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Here Are The Best Ways to Learn a Language (And the Pros & Cons)

Here Are The Best Ways to Learn a Language (And the Pros & Cons)

Want to learn a language? Congratulations! Committing to learn a new language is a big step to make, since most people remain comfortable with the language they learned in high school, whether they learned Spanish, French, German, etc. Now that you’re ready to take the next step – actually learning the language – you’re probably wondering, what’s the best way to learn Spanish, French, German, etc.?

You’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll share with you the 5 best ways to learn any language, where you can go to start learning, and the pros and cons for each option. Before we dig in, let’s first understand how we best learn, beyond just languages.

How humans best learn

Given the decades of research and studies done on the human brain, learning institutions have publicly shared the results of how humans best learn. A notable study published is the development of the Learning Pyramid in the 1960’s – widely attributed to the NTL Institute in Bethel, Maine – which outlined how humans best retain information.

It turns out that humans remember:

5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture (i.e. university/college lectures)
10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading (i.e. books, articles)
20% of what they learn from audio-visual (i.e. apps, videos)
30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion
75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned
90% of what they learn when they use immediately (or teach others)

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learning pyramid

    Anyone who endured through the boring lectures in university or college can probably relate to how ineffective learning is when done through lectures or traditional textbooks. It’s one information in one ear, and out the other!

    lecture presentation

      While you can learn mathematics or history without any interaction, that’s not how language learning works. In other words, languages were meant to be learned and used with other humans, not through an algorithm based app like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, or Youtube. It’s a good way to learn as a hobby, but if you’re seeking real results, the decades of scientific research shows that this is the wrong approach.

      The good news is that there are better ways to learn a language than relying on the traditional, ineffective methods that our brains were not trained to learn with. Compared to learning through lectures, you’ll notice that learning through immersion (i.e. speaking with native speakers/humans) is up to 18 times more effective.

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      This leads us to reveal the 3 best ways to learn a language (through immersion!)

      1. Accountability Partner

      Where to start: Your inner circle and network.
      Pros: Free
      Cons: Very difficult to find someone that can help you, unless you’re offering something in return. Sustaining the relationship is also complicated over a longer period of time.

      A good place to start learning anything is within your own circle of friends. If you can think of someone that already knows how to speak Spanish, Italian, or your target language, ask them to help you out. The worst thing that can happen is, they will tell you they’re too busy or they may know another friend that can help out.

      In terms of difficulty finding someone, this ranks the highest because most of us lack the network to find a credible person to help us out, or we just don’t feel comfortable asking our friends without giving anything back in return.

      2. Conversation Exchange

      Where to start: MyLanguageExchange.com
      Pros: Free and lots of fellow language lovers you can meet online
      Cons: Time consuming and requires patience to find the right language partner that matches your schedule. Most language partners you will find will also not have any professional experience teaching.

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      The second option to learn a language through immersion is a conversation exchange.

      A conversation exchange is where people that are looking to learn a language come together, in order to help each other practice their target languages. In a perfect situation, you can find someone who’s a fluent speaker in your target language and also wants to learn the language you speak fluently. This way, there’s a mutually beneficial relationship that’s formed.

      From personal experience, most conversation exchanges can suck up a ton of time just trying to find a language partner that fits your target language, schedule, and personality. If you’re missing even one of those factors, the conversation exchange will most likely not last.

      Screen-Shot-2015-05-20-at-3.15.39-PM-750x283

        With that said, if you do have a lot of time on your hands and you’re incredibly motivated to learn a new language, going with the conversation exchange route may be the best option for you. For the rest of us, who don’t have a lot of time, or want to work with a native speaker who’s a professional, you should go with…

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        3. Professional Language Lessons

        Where to start: Rype, Craigslist
        Pros: You get to work with a professional teacher, who’s 100% dedicated to your needs and success. Unlike a conversation exchange, you can usually choose the time you want to learn on your schedule, which saves you a lot of time.
        Cons: Like any professional service, language lessons is an investment.

        What if you want to learn a language, but you don’t want to bother your friends, and you have a busy lifestyle? Language lessons online is the answer for you. Instead of going to a language school and learning with 15-20 other students, or commuting an hour to meet an in-person language teacher, you can learn at the comforts of your own home, or wherever you are around the world.

        Rype

          If you go with a service like Rype, you can also get unlimited private lessons (yep, that’s one-on-one) with professional teachers who are available 24/7.

          In summary, here are the main benefits of language lessons online (and why it’s our favorite option):

          • Save more time (no commuting, and no preparation required)
          • Connect with native speaking professionals who actually live in countries that speak your target language (real-life immersion learning brought to your screen)
          • Get accountability and full access to ask questions & feedback when you want (not something you get with conversation exchanges)

          What’s next?

          Share the first step you’ll take today to learn a language. Which of these best ways to learn a language resonated most with your lifestyle? Let us know!

          More by this author

          Sean Kim

          Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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          Last Updated on January 24, 2021

          How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

          How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

          Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

          For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

          But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

          It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

          And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

          The Importance of Saying No

          When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

          In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

          Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

          Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

          Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

          “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

          When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

          How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

          It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

          From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

          We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

          And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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          At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

          The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

          How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

          Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

          But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

          3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

          1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

          Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

          If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

          2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

          When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

          Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

          3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

          When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

          6 Ways to Start Saying No

          Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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          1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

          One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

          Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

          2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

          Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

          Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

          3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

          Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

          Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

          You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

          4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

          Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

          Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

          5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

          When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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          How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

            Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

            Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

            6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

            If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

            Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

            Final Thoughts

            Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

            Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

            Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

            More Tips on How to Say No

            Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
            [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
            [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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