Learn a Foreign Language Quickly and Easily

Bonjour! Hola! Aloha! Shalom! With the importance of second language acquisition becoming more necessary, we sometimes find our selves struggling with how to not only learn but comprehend another language. The most difficult part of learning another language is speaking the language and comprehending when someone speaks to you.  Once you learn the basics of one language, it becomes easier to learn more languages.

Image from Chasingcalm at Wordpress
Image from Chasingcalm at Wordpress

Learning to speak Hebrew was one of the hardest things I have ever learned to do. I went to Israel with the concept in my mind that if I immerse myself in Israeli culture and take all my required language courses in the university, then I would be fluent in no time.

How wrong I was. Not only did I not become fluent after a year, but I could barely hold a basic conversation. I had plenty of book knowledge but limited comprehension. My program, called Mechina, was designed specifically for students who wanted to study in the Hebrew University in the national language. However, there was one problem. The program had been designed for students who already spoke more than one language! At the beginning of the program there were around 30 Americans, after a year, I was the last American to drop out of the program. None of us could make it.

After dropping out I decided to take language courses in the city center. My friend suggested a place called Ulpan Or. Their motto is literally Hebrew at the speed of light. The course is two weeks long, and much of the study you do is independent. You come into Ulpan Or once a day for thirty mins to an hour (except on Shabbat or Saturday). They claimed you would learn one level to half a level in two weeks. Yeah right! I had been studying Hebrew for a year and learned three levels but could speak nothing.

Ulpan Or sounded like a fantastic infomercial, but I gave it a shot. Joining Ulpan Or was the best thing I have ever done to learn another language. It was designed by Orly and her husband specifically for Americans. The Hebrew I remember the most now is the Hebrew I learned from Ulpan Or. After the Hebrew all the teachers in the place would say, "Wow! When you came in here you couldn't speak at all and now you are speaking faster than an Israeli!"

There was no difficulty in comprehension or speaking. It was natural and like speaking English after my lessons. I learned many tips on how to acquire another language as a primary English speaking person. You can find the tips I have learned from Orly and Ulpan Or below. I have written the tips so that it is possible for anyone to learn any language.

Tips To Learn A Foreign Language

Tip # 1:Listen! Listen! Listen! Okay, so listening sounds very obvious, right? Wrong. This tip is one of the hardest ones to master. Learning a new language is based solely off listening. If you think about it, how does a child learn to speak? They listen to the people raising them and then repeat what they hear. It is very difficult to listen while holding a conversation in a different language or meeting a stranger (it is for me at least!). The best thing to do is grab a CD of music or a dialogue on a television commercial and put it in your computer or a radio. If you happen to have a CD that is a dialogue between two people, this is what you really need! Put the CD in a CD player and just listen to it for a couple of times. Don't try hard to comprehend or understand every word.

Tip # 2: Listen! Write! Listen! Write! Now that you have listened to the dialogue a couple of times, write down exactly what you are hearing in the language you are studying. This will help your brain comprehend and in effect memorize exactly what it is hearing. After listening and writing it down in the spoken language, translate it into your language while listening to it in the spoken language i.e. if you are listening in Hebrew, translate into English.

Tip # 3: Have a dialogue about the dialogue. This tip is only effective if you know someone who is fluent or nearly fluent in the language. Also, have this person translate the dialogue into English and into the given language. When you are reviewing the dialogue with them, read the English version aloud but read it in the spoken language (i.e read in English but speak aloud in Hebrew). Then do the opposite for the Hebrew (i.e. read the Hebrew version but translate into English). The purpose of this method is to speed up comprehension and translating ability. This has to be done quickly and will not work if done slowly.

Tip # 4: Listen to as much cultural music and movies as possible. While it is great being able to read a dialogue written specifically for a book, it often leaves out cultural sayings and speech habits. Watching a movie in Hebrew or music in Hebrew really is effective. To learn a new language you have to immerse yourself in their culture. Total immersion may be difficult if, for example, you do not live there. Just make sure you set aside a time each day to try to immerse yourself in the culture.

Tip # 5: Relax! Don't worry about comprehending every word or every conversation, it will come with time. When you aren't relaxed it is more difficult for your mind to take in what is being said and comprehend.

Good luck on learning a new language!

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Comments 16 comments

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA

Good for you, girl! I have a great respect for those people who are eager to learn the language of a country they are going to live in (even for a short period), and no respect for those who demand that natives of the country would make it easier for newcomers by supplying them with translations. Who comes in some country should make an effort to learn a language of this country! Right?

That's why I was spending from 5 to 9 hours every day studying Hebrew when I moved to Israel (in half a year I was talking pretty decently), I attended a studio (ulpan), I asked my neighbor to talk to me Hebrew, I was using any opportunity to speak with Hebrew-speaking people, I was watching children TV (as children TV gives you simple, clear language that is easier to comprehend). The same I was doing with English.

Do you speak Hebrew now? I start forgetting spoken Hebrew.....though I subscribed for Israeli channel on my satellite TV to keep at least my passive knowledge.


My Inner Jew profile image

My Inner Jew 7 years ago Author

I agree, i think you should definitely speak the language of the people. It is rude not to at least try, you know!

I only started talking decently after Ulpan Or. I often got laughed at for my Hebrew before hand. It was so sad in the beginning I would try to speak Hebrew and ppl would just give up and speak english to me.

I still speak conversational hebrew lol, but i am forgetting so much of it...I miss speaking it though :(. I love speaking hebrew!


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA

I was very lucky as I always had helping people around me. Through all the time I lived in Israel nobody ever laught or wasn't patient with my Hebrew at the beginning.

I miss speaking Hebrew too. My son wouldn't speak Hebrew to me, though he still speaks it nice with his Hebrew-speaking friends.


My Inner Jew profile image

My Inner Jew 7 years ago Author

I think Israeli's are very patient and kind when it comes to learning hebrew, they were all trying to teach me so much, but I was kind of secluded from them. I went to the International School in Hebrew University so it was a lot of Americans and Arabs and Europeans and everytime i spoke in class or made a mistake they would laugh at me. It was very discourging.

I gained my confidence with the young Israeli teachers I had in Ulpan Or. Hahaha...I am very pro Ulpan Or.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

Great information and advice you present here.  I bought a couple sets each of CD courses to learn Spanish and French a few years ago (just for fun).  I only accomplished half of what I set out to do despite putting quite a bit of time into it. I learned to say things, and to understand most of what I might see written in either language.  But I cannot write in either, and I can't understand what native speakers are saying because they talk so fast!  :-)  But I still consider it well worth it. 

Thanks for the fine article.


jenblacksheep profile image

jenblacksheep 7 years ago from England

That's a great hub. I wish I'd read it a few weeks ago since I'm going to Venezuela next week and I can't speak Spanish. I learnt French when I was younger but I could never really get the hang of it. I'm hoping that I'll pick it up while I'm there, but I do feel bad that I've not made enough of an effort to learn Spanish so far.

I'd looove to learn Hebrew! I only know a few words.


Amelia Green profile image

Amelia Green 7 years ago from Europe

Thanks for the info on Ulpan Or. I've seen their ads a lot, but never really heard an unbiased review. I just checked their Website and they're not as expensive as I thought they would be considering what they're offering. Hmm...


Kenny MG profile image

Kenny MG 6 years ago from A Child of the Universe

I would love to say much more than shalom, started studying the Hebrew language in college but stopped and now have forgotten the most basic word/sentence.


bridge2english profile image

bridge2english 6 years ago

Very interesting information. I invite you to visit my hubpage where you will find information on the better way than listening. You should listen and read and repeat at the same time to form the Hebrew language speech center. The same is true if you decide to learn any other language. Good Luck. Arkady


Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 6 years ago

Ulpan teachers are professionals who know exactly how to get students to learn Hebrew. They speak only in Hebrew to the students, no matter what country you are from, and people from all countries speaking all languages can be integrated into Israeli society due to these excellent programs. Of course, you must keep up with the language over the years. As we say, "Use it or Lose it!" And, that is true.


creativelycc profile image

creativelycc 6 years ago from Maine

Very good tips, I'll certainly try it. I would like to learn to speak two foreign languages fluently. Thank you very much!


upal19 profile image

upal19 5 years ago from Dhaka

Nice. Very nice tips for learning a new language.


denise mohan profile image

denise mohan 5 years ago from California

nice tips. I'd like to learn French. Parla vous fracie! lol


TravelinAsia profile image

TravelinAsia 5 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia

Thanks for the info, I must say the easiest way to learn another language may be to take a job as an ESL teacher.

It worked for me!


ignugent17 profile image

ignugent17 3 years ago from Central Illinois , USA

Very useful hub. I think I learn faster when I watched movies of different language and the subtitle is very useful. It is always important to know the basics.


Ori Volfovitch profile image

Ori Volfovitch 3 years ago from Israel

another good site for learning Hebrew online is Ulpanet.com

they offer modern Hebrew as well as biblical Hebrew courses!

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