How to Learn a Language Quickly

Find out how learning a new language like an adult can help you get up to speed quickly.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #136

Get yourself a portable media player and load it up with foreign language podcasts, news shows, and lectures. I use an iPod Touch, which also gives me visual exposure to the language from browsing the web, reading blogs, and listening to foreign-language music.

If you plan to immerse yourself in reading, however, learn how speakers of the other language pronounce words. Why do evil German villains in movies, "Ve haff vays uff making you talk?" It's because in Germany, the letter W is pronounced "Vvv." Their accent is just fine; it's their reading that's the problem. Thank Goodness Elmer Fudd wasn’t a German who learned to read English without learning English pronounciation. He would say "I'll get you, you vascally vabbit," which wouldn't sound nearly as cute and would probably give children nightmares.

Use Reading to Back Up Your Listening

You can reinforce the association between reading and writing by reading a transcript of what you listen to. Reading improves your writing, the same way that listening improves your speaking. You can use online tools like LingQ.com to import text and save unknown words for later review. You can search out podcasts that include transcripts or add your own by right-clicking a podcast in iTunes, choosing Get Info, and pasting the transcript into the Lyrics tab. To see the transcripts, click the center wheel 3 times on older iPods or tap the screen once on iPod Touches.

When you are ready for books, get both an audio and print version. You can listen then read, read then listen, or read while you listen. Mix up which technique you use on a given day. It keeps your brain on its toes. Which is really interesting imagery.

Space Out Your Practicing

Even with your brain on its toes (uugh), memorizing all those words can be tricky. Have you noticed how everyone forgets things? You tell your shmoopie that it's their turn to do the dishes and they'll have to skip their annual bowl-a-thon to stay home and do so. Then, shmoopie forgets, and goes out anyway. You solve the shmoopie problem by nagging—always a great way to deepen a cherished relationship—and you solve your brain's problem the same way.

If you want results, you have to nag properly. With shmoopie, each reminder must be accompanied by a shoulder rub, a bouquet of flowers, and an admission that shmoopie was right and you were wrong. Nagging shmoopies properly is a very expensive proposition, both financially and emotionally. Nagging your brain had to be done at special intervals. Read an article or listen to a podcast, and then review it 10 minutes later. Then review it again a day after that. Then 3 days, 1 week, 1 month, and 6 months later. That is the equivalent of bringing your brain flowers, which it really needs, because its ankles are tired from standing on its toes.

Have I mentioned that when learning another language, it's helpful to learn to use metaphors properly? There's nothing cuter than meeting a charming foreigner who tells you that they don't know if they can meet you for dinner because their plans are "floating inside the atmosphere. "

Learning a language can be easier than you think. Expose yourself to listening and reading in short bursts, several times a day. Use your portable music player and lyrics function to review it regularly. And space out your practice reviews to nag your brain into remembering what you’ve learned.  For a Quick Tip on reinforcing the language skills you learn, head on over here.

And for more Get-It-Done travel tips, please click here.

Remember your free 30-day trial of GotoAssist Express at GotoAssist.com/podcast.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_Lessons_(1981_film) - the film, Private Lessons

http://www.LingQ.com - importing text and saving it for later

http://LanguageMastery.com - John Fotheringham's resources for learning language


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.