Several years ago I was thinking it would be really nice to be able to communicate in lots of languages. I think it was about the time I was learning Japanese, my fifth language. I wanted to add Mandarin, French and Russian. At the time, I was overwhelmed with Japanese. I didn’t see an end to it, and I didn’t feel like I was where I wanted to be in the languages I already “knew”. I thought knowing many languages to a high level would be impossible for me. Eventually I started to believe it was possible, at least for some people. I started visiting a lot of language forums, and reading about some impressive polyglots. I got proof of this on YouTube too. There are several polyglots, like Luca Lampariello, Richard Simcott and Steve Kaufmann, who can speak many languages at a high level. These things rekindled my desire to speak more languages, and improve the ones I already knew. I began to ask myself, and others, questions. How do they do it? Does it take special talent? What have they done that I haven’t? The following is not necessarily what I’ve done, but what I recommend based on several years of experimenting and making good progress in several languages. Learn one language at a time. Learning languages is very time consuming. The more time you can give to a new language, the more you can progress. It’s not necessary to completely give up your other languages. Use them, but don’t learn them. Learn a language to C1/C2 before starting a new one. You want to get completely out of the business of maintaining languages in order to maximize your time learning. When you reach C1/C2, no maintenance is required. Don’t learn a bunch of languages to the A and B levels, because you will need to spend lot’s of time maintaining them. I have 5 languages in the B’s right now, so I have learned the hard way. Now I’m planning to take them all to C1, one at a time, so that I can free up some time to learn more languages. Spend as much time as you can learning. The more time you spend learning, the faster you can reach C1/C2 and the more years you’ll have to learn other languages. The fastest learners can reach this level in 1 to 3 years, depending on the language. Use the most effective method possible. The better the method, the faster you learn, and the more years you’ll have to learn other languages. There are many methods out there. I’m fond of Synergy. But it’s important to find one that’s effective for you, because not all learners are the same. Work in a field that requires the use of your languages. This is one more way to get more time on task. Get a background in linguistics. Particularly useful would be to fully understand the technical side of pronunciation. That way, when you read about your target language, you will know how the sounds are supposed to be made. Also, a strong knowledge of grammatical terms is very useful. How many languages can you learn and use permanently at a C1/C2 level? I don’t know, but it’s a fun question to think about. Of the polyglots I’ve actually seen, most of whom are on YouTube, I’m not sure anyone has demonstrated over 10 or 15 languages at this level. But I think it’s quite possible for someone with sufficient study time to learn well over 20. Personally, my lifetime goal is 12 at this point.