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How to Learn a Language in 2022 – Ultimate Guide with 35+ Language Hacks


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Have you decided it’s time to get serious about learning a new language in 2022?

That’s amazing! Learning a language is a journey of improvement and growth that opens you many doors.

However, it’s also a commitment that requires dedication and a plan, (and I know something about it)…

I’m truly excited for you and your adventure, and I want to help you out. In this post, I've gathered the best advice you can find on the Fluent in 3 Months on how to learn a new language.

Whether you’re just starting out or you want to change up your learning strategy, this guide will be your best friend, featuring the best ways to learn a language from across the Fluent in 3 Months website.

Table of contents

Let’s get started!

Mindset

The most common reason people drop language learning is a mental block.

That’s why the first thing you need to do, as a language learner, is work on your mindset.

Here’s how to do just that.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

“By getting comfortable, I stopped trying new things. I stopped looking at the material from different angles. And when I get comfortable, I can only get so far.

“Only by stepping outside your comfort zone can you have a breakthrough and see the results you’re anticipating.” — Shannon Kennedy

From: Language Learners! Why Your Comfort Zone = the Danger Zone

Welcome Mistakes, Don’t Be Scared of Them

“The more mistakes you make the faster you will improve and the less they will bother you. The best cure to feeling uncomfortable about making mistakes is to make more mistakes.” — Benny Lewis

From: Mistakes are the ONLY Way to Learn a Language

Ignore the Fear of Being Rejected or Getting Embarrassed

“The thing is, that embarrassed feeling is you focusing on the negative of the experience.

“Instead, focus on the positive. How did you move forward after that particular rejection?” — Shannon Kennedy

From: How to Get Over the Fear of Rejection

Embrace a Child’s Mindset When It Comes to Learning

“I’d like to share the exact techniques that children learn languages — and as you’ll see adults can use these techniques too, though sometimes in a different way to children. After reading this article, I think you’ll be ready to agree that the idea that ‘children are better language learners’ is just an excuse adult learners make to avoid language learning.” — Georgia Boote

From: How Children Learn Languages – and What You Can Learn from Them

Don’t Focus on Excuses That Would Kill Your Motivation

“Coming face-to-face with a roadblock will destroy your motivation unless you know how to get around it. That’s why I call these roadblocks ‘motivation killers’.” — Shannon Kennedy

From: Why Language Learners Quit – The 7 Key “Motivation Killers” (Plus, How to Beat Them)

Let Go of Shyness

“Unless you suffer from a social anxiety disorder or experience severe, constant shyness, YOU ARE NOT SHY. Stop describing yourself as such.” — Benny Lewis

From: The Shy “Delusion”: Stop Being Shy and Just Start Speaking!

Add a Countdown Timer to Your Learning Plan

“A long-sighted learner is only interested in one thing: they want to be equivalent to a native. Three months or any other short period where you set yourself an ambitious goal is clearly not enough to reach native level, so they have this idea that anything else is not good enough.

“Well this attitude is not good enough. It's wasteful and impractical.” — Benny Lewis

From: Why impatience is a virtue and taking your time is wasting your time

Learning Strategies and Techniques

If you want to succeed at learning a new language, you need a great study plan. You also have to find learning methods that work for you.

Speak From Day One

“I just decided ‘I'm going to start speaking the language. I'm going to get all of these excuses and ignore them. That I'm not ready and I need to work more or I'm not intelligent enough to learn a language.’

“I just started speaking it and everything changed.” — Benny Lewis

From: “Benny’s TEDx talk: Speak from Day One

Immerse Yourself at Home

“It’s possible to create an immersive environment at home. For example, you can use social media to find native communities to chat with. Switching your phone’s language or watching shows in your target language will help you achieve an immersive experience, too.” — Katie Harris

From: The Best Way to Learn a Language [Scientifically Proven, Polyglot Tested]

Change Up Your Learning Routine When You Plateau

“This may seem obvious, but if what you are doing now isn't working to bring you forward then what you are doing now is not good enough.

“I've lost count of the number of times someone has emailed me to say something along the lines of “no matter how much I study, I'm not progressing!” Well, then clearly just more of the same thing is not going to help.” — Benny Lewis

From: How to get over a plateau stopping you from making progress: how I’m doing it with my Chinese

Squeeze the Time from Your Schedule (Even if You Don’t Have Time)

“For busy language learners, it can feel like your constant thought is ‘I don’t have enough time!’

“I’d like to share some simple shifts you can make in your life so you can manage your time – and have more time available for language learning.” — Shannon Kennedy

From: 24 Time Hacking Tips from Language Hacker Benny Lewis

Prepare Before 1-1 Lessons

“During each lesson, I go through the script with my tutor. He or she asks questions about what I’ve shared, and I aim to reply in my target language.

“I look out for when I want to say something, but can’t quite say it. I ask myself “What words do I need to know so that I could say this thing?” These are the words I need to learn, so I note them down.” — Shannon Kennedy

From: New Language in 90 Days: My 7-Step Formula

Speaking and Pronunciation

At Fi3M we’re big about speaking from the first day of your language mission. This is what our Challengers do in order to have a 15-minute conversation in their target language after 90 days!

Find An Online Language Tutor

“[Having an online tutor] doesn't require living in the country, is dramatically cheaper than in-person private lessons, requires zero travel time for both the teacher and the student, and more!” — Benny Lewis

From: How to Find the Right Online Language Tutor for Your Language Classes

Get Connected with Tutors on Preply

“Preply connects language students with private tutors for 1-1 lessons. Language lessons take place online in a virtual classroom. All you need is a computer, WiFi and a sense of adventure.” — Elizabeth Bruckner

From: Preply Review – a Detailed and Honest Review of the Preply Language Tutor Platform

Search for Tutors on italki

“italki is a website that connects language students with private tutors for 1-1 lessons. Language lessons take place online on platforms like Skype or Zoom. All you need is a device with WiFi connection.” — Benny Lewis

From: Review of italki: Find native teachers and free language exchanges to learn a language via Skype

Seek Out a Language Exchange Partner

“With a language exchange, you find someone who speaks the language you’re learning. You spend some time chatting with them in English. In return, they spend some time chatting with you in your target language.

“When language exchanges go right, they’re one of the best things you can do to improve your language skills and boost your confidence.” — Shannon Kennedy

From: Language Exchange Partners: The Ultimate Guide

Get Speaking on Your Own Terms – From Day One

“The truth was, I was afraid of speaking. But I also felt drawn to speaking. I decided to find a way that I could start speaking on my terms. I was determined to find ways to speak that would feel right, work with my personality and make me a little more comfortable.” — Shannon Kennedy

From: How to Practise Speaking a New Language… Without the Anxiety Rush!

Work on Your Pronunciation From the Start

“The more you speak and hear the language, the more you will adapt and pronounce words properly. But that’s assuming you’re actually speaking and listening all the time. Many beginners don’t do enough speaking or listening in their target language.” — Benny Lewis

From: Learn to Sound like a Native and Pronounce Words in Any Language

Start Conversations without it Feeling Awkward

“Speaking conversationally is usually just about knowing the right thing to say in any given situation. That's rarely taught in classrooms.

“This article answers the questions ‘How to start a conversation in another language?’ and ‘What’s the best conversation starter to have things to talk about, without the awkwardness?’” — Benny Lewis

From: 150+ Conversation Starters So You Can Confidently Talk to Anyone, in Any Language

Listening

At Fi3M, we focus a lot on the speaking part of learning a language. But to keep on speaking, you have to listen too…

Beware of Passive Listening

“With passive listening, you simply listen to a recording of your target language or watch a movie. The idea is that even though you don’t understand it now, over time you will start to understand more and more through a natural process of absorption.

“The problem is… it doesn’t really work.” — Andrew Barr

From: How to Improve Your Listening Skills as a Language Learner – an In-Depth Guide

Make the Most Out of Podcasts

“Podcasts are one of the first places I turn to when I'm starting in a new language. Why? Because I've found that speaking from day one is the best way to learn a language. Podcasts give the opportunity to listen to your new language being spoken. As you listen, you'll learn correct pronunciation.” — Benny Lewis

From: Language Learning Podcasts: Can You Learn a Language by Listening to Podcasts?

Listen to Podcasts in Spanish (or French, German, Chinese, Japanese – Whatever Language You’re Learning!)

“Podcasts are a great way to learn a language, but don’t just rely on those aimed for language learners. Find a podcast in your target language, preferably hosted by a native speaker, about a topic that interests you!” — Benny Lewis

Find how here: How to Download Free Native-Spoken Podcasts & MP3s in Almost Any Language

Dive Deep into Language Content on LingQ

“LingQ is a language learning app with thousands of hours of “real world” audio and written content, plus tools to help users learn vocab and grammar.” — David Masters

From: LingQ Review: An Honest, In-Depth Review of the LingQ Language Learning Tool

The “Transcription Technique” Might Be What You Need

“With the Transcription Technique you’ll simultaneously practice listening and writing, then reading and speaking. Every minute I’ve spent on this technique, I’ve noticed my language skills improving.” — Guest Author

From: How Using Transcriptions Can Improve Your Listening Skills

Reading and Writing

If you’re a fan of reading, you should use that in your language learning journey!

Build Your Subconscious Base in Your Target Language

“Reading in your target language improves your ability to intuitively understand grammar structures and vocabulary. This gives your brain a large base of subconscious passive knowledge to work from, giving you an advantage in the active language domains and therefore boosting you to fluency.” — Matt Anderson

From: Reading in Your Target Language Can Boost You to Fluency – Here’s How!

Join a Book Club

“Sharing the experience with other readers increases your enthusiasm and gives you more learning options! You can learn from your peers, as well as from the teacher, if one is running the club.” — Laura Scaramella

From: How Joining a Book Club Will Help You Learn Italian Fast

When You Need to Write in Your Target Language, “Write Like You Speak”

“‘Write like you speak’ was the best piece of advice I ever received from a writing mentor, who was helping me with my English writing skills. And, today, I’m going to urge you to do the same in your target language.” — James Johnson

From: How to Improve Your Basic Writing Skills: Hacks for Language Learners

Vocabulary

I don’t know about you, but when I was a student, I would cram to pass some exams. A week later, everything was gone.

Us language learners have to learn a lot of new vocabulary all the time. In this situation, cramming doesn’t work. So how not to forget all the vocabulary you learn after a few days?

Get Organised About Vocabulary Learning

“I love me some good notes, and every time I observe what my most successful learners do, it’s that they really organise themselves extremely well. Buy a large notebook or a project pad, work with vocabulary sections, exercise sections and grammar sections.” — Kerstin Cable

From: How To Be Organised About Learning New Vocabulary

Boost Your Memory With Memory Palaces and Other Mnemonics

“A mnemonic is a learning device that helps you recall difficult information. One of the most powerful types of mnemonics is the Memory Palace. You can use a Memory Palace to memorize hundreds of words and phrases from your language of choice at will.” — Anthony Metivier

From: How to Use a Memory Palace to Boost Your Vocabulary

Learn the Best Mnemonics With the Magnetic Memory Method

“The Magnetic Memory Method is a set of video courses that teaches the fundamentals of memory palaces and mnemonic devices for memorizing different types of information.” — Holly Keenan

From: Magnetic Memory Method: An In-Depth Review from a Language Learner

Remember the Stressed Syllable and You’ll Remember the Word

“Research has found that if you focus only on the stressed syllable of a word when trying to memorize it, your brain is able to remember the unstressed syllables without much effort” . — Yitzhak Magoon

From: How to Use Visual Memory Techniques to Build a Conversational Vocabulary

Maximise Your Vocab Memory With SRS

“Spaced Repetition System (SRS) is a presentation method that gives you information before you would forget it. It makes sure that the information stays constantly fresh in your mind.” — Benny Lewis

From: Spaced Repetition System: Learn Vocabulary and Never Forget It!

Use Anki’s Great Flashcard System for Long-Lasting Vocabulary Memory

“I’ve been learning languages on and off for more years than I’d like to count. Different books and websites and ways to figure out languages come and go, but only one always remains: Anki.

“Anki cards are basically digital flashcards that you can use on both your computer and your mobile device, but they’re so, so much more than that.” — Jamie Graffman

From: How to use Anki Cards to Learn a Language

Get Your Vocabulary From Frequency Lists

“To put it simply, frequency lists are a collection of words most frequently used in a language. These lists can help you identify which words are most important in a language depending on their usage, and how often they appear during speech.” — Elie Fossi

From: How to Learn a Language in Record Time With Frequency Lists

Grammar

Don’t run away! Yes, I know, grammar is boring… Or is it? It all depends on how you decide to learn it.

Only Focus on the Grammar That You Need

“If learners want to learn grammar because they want to speak clearly and naturally and understand the language more deeply, these are the areas that grammar resources should address.” — Carl Eldridge

From: Hacking Grammar: How to Learn Grammar with No Exceptions

Make Grammar Fun to Learn by Using Games

“A ‘grammar game’ is essentially any technique for memorising or practising a particular aspect of grammar — be it verb conjugations, sentence structure, spelling and punctuation, or any other intimidating feature of your target language — that's at least slightly more fun than rote memorisation or ‘look, cover, write, check’.” — Benny Lewis

From: 8+ Fun Grammar Games to Help You Learn a Language

Don’t Fuss Over Sentence Structure

“If you're a native English speaker, this is how you learned English sentence structure as a child. No one ever explained the “place-manner-time” thing to you. You might have never even thought about it until you read this article. Your brain just figured it out by listening to lots and lots of English.

“This isn't like learning to do long division. It's programmed deeply into our brains by over 100,000 years of evolution. Humans learn grammar like bats “learn” to navigate by echolocation. It's part of our natural toolkit.” — George Julian

From: Sentence Structure: How to Build Sentences and Use the Correct Word Order in Any Language

More Tips to Get You Learning Faster

Do you need help re-learning a language you think you’ve forgotten? Or are you learning a minority language? Maybe you’re interested in learning a language in a foreign country.

If any of these sound like what you’re aiming for, this section is where you’ll find what you need to know.

Go On a Treasure Hunt

“If you’ve always wanted to learn a rare language because of a family connection or some other burning passion, I hope I’ve convinced you that it is possible. You just need to get creative: treat it as a treasure hunt, have the courage to speak, and always, always remind yourself of the reasons why you’re doing this.” — Sarah Gillespie

From: How to Learn a Rare Language like Hiligaynon (with Minimum Frustration)

You Can Relearn a Language

“No matter how old you are or how long it’s been since you last picked up a vocabulary flashcard, it’s possible to relearn a language you studied before.

“You probably won’t start at the same level you were before you stopped taking classes, but you might be surprised at how much you remember.” — India Amos

From: How to Relearn a Language from High School You Think You Forgot

Travelling Abroad and Learning a Language Is Possible

“I know this sounds counterintuitive but bear with me!

“Immediately after our three Workaways in Italy, we visited Greece and then went on to Turkey, where we spent a little over two months.

“In those two months in Turkey, I learned more Italian than in the whole two months living in Italy. This may not be a revelation to you, but it definitely was to me.” — Dayna Brockbank

From: You Can Learn a Language Living Abroad – Here’s What Worked for Me (And What Didn’t)

The Right Time to Start Learning a New Language Is Now!

If you feel like you can’t do it, don’t worry! It’s okay to feel intimidated by a new adventure, what matters is that you be brave enough to take the first steps. All language learners face blocks and insecurities sooner or later; those who succeed are the ones who find solutions to get past the obstacles.

As I have shown you in this post, there are many solutions and strategies to prepare you well for your language mission.

If you think you could benefit from the guidance of experienced coaches and the support of a community of learners, check out the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge. With the support of a like-minded group, challengers learn their target language aiming to have a 15-minute conversation after 90 days. Give it a thought!

And keep me updated! I want to know how you progress with your language learning, and how we can help you here at Fi3M. You can find me on Instagram here and here, Twitter, and TikTok.

See you soon, and good luck!

author headshot

Benny Lewis

Founder, Fluent in 3 Months

Fun-loving Irish guy, full-time globe trotter and international bestselling author. Benny believes the best approach to language learning is to speak from day one.

Speaks: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Esperanto, Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, Dutch, Irish

Fluent in 3 Months: The Challenge

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