What is the best tool for language learning? That is one of the first questions people ask. We all have different learning styles. There were times when I tried to learn in a way other people were learning and only ended up in frustration.
If you are looking for the best method before you begin, you probably won’t start, or you may start with the wrong tool for you and end up quitting altogether. You don’t want that.
Should you listen first, read first, write first, study grammar, or move out of the country to a place where they speak your target language all the time? I’ve used all these methods, and each has their advantage. I like to keep things interesting and fun, so here are a few for you to check out.
Some of the most popular, and I might add most expensive, methods may not do the trick for you. For example, you may have heard of Rosetta Stone. I got it for Christmas one year in order to learn Brazilian Portuguese. Before you decide to purchase, I suggest you try a similar method called Duolingo. It’s not as sophisticated as Rosetta Stone, but it is FREE.
Some people are convinced that language flash cards are the way to go. You can buy boxed sets or you can create your own cards online by using Anki. You can create decks for various categories. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, that this is FREE, too.
I picked up this used book once and immediately added it to my toolbox. I like the little Mr. Berlitz cartoon character and I use this book, which is divided up into categories, for a method called scriptorium. Dr. Alexander Arguelles describes this method in his YouTube video on the subject. You basically copy what’s in the book or any other text on to a pad of paper or into a journal. I find it works for me, because it gives me the sense I’m working in the language. Everything is translated underneath, so I know what’s going on. I don’t remember everything, but I gain a familiarity with the language, and it’s amazing how many vocabulary words I pick up through this practice.
Dr. Stephen Krashen teaches a method called comprehensible input. This involves lots of listening and reading. Now with the internet there are many sites that give you the opportunity to listen to the language you are trying to learn and read in that language. Olly Richards has a site called, “I will teach you a language.” He uses this method and you can buy short stories in the language of your choice.
If you’re willing to become a kid again (which you need to do to learn a language) and get over your pride, start reading children’s books. “The Cat in the Hat,” by Dr. Seuss and many others come in bilingual versions.
I met a young man in the Netherlands who spoke perfect American English. I usually can detect accents pretty well. I could detect no accent with him. I even asked him where he was from on the east coast. He said, “I’ve never been to America.” I was amazed. I asked him how he learned such perfect American English.
He thanked me humbly then told me he learned it by watching television. He was a latchkey kid and everyday after school he’d come home and turn on the television. The TV was his babysitter. In the Netherlands, foreign language movies, sitcoms, and series are not always dubbed over in Dutch, but they do have subtitles. He watched his favorite American shows and read the subtitles. Ah, the power of television. So, let me introduce you to the YouTube channel Easy Languages. Learn different languages on the street. These on-the-street interviews are subtitled in English. By the way, it’s FREE.
I have music lists on YouTube for the languages that interest me. It’s another way to get the feel for the language and put those sounds into your brain. Oh, this is FREE, too.
Finally, it’s important to speak. If you don’t have someone to talk converse with in the language you’re learning, you could hire a tutor, or you could use a conversation service like iTalki.
As time goes on, I’ll connect you with more resources for successful language learning. Just remember, it’s never too late to learn a language.