10 tips for learning a language in record time!

good language tutor1. Intensive learning.

A one-hour lesson each week is not enough for you to become fluent within a few months or even a couple of years. You really need to use the language in some way every day; whether this is by listening to a podcast, reading a magazine article or news item, studying grammar, learning vocabulary or writing an email to a friend, for example. If you don’t practise, you forget – simple!

2. Simplify your learning.

You don’t need to know every word in a language to communicate effectively! According to the Pareto Principle, “20% of the effort you spend on acquiring new vocab could give you 80% comprehension in a language.” In English just 300 words make up 65% of all written material.

3. Learn cognates.

There are many words in languages such as Spanish, French and Italian that are very similar to English words. For example, “rápido” = rapid, acento = accent, “delicioso” = delicious. There are many more, see the website Spanish Cognates http://spanishcognates.org/ for a complete list. By learning the pattern of endings of Spanish words, you can work out the English translation; -ción (-tion), -dad (-ity), -oso (-ous), -ancia (-ance).

4. Immersion.

Immerse yourself with the language as much as possible. It is no longer the case that you have to live in the country to learn the lingo. Many people live abroad for many years without bothering to learn the local language. Modern technology has changed this completely. These days you can immerse yourself in a language without even leaving your home! This could be by listening to native speakers on podcasts, songs, news broadcasts, online live radio. For instance, the website TuneIn links to live streamed radio of a country of your choice. Search on Youtube for films and programmes in the language you are studying. To gradually ease you into full immersion you can download a plugin for Chrome to translate parts of sites you visit into the foreign language.

5. Take responsibility for your own learning.

Make your own notes and regularly review them. Whilst watching a foreign language film or programme or listening to a song, add any new words or phrases to your vocabulary list to regularly review.

6. Speak to native speakers

Find a native speaker on Skype, language exchange or someone you know locally. Even early on in your language study you should try to practise what you have learnt with a native speaker. Other language exchange website to match you with an exchange partner invlude:

My Language Exchange

Conversation Exchange


7. Use language learning apps.

Take advantage of the apps available today:

Mind Snacks
BBC languages

8. Use Mnemonics to retain the language.

To retain a language for longer use Mnemonics. This is the method of linking words with another funny word or situation to help you remember it more easily. The sillier the better as it will stick in your mind more.

9. Set realistic and well-defined goals.

What level are you aiming for and in what time span? If you just want to order food and drinks, tell the taxi driver where you need to go in time for your next holiday, this will help you work out an easy to stick to plan. I recommend following the European Common Framework of languages which sets out the levels of language levels of learner; A = beginner, B = intermediate, C =advanced with each split up into lower (1) and higher (2) categories.

10. Embrace your mistakes

Don’t worry about making mistakes in front of native speakers. This is the best way to learn. If you are talking to a Spanish word and say something silly and they correct you, you are unlikely to make the same mistake again. Spanish people appreciate the fact that you are trying to learn their language and they are normally very happy to help you learn their language.

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