You are currently viewing How to learn a foreign language fast: 60 best tips to study languages
  1. The best way to learn a foreign language is to speak it. So try to form a language environment around you. A good teacher will help you to start speaking the language you study from the first lesson. At your level, of course.
  2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. To correct a mistake, you need to hear it first. Over time, there will be fewer mistakes.
  3. Learn the language every day – make foreign language lessons part of your life. Decide how much time per day you will learn a foreign language. A textbook and a grammar book will help you.
  4. Set a specific goal and a deadline: make it to two levels in a year or go through some  grammar guide. Or schedule a language test to help you stay motivated.
  5. Develop the 4 basic language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening comprehension to raise your overall language level.
  6. Get a “vocabulary book”: a notebook where you write down new words you learn. Compose sentences with new words so that you use each word at least three times. Do not take a large number of new words – it is better to take 5-10 words a day and work them out thoroughly. Then they will be remembered for a long time. Memorizing new words in long lists is good only for test preparation. Without practising words quickly erode from your memory.
  7. Use different materials, methods and opportunities: textbooks, manuals for specific aspects of the language, adapted and unadapted reading books, newspapers, magazines, podcasts, radio, TV, tutorials, language conversation clubs, group or individual classes with a teacher, free materials from the Internet. This helps to create a language environment. The variety of methods used will increase the intensity of the language flow and avoid overloading. Identify those that are the most effective for you.
  8. Study the language at a time of day that suits your psychological clock. If you can’t study in the morning, study in the evening.
  9. Don’t get hung up on taking tests. Learn a foreign language for the sake of new opportunities, try to get new knowledge from areas you are interested in while learning a foreign language. Interest is good motivation! So use materials that create an atmosphere making you willing to learn – that way you will achieve more.
  10. Learn a foreign language with the techniques that work best for you. Prioritize: the variety of ways and means to learn helps make learning more interesting, but the most effective ways will save your time. Find out what suits specifically you: Talking Club meetings or doing things on your own in silence.
  11. Learn a language in contact with people who can help you. If you don’t understand something, ask your teacher, classmates or friends for help.
  12. Don’t forget that repeating what you’ve learned is not a waste of time.
  13. Learn a foreign language with pleasure, switch it up: go out for air, take breaks during your self-study. Don’t be disgusted with language classes.
  14. Don’t rush to finish a level and start a new one. Master the material at the level you are currently at by practicing it thoroughly.
  15. Use different media for listening: radio, podcasts, audio files. Something that you can listen to multiple times will allow you to understand information that you may have missed the first time you listened to it. And radio and TV gives you only one chance to hear anything. It’s good practice for learning to absorb information.
  16. Read adapted books. They are written specifically for your language level. You will read this sort of  books with interest and enjoy reading. Children’s books contain simpler words and can be a good alternative.
  17. Newspapers are a great way to learn the meanings of new words from context. Read first to understand the general content. Don’t worry about not understanding every word. Look up only the most meaningful unfamiliar words in the dictionary that make it difficult to understand the overall meaning.
  18. Learn simple words that have a single root. They will help you to understand the meaning of other words.
  19. Learn prefixes and suffixes as they will greatly enrich your vocabulary.
  20. Try to use a foreign language wherever appropriate. Practice everyday words and phrases in your head or in writing.
  21. Learn to construct phrases at once in a foreign language, don’t try to translate. Translation is a separate skill and is more of a hindrance to speak. Speak to yourself or out loud if you remember a phrase you hear or an interesting thought.
  22. Each of the four basic language skills requires separate training. You cannot learn to speak by studying grammar or memorizing words. To learn to speak a foreign language, you have to start speaking it.
  23. Learn grammar by practicing it by applying it in conversation. This is the most natural way.
  24. Learn to write in a foreign language. To do this, start a diary, journal or Instagram in a foreign language you are learning. Start with a few words and sentences a day. Over time, you will be able to write more.
  25. To learn how to write, write down everything that comes into your head at once in the language you study, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Then remember the grammar you know and correct the spelling. After that, let someone else read what you have written and check if there are any mistakes.
  26. Learn songs in a foreign language and sing them to improve your fluency and intonation. Also, songs will make your life brighter. Poems are fine, too, but choose the ones you really like.
  27. Find someone to talk or correspond with. It’s best to do this with someone with whom you have common interests. This way you will have a reason to keep communicating.
  28. From the very beginning of learning a foreign language, you need to get used to its rhythm and intonation. This is best done by listening and repeating.
  29. Listen to the language more, even at the elementary levels. Even if it sounds in the background and you do not understand everything, you will get used to it and eventually understand more.
  30. Read the text aloud and listen to the audio version at the same time. As well as repetition, this is a good way to improve your speaking skill, but along with that, the visual reliance on the text develops your reading skill. Afterwards, try listening to the text again and write down what you hear.
  31. With your language teacher’s permission, record a lesson. That way you can easily repeat what you have learned.
  32. At the pre-intermediate level and above, try to use a defining dictionary to learn how to think in a foreign language and to get rid of translation. If a regular defining dictionary seems like something awful, get a dictionary adapted to your level.
  33. Learn to use a dictionary only when necessary. Try to guess the meaning of a word from the context. Maybe you’ll come across the word a few more times and see if your guess is right.
  34. Learn a foreign language with optimism. Don’t be discouraged. Sometimes you will think your progress is too slow and you have no aptitude for languages. These thoughts come to many people, but don’t worry. Sooner or later (depending on the time you devote to studying) you will achieve the goal. There are no people incapable of learning languages – the proof is that you have learned your native language!
  35. Enjoy the process of learning. In order to do that, learn a foreign language in a context that’s interesting to you. We learn better when we like it.
  36. Don’t strain yourself, don’t be nervous, and don’t rush when you speak. Take a deep breath. You will speak better if you release the tension. Remember: mental concentration and physical overstrain are not the same things.
  37. Periodically use old textbooks and materials you’ve studied from before. You’ll be surprised how easy and understandable they are. So your level has improved! Past textbooks help you polish your language skills and strengthen your structural language connections.
  38. Don’t look for excuses not to learn. It’s never too early or too late to learn a new foreign language.
  39. Don’t put off language studies until later. Instead, take a small portion of the material in a way that not only makes it easy for you, but also helps you fill your time in a meaningful way. Always have something on hand (a book, magazine, newspaper, audio files, podcasts, or radio wave) that you can use while waiting or in the mood.
  40. If you understand the best way to learn a language, you can naturally build learning a foreign language into the rhythm of your life. And that way you’ll get the results you want much faster.
  41. Although you can learn a foreign language using a variety of materials and resources to make it as natural, varied, and interesting as possible, most of the time it is better to use resources that are appropriate for your level of language skills. If the materials make you work hard, that’s fine, but you shouldn’t be discouraged.
  42. When using materials of varying difficulty levels, it is important to set goals that are within your reach. Sometimes in language school you may feel that there is nothing new to you in the lesson. But learning a foreign language does not mean constantly overloading yourself with new material. Some lessons should focus on improving your confidence and fluency in using words and grammatical structures you already know, so they are more about speaking. On the other hand, at elementary levels, the teacher may use very difficult material, such as newspaper articles, setting you the elementary task of finding familiar words in the headlines and identifying the topics of the articles, for example.
  43. Don’t worry about your accent. An accent is an individual feature of speech and cultural identity. When learning a foreign language, it’s important to get used to different ways of speaking, not just the way your teacher speaks. Then you can easily understand different people who speak the language. Modern textbooks from leading publishers pay quite a lot of attention to this aspect, so sound files are recorded by different speakers with different tone of voice and manner.
  44. Write new words on small cards (no translation!) and carry these cards with you. If you write the word by hand, you will remember it better than if you just look it up on your smartphone. A physical card is better understood by many than an electronic one. Also, cards or stickers can be pasted all over the house on every item. This is another way to immerse yourself in the language. Don’t forget: if you’re learning a foreign language, it should be everywhere!
  45. Be creative when you learn a language. A syllabus is good, but it’s even better if you’re interested in solving a problem using a language you are learning. Don’t be afraid to follow your intuition.
  46. Meet new people with whom you can speak exclusively in a language you study. Find a conversation club in your city or on the Net. If a person wants to talk to you, it won’t matter what the conversation starts with. Once you find common interests, you’ll be able to continue conversations that will make you forget you’re learning. It is important that you turn the language from a subject of study into a natural tool of communication.
  47. Sometimes it helps to repeat what others have said in order to understand the meaning. Or to make sure you get the message right.
  48. Learn words and grammar actively – use new words and grammar in sentences to remember new material better and develop language skills at the same time.
  49. The higher your language level is, the more time it takes to get to the next level. You see the best progress at the beginning levels. Later, when you have mastered all the basic grammar, you will have to work your way through the fine details and expand your grasp of the language.
  50. In speech, words don’t sound separate from each other, but connected, so that two words may sound like one. This is very important, pay attention to it. Try to copy phrases from an audio file to feel and perceive the rhythm of the language. This will improve your speaking skills and listening comprehension.
  51. Use the Internet. There are plenty of resources to help you learn languages. Find something that will interest you.
  52. Use a good grammar book to practice grammar and repeat grammar material.
  53. Listen and repeat! This way you can practice speaking and listening comprehension skills.
  54. Take a language course in a country where it is spoken. Here you will find all the necessary conditions for the rapid learning: 1) you find yourself fully immersed in the language, 2) your motivation is at its peak thanks to new places, situations and meetings with interesting people, 3) a qualified teacher will dose and consistently give you the material you need to learn, help you with advice on time, and create a dynamic and motivating atmosphere in class.
  55. If you learn a language abroad, communicate with people who do not speak your language. In this case, the language of communication for you will always be the language you are studying. Try not to switch to your native language while studying abroad. This way you can really immerse yourself in a foreign language and get more out of your educational trip.
  56. Learn a language with a qualified teacher. It is better to study once a week with a qualified teacher who knows advanced teaching techniques and the rest of the time to study on your own, than to attend lessons five times a week with a teacher who does not know how to teach efficiently.
  57. If you go to a language school abroad, be sure to prepare for classes. Preparation includes revising what you’ve learned in class and doing homework. Use a grammar guide to understand and practice unfamiliar grammatical phenomena. Ideally, your self-study should last at least an hour or an hour and a half a day.
  58. Don’t get distracted at foreign language lessons; turn off your smartphone. Focus on the lesson.
  59. Don’t sit next to people who won’t speak with you in the language you are studying.
  60. Actively participate in discussions when studying in a group.

By Mike Kudryavtsev
Published: 02.12.2021
Last updated: 02.12.2021