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How to Learn a Language in Record Time: 13 Effective Ways

Monday, January 29th, 2018

How to Learn a Language in Record Time: 13 Effective Ways

Have you heard of the savant who learned to speak Icelandic in only one week?

Crazy, isn’t it?

Well, most polyglots—people who speak several languages—start speaking new languages quickly thanks to their previous experiences. In fact, the aforementioned polyglot and translator Daniel Tammet claims that he already spoke nine languages before learning Icelandic.

You should not expect to master a foreign language in just a few days or weeks if you don’t have previous experience learning other languages. This is especially true if you can’t devote ample time to learning a new language.

You might stumble upon many “how to learn a language in 7 days” guides on the internet, but the time you’ll spend learning to speak a language can still be relative and dependant on a lot of factors.

In this detailed blog post, I approach learning a new language fast by demonstrating proven, realistic steps that any beginner can follow.

I also made certain that all the resources I listed are both easily accessible and affordable, so you won’t need to invest too much money into your learning.

Without further ado, let’s dig in.

13 Ways to Learn a Language in Record Time:

1. Connect with language partners online.

One of the most common (and cheapest) language-learning life hacks is simply building a learning relationship with native speakers of your target language, perhaps one who is also interested in learning your mother tongue.

This method can make learning a new language more enjoyable, as it breathes life into your chosen language and shows you the practical side of it—unlike in textbooks and at language schools.

Personally, I have met language partners from over 30 nations and have had the chance to discover their countries, cultures, day-to-day lives and many other things that helped me dive deeper into the languages I’m learning.

To get you started, I recommend using apps such as HelloTalk, Speaky and HelloPal to have free access to thousands of language partners from all over the world.

 

2. Travel to a country where your target language is spoken.

In his best-selling book, Fluent in 3 Months: Tips and Techniques to Help You Learn Any Language, Benny Lewis shares a simple language learning system that is mainly focused on traveling abroad.

He advises interacting with locals in only their native language to force your brain to learn new vocabulary and get familiarized with the language you’re learning.

If you use this learning method, Lewis promises you a vast improvement in your language speaking and listening skills.

 

3. Work on your pronunciation.

A few years ago, I had an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher who knew English very well, but his ability was masked by his lack of clarity.

He never taught a single class without getting bullied for his ridiculous English pronunciation, and all his students learned little to no English during the entire school year.

Well, if you don’t pay attention to how you pronounce words in the language you are learning, you will probably fall into the same trap.

You will not be able to communicate properly and you will eventually lose motivation if you take the wrong direction from the beginning.

A great way to correctly pronounce words in your chosen language is to use a voice dictionary. This will allow you to listen to automatic audio pronunciations of all the new expressions you learn.

For this, you can use apps or websites like Google Translate or dict.cc.

You can also ask locals in the area you are travelling in to teach you the right pronunciation, or you can get your online language partner to record a voice memo.

Plus, you will want to learn how to read and listen to more foreign language content…

 

4. Carry a dictionary on the go.

Wanting to save some time and get help with language barriers more easily?

Use a dictionary… app, since it would be difficult to carry around a 1,000-page book and browse through it every time you have a conversation with a native speaker.

Not only will a dictionary help you become successful in your chosen language, but it will also lift the vocabulary weight right off your shoulders. You will start to contextualize every word you use and train your brain to use it in real-life situations.

To download a dictionary, simply open the App Store on your iOS or Google Play on your Android, and search both your native and target languages to find the dictionaries that will best fit you.

To get the most out of your language-learning dictionary searches, I highly recommend using a spaced repetition algorithm program.

 

5. Use the Spaced Repetition Algorithm 

The Spaced Repetition Algorithm is scientifically proven to be more effective than traditional memorization methods. According to research published in Psychology Today, using spaced repetition to learn new vocabulary words increases your ability to remember information in the long-term.

Most learners who use spaced repetition prefer Anki, a free, multi-featured software that allows you to create more advanced flashcards including images, texts, audio clips, and videos.

To get started with spaced repetition, start by adding words you’ve searched for in your dictionary, then upload audio clips of their pronunciations and attach photos to ease memorizing new expressions for your brain.

 

6. Listen to audio clips in your chosen language.

Listening is scientifically proven to be the best way to learn a language regardless of your preferred method or tool.

In fact, studies have shown that being aurally exposed to any language, even if you don’t understand what’s being said, can “make a huge difference” as it helps your brain adapt to new pronunciations and grammar structures.

Also, a huge advantage of listening is that you can learn in your sleep—without making any conscious effort. A research conducted by the Swiss National Science Foundation states that listening to newly-learned second language vocabulary while sleeping helps solidify and reactivate your memory

Now you might be wondering, “What are some resources I can use to practice listening?”

Good news! Take the leap and create a free account to access a wealth of over 750 million lessons in more than 34 languages with Innovative Language.

Innovative Language is THE place for language audio and video lessons. There you’ll find clips recorded by native-speaking language teachers, along with flashcards, grammar explanations, cultural insights and much more.

With Innovative Language, you will never have to spend hours searching through foreign language audiobooks on the internet. Sign up now, you’ll be glad you did!

 

7. Learn the alphabet of the language you are learning.

If you aim to learn a non-Latin alphabet language, learning the alphabet is crucial.

In fact, in Asian languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Persian, mastering the alphabet or characters is necessary to read and pronounce words correctly.

For example, in Modern Standard Arabic, you must learn the alphabet, diacritics and dotting to be able to pronounce and read expressions correctly.

Additionally, learning the alphabet will enable you to read original texts in your chosen language, which can push you to acquire new vocabulary and improve your language skills.

 

8. Study grammar, but only when necessary.

Grammar is arguably what makes most people quit learning a language before really even starting.

Most of us have studied at least one language at school, yet we are still unable to speak them. Why?  Because academic systems are not built to teach you fluency, they are built to teach you grammar.

Taking into account the poor results schools produce from teaching grammar, it seems wiser to focus on the practical side of languages: real-life conversations. Learning the necessary grammar will then come progressively.

For example, you can keep a daily journal using the foreign vocabulary words you learned throughout the day, then ask your tutor to correct your writing and spot the grammar rules you missed.

 

9. Take private language lessons online.

Worried about losing motivation while learning a foreign language?

If you answered “yes,” booking online language lessons is a must.

Let’s be honest: private language lessons are the only way someone will be truly disappointed when you do not finish your assignment. Your private tutor is focused on you and your language education, and not juggling at least a dozen students in multiple classes.

Without that central focus, you might not learn your target language as fast as you can.

Not sure where to find online language tutors?

You can use platforms such as Innovative Language (Premium PLUS My Teacher), italki, Verbling and Tandem to sort through a gold mine of experienced language teachers from all over the world.

Unlike speaking, writing forces you to evaluate your language level and bring grammar rules and structure into focus.

 

10. Keep a foreign language journal.

Rype CEO Sean Kim recommends taking five minutes every day when you wake up to answer the questions:

  • What will make today great?
  • What things am I grateful for today?
  • Who am I? (Positive affirmations such I am happy, strong, patient, etc.)

“The best part about following the five-minute journal format is that you will not only improve your language skills, but you will feel happier, more grateful and more excited to explore your feelings about language learning and beyond. This will help keep you in the right frame of mind to keep learning.”

– Sean Kim, CEO at Rype

Personally, I write essays in my journal about random topics to use the words I translated and learned throughout the day. This helps me stick new expressions into my brain and improve my communication, writing and language skills.

If you’d like to write your journal online, I highly recommend using ColorNote, Evernote or Google Keep. Alternatively, you can use ordinary, physical notebooks and diaries.

 

11. Change your language settings on your devices.

According to a recent Nielsen Company audience report published by CNN, adults in the United States spent 10 hours and 39 minutes each day staring at screens during the first quarter of 2016.

To make the most out of the time you devote to mobiles and laptops, a great idea is to switch your language settings to the language you’re learning.

At the beginning, you might need to translate a substantial amount of words into your native language to move on with almost everything you do, but since most of us know where certain apps and settings are located, you will slowly but surely start to memorize new vocabulary words.

Note: Before you change your devices’ languages, try to learn the necessary alphabet or characters to read it first.

 

12. Expand your vocabulary with mnemonics.

Among all the techniques we have covered, mnemonics might be the most effective when it comes to memorizing new vocabulary words.

Mnemonics is basically building a system in your brain that links previously learned information in any language you speak with the new information you want to remember. Especially for learning a new language, they can be used as cheat codes for those who struggle to memorize information they’re exposed to.

You can use mnemonics to memorize sentences, vocabulary lists, idioms and other words.

Here are some examples:

  • Vocab list: Divide, multiply, subtract, compare and bring down.
  • Mnemonic: Does McDonald’s Sell CheeseBurgers?
  • Sentence: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
  • Mnemonic (abbreviation):  NASA.

If you cannot come up with a mnemonic yourself, a resource I highly recommend is Memrise. There you’ll have access to a wealth of creative mnemonic photos and expressions that will boost your motivation and make learning enjoyable.

 

13. Stop worrying about making mistakes.

One of the biggest errors that can significantly slow you down is worrying about making mistakes.

“A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying… that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”

– Alexander Pope

To break this barrier, you might consider telling your language partners and teachers that you are open to any feedback or corrections on your grammar structure and pronunciation.

From my personal experience, asking my language partners to correct my mistakes has helped me learn hundreds of grammar rules, pronunciations and vocabulary words.

 

Now that you are all set to start your language journey, add some fuel to that fire and start applying these strategies to your educational process.

Take action now by listening to podcasts and audio clips to put your mind at ease about learning your foreign language.

Still not sure what language to learn? Check out our recent article [insert post title and link - best languages to learn in 2018]

 

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a content strategist, writer, polyglot and co-founder of WriteWorldwide. You can learn more about Yassir at YassirSahnoun.com.

Can you guess these languages?

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions in 31 Languages. Is Yours Here?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

New Year’s Resolution

Hello Listener,

What’s your New Year’s Resolution for 2016? Learn more languages? Save money? Read more books? Can you tell us in the language you’re learning?

We asked our listeners on Facebook what their resolutions were and here are the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions based on the responses. 52% of our listeners chose saving money. Is yours on the list?

This phrase list will take you 3 minutes and you’ll be able to say what your New Year’s Resolution is. If yours isn’t on there, leave us a comment!

Learn The Top 10 Resolutions in 31 languages:

Here are some handy ways you can master the phrases with this lesson:

  • Press the sound icon to hear each phrase and read along
  • Review all phrases in a slideshow by pressing “View Slideshow”
  • Listen to all the phrases in one lesson with “Play Audio”
  • Add the phrases to your Word Bank or Flashcards
  • Print the entire list out for your personal review
  • Leave us a comment in Japanese for practice – we read them all!

Speak and master your target language with 100s of audio and video lessons made by real teachers. Click on “Browse Lessons” in the top menu to access our massive library. Just start, we’ll do the teaching and you’ll start speaking minutes into your first lesson.

Happy New Year!

Team InnovativeLanguage.com

Get Your Kids Speaking Japanese with NEW Talking World iBook for the iPad

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Hello Listener,

Can kids learn Japanese? Of course! They’re the fastest learners around!

But do they? Not unless there’s a native Japanese speaker in the family. Language experts say children learning a second language enjoy cognitive advantages over those that do not.

So, if you need a way to learn Japanese with your child start with the kid friendly e-book that’ll get them mastering words in minutes! With the brand new Talking World iBook for the iPad, your little one will learn all the common Japanese vocab they know in English!

New iBook for the iPad: Learn Japanese for Kids - Talking World
It’s jam packed with 16 colorful chapters and 274+ common Japanese words for any child to learn. Explore all sorts of vibrant scenarios per chapter like rooms around the house, parks, and much more while picking up easy vocabulary.

Learn Japanese for Kids: Talking World is now available on iTunes for $4.99.
Click here to get Learn Japanese for Kids: Talking World on iTunes

New iBook! Learn Japanese for Kids: Talking World for the iPad

All they have to do is tap on objects in each area to learn their Japanese words while hearing native Japanese pronunciation. Then, there’s an easy review section and a quiz mode to test how much your child has learned.

This Audiobook is perfect for children aged 18 months to 6 years+ (not to mention adults too!)

New iBook! Learn Japanese for Kids: Talking World for the iPad New iBook! Learn Japanese for Kids: Talking World for the iPad New iBook! Learn Japanese for Kids: Talking World for the iPad

Here’s what’s inside the Talking World iBook:

  • 16 Chapters filled with 274 words covering common objects found in any kid’s world
  • Easy tap and play interactive layout for fingers big and small
  • Colorful, kid-friendly drawings to help illustrate each vocabulary word
  • Native Japanese and English translation audio pronunciation
  • Easy to read kana and romaji spelling

You can even sample this iBook for FREE before purchasing. Simply click on any link, open the iBook in iTunes and click on “Get Sample.”

Click here to preview the iBook on iTunes!

To your kid’s fluency!

Team Innovative Language

P.S. Get your children speaking Japanese! Download Talking Word for your iPad for 4.99 on iTunes.

Click here to get Learn Japanese for Kids: Talking World on iTunes for $4.99!

Language Learning - Noam Chomsky

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Noam Chomsky was born in Philadelphia on December 7, 1928 and has been a professor of language for many years. He was able to secure a doctorate degree in 1955 from the University of Pennsylvania. It was at that University that he majored in linguistics.

Chomsky was first introduced to the field of language by his Hebrew father who, too, was a scholar of linguistics.

He is also considered to be a political activists, cognitive scientist, philosopher and reputable author of many books. It was around the 1960’s that people began to describe him as a liberal socialist in the political arena.

He has been credited, however, for having a great impact on the linguistic world and the role that he played in putting emphasis on how people learn a new language.

His theory, which is well known as Chomsky’s Hierarchy, divides prescribed grammar into different classes with more power as they increase. His idea of generative grammar and universal grammar was also part of the divisiveness between Chomsky and other linguist.

His work has also influenced other areas of expertise such as immunology, evolutionary psychology, and research of artificial intelligence as well as language translation that is computerized.

Chomsky approached the study of language in a different light than his other counterparts. His universal grammar theory emphasized the primary principle that there is an inner set of linguistic rules that all humans share. This he called the beginning stages of learning a language.

It was Naom Chomsky that identified the fact that generative grammar of any language, when given certain specific rules, will appropriately calculate the words that will combine to form a sentence grammatically. Those same rules when approached correctly will emphasize the morphology of the sentence.

The earlier version of this theory of Chomsky’s generative grammar was transformational grammar. Of course, the generative grammar receives some criticisms from proponents of cognitive grammar and functional theories.

Conclusion

Chomsky felt that the mind had more to do with linguistics than others give it credit. He prefaces this by giving the example of a child when placed in a linguistic environment is able to have an instinctive capability to adapt to the words that are spoken.

Language Learning Methods - Two-Way

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

The developmental program of Two-way language is also known as the bilingual immersion programs as well as dual language program. These programs are intense and full time and use two languages for instruction and learning.

Most of these programs consist of students that speak a native language such as Spanish and are attempting to learn a new language such as English. In both elementary and high schools, these programs are prevalent and very active. Half of the class of students consists of some Spanish students and some English students who are native speakers of their language.

The student learns the language through their native language as well as through the second language that they are trying to learn. The student uses this two way method of learning to be more astute and proficient in both languages, but it helps them to develop their skills in the second language.

The two-way language program is more geared towards bilingual education than it is for students who are limited in their proficiency in English. It is an enrichment program that gives student a better understanding between two languages. Students who are not as proficient in English will feel like they are equally educated to their peers and it helps them to excel in their education.

The Two-Way language development program is more effective if it:

1.    Allows for participation in both languages
2.    Focuses on subjects that are academic
3.    Incorporate the curriculum for both languages
4.    Allows student to use the language learned in their home
5.    Empowerment of students with active learning
6.    Use the minority language sufficiently
7.    CALP development

The Two-Way Language acquisition program has two primary goals and that is:

1.    That Minority Students will learn things in their own languages as well as in the second language.
2.    Those Majority students will increase their level of language proficiency in the second language while progressively developing in the native language.

Students in both groups of language learning will have an academic performance at the grade level that they are at ad develop attitudes that are confident and positive towards learning the two languages.

Conclusion
It is important that the two-way language program last for up to six years to ensure proficiency in essentially the second language.

Language Learning - Silent Way (Gattegno)

Monday, August 24th, 2009

The Silent Way was created by Caleb Gattegno and is the instructive approach to teaching a foreign language. The primary objective is for students to work independently as learners of a new language.

It allows students to develop their own theoretical models of learning a second language. Students are encouraged to use their mental abilities to decipher the meaning of a new language.  Expression of thought and feelings are created in the classroom among fellow students. The student trades their time for experience.

The student’s native language gives them leverage in learning a new language and they are given room to learn how to speak in the new language. It is the nonverbal aspect of their native language which includes sounds, gestures and writing that helps the student to identifying with a new language.

Gattegno used his model on certain observations and he thought that students did not learn because teachers did not teach. Instead, teachers need to do a study of how students learn and to do that experiment on themselves.

Gattegno used himself as an example and even though he was a teacher, he wanted to know how students learned so he became a learner and that is when he realized that awareness is the only thing that teachers can educate when it comes to humans.

His learning model claimed to be more approachable to teaching a second language because it was based more on awareness than on offering knowledge to the student. For every learner that Gattegno studied, no matter what age they were, he found one common principle and that is students were gifted and intelligent. They brought a strong will to learn, a lifetime of experiences of managing challenges and they were also independent.

Most of the methods of teaching using the Silent Way came from understanding how students learned. Included in this approach was the style of how the teacher corrected the student and how the teacher used silence to validate the student. The teacher wouldn’t give any answers that the student could not find out on their own.

A lot of people think that communication is the only tool to learning a new language. However, Gattegno does not seem to think that communication is the only key ingredient. He observed that communication called for the person communicating to convey their ideas and the student listening must be willing to submit to the message before giving a response.

Conclusion

Learning a second language is expressing thoughts and feelings, ideas, perceptions and opinions and student can do this effectively with their teacher. They will be able to develop criteria for right and wrong by exploration of the two boundaries.

Therefore, it will require making mistakes, which is a part of the learning process. If teachers can study the art of learning and realize that mistakes are good for the learning process, they will appreciate when students do make mistakes.

Language Learning - Learner External Factors

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Have you ever stopped to consider how we learn second languages? If you are considering taking up a second language, knowing the process of how we learn can make you a more competent student as well as speeding up the process of learning at the same time. The way in which we learn our second language is different to how we learn our first. As we grow older our cognitive functions develop, giving us better skills to learn new things. As a child we are exposed to our native language, or languages, all of the time, whereas second language acquisition may be limited to just one or two hours a week.

Learner External Factors are the ways in which we are exposed to a second language and how we are effected by these outside forces. To better understand how we learn, linguists have studied the different ways we come across information on second languages.

Social effects can have a large impact on second language learning. If for example, you come from an Italian background but speak only English, you may encounter a large amount of encouragement in regard to learning Italian from your family and community. Discouragement can also occur, for instance after the September 11 attacks, the number of students studying Arabic dropped dramatically in many western countries due to the stigma attached to the Arabic language and culture after the attacks.

Input and intake are terms used within linguistics to describe exposure to language learning and the amount of information retained. Input is information the learner receives about the second language, usually direct exposure to the language itself. For example, if you spent an hour in a class learning Spanish, this would count as input. Intake is the information you remember. Linguists believe in order to maximize intake, input level should be slightly more than the learner is able to take in. Next time you are in a class and don’t quite feel like you understand everything, don’t worry. It’s the best and fastest way to learn. A good way to maximize intake is through interaction with native speakers. This ensures the language us have learnt is usable and also helps to build vocabulary.

Pedagogical techniques, or teaching methods, have also bee extensively studied. The way we are taught can drastically change how much we learn. It is believed by many specialists in the field that current techniques are not as effective as they could be.

Language Learning - Stages of Language Development (PEPSI)

Monday, July 20th, 2009

There are four levels and stages of language development that helps anyone to learn a second language.

In level one, this is the silent stage where there is not much comprehending and production at this stage is nonverbal. The student is listening to the language to try and make sense of it.

This is the first level stage where there is a lot more imitation than anything else. There is a pretense in how much the student comprehends. A lot of gestures and body language take precedence.

Level two is the early stage of production with limited comprehending in which responses are only through one or two words. This is the survival stage where the student feels that they need to learn enough for basic functioning. There is a lot of uncertainty at this time in this stage.

The last two stages

Level three gives the student an opportunity to emerge from nonverbal to verbal interaction. Comprehending the language becomes much easier by using simple sentences. You will find that in this stage there are more mistakes committed in verbal communication.

Plural and past tense are not important at this stage. The student may understand the concepts of the language, but is trying to become comfortable with the new language. Grammatical errors don’t’ concern the student at this point. Words are used, but not necessarily appropriately.

Level four is the final stage that consists of excellent comprehension of language. The student is able to use more complicated sentences and language fluency is more noticed. A lot more generalization is used in this stage of the game.

In this stage, it is helpful if students ask the teacher to define words and concepts in the language by indicating if they do or do not understand. An experiment with words and phrase among peers is usually the result of this stage.

These stages are noticed specifically in young children two years old who are just beginning to form their new language. They usually start off by using a vocabulary of fifty words that are recognizable.

Their sentences consist of two or more words. They respond quickly to one word or short phrase instructions such as “get me the toy,” or “come.” The toddler will often do some self talk and takes time to name things and repeat what these things do. These are similar to the stages of language development.

Conclusion

In the first stage, the teacher should never force the student to speak unless they are ready. It is quite feasible to learn silently. The second stage is the production of words and phrases that highlight the answers to what, where and who questions.

The third stage enhances the student’s dialogue and they are able to ask simple questions, but with grammatical mistakes, which is quite normal. The fourth stage is the actual intermediate stage of learning where the vocabulary has grown so that the student can share their thoughts more clearly.

There is a fifth and final stage, but this is more advanced and may take up to seven years to acquire language proficiency.

Language Acquisition - Redsignation

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Redesignation is a reclassification of a new language speaker from limited fluency to proficiency. There are certain specific criteria to determine when a student moves from one phase of fluency to another. This is determined by the recommendation of the teacher, verbal fluency, reading, and writing as well as how the student does in other academic studies.

Teachers have to be accountable for making the decision whether a student truthfully progresses from one level to the next. Giving credit where credit is due should be the result of redesignation.

It is important for educators to assess the language proficiency of students by collecting and analyzing data effectively to get the best results.

They can use this data to adequately target and improve on the instructions necessary to help the student to become even more proficient.

Students that adapt to English language as their second language and pass through the redesignation phase do so from one level to the next. They move from being English Learners (EL) to limited English proficient learner (LEP) and then to fluent English proficient learners (FEP).

When someone is learning a second language such as English, they have to enter a reclassification process to determine fluency before they can enter a normal classroom. With additional assistance, they can perform even better and get to the next level.

To make sure that student’s progress, teachers are required to give the students language assessment and proficiency test. This kind of process will help the teacher to detect the student’s growth in language proficiency in the earlier stages of learning.

However, it does not detect little changes or proficiency shifts at higher proficiency levels. The reason for that is because second language students that communicate at a higher level of proficiency do so as closely in approximation as that of a native speaker.

Conclusion

It is easier for teachers to measure student’s proficiency progress orally than by written observation because it entails listening and speaking. It is just easier to compare proficiency in a more verbal communicative environment. It is difficult to measure growth by reading and writing because these do not grow as progressively as listening and speaking.