If you have been keeping up with my blog posts, then you know that I am currently learning Spanish. The process in total has taken me more than a year and that is mainly my fault.
After a lot of hours spent researching polyglots online and their methods to learn a new language, I discovered that there is no one perfect technique to go about this. Most of us learn differently and that applies when it comes to languages as well.
My advice to anyone who is trying to learn a language would be to try every single method they have ever heard of and then choose the one that they feel suits them the most and is most effective in helping them acquire the skill.
As the title suggests, this plan is specific to me (although it can be used by anyone else). Firstly, I lean more towards visual and kinesthetic learning and so the methods in this plan will focus more heavily on that.
Secondly, when you learn a language, there are two parts to it and that is input (listening and reading) and output (writing and speaking). Polyglot Benny Lewis suggested that it is vital for a language learner to start speaking the language from day one in order to become conversationally fluent in the language and learn that language very quickly.
I’ve tried this and honestly, it does not work for me. Ideally I would require a decent amount of input first before I start with the output stage and my plan will reflect my choices.
Thirdly, different people have different motivations for learning a language and will therefore focus on different things such as speaking if you want to travel and communicate with natives or reading if you want to read literature in that language. For me, I want to master all four aspects of the language: reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Finally, this will be for me to learn a language within a year.
The first month – As we all know, vocabulary are the building blocks of a language. It is the most important part of learning to speak a language. I would continue with acquiring vocabulary for as long as I am learning the language.
This can be done using a variety of apps such as duolingo, memrise, drops and I could even use a flashcard app to memorize 1000 of the most commonly used words in the language.
The second month – A lot of people seem to dread grammar, and most people choose to ignore it but as a perfectionist, I need to learn it. I’m not saying I would need to know every single grammar rule but a little but about sentence structure, how to talk about things in the past or future, etc.
For this, I would use Babbel. Although the website suggests it can take a person up to a B2 level in the CEFR, from a lot of online reviews, most believe it only takes you to a B1 level. After that, you’d be on your own.
However, Duolingo teaches some basic grammar as well and if all else fails, the internet is filled with resources for most languages. I would do this intensively for at least 4-5 months to make sure I get a good grasp of the language.
The third month – For some reason, I seem to struggle with this the most. Maybe it is because there are many different Spanish accents and the natives speak very quickly. Either way, my plan is to start with this early on so I am able to recognize the words that are being said.
It is easy to get listening practice: podcasts, music, youtube videos, netflix for shows and movies. This will by far be the easiest and most fun part out of all of them. And that is mostly because I will be able to do them while I’m in bed.
The forth month – Another important aspect of input is reading. Written language is usually a lot more formal than what is spoken and seen on movies and shows. I would like to eventually be able to write in the language so reading will definitely give me a head start as well as allow me to learn new vocabulary, sentence structures, etc.
In order to do this, I would start with Duolingo stories because it is short and easy for beginners. I would then slowly move on to short stories online, articles and eventually buy a book in that language to read.
This will obviously be something that I do progressively over months but it would start in the forth month.
That is all for part one of my ideal new language study plan. Part two will focus more on the output part of the language.