How to make learning a language easier and faster

Infographic: How to Learn Languages Easier & Faster

easiest languages to learn

When it comes to learning a new language, everyone has different goals. Maybe you just want to keep your mind sharp and broaden your communication skills in general — in that case, you might be wondering what the easiest languages to learn are, and will go from there.

Other learners might have a specific language in mind, whether you’re heading on vacation and want to chat with the locals, or need to be able to communicate with business contacts or clients.

So… why do your goals matter? The fact is, learning a new language shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all process. And the way you approach it makes a big difference!

Getting Started With the Hardest Languages to Learn

German (with its three grammatical genders), Finnish (with its complicated grammar rules), and Japanese (with its entirely new writing system) are all known as some of the hardest language to learn. Don’t let that deter you, though! Benny over at Fluent in 3 Months has a great article about what actually makes these languages difficult (spoiler: it’s your attitude!).

Moreover, often the idea of the “hardest” language to learn is completely subjective.

It’s also a matter of knowing your learning style, and your personal learning goals. Once you’ve got these figured out, you can determine the logical steps and strategies you need to take (more in this later!).

Your motivation in general makes a big difference, too! Learn more about the psychology of learning a language in this article over at the LinguaLift blog.

Getting Started With the Easiest Languages to Learn

So, what are the easiest languages to learn, you might be asking? As we discussed above, any kind of classification like that can be a bit misleading. If you begin the process thinking learning Spanish won’t even take much studying, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. There’s a lot to focus on, from new vocabulary to tenses.

Instead of making it harder than it needs to be, start off on the right foot by again acknowledging your learning style and goals.

What Type of Language Learner Are You?

Now, that you know what you need to do, let’s get started! To begin, take our learning styles quiz. This will tell you what to keep in mind as you study.

Next, with your learning style in mind, read on to determine what ‘type’ of learner you are and check out Spanish tutor Joan B.‘s tips and suggestions for reaching your specific goals.

(1) The Vacationer

Do you dream of passing the time drinking sangria, exploring cathedrals, and having a late Spanish dinner followed by a night out on the town? If you’re planning a trip to Spain or Latin America, you’ll have a much richer cultural and traveling experience if you brush up on Spanish a bit before leaving.

Language-learning goals:

  • To communicate basic needs and ask questions as needed.
  • To understand signs and announcements.
  • To engage with locals, both for pleasure and learning, as well as for transactions (in a market, at a pensión [guesthouse]).

How much and what you should learn:

  • Basics: greetings, numbers, interrogative words.
  • Key verbs (for Spanish, these include ir, estar, ser, querer, and tener).
  • Key vocabulary related to traveling and places.
  • Key phrases that you’ll hear often.
  • Any special pronunciations or slang related to the country you’re visiting.

Tips to reach your goal:

  • Carve out a few minutes in your daily routine to practice through listening. You can listen to a language tape, a language podcast, a song… anything to increase your exposure to the language!
  • Keep a notebook with new vocabulary so you can keep track of it and see your progress.
  • Start learning well ahead of your departure date, and make a timeline with your tutor or teacher to reach a level of basic comprehension and speaking ability.

(2) High School or College Student

You’re taking a Spanish class as a requirement, or perhaps you’re exploring the possibility of majoring or minoring in Spanish. In a span of a few months, you’ll be absorbing a number of new grammatical concepts, vocabulary, and more in order to gain fluency and pass your class with a high grade.

What language should I learn?

Depending on your school, you may have a choice of languages, or there may be only one offered. If you have that choice, avoid selecting something just because it’s the so-called “easiest” language to learn. Instead, think long-term — where do you want to travel in the future? Will your career interests benefit from learning a specific language?

Language-learning goals:

  • To fulfill your requirement and earn a high grade.
  • To increase your marketability in another field (Spanish language fluency is in demand in many job markets!).
  • To learn a new language, and possibly have a new cultural experience by studying abroad in the future.

How much and what you should learn:

  • The goal in high school or college classes is well-rounded fluency. You want to achieve mastery at whatever level you’re enrolled in in the areas of speaking, listening, reading comprehension, and writing.
  • Focus on key grammatical concepts, thematic vocabulary by chapter, and culturally specific information as detailed in your textbook.
  • Tip: For Spanish learners, Castilian Spanish is the standard for high school and college classes. If you study abroad, you might eventually learn a different variety of Spanish, such as Argentine or Mexican, but the goal now is to achieve mastery in Castilian Spanish, which is considered “textbook Spanish.”

Tips to reach your goal:

  • Study intelligently: stay on top of deadlines and exam dates, and plan your studying so you learn a little bit each day. Language learning is cumulative, so it’s very hard (and a bad idea!) to try to cram for an exam.
  • If you’re confused about a concept, seek extra help from your teacher. Grammatical concepts also build upon one another, so it’s important to clear up confusion before it grows. If you’re really struggling, consider seeing a tutor once or twice a week to get individualized attention and help.
  • Remember the many uses for the language. Learning in a classroom setting may seem removed, but its dividends pay off exponentially as you travel, work, and have the possibility to communicate with the millions of Spanish speakers in the world.

(3) Moving Overseas

You’re planning to study or live abroad, or perhaps you’re already there. You may have chosen the country for a variety of reasons, but one thing is sure: living or studying abroad is a unique opportunity to rapidly gain fluency in Spanish as you’re constantly exposed to it in a variety of contexts.

Language-learning goals:

  • To deepen your understanding of the culture, and to communicate meaningfully throughout your stay of several months to a year.
  • To gain fluency as you’re immersed in a Spanish-speaking environment.
  • To work, study, or otherwise participate in daily life in the country in which you’re staying.

How much and what you should learn:

  • Functional fluency: you want to have a significant breadth of vocabulary, grammar structures, and colloquial language to communicate in a variety of contexts, such as in stores, government offices, at a party, or in a vocational or educational environment.
  • Appropriate registers: polite language, formal language, informal language, and phrases, as well as the ability to choose the appropriate register for each situation.
  • Vocabulary, slang, and pronunciation differences unique to the area you’re living or studying in.

Tips to reach your goal:

  • Combine your immersion learning with specific learning in a class, with a tutor, or with a language partner. You might also consider going to a class or seeing a tutor in combination with practicing conversation with a language partner.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity for interaction: don’t be shy! Locals will appreciate your effort and enjoy meeting someone from a different place and learning about you.
  • Keep a language journal, so you can remember unique conversations, new words, and your experience in general. Living or studying abroad can be a life-changing and memorable experience!

(4) Business Professional

You’re established in your field and looking to continue progressing, when you realize that knowing another language will help you in moving ahead in your career. You might even be eyeing a specific position where that knowledge is an asset, if not required.

What language should I learn?

A lot has been written on the benefits of bilingualism, but what’s the best language to learn to help your career? According to Forbes, the general consensus is that Mandarin-Chinese, German, and Spanish are great picks. Of course, the right pick for you will also depend on your location and industry.

Language-learning goals:

  • To gain and demonstrate ability in Spanish for use in professional contexts: business meetings, with clients, or with Spanish-speaking partners abroad.
  • To pass competency tests to put on your résumé as proof of your ability.
  • To demonstrate cultural sensitivity and interest as needed in your field.

How much and what you should learn:

  • No matter what your goal is, it’s important to always start with a strong foundation. Enroll in a beginning class (or an appropriate level if you already have some knowledge) to gain an understanding of the language as a whole.
  • Either concurrently or after gaining a good foundation, take a course or study privately with a tutor to learn vocabulary appropriate for your field (for example, business or medical Spanish).
  • Learn with the goal of clear and appropriate communication. You want to be able to make your point, in addition to expressing it appropriately and politely.
  • Learn cultural habits and trends to help you respond appropriately with whom you interact with: this is a very important point that can often be overlooked! Competency without cultural sensitivity can leave a huge gap in your professional interactions, as people like to feel understood and appreciated by their business partners.

Tips to reach your goal:

  • Speak to others in your field who are fluent in your chosen language, either through bilingualism or study. Ask them for help, suggestions, and information about the use of that language in your desired field.
  • Explore various competency tests and work toward a specific one with the goal of a passing score.
  • Make sure you understand the level of fluency required for your particular career. In some careers, being at a conversational or basic level is sufficient, while in others, a higher degree of fluency is necessary.
  • Look into certificate programs for working professionals at universities.

(5) Hobbyist

You’re a weekend warrior: you’re learning the language out of love and a personal motivation and interest. You might want to build new neural pathways by challenging yourself to learn a new language, or you might have always had an interest in learning it. Whatever the reason, you’re sure to discover a whole new world of possibilities and growth through your language study.

What language should I learn?

This one’s up to you! There’s no best language to learn, so whatever sparks your interest — go for it!

Language-learning goals:

  • To enjoy the process, gain new skills, and challenge yourself to learn a new skill.
  • To experience a new culture and world of communication possibilities.
  • To one day use the language in other contexts, as well: travel, study, work, friendship, or love.

How much and what you should learn:

  • Learn at a pace that is comfortable to you. Since you’re learning for fun, there’s no need to rush. You can learn new grammatical concepts one by one, and take your time seeing the various contexts in which you might use them.
  • Ask your teacher or language tutor to incorporate extracurricular activities like dining out, going to a concert, or other Spanish language activities to build your progress in a fun way.
  • Explore literature, comics, cartoons, music lyrics, or other things that appeal to you as a way to improve.
  • Study all aspects of the language (speaking, listening, writing, and reading comprehension), but if there’s an element of particular interest to you (for example, writing to one day have a pen pal, or reading comprehension to read new literature), don’t hesitate to focus in on it! You will inadvertently improve other areas of the language by delving deeply into a particular part of it.

Tips to reach your goal:

  • Join a language meetup or other social group to have fun while improving your language skills, in addition to making new friends.
  • Explore different teaching and learning styles to find the one that is most effective and enjoyable for you.
  • Consider taking a vacation to combine learning and pleasure. It can be a great way to reinforce all of the benefits of learning the language in addition to accelerating your learning curve.

(6) Connecting With Family or Friends

You have a significant other, friends, or family members who speak another language. There’s nothing quite like talking to them in their native language, except… you don’t speak it. Never fear! With some focused study, you can be chatting with them in no time!

Language-learning goals:

  • To communicate freely with your friends or family.
  • To participate more richly in this realm of your social life. When everyone else around you speaks another language, you can miss out on a rich tapestry of humor and expression of feeling if you don’t understand.
  • To better understand your friends and family. Language learning directly educates us about cultural rituals, perspectives, and much more.

How much and what you should learn:

  • Colloquial expressions and conversational vocabulary are key. You’ll be able to carry on a social conversation and understand those around you.
  • Grammar is also important, but to a lesser extent for your goal.
  • Learn vocabulary as needed, focusing on themes of vocabulary that are most useful (for example, activities and hobbies, food, etc.).

Tips to reach your goal:

  • Watch films in the language to understand native speakers. You can start by watching them with English subtitles and then progress to just listening as normal.
  • Ask your friends and family to help you learn. A few minutes of conversation every day can help you progress and get used to their accent.

Using Your Learning Style & Type Effectively

First, here’s a recap of what you’ll need to determine:

Which Language Learner Are You

 

Now that you’re clear on your goals and how to reach them, it’s time to get started! Need a tutor? We’ve got you covered — search for a local or online tutor here. Good luck!

Joan BPost Author: Joan B.
Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. A lover of language, she’s studied French, Arabic, and Italian, and spent time living in Spain. Learn more about Joan here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Tags: ,
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *