Tips and Techniques for Fast and Effective Language Learning

There’s no magic method. Just some real tips and tricks. 😉

Tips and Techniques for Fast and Effective Language Learning

If your name is not Harry Potter, chances are you didn’t enter this world already mastering Parseltongue. Or any other language for that matter. Although, at some point in our lives, we feel like we were born knowing our mother tongue, the situation is far from being so. But guess what! This is actually great news. This means you have real chances at learning a new language. The only question remains: what’s the best way to learn a new language? Is the best way the fastest way?

Many people struggle with this. Always trying to learn a new language but never succeeding. Until they discover that learning a new language fast is the same as losing weight: it takes ambition to make it happen. There’s no magic method, just some real tips and tricks.

So is there a shortcut to language learning after all? If you hoped you could steal Dexter’s tactic to learn French, I have news for you: it’s possible! Didn’t see that coming, did you? Yes, scientists have discovered that stimulus in our sleep helps consolidate memories. But I, for one, wouldn’t risk getting stuck with just three words for the rest of my omelette du fromage.

No, really. If you want to learn a new language, you shouldn’t rely on learning in your sleep. That’s a thing of the future. Let’s discuss what you could do now instead. Here are the best tips on how to learn a language fast.

The 10 best tips to learn a language fast

When it comes to learning a new language, the best way to do it is by your own rules. Knowing and implementing what works for you is a highly effective method for learning a new language fast. Many polyglots will take your money and share their experience, but learning a new language is a personalized experience. What works for others doesn’t necessarily work for you.

The best way to learn a language is to find your perfect mix. Once you have it, it’s also important to establish a regular study routine and use a variety of resources. Textbooks, online courses, language learning apps – you name it. Choose what works and start learning.

Let’s explore the best tips to learn a language fast that could work for you.

1. Focus on the basics

Start by being realistic. Don’t expect to become conversational from day one. The secret is to approach your goal step by step. Start with the first 100 most common words and create sentences until you feel comfortable with all of them. Then move to the next 1000. You will be surprised at how fluently you can speak after just 1000 mastered basic words.

learn a new language

The reason behind this “trick” is that the most common 1000 words account for 75% of all spoken communication, while the most common 3000 words account for 85% of it. If this doesn’t feel real, just ask yourself if you know and use all the words in your mother tongue. You will soon realize that the answer is “no”.

2. Use mnemonics

I know this sounds complicated, but you may have used this learning tactic before when repetition alone wasn’t enough.

A mnemonic device is any learning technique that helps glue stubborn words or expressions to your memory. There are many types of mnemonics you can create: music, name, expression/word, model, rhyme, note organization, image, connection or spelling mnemonics. The secret is to come up with it yourself so you’ll be more likely to remember it.

For example, when I was in college and I had to memorize a long list of words, I always tried to come up with funny sentences or songs using them. I strongly recommend trying this or other types of mnemonics to improve your learning rhythm.

3. Identify your learning style

Identifying your dominant learning style can accelerate the learning process. Many people struggle to learn languages because teachers often use the same teaching tactics for everyone, forgetting that we all have unique learning styles. How do you prefer to learn? Here are the main individualized learning styles:

Learning styleYou learn...
visual (spatial)using pictures, images, and spatial understanding
aural (auditory-musical)using sound and music
verbal (linguistic)using words, both in speech and writing
physical (kinesthetic)using your body, hands and sense of touch
logical (mathematical)using logic, reasoning and systems
social (interpersonal)better in groups or with other people
solitary (intrapersonal)you prefer to work alone and use self-study.

Use this information in your own best interest and learning a new language can happen a lot faster than you think.

4. Train your ears and muscles for the new language

When one of my friends moved to Denmark to study computer science, her biggest problem was learning Danish. Classes didn’t help much. Four months later and she still didn’t have a clue about the Danish language and its mysterious ways. So, she started learning by herself using language learning apps – like Mondly – and other learning strategies that I have shared with her.

The first step was to train her speech muscles in order to master pronunciation. You won’t believe it, but that was exactly like going to the gym. My friend’s mother tongue is Romanian. Naturally, the Danish language uses different speech muscles that begin to hurt when you first start practicing. In other words, we call this muscle soreness, but who would have thought that you could get it from speaking another language? It’s funny but also true for my friend!

Therefore, it’s always necessary to train your speech muscles and ears. Any foreign language may sound weird in the beginning. The secret is to hold on to it and exercise with common sounds until it becomes familiar.

5. Study pronunciation rules and practice

Everyone knows grammar can be overwhelming in any language. When learning a new language, we become so obsessed with grammar that we forget to study what matters most: pronunciation rules.

Every language has its own pronunciation rules. Make sure you study them early on so you can pronounce new words right from day one. If you skip the pronunciation lessons, you risk getting stuck with the wrong words for a long time.

Besides, if you master pronunciation, you can start speaking faster. It’s a win-win situation.

6. Talk to yourself

As weird as this advice might be, talk to yourself! Not by yourself, but to yourself. This means that you can practice by expressing your inner thoughts in the language you want to learn.

People often claim that speaking in another language changes your personality. The process resembles the idea of having an alter ego. If this works the same for you, let your foreign language alter ego speak. It may be frustrating in the beginning, but it’s super-efficient.

7. Enjoy local movies and music

Help your brain understand that learning a new language is not something you do because you have to but because it’s fun. Find something you enjoy doing – like watching a film or listening to music – and try to associate this action with the language you want to learn.

'How to learn a new language' by Mollie Sivaram©

As a cinephile, I really enjoy watching films and television series, and last year, I did some research to find the best movies from Denmark. Today, my brain associates Danish lessons with something that I enjoy doing and information retention is much easier. Our brain opens just like a flower when we like what we are learning.

Just as effective, music will give a new perspective on the language you’re learning. Learn the lyrics, sing along and enjoy one of the best ways to learn a language.

8. Read only what matters

Probably the best way to learn a language is through reading. Once you have mastered the basics of the language you’re learning, reading can take you to the next level. Even though you don’t know all the foreign words, context can help you extract their meaning.

For example, if you’re learning Spanish, start the process by reading your favorite book in Spanish. Having already read it in your native language will make it easier to subtract meaning and discover new words.

And it doesn’t necessarily have to be books. You can also read articles, poetry or whatever interests you more. Are you a Harry Potter fan? Great, read that. Considering its reading level (middle grade), Harry Potter is a good choice. Sure, it contains a lot of made-up terms as it’s a book about wizards, but that shouldn’t stop you from learning new and useful words. It’s not all magic and spells, after all.

9. Try comprehensible input

Comprehensible input is highly connected to what we mentioned earlier about consuming content in the language you want to learn. Basically, comprehensible input refers to language material that is at or slightly above your current proficiency level, allowing you to understand and learn from it.

This method involves consuming content such as reading material, podcasts, videos, and conversations in your target language that you can comprehend with some effort but which still challenges you to learn new vocabulary and grammar concepts. This approach helps you learn a language quickly and more naturally, similar to how you learned your first language. Just remember to choose materials that interest you and keep you engaged, so you can learn at your own pace and make progress.

10. Immerse yourself in the language

Immersion is praised as one of the best ways to learn a language. Once you become able to speak your new language fluently or even at a satisfactory level, it’s time to go out into the world. Your objective is to communicate with real people as much as possible.

Unfortunately, immersion isn’t always cheap. You’ll need both time and money to travel to another country and spend enough time there to experience immersion.

'Learning a new language' by Sam Lion©

So what’s to be done? The cheapest way is to create an immersion environment at home. Basically, apply all the above-mentioned tips at once. Surround yourself with books in the language you want to learn, listen to music, learn the lyrics and sing along, read books and articles in your target language – everything all at once. The idea is to bring the new language into your environment.

Bonus tip: Stay optimistic!

The fastest way to learn a language is to remain optimistic. People often forget about this aspect, but being optimistic and enjoying the process is a crucial part of learning a new language. Don’t get discouraged by a few bad days. You know what they say: Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s the same with fluency.

Learning a new language is easy if you want it to be. The internet offers endless tips and techniques on how to learn a language fast. It’s honestly overwhelming. But the majority of them reiterate the same idea. So, let’s keep it simple. The tips we just explored together are everything you need to get started. Are you ready?

Now let’s recap. The best ways to learn a new language are:

  • Focusing on the most common words;
  • Using mnemonics to remember rules that won’t stick;
  • Identifying your learning style;
  • Training your ears and muscles for the new language;
  • Studying pronunciation rules and speaking early on;
  • Talking to yourself;
  • Enjoying local movies and music;
  • Reading what matters for you;
  • Getting comprehensible input;
  • Immersion.

Do you have any other tips from your own experience learning a new language? Share them in the comments below.

From 0 to conversational fast

Do you want to learn a language fast? Try Mondly, the award-winning language app that can help you master languages in record time.

Instead of tiring yourself for hours with inch-thick textbooks, slip a 10-minute Mondly lesson into your routine and make learning a breeze. You will learn languages naturally using:

  • practical topics;
  • hands-on, interactive language lessons;
  • intelligent suggestions and instant feedback on pronunciation;
  • crystal-clear audios of fluent speakers;
  • real-life conversations and so much more.

Start using Mondly for free on your computer or download the app and learn languages anytime, anywhere.

Anonymous's Gravatar

Diana Lăpușneanu - Linguist at Mondly Blog

Diana is a Linguist at Mondly by Pearson. Learning English as a second language early on fueled her lifelong passion for language learning, leading her to pursue a diverse array of languages as a hobby alongside her academic endeavors. With a Master’s Degree in advertising and a fascination for historical linguistics, she brings a unique perspective to her role, making language learning fun for readers worldwide.

Related articles