Who among us has not listened to people on the street, in stores, and even at social gatherings, speak in a foreign language?
We are intrigued.
We wish we could understand what they are saying.
And we feel a bit inadequate when these same people can also speak our language pretty well.
Maybe it’s time that we take up a foreign language or two, only one at a time, of course.
After all, there are lots of benefits – expand career opportunities, communicate when traveling, improve and enhance brain function, etc.
And the faster you learn one, the faster you can move on to another, becoming known as a polyglot.
So, just how do you learn a foreign language fast?
1. Total Immersion
When foreign children who do not speak a language enter school, they are most often placed in a regular classroom where only that language is spoken.
While they may receive additional help in a special class a few times a week, it is found that they learn fastest by being “immersed” from the beginning.
You can’t place yourself in a total immersion situation, but you can follow the same principles.
For example, most foreign film producers use online transcription services for captioning in a foreign language.
Turn the captioning off on your TV screen and just watch the movie or show.
American TV stations have Spanish-speaking channels.
Watch those consistently if you are learning Spanish.
2. Read in the Language
You can begin with children’s books.
The pictures will help you understand what is going on while you read the words.
Read many of them every day – you will be picking up vocabulary through repetition.
Graduate to higher-level reading as quickly as possible.
3. Find a Language Partner
There are lots of websites that will match people who want to learn your language who are native to the language you wish to learn.
Get online with each other as often as possible and practice, practice, practice.
4. Work on Pronunciation from the Beginning
You must speak the language correctly from the beginning.
If you don’t and have to correct your pronunciation later, it will be much harder to do.
Listening and practicing what you hear is critical.
5. Focus on the Big Picture
When you are reading in the language, do not stop and look up the words you don’t know.
Read the entire piece a few times.
You’ll pick up the general meaning.
Once you have that, you can look up the words you don’t know.
6. Start Speaking Immediately
Get a language app that will translate what you want to say in your target language on the spot.
Speak to it, listen to the translation, and then practice saying it immediately.
Not only will this keep you practicing your pronunciation, but you will be learning new vocabulary on a consistent basis.
7. Focus Only on One language at a Time
Nothing can be more confusing than trying to learn two languages at the same time.
No matter how much of a hurry you are in, just do not do this.
Many high school and college students who attempt two languages at a time can attest to this, even in a slower, more traditional environment.
8. Be Tolerant of Not Understanding Everything
It can be frustrating not to understand everything you hear or read in your target language.
But you have to accept this, for now, knowing that ultimately you will have much greater mastery.
And consider your goal for learning a language.
Do you intend to become an expert with one of the best professional translation services or do you have something less ambitious in mind?
9. Begin with Simplicity
Much of these tips point to this, but they cannot be repeated enough.
Start with simple dialogue and stories while still immersing yourself in more complex text and conversation at the same time.
10. Avoid Myths and Hacks
There is a lot of misinformation out there about how to learn a language quickly – everything from sleeping with a language text under the pillow to paying for an online course that promises language mastery within a few weeks.
Learning a language requires hard work.
If you want to learn it faster, then you must commit to the hard work.
Use What Works for You
These 10 tips are good ones, and you should consider them carefully.
But in the end, choose those that will work for you, commit to your goals, and be willing to put in the work.