How to Learn a Foreign Language on Your Own: Quick and Practical Tips

Are you trying to learn a foreign language, but aren’t quite sure how to get started?

There’s no doubt that learning a foreign language is hard work. For some languages, getting the basics down can take hundreds of hours of study. Luckily, there are things you can do to speed up the learning process, even if you don’t have a tutor.

Check out this guide to learn how to learn a foreign language on your own.

1. Start With the Most Common Words 

When learning a new language, one of the best things to do is to start by learning the most common words.

Not only will this make it easier for you to communicate with others, but it’ll also make your learning process easier. Once you know the most common words, it’ll be easier for you to pick up on what a native speaker is saying.

Oftentimes, to understand a foreign language, you don’t need to know every single word. Rather, you can learn by knowing a handful of words and then figuring out what someone is saying based on context clues.

Plus, it’s a waste of time to learn a bunch of obscure words that you’re only going to end up using once or twice. To figure out the most common words of your target language, just conduct a quick Google search.

2. Watch Movies and TV Shows 

Watching movies and TV shows can be helpful when learning a new language, but you need to make sure you’re doing it the right way.

You won’t learn much if you just turn on the subtitles. Likely, you’ll just end up reading the subtitles in English and not really taking anything in. Here’s what we recommend doing instead:

  • First, watch the show through with the subtitles on so you can learn what’s going on
  • Next, watch the show with the subtitles in your target language (ie, if you’re learning Spanish, watch the show in Spanish with Spanish subtitles on)
  • Finally, watch the show without any subtitles

While you may not pick up a lot in terms of vocabulary the first time around, pretty soon, you’ll really start to pick up some new phrases.

3. Converse With Native Speakers 

It’s been said many times that immersing yourself in a new language is the best way to learn it. And, this is 100 percent true. However, it’s not always easy to immerse yourself in your chosen language if you’re living somewhere where hardly anyone speaks it.

But, just because you can’t immerse yourself 100 percent doesn’t mean you still can’t get some practice with native speakers. There are many language exchanges, both online and in-person, that can help you out with that.

During a language exchange, you’ll spend some time speaking your native language with the other person, and then you’ll spend some time speaking the language you’re trying to learn. This can be a great way to practice speaking in a non-threatening environment.

While conversing with native speakers is ideal, you can also find a conversation partner in your area who is learning the same language that you are.

4. Start Speaking Right Away 

When learning a new language, many people make the mistake of valuing accuracy over fluency. However, if you keep waiting to speak until you know all of the grammar rules perfectly, you’re going to be waiting a long time.

The best way to learn a language is to speak it, so start speaking right away. If you don’t have a language partner you can speak to, no worries- start by speaking to yourself at home!

While it may feel weird at first, the more you speak the language, the more comfortable you’ll be using it in real life.

5. Take Advantage of Online Language Resources 

Thanks to the internet, learning a new language is easier than ever. While it used to be that you had to pick up a workbook and dictionary to learn a new language, this is no longer the case.

No matter what your target language is, there are hundreds of online resources out there for you to take advantage of. Here are some ideas:

  • Listen to podcasts
  • Watch videos and tutorials on Youtube
  • Purchase an online language program (this foreign language program is great for those who want to bring a new language into their home)
  • Check out language learning blogs
  • Read the news in a foreign language
  • Use online flashcards
  • Join chat groups on Reddit in a foreign language
  • Follow native speakers on Facebook and Instagram
  • Try a language learning app

As you can see, there are all kinds of language-learning resources right at your fingertips.

6. Reflect On Your Mistakes 

Mistakes are your best friend as a language learner. If you’re making mistakes, that means you’re putting yourself out there and trying. As you go about your everyday life practicing your new language, resist the temptation to judge every conversation you have as a failure or success.

Instead, approach each interaction you have as an opportunity to learn. Here are some things you should reflect on after having a conversation in your target language:

  • What new words or phrases did I hear?
  • What words or phrases would have made me a better communicator in this conversation?
  • How could I have a similar conversation more effectively in the future?

By reflecting on your conversations, you’ll set yourself up for success in the future.

Are You Ready to Learn a Foreign Language? 

Now that you’ve read these tips, it’s time for you to put your thinking cap on so you can learn a foreign language. Remember, you’re not going to master a new language overnight, so be patient with yourself!

Also, be sure to check back in with our blog for more language-learning tips and tricks.