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7 Practical Tips On How To Learn a Language Quickly

7 Practical Tips On How To Learn a Language Quickly

Growing up bilingual in two opposite corners of the world, Denmark and Australia, I definitely had an upper hand in learning what is now half a dozen languages. So I often get asked about how you learn a language quickly, and to be honest; being multi-lingual is the most overrated skill in terms of perceived difficulty of acquisition. Because of the completely backward approach we’re taught in school, which time and time again, has shown a sad rate of efficiency, we’re lead to believe that learning foreign languages is one of the most difficult skills to achieve.

Not true.

In school we’re usually given a table of random verbs and told to conjugate the heck out of them. We then get all these fancy latin terms thrown at us. I still only know a few of these. This is the reason I did not learn much in foreign language classes; I would hear these fancy words and just immediately think “oh this is too hard.”

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To be honest, I’m happy this is the case. It makes me look super smart for having invested, what I perceive as, little effort.

Everybody can learn languages with the right framework. You’re lucky; because that’s exactly what I’m about to teach you.

So here are 7 practical tips on how to learn a language quickly.

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1. Pick a Course

My recommendation is going with anything Michel Thomas has released, and staying away from everything Rosetta Stone has released. That being said there’s plenty of great free resources available. Of all the ones I’ve tried, Duolingo is definitely the way to go. Duolingo has a great interface, and uses gamification to keep you staying consistent by competing with friends. Did I mention it was free?

2. Find Your Vehicles

We’re all spending loads of time on semi-mindless TV-watching and web surfing, so what I like to do is leverage this waste of time and use it as a vehicle for learning my target language. So instead of watching, say, The Simpsons in the original English version, watch the Spanish version. In the beginning you will find it difficult to keep up with the pace, which is why I like to take in the material at least twice, but the more you expose yourself to the target language the better your comprehension will be, even though you’re just passively taking in information. This method works especially well with material you’re super familiar with, so you’re not wasting mental energy trying to figure out the plot while trying to keep up with the dialogue.

One of the many ways I use this is I only play video games in French or German—that’s my rule. I keep dialogue in English but put everything else in the target language.

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3. Set Measurable Goals

Is there a specific event you want to achieve a certain level of fluency for? Having a goal can really help when learning a language. Assign an event where you will need a certain fluency level to keep you motivated. It’s important to set a certain metric so you can quantify whether you’ve reached your goal or not. A goal like “Speak good French” will get you nowhere; it’s unquantifiable. Something like “Have 5-minute conversation via Skype with French speaker” or “Read random Italian Wikipedia with only having to look up 5 words” is quantifiable and therefore effective. Remember the old adage; what gets measured gets managed.

4. Use Memory Pegs

Every single one of us are using memory pegs every single day to store information, whether you know it or not. The mind stores visual information way better than any other medium. This is one of the reasons why you’re able to remember people’s faces and nothing else about them. So using notable imagery will help you store new vocabulary so much better—the crazier, the better.

So say you have to remember the French word for house: maison. You could think of a house in the spring (May) sun, and that’s your peg. That was a peg I literally came up with just now, so it is super simple to come up with these. If you’ve come up with a peg and you still forget whatever you want to store, you might have to come with a more relevant or notable situation. Play around with this; it can help in way more areas than language learning.

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How to learn a language quickly
    Source: Wikipedia Commons

    5. Leverage-free time

    Instead of listening to the same radio station on your commute every day, start listening to audio tapes, podcasts or even music in your desired language. Learning how to learn a language quickly can get a lot easier if you’re making the most of your time every day. Saving articles in the language you’re learning on your smartphone with apps like Pocket can make you leap bounds in your language learning. Other apps like the CoolGorilla series, Flashcards and the aforementioned Duolingo can be super helpful in making the most out of standing in line or waiting for the bus.

    6. Speak!

    You won’t get good at soccer by playing FIFA all day. Sure, you might learn the rules really well, but you won’t learn to juggle a ball any better. You have to put your skin in the game and utilize whatever you’ve learned thus far. In terms of return on time invested, this is the most important part of your language learning. If you’re not applying what you’ve learned, it’s not going to stick. In the beginning it can be daunting to start speaking to natives. But there’s an easy way to make sure you will not have to fall back on English; chances are you pretty much already know what the other is going to be saying to you. Things like; Oh wow! You’re (insert-language) is really good. Where did you learn? Why? Where do you come from and what do you do for fun, etc. 50% of all everyday interaction is the same, so putting together a script for answering these anticipated questions can be of massive benefit in giving you the initial boost of motivation needed to keep you getting better.

    6. Learn More Languages

    The more languages you know the easier it gets learning more. See, the way you process information is your brain creates pathways between pieces of information, and the more information you learn, the better “paved” these pathways become. The more these synapses keep firing back and forth from each other, the better you get at storing that kind of information. Have you noticed how you store information a lot better if you can relate it to things you already know? So, say you know Spanish already, you will have a way easier time learning Portuguese or Italian because you can “relate” new vocabulary to what you already know. Same goes for, say, guitarists wanting to learn piano.

    7. Create stakes

    Stakes are important when wanting to achieve any goal. What happens if you don’t follow through? Are you just setting this goal to stroke your ego? If you’re not penalized if you don’t follow through, chances are you won’t. This is why it’s easier to learn a language leading up to, for example, a holiday in said country. If you don’t get studying you won’t be able to communicate and you won’t have as good a time. StickK is a great service for this. The way it works is you assign an “anti charity” and an amount large enough to make you follow through, and if your assigned “referee” deems your result inadequate, the money goes to the foundation you dislike.

    So that’s 7 practical tips to help you learn a language quickly. I suggest you play around with every tip and see which ones works best for you. Language learning is not math; there is no one way to reach your goal. Use the methods that get you where you want to go fastest.

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    Last Updated on February 13, 2019

    10 Things Happy People Do Differently

    10 Things Happy People Do Differently

    Think being happy is something that happens as a result of luck, circumstance, having money, etc.? Think again.

    Happiness is a mindset. And if you’re looking to improve your ability to find happiness, then check out these 10 things happy people do differently.

    Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. -Dalai Lama

    1. Happy people find balance in their lives.

    Folks who are happy have this in common: they’re content with what they have, and don’t waste a whole lot of time worrying and stressing over things they don’t. Unhappy people do the opposite: they spend too much time thinking about what they don’t have. Happy people lead balanced lives. This means they make time for all the things that are important to them, whether it’s family, friends, career, health, religion, etc.

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    2. Happy people abide by the golden rule.

    You know that saying you heard when you were a kid, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Well, happy people truly embody this principle. They treat others with respect. They’re sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other people. They’re compassionate. And they get treated this way (most of the time) in return.

    3. Happy people don’t sweat the small stuff.

    One of the biggest things happy people do differently compared to unhappy people is they let stuff go. Bad things happen to good people sometimes. Happy people realize this, are able to take things in stride, and move on. Unhappy people tend to dwell on minor inconveniences and issues, which can perpetuate feelings of sadness, guilt, resentment, greed, and anger.

    4. Happy people take responsibility for their actions.

    Happy people aren’t perfect, and they’re well aware of that. When they screw up, they admit it. They recognize their faults and work to improve on them. Unhappy people tend to blame others and always find an excuse why things aren’t going their way. Happy people, on the other hand, live by the mantra:

    “There are two types of people in the world: those that do and those that make excuses why they don’t.”

    5. Happy people surround themselves with other happy people.

    happiness surrounding

      One defining characteristic of happy people is they tend to hang out with other happy people. Misery loves company, and unhappy people gravitate toward others who share their negative sentiments. If you’re struggling with a bout of sadness, depression, worry, or anger, spend more time with your happiest friends or family members. Chances are, you’ll find that their positive attitude rubs off on you.

      6. Happy people are honest with themselves and others.

      People who are happy often exhibit the virtues of honesty and trustworthiness. They would rather give you candid feedback, even when the truth hurts, and they expect the same in return. Happy people respect people who give them an honest opinion.

      7. Happy people show signs of happiness.

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      smile

        This one may sound obvious but it’s a key differentiator between happy and unhappy people. Think about your happiest friends. Chances are, the mental image you form is of them smiling, laughing, and appearing genuinely happy. On the flip side, those who aren’t happy tend to look the part. Their posture may be slouched and you may perceive a lack of confidence.

        8. Happy people are passionate.

        Another thing happy people have in common is their ability to find their passions in life and pursue those passions to the fullest. Happy people have found what they’re looking for, and they spend their time doing what they love.

        9. Happy people see challenges as opportunities.

        Folks who are happy accept challenges and use them as opportunities to learn and grow. They turn negatives into positives and make the best out of seemingly bad situations. They don’t dwell on things that are out of their control; rather, they seek solutions and creative ways of overcoming obstacles.

        10. Happy people live in the present.

        While unhappy people tend to dwell on the past and worry about the future, happy people live in the moment. They are grateful for “the now” and focus their efforts on living life to the fullest in the present. Their philosophy is:

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        There’s a reason it’s called “the present.” Because life is a gift.

        So if you’d like to bring a little more happiness into your life, think about the 10 principles above and how you can use them to make yourself better.

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