Want to find out how you can learn a new language quickly, without the need for expensive classes or language learning software? There are really no secrets or shortcuts – you just need to commit to your new language, be willing to work hard and not be afraid to make mistakes. Start with Step 1 below to find out more.
1 Connect with a native speaker. Hands down, the best way to learn a new language is to speak it. Too often, people spend all of their time studying grammar and memorizing lists of words instead of actually going out there and putting what they’ve learned into practice. Speaking with a real, live person will help you to feel much more motivated about learning the language than staring at a book or computer screen. Try to find a friend or colleague who speaks the language you wish to learn and who’d be willing to sit down with you and help you practice. Alternatively, you could try putting ads in local online forums or newspapers to find someone to tutor you or participate in a language exchange. If you can’t find anyone who speaks your language nearby, try to connect with someone on Skype. People in foreign countries are often willing to exchange half an hour of speaking in their native tongue for half an hour of speaking in English. A Hellotalk account is another option.
2 Study the language every day. People often claim to have studied a language “for five years” and still not be fluent. But when they say five years, they probably mean that they studied the language for only a couple of hours a week over that entire time period. Let’s get one thing clear – if you want to learn a new language quickly – that is, in the space of a few weeks or months – you’re going to have to commit to studying the language for a couple of hours per day.
Language learning is based on repetition – hammering something into your brain over and over again until you remember it. If you break too long between study sessions, you are much more prone to forget what you learned last time and you will waste valuable study time going back over what you’ve already learned.
You can cut down on this wasted time by studying every day. There are no miraculous short cuts when it comes to language learning – you just need to commit.
3 Carry a dictionary at all times. Carrying a dictionary with you will save you a lot of time and frustration, so invest in one as soon as possible!
It can be an actual, physical dictionary, or a dictionary app on your phone – you just need to be able to consult it quickly whenever you need a word.
Carrying a dictionary will allow you to find the necessary word at a moments notice. This is especially important when you are having a conversation with a native speaker and don’t wish to disrupt the flow of conversation by not being able to remember a word. In addition, looking up the word and using it immediately in a sentence will help you to commit the word to memory.
You can also peruse the dictionary at random moments throughout the day – when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, when you’re on a coffee break at work, or sitting in traffic. You could learn an extra 20 or 30 words a day this way!
4 Watch, listen, read and write in your chosen language. Immersing yourself in a language means doing all of the activities you would normally do in your native tongue, through your new language – whether that’s reading, writing or listening.
Possibly the easiest thing you can do is watch television shows or movies in the language you are trying to learn. Try to avoid subtitles, as you will tend to rely on them. To make things easier, try to watch shows or movies whose plots you are already familiar with – like kids’ cartoons or dubbed versions of English movies – knowing the context will help you to decipher the meanings of words and phrases.
You should also attempt to read and write in your new language. Get a newspaper or magazine and attempt to read one article a day – looking up any words you don’t understand in your dictionary. You should also try to write a few simple things in your new language –whether it’s a pretend postcard or a shopping list.
Download podcasts or tune in to radio stations in your new language. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the language while you’re on the go. Not only does this help with your listening comprehension, it also allows you to hear the correct pronunciation of common words and phrases.
Change your language settings on all your electronic devices so that you can pick up words you know already in English but not in the new language. Listen to songs in that language. Try to learn the lyrics, then check what they mean. That way, if you hear it again, you can tell what the conversation is about at that point.
5 Visit a country where your chosen language is spoken. Obviously, it would be a great boost to your language learning skills if you could visit and spend some time in a country where your new language is spoken.
Force yourself to interact with the locals – whether you’re asking for directions, completing a transaction in a store, or simply saying hello – and you will gain a new appreciation of the language and its speakers.
It doesn’t matter how basic your oral skills are, keep pushing yourself to speak and you will soon notice a vast improvement in your vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.