I was really terrible at Spanish in high school. My grades were pretty bad throughout the year and I thought that I would never be able to learn a new language. I had nightmares about “conjugating” verbs. My teacher even suggested that I avoid taking Spanish classes once I got to college. I just barely made it out alive…
Luckily, things have changed a lot since then. I’ve gained a lot more motivation, a lot more interest in other cultures, and I’m starting have a pretty decent understanding of Spanish. I’ve also started learning the basics of German and French, and am genuinely enjoying it.
If you’re like me and were pretty clueless in high school, don’t worry!
There are a lot of great ways out there to either start learning a new language or to refresh your existing knowledge, and most of them are actually pretty enjoyable.
Make It Into A Game Using Duolingo
This is probably my favorite way to learn a new language and it’s also one of the most fun. Duolingo makes learning languages into a game and you “level up” as you learn more and more. The courses are broken up into manageable lessons in which you translate sentences, transcribe what you hear, and speak phrases into the microphone.
The ability to access Duolingo for free on iOS, Android, or on the web also makes it extremely easy to get started on. It’s a breeze to chip away at languages whenever you’re bored or have a few minutes of downtime.
Spice Up Your Commute With Pimsleur Audio Programs
Pimsleur audio programs have been around for quite a while and are a great way to learn a new language. In addition to software-based courses, some of the most popular offerings by the company are its audio programs. The audio programs come in a ton of different languages and are a great choice for people with long commutes. Why not be productive while sitting in traffic?
The audio courses guide you through spoken conversations while telling you how to respond and allowing you a chance to reply out loud. Because of that, it’s a great choice for anybody who actually needs to learn to speak a language, rather than just being able to read it or understand it.
Another great thing is that many local libraries have Pimsleur audio courses, so it’s pretty easy to just go grab one and get started for free.
Learn a New Language With Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone software is very similar to Duolingo but instead of relying on text to teach you new words it is a much more visual course. Rosetta Stone immerses you in your chosen language and teaches you through context and visual information. It’s very similar to the way children and infants learn to speak.
I’ve only experimented with Rosetta Stone during brief stints, but I actually like it a lot more than Duolingo. It can’t compete with the price of Duolingo however, as most of the courses cost around $200.
Watch Foreign Television
Of course, one common way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it by watching TV shows or movies. It’s amazing what you can understand and what words you can figure out just by seeing the context of the words and watching body language.
If you want to make the most out of this you might want to start with subtitles in your own language at first, then start watching with the native subtitles, and then take the subtitles off completely.
Also, I’ve heard of people learning completely from this method, but in my opinion this is probably serves better as a supplement to a more structured language course.
After reading this article on Fluentu.com I’ve started watching the Spanish version of a show called Extr@ on Youtube. If you search for it on Google you can also find live television streams from around the world, like the one for the Mexican Travel Channel.
Visit a New Place
You could also be really brave and go for TOTAL immersion. Simply visit a place where they speak the language you would like to learn, and go. Learn how to order food, ask for directions, and get to know the locals.
This method is definitely not easy, but many people pull this off. Many people travel through, or even move to new countries without the slightest knowledge of the language.
You can do a lot more than you may think with body language alone, but immersing yourself like this can really force you into understanding a new language in a pretty intense way.
You don’t necessarily have to leave the country to do this, though. You could also try going to a more diverse part of your own city and throwing yourself into a few conversations. If your city has a Chinatown or a section with a lot of Latino businesses, for example, maybe try taking a little mini-vacation and start practicing.
Take a Class
You can also go the more traditional route by taking a class on the language of your choosing. If you’re currently in college or high school, you have plenty of options to learn a new language. But if you’re out of school, there are still some options.
Many colleges offer continuing education courses devoted to learning the basics of a new language. You can probably find other basic language classes offered in your community as well, if you search for them. There are also plenty of online courses to choose from.
Join a Foreign Language Club or Group
Another great way to learn a new language, or to practice one, is to join a foreign language group in your area. If you’re in college you can look for a club focused on the language you would like to learn.
Otherwise, you can try Google and look for foreign language groups in your city. There are also many Meetup groups that meet specifically to practice language skills and are great for getting some practical experience.
So those are some of my best ideas for learning a new language or two. Of course, I think the best way of all is to do more than one of the above. Personally, I still have a lot to learn, but I’m trying to add more of these methods into my life so that the languages I’m learning will become second nature to me.
What do you think? Did I miss anything?
If so, feel free to leave me a comment down below.