The Best Ways To Learn A New Language

by Mr. Lazy

The best way to learn a new language in your adult years is to study like a child, immerse yourself, and repeat, repeat, repeat.

Here is a list of the best ways to get yourself speaking Urdu, Swahili, or Swedish as fast as you can.

  • Start by buying yourself Rosetta Stone – This collection of interactive CDs teaches you with immersion and visual cues that help you retain information. It is not a traditional course and not based on pure memorization or mindless grammar rules. Though Rosetta Stones don’t come with instructions, I’ve found the best way to learn is one lesson per day (as many times as you want) in 30 minute intervals. Don’t do more than 30 minutes at a time and not more than one lesson.
  • Find a copy of Pimsleur – The great thing about this set of audio CDs is that you can listen to them in the car. Listen and follow the directions twice a day back and from work, you’ll have basic conversational skills within 2 weeks.
  • Read online newspapers in the language you are trying to learn -The Washington Post is written at a 6th grade reading level. Newspapers have to get information across simply and effectively. Search around for a reputable publication and look over it at twice, at least 5 minutes per day. The key is to be exposed to the language in both spoken and written form, even if you don’t understand more than a couple words.

  • Think like a child – You will get frustrated whether you learn using a traditional method or not. Try to train your brain and learn a new language like you did you mother tongue. By piecing it together slowly, listening to how others speak, and not worrying about the rules (just yet).
  • Don’t ask ‘why’ – this and that grammar rule exist. Children don’t do that when it comes to language and it will only slow down your progress. Most people fluent in the language you are learning don’t know why the structure of past tense is the way it is – they just accept it.
  • Make friends -Both who speak the language fluently and who are proficient non-natives. You can usually find people to talk to in language courses, online forums, and via the embassy.
  • Take immersion classes -There are several language schools for any given language. Make sure you find a class that is immersion, which means almost no English is spoken in class. Email the school and find out before you sign up. Classes should be at least 3 hours per week and range from 300-500$ per every 6 weeks. Also, remember, don’t be intimidated, all of the other students are learning too!
  • Use online translation services and dictionaries – if you can. Anytime the translation of a work is nagging you, look it up – those are the words you are most likely to retain. Keep in mind that these are not perfect and can’t replace human translations. has a good one for blocks of text, and here is another for less common languages.
  • Know how long it will take you to become a proficient speaker – Anthropologists agree that the length of time it takes to learn another language is generally based on how different it is from your first language. Natural Virtual Translation has the number of hours per language to give you an idea.
  • Get the curse words and slang down fast – They are usually the first few words you learn from a 2nd, 3rd, etc. language first. You want to speak like a native, not like a book…and tell dirty jokes at the same time!
  • Notice the ‘fill-in’ words -These are the words people use to fill in gaps when speaking. In English, it’s “um”, “like”, “yeah”. Making use of these words (for when you’re stuck or slowing down) help you to sound more native then using English “fillers”.
  • Think in the language -whether you know 2 words or 2,000. It’s silent practice and great for repetition. Remember, repetition = retention.

The basic rules you want to follow are:

  • Expose yourself to the language as much as possible, everyday of the week.
  • Speak whenever you have the opportunity.

And finally, have fun! Don’t worry about rules and messing up, you’ll get it right eventually with enough practice 🙂

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

sista D September 4, 2007 at 12:41 pm

yeah well what happens when it’s arabic? I don’t even know the letters! haha


aop1980 September 4, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Remember, think like a child – all characters were alien to you when you were a baby…yet you learned.

Same concept 😉


Daiveedino December 18, 2012 at 8:19 am

A list that mentions Rosetta Stone loses a big amount of credibility. Stop thinking and start doing, download torrents, look up phrases online, don’t be lazy & remember why you’re learning it in the first place. It’s an experience that provides you with some tools that will be useful in other areas as well.


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