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Is it fine to learn two completely different languages at once?

Hello! Me again. For instance I may wanna start learning Mandarin along side German. (I know mandarin will be very difficult) Good idea or bad? Thanks!

June 14, 2018



If your goal is to become fluent in one, then bad idea. Polyglots generally recommend waiting until you reach intermediate (around B1) level before learning another language. If you have 4 hours in a day for language study, and decide to study a 2nd language, you time is now split between 2. Anytime spent on the 2nd language, is time lost on the 1st. You'll progress at a much slower rate on both languages than you would if you were just learning one.


Yeah, reaching an intermediate level first is what works for me. Not only because of the time problem, but also because you cannot confuse two languages if you have an intermediate level in one and a zero level in the second.


It just takes a lot of time, if you've got it--go for it.


It is not a bad idea. You just shouldnt learn two similar languages at once cause you likely mess things up.


Sure, just don't learn similar languages like spanish and italian at the same time, or dutch and german. This will totes mess with your head


Hi Mark, I think I saw you started a thread about losing motivation, so I wanted to add something here.

I ended up starting multiple languages because German was frustrating me and I had completed the Esperanto tree and getting bored of same lessons.

Spending time on French and Spanish (two languages I already had a small amount of knowledge with) helped remotivate me with the existing languages I was taking (German and Esperanto). I'm spending more time on German again- and I've been motivated to take the Esperanto for Spanish speakers course as an extra challenge too.

As long as you don't overdo the languages- I think learning more than one can help motivate you. Yes, you'll probably confuse a word from one with another at times, but that's OK.

I say go for it- learn German and Mandarin together. Starting Mandarin boost your interest in German again.

As someone said above though- I wouldn't start two languages from same family at once- like Spanish and Portuguese or Italian. Or German and Dutch. - not until you're very comfortable with one.

French and Spanish are both Romance languages and I'm learning them together but French is different enough from the other languages in the romance family that it isn't too confusing.

If you want an "ego-boost" language, try Esperanto, it's arguably the easiest language to learn on duolingo and will help your language learning confidence.


It's much better to learn different languages than similar ones since similar languages make it easier to get confused between the two. Though I'm currecurrently learning Spanish, French and Italian at once and I'm managing fairly well, I believe it would be easier with no similar languages since I tend to mix up rules and words


try learning some some languages that are like mandarin but not as hard first


I think it really depends on your learning style. You should try and see if that works for you:)

I learned from experience that it definitely doesn't work for me. But I am generally bad at multitasking. Also, I didn't learn these two completely different languages on Duolingo.

Here is my sad story. I have learned German at school as a second foreign language. But the teaching and the attitude of the school administration toward this subject were pretty bad. So I didn't get anywhere with my German then, although I tried. During my first year of higher education, I started seriously learning Japanese (it was my major, actually). At the same time, I went to some pretty good German language courses. So this was also the first time I started learning German seriously.

Well, the two languages mixed in my head. German was the one that particularly suffered from it (though there were some problems with Japanese on the earlier stages too: I confused Hai and Ja all the time). Whenever I wanted to say something in German, Japanese words, phrases, and constructions popped up in my head. So eventually I had to put my German on hiatus to be able to focus on Japanese. In fact, it was only very recently when I got somewhat better and more confident at German, that this problem has - almost - disappeared.

So what I want to say is that people's experiences differ. Most commenters here say there will DEFINITELY be no problems if you learn two languages that are very different. And that's not always true. I, for example, had problems in such a situation. So just try and see if that works for you. If you have the problems similar to mine, you will notice them fast.


I'm learning German, French, Spanish (review from high school), Russian & Klingon (because, why not?). I have considered trying Chinese or maybe Japanese. I'm already struggling somewhat with Russian with the slightly different alphabet. I'm curious how Japanese & Chinese are taught - spelled phonetically using English alphabet or with actual Chinese or Japanese characters (scary). I say give it a try. What do you have to lose?

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