November 10, 2011

12 Language Learning Tips

Learning a new language can be difficult, but not impossible. No matter how old you are, there are methods and techniques that can make it easier to absorb the nuances of another language. It doesn’t make any difference whether you’re trying to learn a new language for fun, or as a necessity, all it takes is for you to apply yourself. Following are a few language learning tips.

Study Every Day

In order to learn a language efficiently, you need to study every day. If you throw yourself into learning a language, but tire of it quickly and only return to it sporadically, it will prove to be very difficult for you to become proficient in that language. Instead, you should set aside a 15 or 20 minute period in the morning and again in the evening to devote to foreign language study.


The fastest way to learn anything is when it becomes absolutely necessary to do so. If you throw someone into deep water, they’ll either sink or swim. Using that principle for learning a new language would mean immersing yourself in the language by limiting your communication to that language. If all you hear is French or Italian and you can’t talk to anyone except in that language, then you’ll probably learn how to communicate quickly.

Set Goals

How quickly you learn a new language depends a lot on your commitment to doing so. Like most things, meeting your goal of learning a new language can go smoother if you set intermediate goals that are more easily attainable. Instead of telling yourself that you need to learn Spanish by the end of the year, set your first goal a little lower--something along the lines of being able to ask for directions or being comfortable speaking Spanish exclusively during a meal by the end of the month. Smaller goals along the way will help you achieve the long-term goal more efficiently.

Teach Yourself

It is possible to teach yourself a second language with no outside help. There are computer programs designed to do just that. Audio tapes work the same way. Simply by hearing the same words and phrases over and over again you’ll begin to pick up the language.

Foreign Language Classes

If you don’t like studying alone, or feel you’ll be able to pick up the language quicker through formal education, then you should enroll in foreign language classes. Most community colleges offer classes in Spanish, French, Chinese, or any number of other languages. If you’re the type that learns better in a formal classroom environment than by listening to audio tapes or interactive computer programs, then doing so will increase your chances of learning the language quickly.

Find a Tutor

A method of learning another language that has proven to work well is to find a tutor. Having a one-on-one relationship with a teacher may help you learn more quickly. An intensive program in a closed environment, without any distractions, will speed the learning process along, especially if the tutor is a good teacher.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Wrong

When you’re participating in a foreign language class or studying with a tutor, don’t be afraid to give a wrong response to a question. If you’re incorrect, you’ll simply be told the right way to speak the word or phrase and more than likely won’t make the same mistake again.

Practice Whenever You Can

In order to learn a language quickly, you should practice using that language whenever possible. At every opportunity use whatever sentences, phrases, or words that you know in a conversation with someone who speaks the language. In most cases they will be more than happy to point out errors in grammar or syntax and teach you the right pronunciation or application of that word or phrase.


One of the best ways of learning anything is to simply listen instead of talking. If you’re in an environment where the language you’ve chosen to learn is being spoken, take the time to listen to the people as they communicate with one another. After a while you’ll begin to pick up words and phrases and be able to follow the conversation.

Talk to Yourself

Although talking to yourself is often considered to be a bad thing, it may actually be helpful in learning a new language. In between your formal learning periods you can try repeating words and phrases until you fully understand the meaning of them, and are sure you’re pronouncing them correctly.

Read and Write

Whenever possible take the time to read newspapers and magazines in the language you’re studying. You should also practice writing words and sentences in that language. As your knowledge increases, you will learn even faster.

Be Patient

Don’t expect to pick up all the nuances of any language in a short time. In order to become fluent in another language, you will need to be patient, study hard, and devote yourself to learning at a pace that will help you retain what you’ve learned. If you try and learn too quickly, you could become disenchanted with the process and give up.

Guest post from Pat Singer. Pat writes for


Ronaldo Lima, Jr. said...

Thanks a lot for this port, Karen. These are great tips, and I believe they can be applicable for students in immersion (second language) as well as for those learning the language outside a country where it is spoken (foreign language). For instance, I always tell me English as a Foreign Language learners here in Brazil to try to immerse themselves in English through videos, music, texts and chats, especially now with so many resources on the internet.
Thanks a lot!

Bose said...

Karen, this is just outstanding post, appreciate your advice, keep it up!IT Careers