For Beginners: How to Start Learning a New Language


Step 1: Pick a language you wish to learn. Example: German.

Step 2: Set aside some time each day to learn the language. Example: start with 15 minutes a day.

Step 3: Figure out why you want to learn a language. Is it for travel purposes? If so, do you just want to say a few foreign words on your holidays, or would you like to carry on lengthy conversations with the locals? Do you want to become fluent in the language?

Step 4: Time to get to work…

If you want to learn another language for traveling purposes, either purchase a phrasebook or write some common phrases in a notebook (from a book, the Internet, a friend who knows the language). A mini-dictionary would be handy to bring, as they are small and still hold many words which would be useful for a variety of situations. Some dictionaries, such as the Oxford series, provide readers with a phrasebook in the middle of the dictionary for easy reference. If possible, sign up for a travel language course that will prepare you with the basic phrases needed to get around the country and ask for what you need.

Getting feedback on your progress is important. How will you know if you are getting any better? Foreign language classes with a real instructor are worth considering, because you will have someone to ask your questions to and get help with your pronunciation. Of course, there are also numerous language learning programs on the market, such as Rosetta Stone, which have been found to be useful for learning new words and phrases. These programs also give you feedback on your pronunciation—when you speak into a microphone, the program tells you whether or not you are close to a native speaker.

To move beyond the basics, you will need additional resources. If you wish to learn German, for example, check out your local library or bookstore for a German-English dictionary and books on German grammar. Of course, you could also try to find an online dictionary for the language you wish to learn, as well as notes on the grammar of the language. Find online newspapers, magazines, radio stations, etc. in the foreign language to practice reading and listening to authentic texts. Search the Internet for singers that sing in the language you are learning.

Try to immerse yourself in the language in the time you have put aside for language learning. That is, surround yourself with the words, speech (i.e., radio, movie), sounds (i.e., music), etc. of the language as much as possible. The easiest and fastest way to learn a language is complete immersion in the language by visiting a country where the language is spoken. That way, you would be able to practice the language every minute of every day!

Step 5: Keep practicing the language. The more you use the language, the more of it you will remember!

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