6 Simple Hacks for Learning Any Language
Learn a language quicker! Let's say you have to move to a new country in a few months and need to get there knowing the basics of the local language or a bit more. All will depend on the time you have ahead before the departure. That's when it's important to know exactly what to focus on before taking regular classes and following a whole student book from zero and ending up not having the level of the language you should have when landing in the new country.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, meaning you need to learn a new language fast, you will have to optimize your studies. Having had a few students in this situation I had to develop different programs so they could learn vocabulary, grammar, and cultural information of more suitable subjects and paces to them at that moment. The guide below is the result of these programs based on the level my students acquired by the time they moved to the new countries. After the reading, you will be able to begin exactly with the main points of a language. You will see that it's all a matter of focus.
1) Start with the most common verbs
You should learn the verbs used in everyday life. Look no further, here are some lists of the 100 most common verbs in Spanish, French, or Portuguese to download.
That's awesome, now you already know the most important verbs! The next step is to learn the main conjugations, which are the simple present and simple past tenses. Despite the fact that your target language probably has a more complex conjugation system than English (especially if it's a European language), they also have some rules applying to many of the verbs. It means that once you know how to conjugate one verb you will automatically know many others.
In French words ending with -ER, -RE, -IR, etc will have the same pattern of conjugation. Same for Portuguese and Spanish.
Being aware of this will make you more confident to speak in the immediate besides making you familiar with the conjugation standards for the future tense. Just be aware of irregular verbs.
2) Focus on the most used pronouns
Let's make it even easier for you. In Portuguese, French, or Spanish there are some nouns that will probably be useless at the beginning. I recommend you to start with the simple conjugations of eu/você/nós in Portuguese, je/nous/vous in French, or yo/tu/nosotro(a)s in Spanish.
3) Dive into vocabulary
Naturally, starting with everyday vocabulary is mandatory. A fun and fast way to learn new words are using flashcards like Quizlet is the best way to learn it in a fun and effective way. You can rather create your own flashcards or find a list of them. A more effective method is using flashcards not with the translation at the verso but with IMAGES. You can also put post-its with the name of things on the things. Call this by their names in your target language. For instance, write"silla" on the post-it and paste it on the chair if you're learning Spanish.
4) Get your listening ready
Listen to daily conversations in the target language. On radio, YouTube, and especially podcasts. I've created a playlist on Spotify with 10 podcasts in French that you can check out here.
Also, don't forget to check this article about The best free sources to learn Spanish online.
It doesn't matter if you don't understand everything really. Your goal here will be to get your ears and brain used to the target language so when you get to the country you will for sure feel more confident.
5) Get an online tutor to help you
A good French, Spanish, Portuguese teacher, or whatever language you're learning tutor will be your guide to help you to study these points with more consistency. In my years in the university studying languages, I've realized how important is to have weekly homework that makes you study by yourself and get real feedback about every point. A teacher or tutor will make sure you're going in the right direction and getting all the points you need to be ready for your trip.
P.s.: You can always study Spanish, French, English, or Brazilian Portuguese here at your own pace and feel 100% secure with the language when you will be off to your destination. Whether you need weekly classes or just a few tutoring to check your speaking and see where you need to brush up before you go, I can help you.
6) Mise en situation
Putting yourself in situations like in the bakery, hotel, restaurant or business meetings is certainly the best way to get well prepared and use the verbs and vocabulary you're already studying anyways. I use to do it all the time when I am studying Mandarin and I feel I have progress in the language so much more!
For this, you can count on your language tutor to create situations such as a phone call and other roles you can simulate. Besides of being highly effective, it's a lot of fun!
As we saw, all is a matter of focus. Let's review:
1) Learn the main verbs
2) Learn the main pronouns
3) Learn specific vocabulary
4) Practice lots of listenings
5) Take tailored classes
6) Put yourself in the situation
Now that you know how to learn a language faster by focusing on the most important points, share this guide with friends and comment below if you have other techniques that helped you to learn a language fast.