Learning two languages at once

What are people's opinions on learning two languages once? I am currently trying both Irish and French. I am Irish myself and like most others brought up in Ireland, I have 13 years experience of the language under my belt from school. However - also like most other Irish people - I have nearly no proficiency. A lot of words are coming back to my as I progress through the course, but my grammar ability is very low. I wish to learn Irish now as I have begun to have a great love for the language.

I'm learning French due to the fact that I am currently living in Brussels and it'd be handy to be able to order a capuccino and a coffee in the bar!!

On top of these two languages I also studied German for six years in secondary school, and it thus almost seems a waste to learn French instead of returning to the German.

Basically what I am getting at is if you think it is wise to try attempt two languages at the same time?

Merci Beaucoup and go raibh maith agat for any advice!

July 16, 2016


If you learn two languages simultaneously, you will learn each of them more slowly than if you learned only one; that just stands to reason because you are spreading your time and effort across two separate projects.

I would not personally learn two languages from zero, but you have a good foundation of Irish, it seems, so you should be okay. You won't be learning plurals in both languages at the same time, or conjunctions at the same time... so not as much chance to get them confused.

Something that is pretty effective is "laddering", where you learn one new language, then you learn a second new language from the first. If you decide to add German you might want to learn German for French speakers, just to keep your French fresh while you work on German.

Or if your German is still strong enough (if you haven't forgotten it all) you might want to try French for German speakers so you can keep your German strong while you learn French.

What most people end up doing is playing around with different courses and combinations until they find something that works well for them. If you're living in Brussels and have a chance to hear and speak French every day, I'd definitely make French a high priority. You will learn a language a lot faster if you can actually live in it.

July 16, 2016

Good advice there! Thanks for the reply :)

July 16, 2016

You seem like a perfect candidate to work on Irish + whichever other one you want. The Irish will be a lot of review and things will come back. Between the other two-- well, I'm partial to French because uhhhh I like French, and you are living in a French-speaking place. I also think that because you are immersed in it, you will progress quickly if you put in some effort, and once you have foundations, it is easier to dally in reviewing German. (Also, in practical terms, I usually find that German speakers know English better, or it comes more easily to them anyway, than French speakers.)

July 16, 2016

Agree with both responders. Putting it in a slightly different context, it should be successful as long as you have a goal for both languages. I think you have a good purpose for learning both Irish and French, so I think you'll be successful.

July 16, 2016

Only two simultaneously? No. I think it is wiser to study three or more languages simultaneously.

July 16, 2016

Really? I've heard most people say the complete opposite. I like your style though!! Why do you think this is beneficial?

July 16, 2016

It is beneficial for me because I'm a polyglot and studying multiple languages simultaneous reduces the upkeep that is needed for each language respectively. It obviously slows down the learning process more with each language added.

The main benefit is that it greatly reduces the general maintenance time required for each language since you will be able to retain the knowledge more effectively by reinforcing it frequently.

This is true for me, personally.

July 17, 2016

I'm learning Irish and French from scratch and I'm extremely new to French. I know it will take longer but they are very different languages and I support you learning more than one language.

July 17, 2016

Yes, it's definitely possible, since you're not starting from scratch in any of those, i.e. you have a "heritage" language and the language of the place you live in. It's a very nice combination.

It WILL be slower than studying only one language individually of course.

Also if I were you I'd also go out there and try to find other study material, because relying solely on Duolingo will not be enough to make long term improvements, especially if you want to get fluent.

July 16, 2016
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