Speaking the Language

This strategy of learning a new language only works if you speak in the language. If you are only able to spend 50% of your learning time in conversations, invest your time on the important aspects of the language that you can't focus on enough. It will be different for each language.

For instance, in Spanish, the conjugation system can be a bit overwhelming. Grammar exercise books might be useful. In Chinese, grammar is not so much the issue as pronunciation.

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Problem Solving

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You can choose a friend who also wants to learn the language. Agree to talk in your language of choice at least once per day or whenever you talk to each other.

Your friend does not have to be a native speaker. But, 10% of your time should be speaking with an advanced or native speaker. Use a dictionary or other tools when you feel the need.

If you cannot find a learning buddy ( a partner that is willing to commit to only speaking in a foreign language with you), hire a tutor.

You can also opt for language exchange with people who want to learn your language.

  • Don't wait too long before you start practicing. Most people find it uncomfortable to speak a language poorly and avoid it. Don't think you will wait until you're "ready".
  • Going from zero to 100% will require some preparation. 25 - 50 hours are usually enough for a European language, 100 hours for harder Asian languages.

If you want to do some practice before traveling to a country for a 100% immersion, do about 50% conversation practice and 50% with some beginner learning resource.

The non-speaking parts of learning are to supplement the conversation practice, not to be in place of it.

Open a translating tool, type what you want to say, translate to the language you want to speak, try saying it to the other person.

If they understand you and say something you don't understand, ask them to write it down and use Google to translate it. It could be very awkward at first, but don't stress yourself too much about that.

Although it is scary and hard, immersive practice is by far the most effective. When the person you're speaking with sees that you don't understand, they will automatically try to simplify what they communicate.

If you don't want to speak yet, you can also try reading or watching movies, until you have a high listening comprehension.

The Best Strategy For Learning A New Language
  • Travel to a country that speaks the language.
  • Get a phrasebook and learn a few basic expressions.
  • Commit to only speaking in that language from the very beginning.
  • Use a dictionary to translate when you feel stuck.
  • Hire a local tutor.

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RELATED IDEAS

Research shows that children are proficient at learning a second language up until the age of 18, roughly ten years later than earlier estimates. It also shows that it is best to start another language by age ten if you want to achieve the grammatical ability of a native speaker.

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IDEAS

A tutor is a dedicated person who can answer questions, explain how the language works and be an opportunity to practice speaking while you're still trying to make friends.

  • Native people don't really have a high understanding of how their language works. They cannot explain the nuances of grammar or vocabulary. Professional teachers get this instruction and can often help.
  • If costs are too high, you can also settle for a dedicated language partner such as a fellow learner or native speaker.
Learning a foreign language faster
  • Intensity of study trumps length of study;
  • Start with the 100 most common words;
  • Keep practicing in your head. You don't need a teacher or even a conversation partner to practice your language skills. 
  • You're going to say a lot of stupid things. Accept it.
  • One-on-one tutoring is the best and most efficient use of time, if you have the money for that.

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