Whether you or someone you know is abroad, an aspiring polyglot, or just want to learn a language to understand media from other countries; you’re in the right place.
Use these tips to learn a new language and memorize it.
While there isn’t a magical method on how to learn a new language that applies to everyone, there are various approaches that you can take to find out how you learn best. Knowing this is important because it’ll be a lot more challenging to remember what you’ve learned.
Keep reading to explore the benefits of speaking a second language and how long it can take to learn. Also, try some of the various tips to learning a new language that I will mention to see if they’ll help you understand your desired language quicker.
Table of Contents
What Are the Benefits of Learning a Second Language?
There are many benefits to learning a second language that extends past the sole fact that you can survive in another country. Some of these perks include:
- Being bi- or multi-lingual can help you process information easier for other subjects that you’re learning.
- If you love binging foreign media, you could skip the subtitles. For example, if you understand Japanese, you don’t have to watch dubbed or subbed anime anymore.
- If you can obtain a certificate stating that you know your stuff, you’ll have many more career opportunities. According to Glassdoor, on average, freelance translators make at least $60,000/year.
- With a new language at your disposal, you can gain perspectives previously not accessible by talking to strangers in other countries.
How Long Does It Take to Learn a Language Fluently?
To learn a foreign language fluently depends on what language you want to reach fluency in, the time you invest into your lessons, and whether you’re learning effectively.
Some languages are easier to learn than others. For instance, according to the U.S. Department of State (DOS), if someone wants to learn Mandarin Chinese, it might take them on average 88 weeks versus someone who wants to learn Vietnamese, which they claim takes only 44 weeks. The DOS bases numbers on learning in a classroom, not self-taught.
Some factors that could influence the above are your resources, the hours you invest, and the writing system.If a language uses Latin characters, it might be easier to learnthan one using Arabic.
Above all, if you devote a lot of time every day and stay motivated, you could reach basic fluency in under a year.
How Many Hours a Day Should I Study a Foreign Language?
If you’re self-taught, at least aim to give one to three hours a day studying a foreign language.
When studying, don’t forget to take frequent breaks and make the most of your sessions. Also, set clear goals that you want to achieve and always aim to improve your skill by at least 1%.
Suppose you’re a busy bee and don’t feel like you can put in that time, study whenever you have an opportunity. Whether you’re in the car, on a break, talking to friends or coworkers.
How to Teach Yourself a Language
You can teach yourself a new language, but you will first need to understand your learning style. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method to learning. That’s why it might be for the best that you take a look at these tips covering the best ways to learn other languages, find what works best for you, and run with it.
First, we’ll explore some tools that you can use to supplement your studying.
1. Free Language Learning Websites
If you want to avoid any BS, consider skimming forums such as Reddit or Facebook groups. Ask questions, find resources, or explore posts that dive into any problems others have learning the language you want to understand. Browsing forums is also an excellent way for you to find others to overcome their obstacles.
Paid Websites to Learn a New Language With
Out of all the websites that I’ve tried, Glossika stood out the most. They use full-sentence practice in context. They also use spaced repetition and audio submitted by natural speakers to provide a fantastic language-learning experience.
If you’re trying to learn Taiwanese Mandarin to visit Taiwan, this is one of the few websites that’ll support it. Glossika offers a 7-day free trial that doesn’t require a credit card if you’re skeptical about paying.
While Memrise doesn’t have the widest selection of languages, they offer a fantastic user experience with spaced repetition and mnemonics that are bound to help you learn and recall whatever language you desire.
You can start learning at the airport with some of those apps that I mentioned. Learn on the plane, and once you land, you potentially have an entire country as your teacher.
Eavesdrop on conversations and learn phrases from context. Order coffee. Ask for directions. All of the above and more compound into your journey toward fluency, especially if you practice these phrases daily.
Learning any language while traveling is by far the best way to learn a language.
2. Take Some Lessons
Usually, colleges or universities have language centers that specialize in teaching languages. Taking classes is the most expensive and could be the least effective depending on who you are. However, if you work better in an organized classroom environment, this option works best for you.
You generally do the following during language center classes:
- Listen to and repeat new phrases
- Quizzes and tests
- Games or exercises
You can’t control the pace of these lessons nor the time that you go to class. However, if you note that you took courses at (X) Langage Center on a resume, it gives you legitimacy.
Keep in mind that a lot, if not most, teachers will teach you the textbook version of that language, which is generally not how the language is spoken in real life and could make you sound robotic.
If you can’t afford a classroom and want control of your schedule, consider the next tip.
3. Hire a Private Tutor
You could have a friend teach you, a local, or consider hiring a teacher if you prefer a more structured approach. It doesn’t have to be someone with a degree, but you could also hire a native speaker.
Make you should do your research and ask questions when looking for a tutor. Furthermore, you might also want to make sure they speak your mother tongue as well, so you can ask questions in the first place.
With private tutoring, you’ll usually find yourself in tailored one-on-one lessons rather than in a classroom repeating words. You’ll also have the control you want over your schedule.
One way that you could go about this is to hire a teacher through a website like Italki—whether a community teacher or a certified one—to schedule a lesson and learn. Over time, these teachers will learn more about you and adjust their lesson plans to your needs—if they’re good tutors.
These lessons are charged hourly and can cost more than taking classes at a language center. However, with a more personalized approach, you might learn any language quicker and memorize it better, making the added costs worthwhile.
4. Attempt to Go for a Scholarship
If you would instead go for an immersive experience to learn the language, consider the following. A lot of the time, governments will encourage foreigners to learn their language to share their culture.
Because of that, governments will often offer scholarships that can potentially give people free classes that would otherwise cost a lot of money.
Usually, you’ll have to fill out an essay and convince the government why you deserve the scholarship over everyone else. However, the requirements vary by country, as do the visa requirements. You will need to deal with these requirements once you’re accepted. So you might have to set money aside to pay any visa- or passport-related expenses.
5. Language Exchange
Language exchange is the best tip to learn a new language if you already understand some of what you need to know. You can do this online through a website like Interpals—where you converse with nationals from other countries to practice speaking their language while teaching yours.
Furthermore, you could hang out with your language exchange partner and spend one hour speaking their language and one hour speaking yours. From that point, you offer each other pointers to improve pronunciation, grammar, or word choice.
Remember to meet in public places if you’re meeting your partner for the first time. Moreover, learning through language exchange is an excellent way to practice your skills and meet new people.
3 Language Learning Practical Tips
1. Seek Out Spots Where No One Speaks Your Language
Visiting local shops applies to those who are already abroad. Rather than hitting up tourist-friendly spots, try buying food, shopping for knick-knacks, or exploring areas that are likely to have no one who speaks your language. Seeking local shops saves you money and forces you to learn new phrases to survive.
However, don’t forget to learn some essential phrases before going out. That way, if you find yourself in a sticky situation, you won’t end up telling someone you want lasagna when you’re trying to cry for help.
2. Listen Actively
As you would in English, pay attention to every word that comes out of people’s mouths. Whether you’re in a subway and eavesdropping or you’re having a conversation with someone in your target language, pay attention.
Even go as far as paraphrasing what they’re saying or using verbal affirmations like “I see” to show you’re listening and sharpen your listening skills.
3. Learn to Speak Like a Child
This natural language learning method is simply mimicking sound patterns.
Mimicking sound patterns is also one of the best things to focus on first when learning a new language because when repeating words, we’ll repeat with the closest sound we know as an English speaker. Eventually, as we practice regurgitating what we hear, we can repeat everything, which is a significant first step in learning a new language.
With this route, simply by listening and mimicking, you’ll begin to understand words and phrases in context and with the association of objects.
Use listening actively with this trick in addition to whatever tips to learn a new language that applies to you, and you’re on your way to fluency.
What Is the Best App for Language Learning?
While most say that Duolingo is the best app for learning, I say there are better routes that don’t cost as much money.
Can You Learn a Language While You Sleep?
It’s possible to learn a language while you sleep. Verbal cues fed to you during NonREM sleep can reactivate memoriesassociated with the words or phrases you’re learning.
How Can I Learn a Language While Traveling?
Learning second languages while traveling is also the best way to learn a second language. Instead of relying on the textbook variation of your language, you’ll understand slang, idioms, and how locals speak.