Tips

We all have busy lives and sometimes it's hard to find the time to do the things you want to do. The good news about language learning is that you only need to study for an hour a day at the minimum. Just be aware that the amount of new words, grammar rules, and so on that you can pick up in a week will be different for each person. Here's what you need to do.

Set aside periods during the day at which you can study

The first thing you'll want to do is set aside some time during your day at which you can study the language. Just look at your typical day's schedule and figure out what time you have where you could study. Some examples include - your lunch break, on your way to work when stuck in traffic, while you're getting ready in the morning, and before you go to bed.

You'll want to make sure that you get at least 10 minutes in every time you have the free time during the day. Let's say that you study 6 times during the week in 10 minute sessions. In one day, you'll have gotten 1 hour in - the minimum you need. At the end of the week, you'll have over 7 hours to account for.

Set weekly goals for yourself

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The next thing you should do is create some weekly goals you have in mind. For example - learn 30 new words this week. You might be wondering what this has to do with finding time but allow me to explain.

Have you ever had a goal you've given yourself before? Did you follow through on it? Did you make time for it during the day no matter what? By setting a weekly language goal, you'll be more motivated and will naturally find more time to study and learn.

Places and times you can study

As exemplified in the first point, there are many places you can study where you'll have free time. Do you have a busy commute to work? Study while stuck in traffic. You could even listen to audio even if not stuck in traffic.

In the morning and before you go to bed are other great times to study. The morning might be a bit busy, but you could still listen to audio. Before you go to bed is also a perfect time to study. Surely you can take 10 minutes off your sleeping schedule to get some time in? It's also great because you actually remember things better if you study before you go to sleep.

Add up all the small time spent here and there and by the end of the week you'll have gotten plenty of practice in. Now you have no excuse not to learn! No more saying, "I don't have the time." Everybody does, you just have to choose to use it.

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What do you think? Have any other tips for finding time?

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I've asked myself this same question when I was learning both Esperanto and Spanish at the same time (and a little bit of Dutch). While I don't have any scientific proof, I can talk about this topic from experience and what I've seen from polyglots in the community.

Learn two languages at once?

Think about this for a moment. Have you ever attempted to learn two things at once? For example, learning the piano and how to draw. It's very easy to do. As long as you clearly separate the two time wise, you can learn both things. In school, you learn several things at once so why not languages? Is learning two languages simultaneously really that hard or confusing to do?

You might say, "well languages are too similar." This is true, but ask people who do in fact speak two or several other languages and they'll tell you how easy it is for them to separate the languages in their head.

When I think and speak in Esperanto, I feel totally different than when I am speaking Spanish. It's like a whole different mindset. For me, it's easy to distinguish the two and that makes it easy for me to learn the two languages at once.

Is it Bad to Learn Two Languages At Once

There are even polyglots out there who learn many languages at the same time. One of those polyglots is Moses McCormick. You can see his YouTube channel here. He can speak somewhere over 40+ languages and studies two or more at the same time. His language skills are not bad either, when he talks to people he can actually hold decent length conversations. I'd say if Moses can learn multiple languages at once, then so can you.

Although it is easier to learn one thing at a time, if you really need to learn multiple at once or just want to, then I'd say go for it. It's totally possible.

In the time I've spent studying languages, I've come to realize that there are several basic things you should be doing to maximize your language learning progress. They're the most fundamental but yet some people miss out on knowing these.

So without further ado, here are the 7 most basic language learning tips you need to know.

1. Study Every Single Day

You need to be studying every day if possible. It doesn't have to be for an large amount of time. Just try to get 20-30 minutes for the day. Studying every day will keep you consistent and help you to remember everything you’re learning.

If you’re a really, really, busy person. Try do smaller bites of time here and there. 5 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon, etc. Just try and squeeze in around 20-30 minutes.

2. Talk/Repeat/Mimic

Pronunciation is one of the three major parts of learning a language and the only way to really get better is to repeat mimic the sounds.

You’ll feel awkward at first (and might look awkward), but it’s all part of the process of getting better pronunciation.

Sub-Tip: If you can’t find someone who wants to listen to you speak another language or are too afraid at first, then try talking to your dog, cat, or any pet. They won’t mind.

3. Read

Read everything you can in the language. Blogs, news websites like Yahoo, books, anything with text. Reading may not help with speaking as much, but it helps tremendously build vocabulary. I highly recommend software like learning with texts (free) for reading any content you find.

4. Read Aloud

Expanding on just general reading -- whenever you’re reading text, make sure to read it aloud instead of in your head. This goes along with talking and helps you practice your pronunciation more. It also helps you get more experience with speaking the language.

5. Watch Movies/Television

Find some good movies or TV shows in the language. There’s plenty out there that I’m sure you will even enjoy watching. You could watch news too instead of just shows. Media is a fantastic way to get used to the sounds and rate of speech of the natives. It also further helps with your pronunciation.

Sub-Tip: If you’re watching movies, try to put subtitles on if they have them. Don’t rely on the subtitles unless you’re just starting out. Use them only when you hear words you don’t know.

6. Listen to Music

Listen to Music

Ever heard a catchy song in another language? There’s plenty of good music out there to listen to. Listening to music will help with your listening skills, get you used to the sounds, and somewhat help with pronouncing words.

I find most of my music from YouTube. Just go and search for [language you're learning] + [genre] or [music] and you should be able to find something you like.

7. Don’t Worry About Messing Up

The last tip I can give is a very important one. Don’t worry about making mistakes! If you want to improve, you’re going to have to practice speaking and writing with native speakers. It’s the only way.

If you’re too worried about making mistakes, then you’ll never make progress.

People won’t scold you for a silly grammatical error or mispronounced word. 99% of the time they’ll be glad you’re trying to learn in the first place.

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These are the most basic things you should do when learning a language. Do them and you will see great success and strides in your journey. I promise!

Do you have any other helpful tips that you want to share? We would all like to hear it!

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So, you must be here because you don't want to have that accent anymore. Maybe you've heard that you'll always have an accent and that you have to be born a native to speak without one. Nope.

There are many people out there that can speak completely without an accent and some have never even set foot in the country. My Spanish speaking aunt being a good example. All her Spanish friends say she doesn't have an accent. When I hear her and the natives speak, she really does sound the same.

The techniques that I want to talk about though, my aunt didn't use. But these are quicker than what she was doing (immersion). I was just using her as an example to show that it's possible. So let's hop in.

1. Shadowing

Shadowing is an accent reduction technique created by Prof. Alexander Arguelles. He has a couple videos explaining and demonstrating it that you can check out on his YouTube but I'll go over it here as well.

This does not involve riding camels, however.
This does not involve riding camels, however.

In a nutshell, it involves listening to an audio track and repeating whatever is being said as fast as possible after it is said. Hence, “Shadowing” the speaker. By doing this, it really gets you used to the sounds/tones and helps you pronounce the words properly. He recommends that you really try and repeat as fast as you can for the best effect. The goal is to try and do it without delay - although there will always be a slight delay of milliseconds of course.

In the video below, he demonstrates himself doing this. In the video, you can see how he actually walks around while shadowing. For me personally, I can't sit still and I can actually focus much better when standing, so if you are the same, then I would recommended walking around while doing it.

You might feel stupid at first, but better to feel stupid for awhile than to have a bad accent, right? 😉 You get used to it anyway.

2. Flow-verlapping (The Mimic Method)

A technique created by Idahosa Ness. This is pretty similar to shadowing except it has its own twist.

  1. Find some music or a recording of a native.
  2. Record yourself either singing/talking and then try to mimic the sounds heard.
  3. You want to take the recording and -overlap- what is being sung or spoken in some software.

Basically, try and get the sound waves to match up together. You'll have to keep re-recording to get it right.

You'll notice that if you correctly mimic the native speaker, you will hear the audio track get louder. This means that you are successfully matching the correct tones, etc. If it sounds like a jumbled mess, then you probably didn't do it right.

Here's an example of Idahosa doing it...

You can use software like audacity to do this, which should come pre-installed on Windows PC's. To record yourself, you can also use the Soundcloud recorder widget for Android or iOS

Idahosa goes more in depth on this technique at his blog post about the Mimic Method. He's a cool guy, so go check him out.

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These are two great technique for getting rid of your accent. You might be uncomfortable trying them at first, but it's worth the initial discomfort. Got any other techniques you would recommended? Every tried either one of these?

Leave a comment below as I would love to hear!

If you often struggle with finding the motivation to continue your language learning journey, you're not alone. It happens to the best of polyglots out there and it happens to me all the time. There are a couple things that I do to rekindle my motivation and get back into the language at full force. Let me show you how.

Recognize why you are learning it

Before anything, you need to recognize why you are even learning the language. And don't just say, "I just want to." Dig a little deeper than that. Is it because you want to travel or live in the country where it is spoken? Is it because your girlfriend/boyfriend/etc, speaks it? Is it because you want to pick up women (or men) from that country? Whatever the reason may be, you need to recognize it as to why you are learning it in the first place. By doing this you will always have a clear goal and the motivation to complete it.

If you can't really think as to why you are learning it, then maybe that is why you are lacking motivation. Find a language that actually interests you and gives you a reason to learn it. Maybe then you will.

In my case, I learn languages simply because I love communicating and connecting with natives and their cultures. I want to visit many countries and be able to speak their language, instead of relying on phrasebooks and English speakers. I learn them because they interest me and it gives me a buzz when I can talk to a native in their own language. Whether or not I am interested in their culture. Whenever I recall why I am learning languages, it gets me going again.

Find interesting music and movies

ElectricMusicCDWhen I was studying Japanese, I always used to listen to awesome Japanese music. I always wanted to understand what they were saying so it pushed me every time I listened to a good song. Do a little research and see if you can find some music from the language that you like. Look up whatever genre you are interested in as they will help more. For instance Esperanto, the constructed language made in the 19 century, has rap, house, and electronic music in the language (and it's good too).

As for movies, there are many interesting movies out there that have never been translated into English. If you are a big movie buff, then maybe you'll be motivated so you can understand the movie.

Find a language partner

If you can find someone who you know, online or offline, that wants to learn with you (doesn't have to be the same language), it will help tremendously with motivation. You will have someone constantly cheering you on, holding you accountable, and working towards the same goal as you.

There are many sites that can help you find language partners online. Here are some of them.

Find natives to talk with

Similar to the one above. Simply go out in your town or on Skype and find native speakers you can practice with. You wouldn't believe how motivational it is to talk to natives in their own language. Seeing the look on their faces when you speak to them is so funny and awesome. It gives you the motivation to continue learning so that you can speak more with them and have more intelligent conversations. To find natives speakers, just use the same list as above.

To find native speakers nearby, just search on Google for "[name of your town & state] + [language/country of language] + [restaurant, store, etc]. I searched in my town and found three Mexican restaurants nearby me, and my town is somewhat small. Just tell them when you go in that you would like to practice with them, or just order something cheap and try to strike up a conversation. You can break the ice by asking questions like, "How long has this place been open?" and then transition into something like "So where are you from?" and go from there.

Watch polyglots on YouTube

There are a couple of polyglots that I like to watch on YouTube. They always keep me motivated whenever they post a new video. One of my favorite YouTube polyglots is Laoshu505000. His "level up" videos in specific are the ones that really get me pumped up. Basically, leveling up means to go around town and talk with native speakers of different languages. It's always awesome to see people's reactions when he starts talking to them in their language. He puts out these level up videos at the beginning of each month, so it's always a constant motivation

Other YouTubers include, poliglotta80ProfASArloki2504 and stujaystujay. If you really want some serious motivation, make sure you subscribe to them all. There is bound to be someone posting a video that day.

Put motivational posters wherever you learn

Something I like to do in other aspects of my life, but also works great for language learning, is to put up motivational quotes, posters, etc on your walls. Surrounding yourself with positive quotes that tell you to keep going will help when you might not be feeling up to it. There's plenty of places to get free posters to print out, just search for them on Google or check out this site with free printable quotes.

Research places to travel to where the language is spoken

Do you like to travel? I do, and anytime I am feeling a little unmotivated, I simply look up some of the places I can go where the language is spoken. For instance, I was starting to slack on my Spanish about two weeks ago and to get me going again, I simply researched some places I could go. I found some really interesting places in Chile, Argentina, Peru and Spain. Just like that, I was pumped again. Just find some places where you would really like to go where the language is spoken and look up some videos of it. Works every time. You could even put the place you want to go as your desktop or phone wallpaper to constantly remind you. Reading travel books is also great too.

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If you don't really care to travel to the place, then see if there is any interesting parts of your town where people speak it. For example, China town in New York. There's many communities of foreigners in every city, state, or country you live in. You just have to find where they are.

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These are the ways you can regain your lost motivation. Try them all out and you will be ready to go again.

What do you do to motivate yourself? Leave a comment below and share your technique with everyone!

Mezzofanti, or Giuseppe Caspar Mezzofanti, was an old Italian Cardinal and famed polyglot who spoke around 38 languages with fluency. He was born in 1774 and died in 1849. He had no access to any of the technology we have today, and still managed to learn more languages than *99.9% of people ever have in history. He never even left Italy either. How did he do this? Was he extraordinarily gifted? When I found out about him, I had to learn more about the guy. I did a little research and figured out how he did it, and it wasn't because he was different in the brain.

*There are a couple people who spoke more than he did such as Emil Krebs (68 languages) and Harold Williams (58 languages).

He Read a Lot of Books

Mezzofanti read a huge amount of books in the language he was learning. He read books that he already knew in another language and could translate them over. He also made use of dictionaries, grammar books, and polyglot bibles. Today, we have software like Learning with Texts and LingQ that makes reading foreign texts much quicker and more efficient.

I have been using this technique of reading books and I can say that I remember far more words just because of the context. I also get to see grammar being properly used. It's much better than drilling yourself with flashcards all day. If it's an interesting book, you will be hard pressed to forget the words you learn.

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Spoke with Native Speakers

Any chance he got to speak with a native speaker in the language he was learning, he took it. Living in Rome, the capital of Catholicism at the time, there was an abundant amount of foreign speakers. Even speakers of more rare languages, you could find them. There's accounts where he would speak to Hungarian soldiers or help the wounded foreigners in hospitals so he could pick up the language and learn from them. He did this kind of thing a lot and had a huge factor on his language acquisition.

Nowadays, even if you can't find native speakers in your town, you can always use sites like italki.com to find language partners in the target language. You could also use sites like meetup.com to find local language clubs and practice with other learners or natives.

Too many of us are afraid to speak with natives when first starting off, because we fear we will sound silly or not make any sense. I'm not saying I don't do this, because I do. The reality of the matter though, from my experience, is that natives will actually be thrilled that you are speaking to them in their language and will be glad to help you out. I have a couple Mexican friends who I always practice my Spanish with and they don't mind at all that I'm not perfect at the language. They love helping me out.

We must get past this fear and be more like Mezzofanti if we really want to pick up the language the best we can.

Had a Love for Languages

You may or may not have a love for languages, but he sure did. Mezzofanti's main pursuit in life was the study and acquisition of languages. This guy was absolutely "addicted to languages." Having such a love of languages definitely gave him constant motivation. It also gave him more pleasure of learning new languages, than the average person. If you can develop your love of languages a little more, maybe you can find more success as well.

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There is no reason why you can't be the next Mezzofanti, we have it easier. Make it happen.

Did you know about him before this article?