If you want to travel the world, simply love linguistics, or want to communicate better with employees and customers in your line of work, you probably are looking for some quick, easy ways to learn a new language.
Well, we hate to break it to you, but a lot of those programs that promise fast, overnight results are either fleecing you or will give you some very basic basics that may or may not stick after listening to the CDs they have provided. After all, memorizing a few sounds does not mean you are speaking a language. Here are our tips for learning a new language–for real. You can try all of these, some of them or zero in on one method. Let us know what techniques you’ve had success with!
Unfortunately, just like most things sold on the shopping channel and at shopping mall kiosks, a lot of language programs are 90% hype. One of the most famous programs, Rosetta Stone, is voraciously purchased by travelers the world over…but how many of those yellow cases actually get opened and how many collect dust with the shake weight, ice-cream maker and collectible angels that are As Seen on TV and now live in the bottom of your closet?
Because there is such a low engagement rate, these programs also have debatable quality. Some users of the programs find good results at first and then later on notice that the translations are very bad because nobody usually makes it far enough to get to those final discs. Beware of any expensive programs, especially those who offer very fast results.
Take a class
Sign up for a class at your local community college, community center or university. Join a club or private class and go back to school; you will get hands-on attention and correction to set you right, something you can’t get from working alone.
Invite a foreign exchange student to stay
If you want to learn a new language and/or are wanting to improve a language you’re already working on, consider doing a foreign exchange program or offering to host an exchange student. While the young visitor will probably want to practice your mother tongue, perhaps you can strike a deal and both help each-other out.
Use the internet
There are so many resources out there that it would be impossible to list them all. Start with youtube, of course, and see where that gets you. Then, look for online courses or correspondence courses and read the reviews before making a purchase.
Hire a private tutor
If you want even more one-on-one attention, you could hire private tutor all by your lonesome. You may find a tutor in another country and video chat you lessons, or look up local tutors and invite them out to lunch every week for a bit of practice conversation.
As most people are aware these days, full immersion in any language is the best way to learn. So, take a trip! You could either enroll in a program that restricts any use of a language that is not being studied, or go to another country and learn to talk and barter, connect and argue on the fly.
Watch foreign films
Watch foreign films with subtitles to get a feel for the sounds and ideas that are being passed between characters. This is great for visual learners, who can benefit from hearing the words spoken in the foreign language while watching how the words are spelled on the bottom of the screen. A great way to dip a toe into learning a new language.