Learning Two Languages at Once
But I think you need to do that with a certain amount of intensity so that you really get that first, get to the first ledge and your climb. Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here and today, I want to talk about learning two languages at the same time. Remember if you enjoy these videos, please subscribe. Uh, if you're listening, uh, on a podcast service somewhere, please leave a review.
You can click on the bell here for notifications. So I have been learning two languages at the same time off and on for the last couple of years, that's Arabic and Persian or Farsi. And I'm about to embark on another 90-Day Challenge, which I also want to announce here because at LingQ we have these 90-Day Challenges.
We encourage people to commit to certain goals and follow up with other LingQ members to see how they're doing all in sort of a bit of an effort to, you know, help each other, motivate each other, to stay on our tasks. Now, so I thought about, what do I want to take on as a challenge? And I ended up, I initially I was going to say, well, I'm going to focus just on Arabic.
And I just, I'm reluctant to leave Persian even for three months. So I ended up saying, well, I got to do a challenge in both. And I have indicated that at LingQ, that I'm doing a 90-D ay Challenge in both Arabic and Persian. So I'll be doing two languages at the same time. In fact, I'll be doing three because my Arabic is going to be divided between standard Arabic, which is where I spend most of my time, and Egyptian Arabic, which I've just started doing over the last few weeks. So it's almost three languages at the same time, except that EgyptianArabic is a part of Arabic as is standard Arabic. So some thoughts about this, first of all, I would not recommend studying two languages at the same time if you are a beginner. And remember, I have commented that language learning is a bit like an upside down hockey stick. So you've got the blade of the stick, which goes up very sharply. And then you have this long shaft which sort of gradually kind of is inclined in an upward direction, but yeah, you're almost not aware that you're making any progress.
And so during that first steep climb, uh, where there was a lot of initial success, all of a sudden, you can say something where you couldn't say something before all of a sudden you understand some things that you, you know, you didn't understand anything when you start. The language was just noise at the beginning, and now there's some meaning there.
So there's a great sense of achievement. It's also a period that first sort of could be three months, could be six months, depends on how difficult the language is. You have that sense that, you know, the vocabulary, the high frequency vocabulary, repeats so often that you really do feel as if you're, you're acquiring words here and, and, and getting a sense of the language.
But then once you've passed that whether it be after three months or six, because the word frequency, and I've mentioned this before, the word frequency declines so quickly. You have this impression that you're not seeing the words often enough to really remember them and you keep on forgetting them and, and just seems like an endless task to build up the large passive vocabulary that you need in order to become fluent.
Long intro to say, if you're in that first stage, the sort of, uh, you know, steep climb, initial period, I would not recommend trying to do two languages. That's been my experience. Other people have different, uh, you know, experiences, or likes or whatever, but I think you need to do that with a certain amount of intensity so that you really get that first get to the first ledge in your
climb. So, but once you're past that first period, which is... I'm past it now in both my Persian and my Arabic, it's that long, long road. And so there, I think it is possible to, to do two languages at the same time. And I will share with you my strategy. First of all, on the one hand, because you're doing two languages, you have less of an opportunity obviously to concentrate on one.
So you will learn less quickly. At least if you had spent... if I spent all my time on Arabic, I would learn Arabic. Because I have done both Arabic and Persian with a little bit of Turkish here that slows me down in my Arabic. However, I end up with two languages instead of one. The other thing is that at times, again, because this long shaft where you, you hardly feel you're making any progress at all, uh, it can be a little bit dispiriting.
Uh, I've called it the doldrums, which is that area of the world where the, the wind dies and the ships aren't moving. Uh, in the old days when everyone relied on sale for, for sailing. So, uh, in a way, sometimes you're sort of forcing yourself to do things, to learn the language because you want to learn the language and yet you're, you, you don't really feel like you're making much progress at that time.
I think it's kind of good to switch from one language to the other and back again, because it's something new, something refreshing. You're inspired again. When you... at least that's been my experience when I go back to language A after having been with language B. So I think in that period, you can cope with two languages at the same time.
Another thing that I think is important when doing two languages at the same time, or even if you're doing one language and you're in that sort of doldrums period, the long shaft, do things that are fun. If you are sort of out of a sense of obligation, forcing yourself to reread and reread view the same material because you keep forgetting it, uh, it can be a little bit discouraging. On the other hand, uh, I've now found for example, with my, uh, with my, uh, Egyptian Arabic. Uh, my tutor has me on this, um, the serial on Netflix, Once Upon a Time, I think it's called, uh, what was it called again? Uh, I can't remember. Uh, geez, what was it called?
I don't know. Anyway, it's, it's, it's an interesting, very interesting, um, series. And so it's enjoyable. I don't understand why, but it's enjoyable and I'm picking up some things. So I do a little bit of that. I go on and do a little bit of the mini stories. I go do a little bit of standard Arabic, you know, uh, podcasts out of Al Jazeera.
So I'm, I'm doing a certain amount of variety, but I tried to do things that I enjoy doing. Uh, similarly in Persian, uh, Sahra is gonna get me some movies on YouTube. She's also put in some material, songs in Persian, which I've been listening to. And so if I can vary the kind of material that I'm listening to, uh, things that I enjoy doing, and therefore I'm not so fussed about how quickly I'm improving, the improvement comes.
You just have to believe that it will come and don't put pressure on yourself and wanting to move along more quickly. If you sort of say, well, I can wander into this room, my Arabic room for a while, and then I'm going to go back into my Persian room and the flavors are a little different. The colors are a little different.
The content that I'm using is a little different. So I think that's important also. Uh, I, uh, I think at this stage it's important to have a tutor, you know, funnily enough, I think a tutor at the early stage is more difficult to take advantage of because you can't speak, you don't understand. You need to invest all that time in listening and reading.
And I use the mini stories to get up to a certain level, or you can actually take advantage of a tutor, but once you're at the level I'm at now, I can actually have a conversation with them. And so, uh, I make sure that I have two conversations a week in Arabic and two conversations a week in Persian. And the advantage there is that I'm sort of committed to being with the tutor.
So again, that kind of propels me forward. I got to do it. I'm there. Uh, I don't... I don't prepare. In fact, I shouldn't say I don't prepare at all for my, for my, uh, interactions with my tutors. They're both excellent tutors. They keep me going. They ask me question. They ask me about the serial I'm watching in the case of the Egyptian Arabic.
And I know Sahra is a great, uh, tutor in terms of keeping me going. And once she's going to recommend a series on, uh, on YouTube. And we will be talking about that. So I just have to show up, but I have to show up. So I'm committed twice a week. Now that's my plan to show up in each of those languages.
If I were doing, I could do one week of one language and one week of the other and then similarly I would have a commitment to show up, but I've decided to try to squeeze them into the same week. I don't know how it will all go. And I think that my final bit of advice is experiment with it. I think some people will find it more enjoyable to do two languages at the same time than other people.
Some people may not enjoy doing that. Some people may prefer to stay with one language. There is no right way or wrong way or obligation do the things that you find enjoyable, stay with the language, stay with the process and you will improve. And so that's what I have to say on learning two languages at the same time.
Thank you for listening.