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Learning two languages at once?

Is it a bad idea to try and learn two languages at once? If not, would it be better to try to learn two similar or different languages? I'm an English native learning German and would like to dabble into other Germanic languages such as Dutch and Norwegian/Swedish.

May 3, 2018



I'd say spend some months with German before getting into any of the other ones. They are somewhat closely related to German, but you will most likely find any of them easier to grasp than German.

Finish the German tree, watch a good deal of videos etc., and then start trying one of the others out when you begin to get comfortable. I believe that reduces the chances of mixing things up, and will enable you to take advantage of your German knowledge when studying the others.

Dutch is definetely the one the most similar to German. Some German dialects are also more similar to Dutch than standard High German is.


dutch is quite similar to german, you might get them mixed up sometimes! but there will also be a lot of shared vocabulary in them, and in norwegian and swedish too! they are both scandinavian. it would be interesting to see similarities and differences between them all.

my opinions is that, if you wanted to get fluent very quickly you would only pick one. languages are like pets! if you have a lot of time and a good attention span and willingness to study then you can have as many as you like. just be aware that the more you have at one time the longer it will take you to get fluent! but it might be more efficient in the long run. i haven't experimented with learning languages long enough so i'm not sure.

mixing up languages is common and i do it all the time in my head replacing a word from a language with another, but when i'm writing or speaking i don't have any problems! if you are confident that you won't mix them up it shouldn't be an issue. with enough practice it won't matter anyway! but if you do have problems with that then the way to fix it is to reach different levels of proficiency in one before you start the other. if you learn them both your brain might associate them with each other, that's why.

sorry for this long comment, to summarise: learn as many languages as you can before you die! it's very fun and good for your brain. good luck on your language learning journey. :-)


Finally someone with more languages than me :)) Well done!


There are pros and cons with everything. Learning two similar languages, yes, you get much of the vocabulary at the same time. On the other hand, when you are stressed you might mix them up really bad.

I once learned French and Spanish at the same time and for the same teacher. We had a test, and I was really stressed. Wrote and wrote and turned the test in. After a week I got the test back, from a laughing teacher. It was all correct but in the wrong language.

Me - zero points.


Gave you a lingot cause your comment was funny :)) :P But you are right: learning two similar languages only makes you mixing them up. It also happened to me with Swedish and Norwegian lol I had to put Norwegian on hold so I can really focus my learning on Swedish


So totally get your French/Spanish story. I also learned the two of them from the same teacher a couple of years in a row during high school though at different levels. For me, I had the right Spanish words, but the wrong grammar (French).

By the way, for fun, I decided to try a Spanish tree from French and after going though the test I am starting on the 4th Spanish level.


All the suggested replies here are just perfect and more than enough advice.

But just to confirm it, focus on one language until you're fairly decent in it, then jump into the other language.

Be careful that if other languages are related that you don't confuse yourself in the beginning. You could be working harder for less learning results.

Cool thing is, that with enough languages you will start to see familirities which will accerlate your language learning skills.


It depends on the person and your goal.

In general if you work on more than one language at the same time, your progress is slower. If you want to try to become fluent quickly, concentrate on one language.

I find learning more than one language works for me and moving back and forth helps me keep languages separate.


right now i am learning five languages, and i don't really get them mixed up. it is easier to do languages that are similar as they share some words.


What is Klingon similar too? It seems difficult


Dabbling into similar languages such as Dutch is perfectly fine, as long as you do not have to sacrifice too much practice time in German for it. German should be your "main language" which you should focus on to achieve higher levels of proficiency, while trying out other Germanic languages can be a fun way to variate from the repetition of it all.


I actually learned Norwegian, followed by Swedish, followed by Dutch, followed by now German. It made things so much more easier. Like, a step-by-step approach, going from easy-peasy to oh-god-save-me. =p


Do you get them confused? Or are they similar enough that you don't really have to worry about that?


Nah... I don't really get confused between them. Even though they are similar, they still have their own individual, like, qualities/quirks that sets them apart and makes it easy to distinguish between them. But you have to ensure you don't start learning them together. Then it might become a pain.


If you learn two Germanic languages at the same time (assuming you’re a beginner in both), don’t learn German and Dutch (West Germanic languages) or any of the Germanic Scandinavian languages at the same time. While it’s not a good idea to learn two very similar languages at exactly the same pace, two more distantly related languages are more manageable (so German and a Scandinavian language is a better idea than German and Dutch).

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