Many of us desire to learn a new language, but are put off by the amount of time and effort mastering a foreign language can sometimes take. Whether we want to learn a new language out of necessity purposes, to secure higher paying jobs, converse with family members or friends who speak the language, or just for fun, we are more likely to stick to something that can be done relatively quickly—but still work just as effectively and yield the same results.
If you are thinking about taking the plunge to learn a foreign language, these are seven useful tips to learn your desired new language fast, which I followed and learned four foreign languages (Spanish, Swedish, Russian, and German.)
1. Set Language-Learning Goals
Without setting clear, concise goals about what exactly you want to achieve in learning this new language, you may become overwhelmed, or become confused or unsure about what it is that you are after—and thus, become more likely to give up. Your over-aching, “end” goal may be to speak and converse fluently in the foreign language you want to learn, but it is best to set short-term, tangible goals first.
Short-term goals could include, for example, making the effort to study 10 Spanish vocabulary words each night for a week, and at the end of the week having a family member quiz you on what you have learned.
Set realistic goals, such as 10-15 new words a day, instead of the recommended 40 words, and/or 10 minutes of listening practice.
2. Use the Language Every Day
The reasoning behind trying to use the language in which you are trying to learn every day is that what we do consistently becomes a habit, and in turn becomes easier after a while. While it may feel awkward or unnatural at first to try to incorporate this new language into your life on a daily basis, there are several ways to obtain this.
One is to watch a television program or online video in the language in which you are trying to learn, or to listen to a podcast in the desired language on your commute to and from work. Doing this will not only make you cognizant of repeated phrases or keywords the people in these programs may use with each other, but it is also extremely beneficial to be able to hear the inflections those who are fluent in the language have when they speak. Another way is to keep flashcards or study guides with you at all times and make it a point to try to study these when you have a moment either on a commute or during work or school breaks.
3. Be open to creativity
Creativity is an omnipotent witch. It helps us calm down, get rid of stress and anxiety, and also often helps us learn a new language. For example, drawing is a great technique. If you’re just getting started and learning things like time, seasons, or body parts, draw it on paper. Then add a word in a foreign language to each part of the body, each season, or draw a few clocks with different times. Draw slowly and use colors as it helps with memorization.
If you like singing rather than drawing, choose ten to fifteen words that you learn and sing them. In the background, you can imagine a familiar melody and favorite song and replace the lyrics with your words.
Do the creative activity you love and incorporate the foreign words you want to learn. This is one of the best ways to learn a foreign language quickly and effectively.
4. Seek out Real-Life Practice
While this method may not be feasible for everyone seeking to learn a new language, it is extremely beneficial to immerse yourself in real-life situations where you will converse with and use the new language with others. This could be done through traveling to a country where the native language spoken is the language you desire to learn, or to study or work abroad for a period in these areas if given the option.
If traveling abroad isn’t in the cards, there are still ways to seek out a level of real-life practice. This can also be done by volunteering with immigrants in your city, or by using an online tutoring site to match with someone who speaks the language that you can chat and converse with regularly.
Today, there are a number of websites or applications where you can find a native speaker with whom you can make calls or chat. This is especially useful when you find a person who speaks the language you want to learn and you speak the language they want to learn.
5. Word cards
This is my favorite technique ever, which is extremely effective. As the name suggests, these are paper cards (simply cut out squares of paper) on which you write the word you are learning. You will then spread these cards all over your house. This purpose of this technique is to see these words several times during the day so that you can memorize them more easily.
If you are learning, for example, furniture, write a “wardrobe” in a foreign language on a card and stick it on the wardrobe. If you are learning Spanish, for example, you can write “la impresora” on the card, which means printer, and stick it on your printer.
You can place these cards anywhere, not only at home but also in the car, office, garden, garage—you name it.
6. Fairy tales or stories for children
Sure, I know this isn’t the best way to learn technical words, but if you’re a beginner, fairy tales or children’s stories are extremely helpful. This is because children’s stories are often told in a slow and intelligible voice. The graphic design and the story will then help you memorize the words more easily.
If you loved fairy tales from Walt Disney, the Donald Duck, or the Simpsons when you were little, check it out in the language you’re learning. You will often learn phrases or idioms that you would not learn in a textbook or language course.
7. YouTube – The Best Learning Platform
It is said that watching movies in the original language with subtitles is a great way to learn a new language. Undoubtedly, this is a good way to learn the language and adopt the pronunciation. However, the key to memorizing words quickly is repetition, and this is almost impossible with movies (unless you don’t mind watching one and the same movie several times a day.) Hence learning languages on Youtube is much more effective.
Find a Youtube channel or a Youtuber that makes videos in a language that you learn about what you love, watch their videos, and take notes. If they are shorter videos, you can watch them several times a day or return to them after a few days. The most important thing is to watch what interests you because only then will your mind be 100% focused and will memorize more words.
If you are a fan of cooking, watch recipes in a specific language. If you like technology or games, watch videos about phones, computers, or famous foreign gamers. Simply watch videos on topics you love, because learning will then be a breeze.
There were some of my favorite ways to learn a foreign language quickly and effectively. Some are more known, some less known. But one thing is important – learning foreign languages should always be fun and easy.