In today’s post, we’re going to teach you how to learn languages.
We’ll talk about the fastest way to learn any foreign language. We’ll also mention some useful learning methods as well as books, apps, and even nootropics for language learning.
Let’s get started!
The fastest way to learn any foreign language
In order to learn a foreign language fast, you need to be organized and know what you want.
So, start by setting your goals. Think of what level you want to achieve.
You’ll also need some motivation, so make sure what you choose is fun and make you want to learn more and more.
This means you should choose a language learning tool you feel confident with. It may be an online audio course, group lessons, or private lessons.
Adding some challenges to your routine can be motivating, so set yourself some weekly goals. However, don’t push yourself TOO much, otherwise, you’ll find it frustrating if you don’t achieve your impossible goals.
You should also introduce your new language into your everyday life. If you can, explore the culture of the country where that language is spoken.
Last but not least, don’t think of the language as a duty but as an investment for your future and a hobby you enjoy doing.
Find out more about the fastest way to learn any foreign language.
Language learning for communication: acquisition is best
There is a distinction between language acquisition and language learning.
You acquired your mother tongue in a natural way when you were a baby, a child, and a later teenager.
When you’re an adult, you may learn a language by studying its rules, grammar, vocabulary, etc.
Who do you think learns better: children acquiring their native languages or adults learning grammar?
Children! Their brains are absorbing all the information without studying the rules of a language.
They acquire their language through a subconscious process during which they are unaware of grammatical rules.
This is why language acquisition is the best option. It’s more natural. So, you should focus more on skills – like speaking and listening – rather than rules and useless exercises.
Learn more about language acquisition.
Learn foreign words with these 4 simple mnemonics
A memory device is any learning technique that aids information in human memory.
In other words, a mnemonic is a tool that helps us remember certain facts or large amounts of information.
They can come in the form of a song, rhyme, acronym, image, phrase, or sentence.
They are important for language learning because they can also help memorize vocabulary in a foreign language.
Here are the 4 main mnemonics:
- Learn foreign words through exaggeration: the more bizarre the visualization, the more likely it will stick with you.
- Learn foreign words through movement: adding action or movement to your images helps to establish a flow between the things you are trying to remember.
- Learn foreign words through unusual association: put together two things or situations that belong to different contexts.
- Learn foreign words through emotional involvement: when we hear a news that moves us, we remember that information for a long time, if not forever.
Learn more about how to learn foreign words with mnemonics.
Communication skills in a foreign language
If you’re learning a foreign language, you should focus on communication skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
It’s way more fun than just learning the grammar and boring rules.
So, ideally, you should make a habit of reading and writing in your target language.
You should also listen to the language you’re learning and try to speak it, even if it’s just to yourself.
You could listen to a song and then imitate what you heard, just like a singer. Or you could listen to some jokes and repeat them, like a joker.
Or you could work on creative writing to make it even more fun. Write funny stories, poems, songs, jokes, or even just tongue twisters.
Also, you could keep a diary and write about what keeps you motivated.
Set yourself some fun tasks, like small projects you can work on.
Read more about communication skills in a foreign language.
Speaking practice: talk to yourself
As we already said, speaking is one of the main skills you should be practicing, if not the main one.
Why? Because we learn our native languages first by listening, and then by speaking. So, we should imitate that natural and innate learning process.
We recommend starting by listening to music, the radio, TV shows, etc.
Then turn everything into speaking. If you’re reading, read aloud. If you’re writing, write aloud. If you’re listening, repeat back.
And then… start talking to yourself! You won’t sound crazy if you’re on your own and are aware that you’re doing it only to practice your speaking skills.
Don’t just think in a foreign language. Talk! Sing! Shout! Exaggerate those foreign sounds that are so tricky to pronounce.
The great thing about speaking to yourself is that you don’t need a conversation partner. So, you can do it whenever!
Read more about how to talk to yourself in a foreign language.
Language self-study books: how to pick a decent one
You should use textbooks only as guides. But they shouldn’t be your main tools to learn a foreign language.
This is why it’s very important to choose a really good one.
A good book should be in the target language and should focus on communication, especially conversation.
It should have images, dialogues, concise grammar explanations, good examples, culture notes, and lots of short real-life readings and audios. Not just random sentences with no logical connection.
It should also provide you with good writing and speaking exercises.
However, don’t expect to learn correct pronunciation only by reading a book, even if it comes with a CD. Instead, you should listen to native speakers on TV or on the Internet.
Then go out and look for someone you can speak to, or just speak to yourself.
In other words, a good textbook should be serious but also fun.
Find out how to pick a foreign language textbook.
Why people still use bad study methods and language apps
The teaching methods for foreign languages used in school are usually pretty bad and old-fashioned or at least, they were like that for all those who were in school more than 10 years ago.
This means that those people who learned with those methods may still be teaching that way.
That’s why people still use bad study methods. We learn patterns when we’re younger that stick with us in adulthood.
Also, the world of marketing wants us to believe we can learn anything within just a few months. That’s just not possible.
And then, there are the apps. Most of the time, they’re addictive but not very effective. They want to keep you stuck on the screen and make you believe you’re making great progress.
Also, they’re literally at one’s fingertips. That’s why people still use them.
However, you should learn to learn in a different way. You’ll learn more by watching movies, listening to podcasts, reading short texts in the target language, and meeting up with friends who speak the language you’re learning.
Of course, you will need to learn some of the theory, that’s why you may need a teacher, a textbook, or an app, but make sure they’re good and teach you the right way.
Read more about why people use bad methods and apps to learn foreign languages.
Do language apps actually work? Fun vs results
As we said, apps tend to be addictive, just like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
This has to do with business models that want customers to stay tuned and never leave.
They manage to achieve this goal by helping you set daily goals; telling you that you’re right; praising you constantly; using email and phone notifications to stay on track; etc.
However, all of those aspects, which sound amazing, don’t really reflect your actual communication skills.
These apps try to make it fun for online learners because usually, they didn’t find any other option to learn a foreign language.
Learners expect the apps to be fun because they’re not able to find internal motivation. Thus, apps provide learners with external motivation.
However, learning is not just fun. It should be effective and, even if you may learn some vocabulary and grammar rules, you won’t be practicing much speaking or writing with an app.
One of the main goals of writing and speaking should be getting feedback. And apps don’t usually provide genuinely good feedback.
So, apps may be addictive and fun, but you won’t become fluent just by using an app.
Read more about language apps.
How to teach on Italki
If you’re a teacher and want to know how to teach on Italki, this section is for you!
Italki is the largest language learning community that connects students and teachers for 1-on-1 online language lessons.
As an Italki teacher, you set your prices. Also, you can teach on your schedule and you can work from home or anywhere. And Italki handles all the payments so you don’t have to.
All you need is motivation and a profile picture!
You also have to prepare an introductory video where you talk about your teaching skills, give information about yourself, your methodology, and your students, and mention your availability.
Just make sure you don’t read and pick a nice background.
These are just some tips: take breaks; log in often; start cheap and available; don’t hurry and be patient; experiment; only teach one student at a time; make sure your students are happy so that they can give you a great review.
Last tip: make sure you buy good earphones or headphones with a microphone! They’ll be your main tool and best friend while teaching.
Read more about how to teach on Italki.
The best headset for online language classes: Jabra Evolve 20
This may sound obvious, but having a good pair of headphones with a good microphone is extremely important!
If you want to learn a language online with a tutor, you’ll need to be able to hear them well, so will they.
You’re not going to sing at the stadium, but you do need to be heard clearly even with some noise around you.
This is why we recommend Jabra Evolve, which is the best headset for your online language classes.
This headset has an excellent microphone and audio. Both the microphone and the headphones are built for passive noise cancellation: they work to block out sound waves from the environment by the materials they are made of.
Also, it’s very comfortable and affordable. You can buy them for around $50. If you think this price is high, remember it’s your main working tool, so it’s important to invest money on an excellent headset.
Read the full Jabra Evolve 20 review.
12 ways to boost brain power for language learning
If you want to keep your brain healthy and improve your memory, you need to have a healthy lifestyle.
These are the 12 ways to boost your brainpower for language learning:
- get regular physical activity;
- get enough sleep;
- avoid drinking;
- avoid smoking;
- eat a balanced diet:
- eat seeds and nuts;
- eat fruit, like blueberries, strawberries, and other berries;
- eat dark chocolate;
- eat whole grains;
- eat veggies, like tomatoes, broccoli, spinach;
- try generic nutrient supplements, like zinc or vitamin B12;
- Try nootropics specifically designed to boost brainpower.
Read more about the best ways to boost brain power for language learning.
Best nootropics for language learning: a polyglot’s review
The best way to improve your memory is by practicing standard healthy behaviors.
However, nootropics, also known as cognitive enhancers or smart drugs, are supplements that improve cognitive function, like memory, creativity, or motivation.
Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world. It’s naturally found in coffee, cocoa, tea, kola nuts, and guarana and added to many sodas, energy drinks, and medications.
However, caffeine may be harmful and addictive.
If you want to go for a supplement, Mind Lab Pro nootropics is regularly listed as one of the best stacks around.
Mind Lab Pro is the Universal Nootropic™ that protects overall brain health and targets language-specific brain centers so you can communicate better and process incoming information more efficiently.
Mind Lab Pro is a safe nootropic supplement. It’s the only nootropic supplement of its kind with a clean label: no artificial colors, no preservatives, no GMO, no gluten, no caffeine, and no additives.
Even the capsules are clean: premium vegan Plantcaps.
Read more about nootropics for language learning.