.

Olá, Luca.
Na lista de seus objetivos a serem alcançados em 2016, dois desses objetivos são alcançar fluência em uma determinada língua, o que sugere que você ainda está aprendendo essas duas línguas. Além disso, um outro objetivo dessa lista é alcançar fluência básica em Húngaro, a nova língua que você está aprendendo. Essas duas ideias me fizeram imaginar se isso não significa que você está aprendendo mais de uma língua ao mesmo tempo.
Por esse motivo, também fiquei a me perguntar quando, para você, é o momento certo para começar a estudar uma nova língua de seu interesse, já que o fato de você ainda não ser fluente em japonês e polonês, considerando suas metas para 2016, não o impediu de iniciar seus estudos de húngaro. Espero que possa responder ao meu comentário. Desde já agradeço.

if you visit Greece as a tourist you do not need to speak a single word of Greek. Most of all those tourists who come here every summer only know a few words, if any. On the other hand, immigrants of various nationalities seem to contradict Anglo-Saxon slogan “It is all Greek to me”! Many of them have achieved an admirable level in Greek. Learning Greek at a decent level though, if you do not live here, requires a lot of work; I would say the same hours of study as Russian (if it is the first Slavonic language you learn) or Hungarian. But my feeling is that a native speaker of any Romance language has WAAAAY more chances to become fluent in Greek than in Hungarian. As long as you overcome the stumbling block of the alphabet, everything will look easier! Of course, nobody will expect from you to be familiar with all subtleties of Greek grammar. Even advanced learners still confuse, for example, verb aspects. Although Greek does not distinguish between perfective and imperfective verbs, there is a perfective and an imperfective stem within each verb! Native speakers also make mistakes, like using the augment in the imperative in compound verbs or stressing the wrong syllable when declining Greek nouns. P.S. I hope you remember who I am!

As someone who has been studying Korean consistently for the last 5 years while wanting to take on another language, I definitely relate to this post. I still want to learn Japanese and since it is so closely related to Korean, it shouldn’t be that much of a stretch. But then, I realize how much further I have to go in Korean and always give up my attempts at studying Japanese and Korean simultaneously after a month or so. My other strategy was to learn Japanese through Korean books.

Is that his Russian trophy girl in the picture above. )

Hi Luca,
I feel beyond words listening to you speak about how language learning is great as a process and providing your profound methods and strategies along with showing a scientific approach to each and every method you are providing. I’ve been following you for a couple of months but learning languages has always been my dream and passion and you make it more of a reality and gave me the spark.
Also I’d like to see and hear more from you here or on Youtube. Hope you could make a video about Japanese.
You do a great job, and i see you as my role model as i want also to become a language coach :)
I’ve been watching anime for 7 years. However, I’ve started learning Japanese few days ago.
Should i work on memorizing the vocabulary i come upon learning hiragana and katakana characters?
Good luck with your language learning. Gratitude.



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