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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 September 17, 2019

          10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

          10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

          Positive thinking can lead to a lot of positive change in your life. Developing an optimistic outlook can be good for both your physical and mental health.

          But sometimes, certain situations arise in life that makes it hard to keep a positive outlook. Take steps to make positive thinking become more like your second nature and you’ll reap the biggest benefits.

          Here are 10 ways to make thinking positive thoughts easy:

          1. Spend Time with Positive People

          If you surround yourself with constant complainers, their negativity is likely to rub off on you.

          Spend time with positive friends and family members to increase the likelihood that their positive thinking habits will become yours too. It’s hard to be negative when everyone around you is so positive.

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          2. Take Responsibility for Your Behavior

          When you encounter problems and difficulties in life, don’t play the role of the victim. Acknowledge your role in the situation and take responsibility for your behavior.

          Accepting responsibility can help you learn from mistakes and prevent you from blaming others unfairly.

          3. Contribute to the Community

          One of the best ways to feel good about what you have, is to focus on what you have to give.

          Volunteer in some manner and give back to the community. Helping others can give you a new outlook on the world and can assist you with positive thinking.

          4. Read Positive and Inspirational Materials

          Spend time each day reading something that encourages positive thinking. Read the Bible, spiritual material, or inspirational quotes to help you focus on what’s important to you in life. It can be a great way to start and end your day.

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          Some recommendations for you:

          5. Recognize and Replace Negative Thoughts

          You won’t be successful at positive thinking if you’re still plagued by frequent negative thoughts. Learn to recognize and replace thoughts that are overly negative. Often, thoughts that include words like “always” and “never” signal that they aren’t true.

          If you find yourself thinking something such as, “I always mess everything up,” replace it with something more realistic such as, “Sometimes I make mistakes but I learn from them.”

          There’s no need to make your thoughts unrealistically positive, but instead, make them more realistic.

          6. Establish and Work Toward Goals

          It’s easier to be positive about problems and setbacks when you have goals that you’re working toward. Goals will give you motivation to overcome those obstacles when you encounter problems along the way. Without clear goals, it’s harder to make decisions and gauge your progress.

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          Learn to set SMART goals to help you achieve more.

          7. Consider the Consequences of Negativity

          Spend some time thinking about the consequences of negative thinking. Often, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

          For example, a person who thinks, “I probably won’t get this job interview,” may put less effort into the interview. As a result, he may decrease his chances of getting the job.

          Create a list of all the ways negative thinking impacts your life. It likely influences your behavior, your relationships, and your feelings. Then, create a list of the ways in which positive thinking could be beneficial.

          8. Offer Compliments to Others

          Look for reasons to compliment others. Be genuine in your praise and compliments, but offer it frequently. This will help you look for the good in other people.

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          9. Create a Daily Gratitude List

          If you start keeping a daily gratitude list, you’ll start noticing exactly how much you have to be thankful for. This can help you focus on the positive in your life instead of thinking about all the bad things that have happened in the day.

          Getting in the habit of showing an attitude of gratitude makes positive thinking more of a habit. Here’re 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

          10. Practice Self-Care

          Take good care of yourself and you’ll be more equipped to think positively.

          Get plenty of rest and exercise and practice managing your stress well. Taking care of your physical and mental health will provide you with more energy to focus on positive thinking.

          Learn about these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

          More About Staying Positive

          Featured photo credit: DESIGNECOLOGIST via unsplash.com

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