Very often I see questions passing by like “What is the best way to learn a new language?” In a previous post I already gave a general overview of the different ways of learning.
Quick overview of the different ways of learning a new language.
Learning basically any skill can be done by following seven different ways. These seven ways are given in the ‘learning pyramid’ together with the percentage of the content you will memorize by learning it through that way. For those who did not read my previous post there is a very quick summary.
The dropouts concerning language learning
Before we get to the best way I would like to filter out the complete loseres when we are talking about language learning. Listening to lectures, demonstration, discussion and teaching others drop out immediatly
Lectures: You don’t want to listen to what grammar rules are or what a word means you want to read it. First of all it is more natural learning it by reading and second of all you will memorize the double of a lecture by reading. That is already some major time profit.
Demonstration: Mastering a foreign language is really something that you achieve by studying. Getting something domonstrated to learn a language does not make a lot of sense to me. The only thing that might be nice to get demostrated is how to follow a fishbone diagram from verbs to the right conjugation.
Discussion: Discussion certainly does not deserve the focus either since there is not much to discuss for a language. There is only one vocabulary, only one way of grammar and only one way to pronounce. So going into discussions about one aspect in a language is not very beneficial. Talking with each other and correcting each other is the way to go, discussing the language doesn’t help.
Teaching others: In my experience the language is not something which you benefit a lot from teaching others. Don’t get me wrong, it is very usefull to have a teacher for learning a language. One that helps you out with the order words in sentences and pronouncuation for example. Just language is not something complicated in which there is a big difference between knowing and being able to explaing.
Recommended ways to learn a language
Already four of the seven ways of learning dropped out of the election. There are three ways of learning which I all recommend from my own experience, let me explain to you why.
Reading: Especially for a journey like learning a language which is for the bigger part just studying the words and grammar I find reading still really helpfull. The learning pyramid states you to memorize 10% of what you have read by just reading. That is why I always make notes while reading, it is really awesome to read back your own structured notes instead of having to go through the index and content of the books again.
Audio visual: Getting visuals with the words or story’s really increases your learning speed. When pictures are shown with every word while learning the vocabulary you memorize the vocabulary way better. Seeing a video with the story that you are listening to helps enormously to understanding the story. It helps you make the sentences make sense.
Practice by doing: Doing is in my experience essential in mastering a language. I could have spend loads of times studying by reading and audio visuals but when the moment was there the words wouldn’t come out. A foreign language has a different way of pronunciation, talking by that pronunciation feels abnormal and there for awkward. You want to get rid of that feeling and start feeling comfortable speaking the language. Well guess what, the only way to achieve that is by doing, by speaking the language and listing to yourself speak.
Winner! The best way to learn a language
There is not one winner which is best but there is absolutely one best way. The best way which I and other language learning people around me agree on exists of 2 phases. The first phase is learning independently, after that you start practicing by doing. This best way to learn a language looks as following:
Phase 1: First you start learning independently by following through a software program that gives you the exact perfect interaction. You start with developing some vocabulary, verbs and conjunctions by following the program. You also independently go through the pronunciation of the letters and words by reading them out loud after digital examples. The digital example will then also check if you pronounced it well if you have a decent software program. The software covers all the four aspects of mastering a language, reading, writing, listening and speaking. The right software program will put exercises after every bit of theory to make you do it yourself and will give you feedback on this. You are actually already doing it now but you are still comfortable behind your computer where no one can hear it.
Phase 2: It helps to get a language buddy which is planning on learning the language at a same speed as you and uses the same program. Once you know how to speak a few words and got basic vocabulary you should meet with your buddy and start doing it! Start a conversation using the new words, verbs and phrases that you learned. Give each other feedback on pronunciation, order of words in sentences and on the conjugation.
The best way would be to acquire a software program and follow this through. This can be done independently but it would be optimal to find a buddy in your language that is going to do the same course at a same speed as you. In this situation you can learn with each other in doing conversations about the passed content.
If you have the money for it and you want to get to a serious level, a software course is definitely the best way to learn your language. Actually everyone I know that is serious in learning a foreign language does make use of a software program that covers all aspects of learning.
If you don’t have that money, simply don’t want to spend that money or just want to develop until basic level I would advice books with audio CD’s (and exercises of course). This will cover reading, writing, speaking and listening as well.
Now you don’t always have a laptop with you and you don’t always have books with you. What you probably do always carry with you is your phone. There are probably several occasions a day which you have not having to do and could do some language learning. For this reason I give some nice applications here that are very low priced to free access. Nice applications which get my recommendation are “Duolingo” and “Babel”.