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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!

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          Last Updated on May 21, 2019

          How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

          How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

          For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

          If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

          Example 1

          You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

          You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

          In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

          Example 2

          You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

          People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

          You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

          Example 3

          You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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          The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

          Example 4

          You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

          Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

          If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

          Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

          • Understand your own communication style
          • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
          • Communicate with precision and care
          • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

          1. Understand Your Communication Style

          To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

          In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

          Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

          2. Learn Others Communication Styles

          Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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          If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

          “How do you prefer to receive information?”

          This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

          To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

          3. Exercise Precision and Care

          A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

          On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

          Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

          I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

          I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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          In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

          The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

          Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

          4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

          Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

          In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

          “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

          Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

          Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

          It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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          It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

          It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

          Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

          Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

          The Bottom Line

          When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

          I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

          More Articles About Effective Communication

          Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

          Reference

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