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5 Insider Secrets to Learning a Language Quickly

After a lot of time wasted and mistakes made, with the help of the most well-known linguists in the world, I am going to share with you how we can all learn a language in record time.

3 years ago I started to “study” Spanish, but it wasn't until a year and a half later that I learned what was working and what didn't.

Sometimes it's hard, you know? We want to learn a language as quickly as possible, but we can't help but spend more time searching about how to study languages instead of just studying it.

The good news is - many people are going through the same thing as you. And many have overcome it.

If you read this article you will know everything I have learned during 100+ hours looking for the best ways to study a second language from scratch.

picture that says "5 insider secrets to learning a language fast" with a pitcure of an hour glass

The 5 Insider Tips (Summary)

These are the stradegies that have helped me most in my journey to learning Spanish and French.

  1. Get a study partner (or teacher) early on - Italki/HelloTalk

  2. Use the two best ways to memorize vocabulary as fast as possible - Music/Journaling in your target language

  3. Read short stories, and practice speaking every day

  4. Linguistic immersion - Change the language of your cell phone to your target language, listen to music, and watch series only in that language

  5. Stay away from apps if you don't have much time to study, and make yourself believe that it is fun to study a language

1 - Learn a language fast with conversations

First, there are two ways to pay for our practice conversations - we can do it with our time, or with our money. There is no better or worse option in this case.

What you choose just depends on your situation and what resource you have more of.

woman speaking at a computer and microphone

If you can afford professional help ($7-15 USD Per Session)

If you can afford it, I would recommend using Italki which is a super easy site to use, and it also has teachers from all countries, making it easy to learn to speak with the accent you want.

It is also worth saying that their prices are very cheap, and you can find teachers for any budget + if you use that link you can get a $10 credit to use to pay for your first lesson!

The important thing is that you have someone who can have conversations with you consistently and who doesn't feel bad for correcting you in a friendly way.

If you would rather find a study partner (FREE-ISH)

If you can't afford it, or prefer not to spend money to learn a language - then I would recommend the HelloTalk app which is a bit like if Twitter and Instagram were combined and made exclusively for language learners.

HelloTalk also includes features to learn your target language within the app, like a mini Duolingo-type program. I've used it a lot and the only thing I've seen bad about it is that there are a lot of weird men who cross the line when talking to women.

Luckily, there are ways around this if you want to use it and you're a woman, such as not showing yourself on your profile picture, or only talking only with other women.

Also, finding a language partner who is trustworthy and friendly can be difficult. This is why I say that you will have to pay with cash or time.

Unfortunately, sometimes you'll think you've found someone who wants to talk once a week, but out of the blue, they don't get back to you until the next month.

collage of photos showing how it looks to use the HelloTalk app to find a language partner

So... How do I find a reliable language exchange partner on HelloTalk?

The best way to find a good language exchange partner on HelloTalk is by going into the chatrooms and reaching out to highly active people. These generally are the serious learners who don't come and go often.

2 - The secret to learning vocabulary quickly

There are many ways for us to learn 40-100 words per week (easily and without studying). These are the two methods that everyone who wants to learn words quickly.

The way I learned my first 2,500 words was by listening to music and reading the lyrics at the same time. The approach I take to learning with music is what I call the "RRSL Method" - which stands for:

  1. Read (In your native language)

  2. Read (In your target language)

  3. Study (By comparing the lyrics in both languages)

  4. Listen (Only/Use as comprehension practice)

If you want to try this wonderful technique...

  1. Go to Google and search for the song and its lyrics. If the song has enough views, Google will make it easy for you to translate it and see the lyrics in both languages.

  2. Now you should read it 5-10 times in your native language so that you gain an understanding of the general meaning.

  3. Then read the lyrics in the target language 5-10 times until you understand 60-80% without peaking at your mother tongue.

  4. Look at both the original and translation, focus on the tenses being used, and which word means what in the target language.

  5. Then listen (only) to that song on your way to work, in the shower, etc. Allow this song to become comprehension practice ONLY.

how to use google to learn language with lyrics 1
how to use google to learn language with lyrics 2
how to use google to learn language with lyrics 3

If you want to use a program that already has all the content and transcripts in one place, FluentU has a very well-put-together system for this.

FluentU is definitely worth it for those who can afford it ($11.99 per month) and now they offer a 14 day free trial so you can see how fast you can learn words with it before deciding to pay.

This method has made me learn probably 10% of the vocabulary that I use daily when I speak Spanish. So I definitely recommend that you implement it if it tickles your fancy!

picture of me Benjamin George writing in my journal to learn french

It's a habit that is hard for some to start, but the rewards are instant and beyond what most methods produce. To start doing this;

  1. Use Google Translate to convert your original journal entry from your language to the target language.

  2. Read the full entry in both languages

  3. Write the entry in the target language in your "language journal" and try to concentrate on the words you're writing down

Using google translate to journal
journal entry using google translate

(Example of me using this technique in the morning to progress my French)

You will remember some words, and there will be others that you don't.

If you keep doing it there will come a point where you have acquired all of the words you need to talk about your day, and how you feel. And after 3-6 months you'll no longer have to use the translator.

With this there is not much to explain, we need to read stories that we already know well

(perhaps from our childhood) And then we just do what we did with music - read, listen, forget, repeat.

If you are looking for a good website for classic stories check out The Fable Cottage. If you want a plethora of new Spanish stories for free, check out our stories here on Acquire The Language.

They have a few stories such as "Chicken Little" and "The Fox and The Crow" translated into 5 different languages. If you do not have a story from your childhood that you still remember, you can do it with short dialogues. Just look up "Short Dialogues for Beginners in Spanish" for example.

Speak from the start? 🗣

There is a lot of debate on this topic in the world of language learning, but from my experience to learn a language fast we should talk a little bit from the beginning.

It seems that speaking is the only way to improve our ability to articulate things within the language. This is why some people can read in their target language but can't speak.

Because input helps us know more words, but it doesn't help us produce new words with spontaneity.

When I study a new language I always try to speak for at least 5 minutes every day. This helps me improve my accent (through imitation) and also memorize words without straining myself.

I don't personally choose to speak to native speakers until I have my first 1,000 words at least.

During the very early periods, I only speak to myself. However, practicing speaking (alone or with others) will help you learn new words and get better at pronouncing those which you already know.

4 - Language Immersion 🧏‍♂️

Have you heard about this technique? Immersing yourself in the language as much as possible is a wonderful way to stay in touch with the target culture and language.

Old town in panama

(A small town called Portobelo that I visited during my first trip to Panama)

For example - what I did for Spanish immersion was that:

  • I changed the language of my phone to Spanish

  • I started listening to songs (only) in Spanish

  • I went to sleep every night while watching Netflix series in Spanish.

  • I eventually took a trip abroad

With these methods, it helped make me almost always be exposed to my target language. It might feel a bit overwhelming to change your phone to your target language.

However the learning curve can be shortened a ton. After all, there only exists about 60 words that you have to learn for all day-to-day necessities, This is one of many secrets to learning a language quickly - interact with the target language as much as possible.

Accept the lack of understanding 🙇‍♂️

Accept that you don't understand much, and a lot won't make sense – it's okay and normal to go through this. At first we don't know what's working and what isn't. But I promise you that if you trust the process, and do the things mentioned in this article, you will definitely reach your goals!

Whatever you do, don't pay attention to the people on YouTube saying things like "I learned Italian in 2 months" and other nonsense like this. They're only saying that for views, or because their definition of "learn" is different from ours.

The best advice I can give you that I heard from a the polyglot Stephen Kaufman is “watch your growth every 2 months, not every 2 weeks.”

5 - If you are in a rush to learn the language 🏃‍♀️

If you need to learn a lot of your target language by a known or chosen date, you can plan practically how you are going to reach those goals.

For example, if you say "I need to learn to converse at an intermediate level in 6 months!" For this example, you would need to learn 6,000 words or 250 per week,

So your goal would be to learn 35 per day. And if you follow the plan with a strategy, you can definitely meet your goal.

Extra Tips For Learning A Language:

- Stay away from Duolingo if you want to learn fast (Here's why)

- Make yourself believe that studying the language is fun

- Create habits to study every day because consistency is worth more than anything

- Never tell yourself that you are a bad language student, be patient and keep trying

Conclusion: Secrets To Learning a Language Quickly

Every good language student started out as a confused person trying to figure out how to learn as quickly as possible. The best thing we can do is try to enjoy the learning process and stay as immersed as possible in the target language.

For that, we have music, series, stories, and applications that can connect us with native speakers of the language at our disposal.

woman listening to music

The truth is that if you want to learn a language fast, never give up, and accept that you may not know much now, but if you keep studying, you will definitely speak well with time.

I hope this article has helped you understand what you should be doing to progress.

Let me know what your goals are below!

What Are Your Goals?

  • I Will Be Fluent After 6 Months Of Studying!

  • I Will Be Fluent After 1 Year Of Studying!

  • I Will Be Fluent After 1.5 Years Of Studying!

  • I Will Be Fluent After 2.5 Years Of Studying!

If you have any suggestions for articles you'd like to see written, please comment below, or email me here on the website.

It was a pleasure chatting with you, we'll talk more soon

- Ben


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