If you ever wanted to learn a new language, I recommend that you test the waters on your own before working with a teacher. Learning on your own has many benefits: you can set your own goals and track your progress of how you are doing; work on a schedule that fits you best, and it forces you to be more proactive and take greater initiative for your own learning.
Step 1: Build Vocabulary
Learning always begins with the self. For this reason, I recommend taking the initiative to learn on your own using online language software before reaching out to others to help you. The first time I tried to learn French via online, I used Babbel and I loved it! That was in 2012 and today, it has grown to many other languages! Today, you can learn English, French, Spanish, German, Turkish, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Indonesian, Dutch, Polish and even Russian on the site.
I love their site because it is very interactive and makes learning more interesting! They don’t make you learn a lot of information at once. Instead, it breaks it down in chapters and introduces only a few vocabularies each time. Then, it tests your memory using multiple choice and fill-in-the-blanks. Finally, it ends off with a listening comprehension, where you learn how the words are now used in the context of a real conversation. It really is an all-in-one interactive package that makes learning fun!
Step 2: Find a Language Partner
Once you have started to grasp some basic grammar and vocabulary, it is time to find someone to practice with you! This is really key because you need to practice your new knowledge and to not forget what you had just learned. Personally, this is my favourite part because I like meeting and helping people, so this is killing two birds with one stone.
In my How to Make Friends Abroad post, I already mentioned that language exchange is a great way to learn from locals. Since you are also teaching someone your native tongue in exchange to practice theirs, it’s a win-win situation and you both learn something for free! For many years, I have used Conversation Exchange to help me find a language partner when I am in a new city. They have a ‘country’ option where you can scout for someone who is located where you currently reside in. However, if you prefer an online conversation, they can also do that too!
It is important that both partners have an equal time to speak and to get to practice their targeted language. I generally like to have one language in 20-30 minutes and then switch to the other language afterwards. During this time, the partner listens, converse and try to point out any advice to improve their speaking skills.
Step 3: Practice Fluency
Once you have learnt some vocabulary and found an exchange partner, it is time to work with a teacher to perfect your pronunciation and improve your fluency. I suggest using Lingoda for this step. Lingoda is an online platform where you can work with native teachers around the world, anytime you want! It is a website that runs 24/7 and you can choose your lesson and what time you wish to take it. Each lesson focuses on one of the four competencies: Speaking, Listening, Reading or Writing. The curriculum follows the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), and you can get a certificate at the end of each level.
You can choose between having a group (up to 5 students) or private classes. Even though group lessons are said to have up to 5 students, sometimes there is only one or two, and sometimes, none other than yourself. This means you can have a private class for the same price if no one books that lesson. I really liked that flexibility and find both to be advantageous. If it has one or two other students in the class, we can share ideas together for the discussion. If it is only me, the teacher can focus on helping my pronunciation and cater the class to me.
With Lingoda, I have also taken the Language Marathon where you are required to take a number of lessons during a certain period. If you complete it successfully and followed all the rules, you get part of the tuition rebated. I took the half marathon, where I took 15 lessons per month for three months. I got used to taking lessons, almost every day after work, and it helped me to become confident in my French skills. If anyone wants to learn a language quickly, I highly recommend Lingoda, as it allowed me to be exposed to different teachers and teaching styles.
Learning a language is not easy. You have to be patient and persistent, but in the end, mastering a language is the best feeling in the world. Good luck and have fun language learning!
* This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to enrol in the program, I’ll receive a small commission that goes toward supporting the website. However, all opinions are my own, and I thank you for your support.