The 10 Best Ways to Learn a New Language
Foreign languages can be successfully learned at any age. However, it is worth remembering that the key to success is how you learn. Discover 10 effective ways to learn a language and you'll see the difference and feel extra motivated.
1. Practice makes perfect
How to learn to not forget? Learning a language should not boil down to just remembering lists with words. Learning a new word in isolation from its context and practical usage works only if you want to keep it in short-term memory. "Shooting” is not only ineffective, but also discourages further learning due to the lack of results. If you want to learn a foreign language effectively, you need to know how to repeat it successfully.
In everyday life, it is not always possible to follow a strict repetition schedule, so the repetition timetable should be as flexible as possible. SuperMemo is a dynamic method of optimizing the repetition of knowledge, incorporating the concept of the forgetting curve. An intelligent algorithm, it anticipates the moment of forgetting the presented information and sets the best date for its repetition. Thanks to this, the material is more easily stored in long-term memory. Of course, for the best results, it is worth being systematic and repeating it in accordance with the learning plan. However, the enhanced SuperMemo algorithm also works effectively when the user does not repeat the material regularly or omits its repetition completely.
2. Language learning and active listening
From school, we usually get the idea that learning a foreign language is all about working with a textbook, studying grammar, filling in gaps in sentences and reading texts to develop skills and understanding. We focus very much on the visual representation of the words.
However, research shows that listening also plays a very important role in the process of learning a foreign language. Even at the initial stage, it is worthwhile introducing tasks supporting this aspect into the learning process. Even if you are not able to understand everything, the recordings will help you get used to the language. Over time, you can turn on a radio or television programme and find the content you are interested in.
Internet streaming platforms are full of podcasts with different profiles and levels of complexity. One of the benefits of listening to the language is the indirect training of pronunciation, an aspect that is often overlooked, and very important. This is especially the case in learning English, where the pronunciation variants can be complicated, even for native speakers.
3. Reading aloud in language learning
Reading interesting texts aloud is a great way to quickly learn new phrases. It activates your vision, hearing and speech, making it easier for you to remember. Additionally, you learn whole phrases, see the context of the vocabulary used and practice correct grammar. It is also worth reading aloud in order to overcome barriers to speaking and to practice pronunciation.
Do you want to know if you are pronouncing words correctly? Use the speech recognition function available in the SuperMemo application to "talk to the phone" and receive feedback on your articulation in real-time.
If you are not yet comfortable speaking to someone in a foreign language, practice this way! As you hear yourself, you improve your speaking skills and confidence in conversing.
4. The old way of language learning – flashcards and sticky notes
Using flashcards, i.e. the popular method of cards or notes with phrases, is a traditional and effective tool for consolidating lexical knowledge. Especially if you are learning on your own, creating them is an attractive and engaging way to assimilate vocabulary.
Just a file of sticky notes and some creative spirit are all that is needed - it is up to you whether you want to mark your words with colours, or add sample sentences or associations. Stick the notes in different places at home or on your desk at work. You can follow any system you like, e.g. mark all of your kitchen items with their German names. In this way you will become familiar with the terms and the "labelled" words will be remembered more quickly because they are clearly embedded in their real-world contexts.
You can take your cards with you anywhere. You can learn from them on a bus or in a shop. And using them will become even more convenient if you add them to the SuperMemo app, making them into your own course supported by our algorithm of intelligent repetitions. You can also attach an MP3 file or graphic representation to the target words that you enter. If you want to use our ready-made solutions, choose the relevant SuperMemo Extreme course, created especially for learning vocabulary.
5. Learning foreign languages through travel
In the era of the Internet and Google Maps, asking the way to get somewhere is becoming less and less popular, but if you are abroad and you want to train your foreign language skills, don't give up asking for directions.
Get involved in conversation as soon as an opportunity arises - whether in a restaurant, in a shop or by asking pedestrians to give you directions. A positive attitude is very important - don't be discouraged if you have to repeat yourself or you don't remember how to say something. The most important thing is that you are able to speak up and communicate.
This is the easiest way to practice English, because you can use it to communicate properly all over the world. However, if you are focusing on another language, adjust the destination of your holiday to match your interest. Are you beginning to learn German? Then go for a weekend to Berlin or Vienna. This will not only be a great opportunity to listen to the language, but also a training course in basic communication.
6. Everyday language learning
In order to optimize your learning, it is worth making some modifications to your routine so that the foreign language starts to accompany you in your everyday life situations. Start by changing the language settings of the software on your phone and on social media or by making foreign language notes in your diary. Look for recipes in your target language and create shopping lists in it. Make the language surround you.
Once you have mastered the basics, read the news on the web or books or magazines in the language you wish to develop. As you learn in this way, note down new vocabulary, add it to MemoCart in the SuperMemo app and try to guess the meaning from the context.
There are so many different options, it is worth discovering your own way to function in the reality of the language you are learning in an everyday and natural way.
7. Learning a language through mobile applications and online courses
Apps and interactive courses are an effective way to learn a language due to their attractive forms, effective algorithms and mobility. Thanks to the SuperMemo app installed on a smartphone, you can learn almost anywhere and anytime. And then, when you have access to a computer, you can continue your learning uninterrupted, because the application works on many devices. In this way, you can use every spare moment of your time to learn.
Additionally, you can rely on an algorithm that intelligently selects the pattern of repetitions so that the memorizing of consecutive items of content is optimally effective.
The offer of our courses is rich and is specifically adjusted to the level of advancement of the user. Do you want to work exclusively on grammar or on building your vocabulary base? Are you preparing for an exam? Select a course from the SuperMemo catalogue that meets your individual needs and interests.
Of course, it is important not to get bored and discouraged! If you enjoy acquiring knowledge through entertainment, try working with our award-winning interactive Olive Green course, developed for learning English at all levels.
8. Combine business with pleasure – TV series and programmes in language learning
TV series surround us, especially as many are now easily available online. The quality of the latest productions is really high, so it is not surprising that we often spend long hours watching them.
If you are a fan of this way of spending your free time, you can combine pleasure with study and use every episode you watch to learn a language. This kind of learning is not usually associated with great effort, and is fun and brings results.
An additional advantage of learning from programmes available on TV or via streaming services is the great opportunity to learn phrases from everyday language. Especially, for example, if you are watching popular stand-up comedians.
If you have the possibility (and it is now available on almost all platforms), change the settings from dubbing to subtitles, preferably in the original language. Over time, when you feel more confident, turn off the subtitles as well. The results are guaranteed!
The most common programmes are English language productions, but if you're learning German, you'll also find plenty for yourself. Many popular portals are now keen to invest in local productions, so the choice is growing all the time.
9. Language learning through conversations
Take advantage of every opportunity to have a conversation in the target language. Remember that you do not have to communicate only with native speakers. Do you often go to Germany for business purposes and improve your German language skills? Or maybe you have friends who are also learning the same language? Why not make an arrangement to speak German from time to time.
Other learning opportunities come in the form of native speaker meetings and tandems. Check on the Internet to see if anyone is organizing them close to you. It is very likely that you will find a conversation partner who will help you learn the language as part of a competence exchange.
10. Communicate in a foreign language with the support of technologies.
When learning a language, you should put your emphasis on communication – but what if you don't have the opportunity to try your hand at live conversation? Use the space and possibilities of the Internet, especially social networking platforms.
Probably anyone who has ever learned English has heard the word "penfriend" or "correspondence friend". Writing letters on paper is becoming less and less popular today, but a similar model of contact can easily be transferred to social media and instant messengers.
The Internet opens up a number of possibilities for us: it's not only social media platforms, but also discussion forums, various interest groups or simply the comments sections under different articles. If you have friends from abroad, take advantage of this and regularly exchange messages with them, and you will quickly see the improvement in your level and fluency in using the language.
When communicating online, it is important to remember that the language used is often very common and is not always grammatically correct or diplomatic. If you are learning a language for business purposes, for example, pay more attention to the nature of the websites you are using and the quality of the writing.
The motivation to learn foreign languages is already very high. It is worthwhile reaching for proven methods that will enable you to see your progress quickly, with the newly acquired material remaining in your memory forever. Thanks to these you will learn even more and do it more willingly, because the learning experience will be simply more enjoyable.