Top 10 of the Fastest Ways to Learn a Language
Are you looking for the fastest way to learn a language? You landed in the right place! Strategies and recommendations are scattered all around the internet but I curated a list just for you. This top 10 will make your language learning experience easier and put you on the fast track.
Master a new language faster and start today!
Do as the Experts Do
Polyglots around the world have consistently shared their best tips for us to learn from. If you want to learn a language in record time, they are the ones you should listen to. Here we’ll explore the advice given from experts Simon Ager, Emily Liedel, Mark Kinsella, and Bill Price.
If you’re not sure of what a polyglot is, check out: What’s the Difference Between a Polyglot and a Multilingual Person?
1. “Learn from context all you can.” – Simon Ager
The fastest way to learn a language includes training your brain to pick up knowledge from context as much as possible. When practicing conversation you can’t stop your partner every time you don’t understand a word so you can look it up in the dictionary. Instead, try to guess its meaning from the context of the sentence or the whole exchange. Some words will not be easy to deduce, but don’t worry! Feel confident enough to ask for the word’s meaning and listen to the definition. This is an opportunity to practice even further. You will soon learn how words and grammar work in a specific language. Try to spot patterns and don’t worry if you don’t understand or memorize everything from day one.
2. “Create opportunities to speak the language and speak to native speakers.” – Emily Liedel
The key word in this sentence is “create.” We’re wrong to assume that it’s impossible to create new opportunities! This is simply a fearful perspective rooted in seeking safety from our comfort zone. There are plenty of tools we can benefit from online so we meet native speakers and practice with them. HSA connects you with native Spanish speakers that also are certified teachers and give you high school credit. Italki is a site that sets you up with native speakers of different languages just to talk. Remember speaking is the fastest way to learn a language.
3. “Have imaginary conversations in your head using the vocabulary you are learning.” – Mark Kinsella
This simple practice can take you further than you think. Some of the benefits of constantly conversing with yourself are:
- Getting used to the language and syntax.
- Realizing what your linguistic weakness is. Is it conjugation? Lack of new vocabulary?
- Mastering greetings and introductions since that is normally where conversations start.
- Memorizing phrases. You will no longer worry for each word when you say in an actual conversation. Complete phrases will just come out of your mouth naturally.
- Pushing yourself to actually speak the language when you can’t find anyone to practice with. Speak speak speak.
4. “Learn what’s most useful to you.” – Bill Price
If you are in a rush to find the fastest way to learn a language, you surely have your reasons. Whether you’re doing it to get a job or to practice on an upcoming trip, it’s better if you choose to learn what is more useful for you in your situation. Do not waste your time and energy on learning things that aren’t that important right now. It is better to feel confident about what you need to know in order to achieve some basic fluency and get motivated.
If these four ideas spoke to you, you can continue to learn from professionals with these 10 Things Polyglots Do Differently.
Learning Strategies: Find Your Fastest Way to Learn a Language
Now that we’ve heard from the experts, take these next five strategies into account before laying out a course of action. Don’t forget discipline and self-motivation play a huge role and will make the difference between successfully learning a language and wasting precious time spinning your wheels.
6. Set goals that make sense
Analyze if your language needs and interests are realistic and possible. Is the fastest way to learn a language a good fit for you? Find a way to bound goals to a time frame and break them down into little tasks and assignments. But how to do it? The easiest way is by formulating SMART objectives:
The more specific your objectives are the easier and faster you will achieve them. Use all the details you need to have a clear idea of the desired result. Avoid ambiguous words that can mislead you from the point and ask yourself:
- What is your project about?
- What outcomes are you looking for?
- What will you need to do to make it happen?
- Have you planned strategies to achieve it?
- Will you be needing help or guidance?
- When will you start?
- When is it supposed to be accomplished?
You need tangible evidence to measure your goals. Think if you will be tracking your results in percentages, topics you will cover or conversations you can master. The idea is to be able to measure and evaluate your results, against an agenda or other periods of time. How will you know you have made timelines? The fastest way to learn a language is by keeping track of your milestones, it will motivate you every step of the way.
If your objectives aren’t achievable you will lose motivation and set yourself up to fail. Think about the resources and skills you have and answer these questions:
Are you willing to do it?
Are you capable of doing it?
Has someone else achieved it under the same conditions?
Is it possible according to your resources?
The difference between achievable and realistic is: It is achievable as long as a person like you with your resources can make it happen. It is realistic when it fits your lifestyle, schedule, and lifeplan. Can it coexist with your job, school, and other responsibilities? As long as it is reasonably aligned with your life, it is realistic.
Setting deadlines is key for your objectives to be specific, measurable, achievable and realistic. Objectives can be short-term (under a year), medium-term (1-3 years) or long-term (3+ years). Choose whichever is appropriate for you and your plan. This will create a sense of urgency that can show you tangible progress.
Here are some examples of SMART goals:
- Learning Spanish in two years, by practicing 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. 1 hour dedicated to theory and 1 hour speaking it (you can include a syllabus here and monthly objectives).
- Learning greetings and farewells in German in 1 week practicing 1 hour a day.
- Having a basic conversation (greetings, farewells, personal introduction, weather, traffic, saying something about myself) with a native French speaker after 4 months of studying 7 hours a week.
You can set monthly, weekly or even daily SMART goals. By counting little milestones in your everyday language learning journey, you will be stimulated and eager to conquer more quests. Knowing your limits and measuring progress is the best path to self-motivation.
7. Immerse yourself in the language
According to Michael Geisler, vice president for language schools of Vermont Middlebury College, language immersion is key to learning a language. Expose yourself to everything possible with content in your target language, including:
- TV shows and movies
- Digital resources
- Social media
The immersion technique makes it much easier for students to absorb accents, pronunciation, grammar, syntax, and vocabulary.
8. Make a commitment and stay accountable
In Spanish, the phrase lo que no cuesta no duele (similar to “no pain, no gain”) is the perfect description of this strategy. Invest resources on acquiring and fine-tuning knowledge. These are some examples that will help you commit to your language learning goal:
Decide how many hours a day are you capable and willing to invest to achieve your SMART goals. Measure your efficiency on a daily or weekly basis. What will you accomplish today? What will you know by the end of the week? How many lessons will you complete this month? What will you take out of your present schedule to make room for this project?
Invest your energy.
Waking up earlier or staying up at night not only implies a time investment. Making this commitment will ultimately define if you learn a language or not. Investing your energy is not only pushing yourself to read a lesson, it is to be laser focused, enjoy it and concentrate on the knowledge you are acquiring. This is more than adhering to a schedule. This is about self-regulation and self-motivation. You can do it!
Put your money where your mouth is
You will need help sometimes and it is ok to get it. Sure you’ll find a lot of information free online, but remember that enrolling a class or hiring a native speaker teacher will guide you to where you need to get. Tailor your language learning course according to your own specific needs and seek mentorship when needed.
Get out of your comfort zone!
Make a little room for this exciting new project! To do it, you need to get out of your comfort zone and imagine your life speaking a new language. The sooner you do it the better you will perform. Speaking your target language with someone else is definitely going to feel funny at the beginning. But by following these strategies you will be able to gain confidence in no time! Getting out of your comfort zone is the fastest way to learn a language.
Tell a friend
Social accountability is also a way of pushing yourself just enough to meet your goals. Make this a shared journey and learn a language with a friend or colleague. If this is something you’d like to do on your own, you can tell your family and friends about it. That way, they will be continuously asking about your progress and even want to hear a couple of sentences in a foreign language from your lips. Let your confidence build up while practicing with an audience. The fastest way to learn a language is to put a little pressure on it.
The more time, energy, money and comfort you put into a project the more results you will see. This is a great form of self-motivation: deciding to spend this much so you don’t leave it half done. Just don’t be tempted by procrastination and don’t let your goal out of sight.
9. Stick to a schedule and learning routine
You already have a schedule and decided to dedicate language learning one hour a day. That’s great! If you practice in the morning, set 15 minutes aside to review flashcards before going to sleep. Or if you practice at night, read a foreign language article while having breakfast. That way, you will be integrating your target language to your daily routine instead of being a 1 hour task.
10. Learn the right words the right way
Train your mind, mouth, ears, and sight all at once. Do not take any shortcuts! It will look like an option but soon enough you will realize it’s time-consuming and you will eventually have to go back. Some ideas to do this are the following:
- Write words correctly. If you want to also write them in a way that can help you phonetically go ahead but it is secondary.
- Enunciate words properly. You can connect with a native speaker or even use the Google Translator audio to practice.
- Try to listen more than you read. Reading sure is a tool but listening will help you master conversations quicker and more efficiently.
11. Speak your target language from day one
The main objective of language learning is to speak a different language. Many people falter to achieve this goal because they panic when attempting to converse with a native speaker. The fastest way to learn a language is to speak from day one. This is how you will have some tangible, measurable results that can evolve everyday.
Learn to Speak Spanish with Native Speakers
If you’re seeking Spanish fluency, our teachers at Homeschool Spanish Academy would be honored to get you speaking from day one! Nothing beats live, 1-on-1 practice with a native speaker, especially if they’re certified professionals. Empower yourself to start speaking today! Build momentum with one of our friendly teachers from Guatemala and join more than 24,000 actively enrolled students on a monthly basis!
If you’d like to try us out for free, sign up for a free class and let today be the day you speak Spanish with a native speaker.
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