How to learn a new language quickly?

Learning a new language is quite a program, especially when starting from scratch. One can feel overwhelmed by the task at hand, much like standing at the foot of a mountain without seeing its peak. But don’t panic! Learning a new language is truly within everyone’s reach; you just need to truly want it. 

And to truly want it, you need to have a goal. It could be traveling to a distant country, challenging yourself by learning something new, or making friends you could never have known without mastering that language.

In short, you need to set a distant goal, or rather, a dream. As David Thoreau said:

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” – Henry David Thoreau

How to learn a new language quickly?

And that’s the challenge: taking action.

Indeed, taking action is the decisive factor that will turn you into a accomplished polyglot or a perpetual procrastinator. 

So, let’s recap: to start learning a new language, you must have a burning desire to learn it. To ignite that desire, you need to have a goal.

1. Find your reason to learn a new language

Here is a non-exhaustive list of goals that could inspire you to learn a new language

  • I want to travel to a distant country, and learning the language will allow me to immerse myself deeply in its culture.
  • I want to learn something new and find a new passion that will give meaning to my life (though I suppose you have already found yours, haven’t you? Hehe).
  • I want to meet new friends I could never have met otherwise and create international friendships that will open the doors to exceptional experiences. 
  • I want to become multilingual. Knowing five languages may be an ambitious goal, but it’s truly rewarding from a personal perspective.
  • I want to communicate with as many people as possible on the planet and eliminate communication barriers between human beings.

As we can see, it is essential to have a real, personal reason, something that will give meaning to our lives, something we truly believe in.

Have you all found your reason to learn a new language? Perfect 🙂

2. Getting your feet wet with duoling and Babbel

How to learn a new language quickly?

The next step would be to take it gradually to familiarize yourself with the language. We can start with language learning mobile applications such as Duolingo or Babbel to see if we enjoy the language.

3. Get a method book

spanish for dummies

Then, it’s time to buy our first language books. But be careful, not just any books. We need accessible books that guide us and show us that learning a language is fun, easy, and above all, enriching. 

And the winner is… drumroll, please: The “For Dummies” series! These books are simply fantastic. They allowed me to learn English and Spanish, which I now speak fluently. 

Filled with jokes, they are also very educational. I recommend English for Dummies or Spanish for Dummies as an excellent starting point for your learning journey.

Now that I have my reason to learn a new language and my books, what do I do next?

Ideally, you should study every day. Yes, you heard me right, every day, for at least 30 minutes a day, and ideally 1 hour a day. 

Considering that it takes around 500 hours to reach a decent level of Spanish or English, if we do the math, in 365 days, we will have almost reached a good level, sufficient to interact with the locals in the country we want to visit.

Consistency is the key in language learning.

I believe that studying with “For Dummies” books for about three months before moving on to the next step: starting to speak with locals.

4. Practice the language with natives

How to learn a new language quickly?

“But Pierre, what if I am in my own country and want to practice with locals? What do I do?”

The answer is quite simple. There is a fantastic application called Tandem that allows you to have live voice or video calls with locals. 

This application has enabled me to make many new friends, some of whom I have even met during my travels.

The app is very user-friendly. After signing up and creating your profile with a few pictures, you can start messaging people from different countries and have real phone calls with native speakers from around the world. 

This is an extraordinary tool when learning a new language.

5. Watch a lot of movies

I believe it takes about three months of practice with locals to start grasping the basics of the language.

Let’s not forget a fantastic tool for developing your listening comprehension skills, which is watching movies in the original language. 

However, the most important trick is to watch movies with subtitles in the language you’re learning. The idea is to watch the movie while simultaneously reading the original subtitles.

Even if you don’t understand everything, this method helps familiarize your ear with the sounds of the language you’re learning and helps “train your ear.” 

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t understand everything. The key is to get used to the words and the sound variations you’ll encounter during your learning journey. 

It’s best to watch all your content, whether it’s a movie, a Netflix series, or a YouTube video, in the language you’re learning with original subtitles.

6. Read good stories books

I highly recommend mixing your learning with books and incorporating listening comprehension with original subtitles. 

That way you will be in a good position to answer to the question: how to learn a new language quickly.

Of course, we can also add the importance of reading real books, starting with ones that aren’t too complicated. 

My favorite book to translate and learn a new language is “Le Petit Prince” (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

It’s a book with a powerful, spiritual story, and what interests us here is that it’s accessible to beginners when they start learning a new language. It was the first book I bought during a three-month trip to Barcelona. 

Ah, Barcelona, a fantastic city that deserves several articles on its own. As you can tell, it’s my favorite book that I love to translate when learning a new language. 

It’s an accessible and fascinating book that I hope will captivate you as well.

So let’s recap: three months of learning with books and videos with original subtitles, three months of exchange with the Tandem app. What comes next?

7. Travel and practice in the real world

The next step is to realize your fantastic project: traveling to the country that has captured your dreams. The goal is to fully immerse yourself in the new country. So, don’t isolate yourself or, even worse, stay with your group of friends and not interact with anyone. 

I have actually written an article on How to Travel Alone, Far from Home, in a Distant Country.

Be social, speak with anyone

Once you arrive in your new paradise, the objective is to interact with anyone you come across. It could be a person on the street, a cashier, or anyone else who speaks the language you’ve learned. 

I’ve even had fantastic discussions with a homeless person in Cancun who explained his situation, why he loves his country, and why he enjoys the climate there (if you’re traveling in South American countries, people are much more open than in France, so make the most of it!).

The key is to awaken your extroverted side and develop your sociability skills to practice your new superpowers. In general, people are always pleasantly surprised and curious to speak with someone who has taken the effort to learn their native language. 

Connect yourself deeply with the locals

When you learn the native language of a person, you touch their heart, emotions, and memories.

That’s why speaking the language of the locals is so powerful. It allows you to connect with them on a deeper level, showing respect for their culture and creating meaningful connections. 

As you engage in conversations, don’t worry about making mistakes or not speaking perfectly. The most important thing is to communicate and express yourself. 

Locals will appreciate your effort and enthusiasm to learn their language.

During your interactions, don’t be afraid to ask for help or clarification if you don’t understand something. 

People are often willing to assist and guide you in your language learning journey. Embrace the opportunity to practice and learn from native speakers, as they can provide valuable insights into the nuances and cultural aspects of the language.

Do some activities to immerse yourself

Additionally, try to engage in activities that allow you to further immerse yourself in the language and culture. 

Attend local events, join language exchange meetups, or take part in community gatherings. The more you expose yourself to the language in authentic contexts, the faster you’ll progress.

Remember, language learning is a continuous process, and it requires dedication, practice, and persistence. 

Embrace the challenges, celebrate your progress, and enjoy the journey of discovering a new language and culture.

8. Congratulation, you made it!

How to learn a new language quickly?

I hope these tips and suggestions help you on your language learning adventure and give you enough insights how to learn a new language quickly. Good luck!