Since some of you created a whole topic in somebody's status regarding learning languages, I thought I'll be nice (as always) and share this post from one of favourite Blogs: ZenHabits.
How to Learn A Language in 90 Days
‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.’ ~Nelson Mandela
I still remember the happiest moment of my life. I had decided to throw a party for my Italian friends while living in Florence, Italy. My friends didn’t speak any English, and I vividly remember throwing the party and trying to only speak in Italian. And then, someone asked me to tell a joke.
I don’t know if you know this, but telling jokes in another language is one of the most harrowing experiences you can imagine.
I began the joke. C’era una volta (Once upon a time) …
Halfway through the joke, I began to get flustered. I couldn’t remember the Italian word in the punchline. And 30 Italians were staring at me, waiting for the joke to end.
At the last minute, I remembered and completed the joke. I waited for the sound of crickets … but instead experienced a thunderous laugh and a round of applause. I had made dozens of Italians laugh, in their country, in their language.
Until today, that memory continues to be one of the happiest moments I’ve ever experienced. And it’s the reason that, over the last four years, I’ve studied languages and now speak five: English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and German.
The Benefits of Bilingualism
Becoming bilingual opens up a whole new world—a world of different people, of different cultures, of different emotions.
Learning a second language has many cognitive benefits. For example, learning a new language has been shown to delay Alzheimer’s, boost brainpower, reduce cognitive biases, and even increase concentration and the ability to tune out distractions. Your ability to build better habits will improve by learning a new language.
But, more so than cognitive effects, the ability to speak a second language has a ton of social benefits. There’s bliss in having the ability to order food in the waiter’s native language, to eavesdrop on people in an elevator, to impress natives by speaking with and understanding them.
The coolest thing about learning your second language is that it makes learning a third, fourth, or fifth language much easier. The challenge isn’t in learning a new language, but rather learning how to learn a language. Once you know the techniques, you’ll be able to apply the same grammatical patterns and language techniques in every new language you learn. It’s for this reason that, while Italian took me 3 or so months to master, Spanish took only 2 months and Portuguese took just a few weeks.
Why most people are wrong about language learning
I studied spanish for several years in high school, and even got good grades on national exams. But one day, when I actually tried to speak the language, I suddenly realized.
Four years of studying Spanish in school, and I couldn’t even order a burrito.
So what went wrong? According to official standardized tests, I was an expert in Spanish. But I couldn’t even do the most basic of tasks!
The fact is that we not taught languages in the ideal way. Students study languages in huge groups and think that a few worksheets and grammar exercises will be enough to learn a language.
Yet almost no one actually learns to speak.
In actuality, by doing worksheets, we are practicing for just that—for worksheets. But if you want to learn to speak, well, you actually have to practice by speaking.
So when people try to learn to speak a language out of a book, or with Rosetta Stone, I try to show them that they won’t achieve their goals that way. If you want to speak, you have to practice speaking. And if you want to speak a language rapidly, well, you have to start speaking. A lot.
The Basic Strategy Of Rapid Language Learning
Learning a language can seem daunting, so I’m going to provide an overview of the general strategy, before we get into the specifics.
Here is the breakdown. We’ll go more in depth into each of these later on.
1. Get the right resources for learning: A grammar book, memorization software, and films/books.
2. Get a private tutor. You want one for at least a month. I recommend four hours/day.
3. Attempt to speak and think only in the new language. Every time you can’t remember a word, put that word into your memorization software. Practice your vocabulary daily.
4. Find friends, language partners, and other speakers of the language. Once you can have basic conversations with your private tutor, you need to find other partners. If you haven’t already, think about moving to the country where the language is spoken. Consider a group class. Practice continuously. Stop speaking English.
That’s the basic strategy. Again, this strategy is intensive, because learning a language in three months is a difficult task. If you’d prefer to learn the language more slowly or you don’t have the ability to move to a new country and practice 4-8 hours a day, then you can modify the plan. It is extremely important that you practice every day, however—20 minutes a day is much better than once or twice a week.
Some of these concepts are hard to understand through the written word, so I created a video series, just for Zen Habits readers, that teaches the steps to learn a language. Get the Hack The System Language Learning Videos here.
You would want to read the rest of the post here. Post also mentiones how Rosetta Stone isn't recommended...