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ToDo List For Learning a New Language

Updated on September 24, 2011

Learning a new language can be very difficult to do, especially if you are trying to learn it by yourself. Fortunately, you do not have to go out and buy the most expensive language software you can find. Everything you need to learn you can find for free online. I haven't found very many guides that explain easy and organized ways to learn languages, so here is a list of the best things to do to ensure the easy and fluent learning of a new language:

  1. Learn the alphabet. Learning how to read and write the alphabet is the best way to familiarize yourself with the language so that you can associate the sounds of each letter with their written and visual form.
  2. Learn the Months, Colors, Numbers (1-20), and Days of the Week. Each of those lists are fairly short and very easy to do. Once you memorize them, you will know 50+ words in your new language! You can start by memorizing one or two at a time, and everytime you memorize them, add a new word. Knowing the numbers 1-20 is important because it makes it very easy to figure out how to keep adding new numbers.
  3. Make a List of Phrases. Make a list of phrases that you use most frequently in your everyday speech. Some examples: I love you, Good Night/Morning, Hello, Goodbye, What's up?, How are you?....Learn them and use them.
  4. Learn How to Tell Time and Date.
  5. Test Yourself. After you have learned everything in steps 1-4, test yourself as much as possible. Print off some flashcards, post a list in places you will see it most often, create alarms on your cellphone with a reminder at quick glance, have the lists on your phone to study, write out a random list of scrambled words and then test yourself by translating them. It will be tricky because the words are out of the order that you learned them in. Download language apps on your phone that have a widget for your homescreen. That way you can see the word you are currently learning everytime you look at your phone.
  6. Music. Find some songs in your new language that you really like and listen to them as much as possible. Study the lyrics, Memorize the lyrics. Learn what the lyrics mean. Learning the lyrics to songs can be really helpful for picking up little words and expressions that you hear very commonly. By now you should be able to recognize a quite a bit of your new language!
  7. Watch Movies, Television Shows. Watching the language be spoken and expressed is a great way to learn. You will not be able to understand most of what you hear, but pay attention very closely to pick up the accent and way that things are pronunciated. If you are having trouble with a tricky sound in pronunciation, listen closely to hear how it is spoken. Learn from gestures in conversations and the tone of voice that is used. Listen for words that you recognize and for words that you hear enough to notice.
  8. Learn Basic Conversations. Learn all of the common introductions and getting to know a person. Learn how to describe yourself. Learning how to hold a basic introductory conversation will be of extreme help when you want to start testing our your new language skills!
  9. Social Networking. Use twitter, facebook, and any other social networking sites where you can find users who speak the language you are learning. Two REALLY good sites that I have used are and . This way you can read posts and see how people talk in common speech. Up until now, you have probably been learning how to speak in the most formal sense, so social networking will help you learn slang and the more informal sense of the language. Remember that not everybody uses proper grammar, spelling, etc. in their online posts.
  10. Make Friends. Make friends who speak your new language. The easiest way is to make friends with people who speak both the language you already speak and the language you are learning. If you want more of a challenge, make friends with somebody who only speaks your new language that way you can never use your existing language as a crutch. It can be difficult to find friends who speak the language you are learning, so there is absolutely no problem with having online friends! The site I mentioned above, italki, is a great place to find "language partners"! A language partner is somebody who wants to be friends with you and exchange each other's knowledge of language speaking. Skype is a great tool to use to communicate just like talking over the phone! If you do not feel comfortable being face to face with a stranger who lives in another country, simply tell them you do not have a webcam and can chat only by text or voice.
  11. Learn the Culture. With all of the music and television you have been watching and listening to, and the new friends that you have made, you should be getting a pretty good sense of the culture. Now you can do a google seach on the culture or go to the library and find some books about it. Knowing the culture might not help so much with the language learning, but it is very important to know the culture because you can offend somebody if you know the language and not the culture.
  12. Verbs and Nouns. By now you know pretty much all of the basics. Now you can start learning the most common verbs and nouns. You probably even know a few already!
  13. Grammar. Everything you have learned by now is all based pretty much on memory and repetition, so you might be pretty lost with grammar. Knowing the words is the first step, knowing how to put them together in a sentence is the next. Pick a couple of verbs and nouns that you are most comfortable with and practice making different sentences out of them. A lot of words will change depending on how they are used. Learn basic grammar and spelling rules!
  14. Surround Yourself. Surround yourself with the language so that it is everywhere around you. You already have music and television in your new language. Even a few new friends! Now you just need to surround yourself completely with the language. Use it as much as possible. When you are thinking to yourself, speak as much as possible in the new language. Tell time, check the date in your new language. Change your cell phone and social networking settings to the new language. Teach some of your close friends and family the basics you learned ealier on by saying it to them all the time until they remember it also. It is a great way for you to practice, something interesting to talk about, and always cool to have friends and family learning with you.

Remember to study and use repetition as much as possible! Stay dedicated, and have fun! Do not treat learning a new language like doing homework, because you will dread it and keep yourself from your full potential. Remember, everytime you learn something, learn how to read, write, and say it. Being fluent means you can read, write, and speak the language. Good luck!


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    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      7 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      A very good hub with great ideas for learning a language. Learning a new language has to be fun and it has to mean something to you. If you can satisfy all of your needs with a language, you have mastered it. Your language learning environment is very important. If you are not learning the language in the country where it is predominantly spoken, you have to create a virtual environment in the country where you are. I was able to learn and become fluent in Taiwanese by marrying a Taiwanese and living in a neighborhood where only Taiwanese was spoken.

    • catsimmons profile image

      Catherine Simmons 

      7 years ago from Mission BC Canada

      some really great tips! You make learning a new language seem a lot less intimidating...voted up, useful


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