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How To Learn Multiple Languages

Updated on February 12, 2013
Learning multiple languages is easier than you think!
Learning multiple languages is easier than you think! | Source

If you have ever wondered how to learn multiple languages, you have come to the right place. Learning more than one language at the same time is not as difficult as it sounds, or as difficult as some of the “experts” make it out to be.

Yes! It is definitely possible. It may take you a little longer to learn all the languages you are attempting to learn, but if you follow the advice of this article you should not experience any difficulties. If you are committed and eager to learn there is no reason whatsoever why you cannot learn multiple languages at the same time.

There are many reasons why someone would need or want to learn multiple languages.

My Story: Why I Am Learning Multiple Languages

At the beginning of this year our family (my husband, my 6 year old son and I) decided to undertake a wonderful challenge to learn to speak and read 6 new languages… all at the same time!

Seeing that my son is being homeschooled, this was a wonderful opportunity to expand his learning and at the same time it gave my husband and I something new to do. Seeing that we love to travel a lot, this was a wonderful idea, and being a polyglot (someone who speaks many languages) appealed to us.

In January the three of us began studying Greek, Italian, Mandarin, French, Spanish and Japanese.

Our system for doing this is as follows:

We study one language every night before dinner. The lessons are all half an hour long so we find the system quite manageable. We alternate between all six languages and we take a break over weekends and whenever we have had a hectic day.

The advantage of doing it this way is that you never get bored or get the feeling that you’ve had enough; it remains constantly fresh and exiting.

It has been a slow but steady process and the most wonderful part is watching my son blossom and chat in 6 different languages at any given time. Our house has become a global village with conversations taking place in 8 different languages (we obviously speak English and my husband and I are both fluent in Dutch).

Having done this for seven months now, I can honestly say that it is great fun and if you are so inclined, I would recommend it to everyone. It is easier than it seems, especially if you are not under pressure to learn and you have the right learning material.

We use the Pimsleurs language course and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn the basics of a language. I don’t think you’ll read Tolstoy in Russian with Pimsleurs, but you will find your way around Russia when you get there and maybe even impress a local enough to be invited to their home for dinner.

Defining Your Language Goals

There are many reasons why you would want to learn more than one language and this will dictate the approach that you will take. If, for example, you need to speak multiple languages for business purposes, then your approach will differ from that of someone who likes to travel and likes to interact with the locals.

The amount of time that you have available to learn will also impact your approach.

Another consideration is the actual languages you are planning to study. How many will you be learning simultaneously and how difficult or similar to each other are they? For example, if you are learning Spanish and Italian you will have an easy time of it as they are very similar to each other, however if you are a native English speaker and you want to learn Mandarin and Greek, it will be more difficult to get your tongue around the new sounds and tones of each language. Reading the language also poses a problem as Greek has a different alphabet and the Chinese use characters.

For these reasons it is important to tailor your approach accordingly.

Your goals will also change when you are learning more than one language. It will take longer to learn multiple languages and very often we are not patient with ourselves. Starting off with false expectations will sabotage your learning and stunt your progress in those languages, forever.

Getting started after you’ve stopped is virtually impossible; so set an easy but regular pace. This, above all else, is the key to success.

Accommodating Your Personal Circumstances

This is one of the most important factors when it comes to learning more than one language.

Naturally, all our circumstances are different. We have different routines, timetables and reasons why we are learning more than one language simultaneously.

Speaking the local language when you travel can make your experience so much more rewarding!
Speaking the local language when you travel can make your experience so much more rewarding! | Source

Learning Multiple Languages For Travel

One of the top reasons why you would be interested in learning multiple languages is for travel. Anyone who has ever travelled to a foreign country can vouch for the usefulness of being able to converse with the locals in their native tongue.

Personally, I have travelled to some wonderful yet very remote countries around the world and being able to chat (albeit rather sparsely) with the locals has not only spiced up my travels but also helped me out of a tight spot more than once.

If travel is your main motivating factor, then you will not have problems learning more than one language at the same time as all you’ll really need is the basics of each. Knowing how to greet people and ask your way around, order some food and find your hotel or the beach is basically all you’ll really need to know in each of your chosen languages.

Impress your business associates with your language skills.
Impress your business associates with your language skills. | Source

Learning Multiple Languages For Business

Nothing commands respect more than a business person who can converse (even a little) with business people from other countries in their native tongue.

If you want to learn multiple languages for business purposes you will be required to learn more than just hello and goodbye. Learning the correct etiquette of each country will also be to your advantage.

Choosing The Best Language Course For Your Needs

One of the key factors in learning multiple languages is your learning material and the methods that you have available. Different language courses vary in their effectiveness and can either have you eagerly wanting more or they can make you feel like you’re trudging mud and never getting past the first lesson.

Of all the language courses I have found, Pimsleurs is the best and anyone who uses it will be spoilt for all other methods.

Again, being clear about the reasons why you want to learn multiple languages will determine your approach. For example, will you need to also read the language, how will you most likely experience the language? Will it be over dinner, in business meetings requiring that you know complex business terms or do you only want to impress your hosts or the guys at the Italian restaurant?

Each reason is equally valid, but your approach to learning would differ, as would your learning material.

Make sure you do your research beforehand and find the best learning material suited to your personal needs and circumstances.

Final Words

Learning more than one language at the same time is certainly a challenge. However, it is also a lot of fun and can score you some serious bragging rights.

The proof, as always, is in the pudding and watching my son chat to the ladies down at the Chinese restaurant in Mandarin makes me burst with pride.

The key to success when learning multiple languages lies in consistency. Be consistent with your efforts and the MOST important part of all is activation. Make sure that you practice speaking with native speakers of your chosen languages as often as possible.

You now not only know how to learn multiple languages but that it is also definitely possible. It is not the quickest way to learn languages (vs intensive study of a single language) but you will certainly meet interesting people and do interesting things along your way… AND you will certainly have earned yourself those bragging rights.

Good Luck! Bonne chance! ¡Buena suerte! Buona fortuna! Kαλή τύχη!


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    • Trinity M profile imageAUTHOR

      Trinity M 

      5 years ago

      Hi TheKatsMeow! Wow, two languages down and on your third, that’s awesome! I’d love to hear which languages you know (I mean besides English of course :) ). In any case I wish you all the best with no. 3; as you mention it’s very challenging but certainly worth the effort! Good luck and thank you so much for your support and your comments. Have a great day :)

    • TheKatsMeow profile image


      5 years ago from Canada

      As someone who is trying to learn a new language (I already speak 2) I know that it is very challenging but also very rewarding. I love your story, thank you for sharing it, learning multiple languages is difficult and I admire your perseverance.

    • Trinity M profile imageAUTHOR

      Trinity M 

      6 years ago

      Hi Pamela, yes you are so right, my son loves learning foreign languages. As he is being homeschooled he gets to choose what he wants to do and when. Strangely enough languages are always on the top of his list and he tends to do lessons “for fun” if you can believe that!

      It’s also a lot of fun for my husband and I as we get to learn too and expand our knowledge and being avid travellers this is an added bonus.

      Your grandson sounds amazing. It’s wonderful how children can learn in such a short period of time and flawlessly too.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and thank you for your support, it is greatly appreciated. :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I am so impressed with you and your family. I think learning one language can be difficult, let alone 6. I think it is great for your son and I know children can pick up foreign languages more easily than adults.

      My grandson is very fluent in Spanish without the American accent as my son and his family lived in the Dominican Republic for a couple of years when he was young. The fact that you all work together is probably the key to your success. Good for all of you! Awesome.

    • Trinity M profile imageAUTHOR

      Trinity M 

      6 years ago

      Hi DDE. It’s great to be able to speak another language and if you can learn multiple languages so much the better. Croatian sounds wonderful… I think I will definitely put it on my ‘to-do’ list. Thanks for stopping by and for the support.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting about learning languages I have learned a foreign language but took my time in speaking, the Croatian language I understood the language very easily in two weeks thanks for this great Hub

    • Trinity M profile imageAUTHOR

      Trinity M 

      6 years ago

      Hi Alecia! Learning languages is a wonderful way to get smarter, give your brain a workout and also expand your horizons. I have travelled a lot and speaking the language of the locals has made my experiences so much better. Thank you so much for your great comment and for stopping by. I wish you great success in undertaking your language and travel goals. :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I want to learn more languages- just to expand my brain and to have exposure to other cultures. I also have the goal of traveling. Your tips are not only creative- they build a good understanding of the meaning of the words. Great hub!

    • Trinity M profile imageAUTHOR

      Trinity M 

      6 years ago

      Hi Mama Kim, nice to see you! Thank you for the compliment regarding my son, I can definitely say the same about you and your beautiful family! :)

      Well it definitely sounds to me that you have all the skills necessary to undertake the task of learning a new language and you are lucky because your hubby is there to correct you with any mispronunciations your may have. I’d say go for it and get the kids involved too! :)

      Thank you for the votes and for your awesome support!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 

      6 years ago

      That boy of yours is going to be one heck of a man some day ^_^ You are doing a wonderful job with him.

      I married into a Korean family and I've been wanting to learn but I always put it off because it seems like such a big undertaking. I already know a good bit of French and some Spanish so I have no problem picking languages up. Doing it your way, just 30 min most nights sounds doable.

      Awesome hub and voted as such ^_^

    • Trinity M profile imageAUTHOR

      Trinity M 

      6 years ago

      Hi Martie, as South Africans we are quite fortunate because it is inevitable that we know more than one language. The way I see it, the world has now become a small place and we are always travelling or coming into contact with other people from other countries, so multilingualism has become a necessity.

      You have such a wonderful base, with Afrikaans, Setswana, German, Latin and Dutch that I think if you decided to pursue another language you would be a natural.

      Thank you so much for your interesting comment and for your support, it is greatly appreciated.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Trinity, I believe the more you know about other languages, the better you can use your own language. I am Afrikaans with English as a second language, and I've also learned some Setswana. But because I never use the latter - and only because I don't need to - I've forgotten most of the words and only remember some interesting rules and idioms. Oh, and I'm not even mentioning the German and Latin I was compelled to learn in high school. Of course, I can read and understand Dutch, but not able to express myself verbally in this mother of my native tongue. I take my hat off for polyglots. Thank you for this interesting hub about learning multiple languages.

    • Trinity M profile imageAUTHOR

      Trinity M 

      6 years ago

      Hi Victoria Lynn, nice to see you. Yes Pimsleurs is really good; it’s not necessarily going to get you writing a thesis in your chosen language but it will have you talking comfortably with the locals. Thank you so much for your support and for all the votes :)

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      What an incredible thing your family is doing! I'm impressed. I've always wondered about the Pimsleur method. It's really good, huh? Great hub. Many votes!

    • Trinity M profile imageAUTHOR

      Trinity M 

      6 years ago

      Hi Sunshine! Don’t we all always learn the bad words first? Probably because it can be so much fun!:) The wonderful thing about learning another language is that it can be fun, especially if there is no pressure to do it quickly or to be tested on it. If you add a few new words to your vocabulary every few days you will build up quite a repertoire before you even know it. Thanks for being so supportive and helpful to me (especially on FB) I’m so glad I met you :)

      Hi Docmo, you sound like my kind of people! :) Your command of the English language is impeccable and I assume it’s not even your 1st language.

      I agree with you 100% about using a language to learn about a culture, its history and everything else related to it. My son is being homeschooled and learning all the languages has expanded his general knowledge too as we tend to study the related countries, their history, geography, cultural habits and even biographies of famous people from that country.

      I’m really glad you feel inspired and I would love to hear from you about your progress. Thank you for your great comment and for your support. :)

      Hi tjdavis! I think if you’ve never tried to learn another language it may seem a bit difficult at first but I promise you that once you get started it will really get much easier.

      Pimsleurs is a wonderful course to use. It really helps teach you the basics of a language and builds from there, in actual fact I have a copy of Pimsleurs Dutch myself and it is great, I would highly recommend it.

      I’d love to hear from you about your progress and I’d be glad to help you with any tips any time. Thank you for your support and for your great comment!

      LOL! Bill you make me blush! It’s not really as difficult as it sounds, and we do tend to be a bit crazy in this family of mine! It has become kind of a challenge for all of us and we already have the next 6 lined up as my son wants to learn German and Arabic and my husband and I want to learn Bahasa, Russian and Hindi. The wonderful thing is that we are all enjoying it and not feeling pressured about it at all. We have also promised ourselves a 6 month holiday to all the countries related to each language we are learning, so we do feel motivated.

      I’ll definitely keep you posted on how we progress and if you ever need a tutor I’d be more than happy to volunteer. :) As always thank you for your wonderful support my dear friend. {{hugz}}

      Hi mary615. I know that learning many languages at the same time is not for everyone, but it can be fun. Also, it’s not how many languages you learn that matters, for example, just starting with Spanish is enough and sometimes your progress can motivate you to try more.

      Good luck with learning Spanish and with moving to Puerto Rico, it sounds wonderful! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your support, I really do appreciate it. :)

      Hi Sueswan! Yes sometimes it can get quite crazy, especially since Italian and Spanish are so similar and even French has many similarities to the other two. Fortunately once the lesson gets going we seem to settle well into whatever language we are doing for the day.

      I have found that talking with native speakers is a big help in “cementing” what you learn. Strangely enough you never forget what you learned, it is always there dormant waiting to be re-activated.

      Thank you for your very kind comment and for your support, I really appreciate it. :)

      Hello KDuBarry03! You are quite right, each language has many nuances and one word can mean many different things depending on which tone you use.

      I’m glad you found this hub useful and I really appreciate your comment and your support, thank you.

      Hello rajan jolly, nice to see you! Seeing as you have already mastered a few languages, Mandarin will be easier to learn, although I must confess I find it to be the most difficult language for me to learn out of the 6 we are busy with. If you don’t have a course to learn from I would highly recommend Pimsleurs Mandarin, it is very simple and easy to follow and it will definitely help you find your way around China when you get there.

      Thank you so much for you support and for your great comment and good luck with the Mandarin, I’d love to hear how it goes.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Well hats off to you Trinity. Learning so many languages at one go is certainly commendable. But you have shown how it can be done. In school a long time back, I had French as a second language. It was fun learning it.

      I need to learn some Mandarin as I'll be going to China some months from now.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very useful information! I am really interested in linguistics and what makes linguistics work for different people based on their different cultures. WHen learning a new language, it is also imperative to know if the language is either high or low contextual (meaning how many interpretations are given with each message delivered to the receiver).

      Overall, I found this hub extremely interesting and a great source of information :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Trinity,

      Do you ever get the languages mixed up. I know a little Spanish but I haven't used it in years. At work they were offering free French lessons. I need to see and hear the words. Anyway, the French teacher would say something and I would respond in Spanish. I thought I forgot any Spanish I learned but obviously not.

      I applaud you for learning six languages at one time. It is so nice that you , your husband and son are learning together.


    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      There is just NO way I could learn 6 at one time!!! I'd like to learn Spanish because I want to live in Puerto Rico. I visited there, and although most of speak English, I would have fit in better if I could speak their language.

      I admire you for learning all this.

      I voted this UP, etc.etc

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Are you kidding me? Six at one time??? OMG, Trinity, who are you? What are you? I am in awe! I have English going for me and that's a struggle on any given day. I don't even know what to say to this...six at one time???

      That's it...I'm building a shrine in your honor! It will have flags from different countries on it, and your face of course, and I will bow down to it every evening, facing southeast in your direction.

      I am still in awe ten minutes after reading this. We in the United States are so deficient in our language skills.

      Great hub my dear!

    • tjdavis profile image

      Teresa Davis 

      6 years ago from Moscow, Texas

      Loved the hub. I have always wanted to learn another language. I am from Texas and I guess with my slang it's been hard for me to learn. Would Pimsleurs work for learning Dutch? I have been trying for a long time to learn Dutch..very hard language for me lol. I have several friends in Holland and I would love to talk more with them in Dutch.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      6 years ago from UK

      More than the method, I absolutely adore the intent. This is an awesome programme to involve a child in and the fact that the family does it together clinches the deal for me. Great idea.

      As a polyglot myself ( I grew up in India and now live in UK ... there are many South Indian languages that are derived from the Dravidian roots that I know). I love languages and the way they teach you the culture, the history and the little nuances that are a joy to learn. I'm learning Spanish and know a bit of French. My son has taken up Spanish at school and your plan sounds ideal for us to undertake. I'm truly inspired and motivated by this... thank you!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I know a few languages. Unfortunately I just know the bad words and not much else. Excellent hub Trinity, I'm adding learning good words of a different language to my to-do list!:)

    • Trinity M profile imageAUTHOR

      Trinity M 

      6 years ago

      @jainismus it is great to see how many people are fluent in more than one language. In this way we can show others what is possible and encourage them to do it as well. I believe that if everyone could communicate with someone from a different country this world would become a better and more loving place. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your great comment.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      6 years ago from Pune, India

      Interesting and useful Hub. Thank you for the tips.

      I myself is fluent in three languages and I get a lot of benefits from it.

    • Trinity M profile imageAUTHOR

      Trinity M 

      6 years ago

      Hi Christy, so nice to see you! Funny enough I did French in school too, however I had also given it up until now. It’s really great to be doing it again. I find that if you don’t practice a language you are inclined to forget it.

      I hope you do add learning languages to your bucket list, it is not only great fun to learn, it also gives you access to more of the world. If you ever need some help I’ll be more than glad to assist you. :)

      Thanks again for your awesome support. Big {hugz} to you my friend.

      Hi @naimishika so nice to meet a fellow polyglot. Speaking 5 languages is an awesome achievement, and well done to you! Believe it or not Hindi is next on my list and I have already started learning some basic phrases like “hello”, “excuse me”, etc. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your great comment.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Wow, good for you Trinity! I did not know that learning so many languages at once could be easy but you outline the core values well. I learned French in school and continued into my first year of University but have not spoken it since. I would love to make learning languages a to-do for my bucket list! I vote up and am sharing here and on Twitter too.

    • Trinity M profile imageAUTHOR

      Trinity M 

      6 years ago

      Hi josh! I am quite sure that you could do it too! It isn’t really as hard as it sounds. In actual fact it is quite a lot of fun, so any time you’re ready to give it a shot I’ll be happy to give you some tips. :)) Thank you so much for stopping by and for your support.

      @Melissa A Smith, it really doesn’t require an “abnormal” brain to do this, just a bit of determination and an adventurous spirit. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your comments.

      Hi Mary! You are quite right about the chatter at our dinner table, it gets really crazy sometimes, especially because we like to potter with other languages as well (we already have the next 6 lined up) so it truly gets wild some days! :) And yes, speaking to native speakers is essential! Most people are delighted when you talk to them in their language and love to help you out with your pronunciation and the words you don’t know. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your great comment.

      Hi Dennis! Thank you so much for your very kind and supportive comment. My husband and I feel that this will definitely boost our son’s future prospects in a very positive way, and it certainly won’t hurt us either! :) We have always had a love for languages and time always seems to pass us by with the idea of “one day” doing all the things we dream of, this is just one thing we can take off our “to do” list now! Thank you for your support my friend.

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 

      6 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      Voted up, useful and interesting. My hat is off to you, your husband and son on your approach to tackling the study of numerous languages at the same time. You and your family have a curiosity about languages and that is a commendable asset and one that will certainly serve you all well.

    • MazioCreate profile image


      6 years ago from Brisbane Queensland Australia

      Certainly chatter around the dinner table would be interesting. I'm amazed you all have tackled this goal, but at the same time understand you are enjoying the challenge and experiences. Great to include the suggestion of talking with native speakers as often as possible. Good luck with the travel. Voted up!

    • Melissa A Smith profile image

      Melissa A Smith 

      6 years ago from New York

      Sounds like an interesting idea but unfortunately I only have one normal brain.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania


      More power to you hub friend! That is an insane achievement; and good luck! I wish I could have the courage to do that! :)


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