What is the Best Way to Learn a New Language?

 

  1. Total Immersion. 

    You just can’t beat this one. Living in the country of the native language for a few months, attending a foreign university, etc. This forces you to learn and speak the language, rather than falling back on your ‘crutch’ (English). When you take away the option to “cheat on the foreign language”, you learn at an incredibly rapid pace.

  2. Live Tutor. tutor

    Most people can’t ditch their life to live in Beijing; so this is the closest you can get. Look on the internet for a live tutor: Craigslist, Care.com, and so many other ways to get connected with a native speaker (AND teacher) who will help you get accustomed to progress.

  3. Social Gatherings/Meetups. social_gathering

    So many people buy Rosetta Stone, or a book here, an app there. But, they don’t FORCE THEMSELVES to speak the language. By going to a regular social event or gathering (with native speakers + those learning the language) you will be able to practice what you have been learning from other sources. Check out www.meetup.com

  4. Books. books

    People seem to think books are the ‘old way’ and have been trumped by software. Actually reading a book is the 2nd best way to learn ANYTHING; as your brain is in a state of cognitive action, requiring you to attach words to sounds, and words to pictures. (this is why we created BookLingual)

  5. Media/Software/Programs. computer_media

    Notice that Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, and the likes are number 5 on this list. They are helpful in guiding you and organizing your path to language progression. But are by no means an end all be all to fluency. Also, make sure and check out hot new startup Duolingo – which is completely free (and quite amazing).

  6. Free Content on the Internet. internet

    Go to youtube, google ‘learn Spanish’ – you are going to find so many free resources. Notice that this is very helpful, but is not transformative to fluency, unless you apply it to speaking.

 

Special Tips:

  • When I was working on mastering Spanish, I found it was very helpful to keep a hand written daily journal. Every day when I came upon a word I didn’t know, or made a mistake – I wrote this in the journal. At the end of the day, I would review everything again. This was extremely helpful; and it is always nice to put pen to paper (instead of mashing on a keyboard all day).
  • Learn a language with someone else. With a family member, spouse, coworker, or friend. You can keep each other accountable and practice together.
  • Set aside a “Spanish only” day each week (or whatever language) – where you only watch Spanish language TV, only read in Spanish, etc. This will help to mimic total immersion.
  • Teach your children the language. Children have the propensity to learn at a very rapid pace, and this will be a wonderful bonding activity.

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