How to Learn a New Language Fast

Last update February 15, 2021
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People look at different languages as these tools that let them communicate with other people who know the same languages. That’s not entirely the case though. Languages are far more than just communication tools. They’re doors and windows to different communities’ cultures, traditions, ideas, values, beliefs, institutions, laws, established practices and so on and so forth.

As an example, using online courses to learn English for people who aren’t fluent in English isn’t just about picking up the world’s most popular, widely spoken language. It is about obtaining the ability to access countless new sources of knowledge and information. It is about understanding different thought processes. It is about figuring out the ways in which people all over the globe live their lives.

Learning a new language

Let’s be clear though – it is not easy. Especially as an adult, there’s hardly anything as difficult as studying a new language. At the same time, we all know that everything worthwhile takes time and everything worth doing is hard. Besides, that’s what we’re here for. In this article, you’ll find the most effective ways to quickly learn new language(s).

3 Steps to Start Learning a New Language

How to learn a new langugage: step one

1. Set Tangible Goals

Learning different languages is the same as learning any other complex matter/subject. It takes time and patience. It can seem utterly overwhelming at first. So many new symbols. So many words. So many rules.

Don’t start panicking just yet though. There’s nothing to worry about as long as you properly challenge yourself without taking on more than you can handle.

Set specific, tangible goals. For example, “I’m gonna use these online French courses to learn 30 new words every week”. Sounds realistic when you put it this way, doesn’t it? That’s 120 words per month and more than a thousand words per year though. As far as we’re concerned, that’s not too bad at all.

At the same time, make sure to maintain some balance between long-term and short-term goals. You have to strive towards something. Having that long-term goal as your North Star can be extremely beneficial and important. Just don’t let that goal overwhelm you. Make sure to break it down into smaller bits.

For example, you’d like to become fluent in Spanish in a year. That’s an ambitious but attainable goal. Let that goal guide you but don’t let the goal swamp you. Set smaller in-between objectives. Write these objectives down. Make sure these objectives are challenging but, at the same time, not too challenging. That’s the fastest way to learn that language without going insane.

This week, you will cover articles. The next week (or month, we’re not setting the pace here, you are) is reserved for suffixes and prefixes. From baby steps to giant strides, there’s no goal too ambitious when you’re smart and methodical about it.

How to learn a new language: step two

2. Not All Words Are Created Equal

There are way too many words. Way too many. English, for instance, contains somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 words. Ain’t nobody got time for so many words. You don’t have to learn them all though. The top 100 words make up somewhere around 50% of all English texts, while the top 1,000 words constitute more than 90%. That is more or less true for pretty much every language out there. Needless to say, you should start with these words.

Of course, learning one thousand words is no simple task too. You need to break them down as well. We would suggest tackling the cognates first and foremost. Cognates are these words that look and sound very similar (sometimes identical) in different languages. Take the Spanish gratitud and English gratitude. You won’t always be able to correctly spell these words out but you’ll definitely be able to tell what they mean, at the very least. There are various online Spanish courses and different sources online that will feed you these words.

Learn the words that are relevant to you. It is easy to quickly lose interest studying business vocabulary when you don’t care about the subject in the slightest. Who said that you have to study the words that pertain to these subjects though? Well, somebody might have and, when that’s the case, you probably should. But make sure to throw some interesting (as far as you’re concerned) words into that mix too. These words could be related to your hobbies, work, literally anything you find somewhat stimulating.

How to learn a new language: step three

3. Immerse Yourself

As far as the learning foreign languages subject is concerned, immersing yourself in the said language’s environment is the oldest yet the most effective trick in the book. Of course, literal, physical immersion is preferable but, unfortunately, seldom available to most people.

Fortunately, we’re presented with many wonderful alternative opportunities these days. You can easily immerse yourself and learn a new language at home.

Start watching YouTube videos and TV shows in that language. At first, subtitles will prove immensely helpful. Move on to audio books after that. Before that though, don’t forget to set your phone and computer’s settings to the language you’re trying to learn. Start using the language every day. Try to find some native speakers online and make friends with them.

Sure, it will all feel overwhelming and frightening at first. At the same time, there’s nothing more rewarding than finally picking up on the language you’ve been studying for months and understanding words and sentences delivered by natives.

Study Smart

Repetition is the most effective way to learn new words

Many professionals argue that flashcards provide the most effective way to memorize new languages. Applying the concept known as spaced repetition, different online sources use these cards to learn how well you know certain words and phrases and make sure to prioritize the things you have a hard time with without wasting your time on the things you’ve no problems with.

Pick up a notebook and take it everywhere with you. You’ll always be able to write down the words you come across and add these words to your vocabulary. We emphasize the notebook part because countless studies suggest that writing things rather than typing them down improves your ability to recall that information. According to multiple researchers, because writing takes more time, the approach incorporates deeper mental processing compared to the supposedly more effective typing method.  

Take Exhaustion into Account

Learning a new language takes patience

There’s nothing wrong with making clear and decisive resolutions. There’s nothing wrong with realizing your limits too. We’re all humans, aren’t we? No one is perfect. You will make mistakes. You will fall behind schedule. You will fail to reach various lofty goals.

That’s fine. The problem here isn’t with you. The problem is with the plan. The biggest tweak you can make is to plan exhaustion into your goals. Take regular breaks. Drink water. Be good to yourself. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Test Yourself

Testing yourself regularly while studying is important

Nobody likes tests. They’re here anyway. Get used to them. Without tests, you’ll never be able to tell how far you’ve come and where you’re still lacking.

We’re not necessarily talking about some big-time examinations here. You can test yourself in many little ways. You can play various online games designed to test certain aspects of the language you’re in the process of studying. You can devise your own tests.

Of course, you can also take standardized tests. These are far more daunting but far more overall effective too.

Have Fun in the Process

Learning a new language by playing is very effective

Life’s difficult as is. Don’t make it any more difficult. Don’t force yourself into something you clearly don’t enjoy. We’re not talking about quitting here. As far as we’re concerned, there are no people that do not enjoy learning new languages.

There are, however, people that haven’t been able to find an enjoyable way to learn new languages. That way is out there though. You just have to find it. When you find that something that makes learning the language an enjoyable process, nothing and no one will be able to stop you.

We’ve been talking about various online sources here but, as far as we’re concerned, there’s only one place online that incorporates all these steps and methods that we’ve listed above.

 Rosetta Stone

Learn new languages fast with Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone is the biggest and most recognizable name in the online language courses business. There are many reasons why so many people choose to go with Rosetta Stone. The platform’s methodical, well-thought-out, structural approach is definitely among these reasons.

Take the company’s Chinese courses, for example. The all-encompassing courses are huge and can seem frightening at first. The people behind these courses are pretty smart about it though. They’ve made sure to break the courses down into 20 accessible units that cover the most practical things you need to know about Chinese first and foremost.

The units usually include 3-5 core lessons (depending on the language) that evenly divide the time between various language aspects and make sure not to overemphasize certain aspects while sacrificing other facets of the language. These lessons incorporate gradual progression that is based upon the foundation you’ve been able to build so far with frequent small quizzes that test your knowledge regarding different subjects.

Each unit incorporates bite-sized lessons that work wonders targeting specific language mechanics like vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, reading, and writing. These lessons are interactive, visual, and no more/less repetitive than they should be.

The Company Philosophy

The philosophy of Rosetta Stone company

What separates Rosetta Stone is how good the people behind the company’s courses are at balancing various aspects and keeping their courses simultaneously effective and engaging. The courses do not dive too deep into convoluted details or bombard you with unnecessary vocabulary. The courses begin with basics first and foremost. Before anything else, Rosetta Stone teaches you the phrases and vocabulary that will definitely prove useful/come up in everyday interactions.

At the same time, the company’s courses do not necessarily disappoint as far as progressive and compound delivery is concerned. The people behind these courses make sure to never abandon any words/language mechanics. The things that you learn on day one will likely come back to bite you further into the course. The knowledge you pick up from unit to unit will be re-used. When it comes to learning languages, repetition is key and Rosetta Stone makes sure to always feed you the proverbial key.

Different from the Rest

Rosetta incorporates a unique approach to learning foreigh languages

Rosetta Stone is different. The company would have never been able to achieve the success that it has achieved sticking to the basics and delivering the same progressive/compound methods.

The platform is different thanks to its many unique features. Every lesson incorporates pictures that associate different languages’ characters to sounds. The company’s app always makes sure to throw occasional multiple-choice questions into the mix to throw you off your game. You’ll be pronouncing the words/sentences back to your gadget. That instant feedback will make sure you never learn the wrong lessons.

On paper, these things aren’t necessarily unique to Rosetta Stone. It is the features’ execution that makes them unique. It is the various interactive activities and contextual lessons that work wonders advancing far quicker compared to the methods. It is TruAccent®, the company’s very own speech-recognition engine that will let you fine-tune your pronunciation to sound like a local.

You’ll be able to learn using any device. The company’s mobile app is especially impressive. Plus, the application offers offline access, which isn’t something we can say about the company’s direct competition.

The platform hosts courses that will let you learn 30 languages (including English). You can use the company’s website/application to easily find live tutoring. Rosetta Stone’s “Extended Knowledge" feature will let you access games, stories, and self-recordings. There’s also the “Audio Companion" feature that will allow you to add podcast-esque audio sessions to the courses’ interactive lessons. Last but not least, the company’s character recognition software will prove immensely useful for people studying hieroglyphic languages.