Editor note: This is a guest post from Adam Bader. Adam is a professional language learner and he offered his time and expertise for creating a language learning section here on freestylemind.
Learning a new language is certainly challenging, but it is up to you to make it easy or difficult. Although some languages like Chinese and Korean are harder to learn than others, it all depends on your learning approach and how passionate you are about the language.
In this article, I’m going to show you how I could learn a new language in 90 days by using particular techniques that make the learning process easier, more effective and enjoyable.
1- Figure Out Why You Are Learning The Language
Before you learn any new language, you need to ask yourself this question: why am I learning this language?
For example, If I was a football player and I signed for a club in Spain, I’d learn Spanish not just because I would want to communicate with the locals, but also because I would want to communicate with my coach and my teammates and understand what they are saying in training and on the pitch.
With that in mind, I’d focus my linguistic efforts on learning the vocabulary, terms and idioms that are used in football (football jargon).
It wouldn’t make sense for me to learn medical or engineering terms or anything that is not related to football (except for phrases used in ordinary situations like how to order something or how to ask about the location of a place..etc). The priority for me would be to be able to use the language to communicate with my teammates because that’s why I need to learn it.
2- If You Are Not Passionate About The Language, Then It’s Going to Be Darn Difficult To Learn It
Trust me on this one, If you don’t love or at least like the language you are learning, then it is going to be difficult to learn it.
I studied French at school for two years and I still can’t order a drink in French!
Everything I was learning wouldn’t stick in my head because I wasn’t concentrating and I really didn’t care to learn it. It was just a compulsory subject (damn the Dean!)
On the other hand, If you love the language you’d immerse yourself into it, heck, you’d be obsessed about it!
You’d start thinking in that language, imitate native speakers, use it with everyone, and at some point, you’d create dialogs in that language in your head (that’s why my mum thinks I’m a psycho because I speak to myself all the time!)
Passion and love for the language you are learning is absolutely essential.
3- If You Are Not Fully Immersed Into The Language, It Will Take Longer To Learn It
This is why they tell you If you want to learn a new language quickly, you should go to a country where it’s spoken. Of course, you could go and come back after three months not knowing a word because you didn’t immerse yourself into the language and culture and instead spent your time speaking in your native language and hanging with fellow citizens instead of the locals.
The purpose here is to give up your native tongue for the language you are trying to speak. You must let it dominate your thoughts and your life.
At the beginning, you’d be frustrated and down and you’d feel that you suck because you wouldn’t be able to fully express yourself in the new language and even people would start laughing at you for making funny mistakes, but you have to overcome this by knowing that the more you immerse yourself in the language, the better you become at it.
Now, let me go back to the example of me being a football player in Spain to explain this clearly.
So from the moment I’d land in Spain, I’d stop speaking my native language even If I didn’t know a single word in Spanish, and I would avoid meeting with lazy language learners who would spend their entire time speaking English instead of Spanish because they wouldn’t want to feel dumb when they make mistakes.
It would of course be difficult at the beginning because you wouldn’t have much knowledge to work with, but you’d improve everyday.
To get started with this, here are a few tips that you can also apply even If you are in your home country.
1- Learn the subjective pronouns, main and auxiliary verbs before anything else.
It’s a no-brainer, you MUST know these first. All the subjective pronouns (I, he, she, it..etc) and the main as well as auxiliary verbs (Go, Stay, Have, Do, Am, Is, Are..etc).
2- Learn the most basic vocabulary.
Words like: thanks, please, excuse me, bathroom, sex (In case you want to screw someone)..etc you know, the words that you need in main situations.
3- Learn how to pronounce all of these words.
So they would get what you are saying.
After you get a basic understanding of the language, it’s time to have fun.
The best technique I’ve tried to become more fluent and memorize what I’ve learned is by creating situations in which I’m using the words I want to learn in my mind before I use them in real life.
I sound like a psycho, right?
OK, let me explain (but I promise it’s more fun and effective than learning words using flash-cards or word-lists or whatever boring stuff you are using)
For example, let’s say that me, the footballer, was hungry and I wanted to order a meal but was scared of the fact I would walk to the guy in the restaurant and not being able to say a word in Spanish that he’d understand.
The usual stress and fear of failure.
So before I go, I would imagine myself going to the restaurant and ordering the meal in Spanish. I would use the Spanish sentence in my mind and practice it many times
- pretty much like the Law Of Attraction stuff, you know?
Usually, when I do that, I instantly become confident and relaxed and I go and say that in the language I’m learning and the incredible thing is, it sticks in my mind and the next time I would want to go and order something I wouldn’t be scared of messing up or anything.
Do this every time you learn how to say something. And USE IT IN REAL-LIFE SITUATIONS.
However, learning how to order a meal without actually ordering it is plain useless, linguistic-wise.
Of course, you wouldn’t be able to do that If you didn’t live in the country where the language is spoken, but create the situation in class, at home or with your girlfriend in the park.
I Hope you get the point here, because I suck at being a teacher.
4- Use Pareto’s 80/20 Rule
This is mainly related to the first point and here is something interesting. What If I told you that I could understand 80% of any spoken language just by memorizing a couple of hundred words?
Well, that can be done by using Pareto’s 80/20 rule.
For example, by learning the 300 most common written and spoken words in English I could understand 80% of what is spoken or written in English, because these 300 words constitute 80% of the written or spoken English.
With my Spanish example, I’d learn all the words that constitute 80% of spoken Spanish (they are usually 300-500 words, it depends on the language (Italian, around 500), but nothing more than that and yes, this can be applied to all languages not just English. I’d also add the jargon that is used in football.
And by words here I mean adjectives, verbs, pronouns, prepositions..etc not just words that have a semantic value (boy, cat..etc)
Learning a new language is hard work, but as I said, you can make it easy or difficult, boring or enjoyable. It all depends on YOU, HOW you approach the language and how much you LOVE it.
With that being said, I guarantee you If you use the techniques I introduced above, you can learn any language in at least 90 days.
If you liked this article, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to write more about language learning on FreeStyleMind in the future.
Before I run, here is a little bit about myself:
My name is Adam Bader and I’m turning 22 in just a couple of days. I’m a jack of all trades. I’m a football journalist and player, a linguist, a life hacker and an internet marketer, and trust me, I’m not trying to impress you, I just do a heck a lot of things!