How to Learn a New Language in 30 Days
The ability to talk in more than one language is a talent most of us aspire to have. But learning a new language isn’t a skill you can acquire overnight. Nonetheless, with enough time and effort, learning a new language doesn’t need to take years either.
In this guide, we’ll examine the benefits of learning a new language to get you motivated. We’ll also provide you a list of the resources you need to learn a language in 30 days and the four keys to boosting your ability to acquire a new language.
WHY LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE?
Language learning requires quite a bit of motivation, especially if you want to learn it in a short period. Luckily, learning a new language offers a number of benefits that are sure to keep you motivated during your studies.
The three main benefits to learn a new language include:
Boosting your brainpower.
Furthermore, it has even been shown to benefit your memory. There’s evidence to suggest speaking more than one language can stall the onset of memory loss related illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
All of the above can help your brain’s cognitive abilities, which can make acquiring other skills and languages easier.
Expanding your career potential.
In certain industries and professions, the ability to speak multiple languages can be a great benefit.
Whilst English tends to be the lingua franca, especially in the business world, you could potentially benefit from another language.
Even if it doesn’t directly improve your chances of career progression, the knowledge of the business language can make it easier to work in a foreign country. The knowledge helps your understanding of the specific culture and it can make socializing on your free time easier.
This can boost your networking capabilities, but also ensure you enjoy working in the foreign country.
Improving your self-confidence.
Learning a new language can be a magnificent tool for boosting your self-confidence. The ability to speak in different languages can give you more confidence to converse with new people.
Furthermore, you’ll expand your understanding of different cultures and customs when you learn a new language and thus, you’ll be more open-minded and comfortable in new situations. The ability to hold a conversation in a foreign language is enough to make you feel you can survive anything!
Learn about why most people fail at learning a new language and how you can succeed.
THE RESOURCES YOU NEED TO LEARN A LANGUAGE
In order to master a language in 30 days, you need the right study materials to guide you through.
There are generally two routes to learning a language, either taking a language course or learning on your own. Both of these options offer plenty of benefits to your language learning and you don’t need to worry about having to spend a lot of money whichever route you take.
Keep in mind that a language course doesn’t necessarily need to be a class-based course. There are currently plenty of courses available, which you can take from your home. These include structured lessons and different audio materials to guide your studies.
A course can be beneficial, especially at the start. But if you are trying to learn a language in 30 days, you can’t simply rely on course materials, as these can be slow-paced. A certain level of self-study is always required.
The key materials to get
The materials that will make your language learning possible, include the following items:
- A good grammar book
- A phrase book
- A proper dictionary. You can either purchase a dictionary, such as the one in your chosen language from the Oxford Dictionary series, or use online dictionaries. There are plenty of good online sources available like Word Reference.
In addition, you should also use a language learning app. Apps can be a good tool for memorizing words and simple phrases. They also help you test your current skill level.
There are quite a bit of apps available, especially if you are studying one of the ‘big languages’ like Spanish, French and German. Some of the best language learning apps includes:
Other beneficial resources you’ll need to learn a language fast
There are two other beneficial ‘resources’ you should consider utilizing when trying to master a language in a short period. These are: language partners and time.
The language partner ‘resource’ falls into two separate categories: the free and the paid options. When it comes to finding free language partners to study with, you should check out a number of language learning website and forums.
For example, visit websites like:
These can help you meet with people who speak your chosen language. You can even use them for finding a tandem partner in your area. This means you teach the person your language, while they help you with the language you are looking to learn.
On the other hand, you could also find a paid tutor to boost your training. A tutor can guarantee you learn faster and it can be beneficial in avoiding those small mistakes, which are commonly picked up at the start of the journey. Whilst professional tutors naturally will cost you, the experience can be worth the cost, especially if you need to learn a language quickly.
It’s possible to find tutors in nearby language groups and community centers. You could even consider contacting university language students, who might find the extra money and experience helpful.
Online tutoring is another alternative to keep in mind. Sites like SmarterGerman provide personal tutoring and often offer online language groups to boost your learning.
The second important ‘resource’ is time. You need to be able to devote enough time to language learning, especially when you are trying to do so fast. It isn’t to say that you can’t learn a language without spending a lot of time doing it, but you shouldn’t expect a miracle if this is the case.
To master a language, you need to actively practice at least an hour a day, but preferable between one to three hours to maximise your time. You should also practice passively throughout the day. Passive learning is something you can do throughout the day, while also doing other tasks, which might divide your attention a bit. Examples of good passive learning include:
- Shifting your thinking into the new language. Thinking how to say specific things in your mind in the chosen language.
- Translating the things you see and do in your chosen language. When shopping, cleaning or exercising, try to name all the things you use and do in the language you are learning. For instance, make your grocery list in the chosen language.
4 KEYS TO LEARNING A LANGUAGE FAST
There are four keys to learn a language fast and you should implement all of these in your effort to master a new language in 30 days.
#1: Set a goal
You might think learning a language is in itself a goal, but it is actually more of an aspiration or a dream you want to achieve. A goal is something more tangible and should be easily measured. For example, saying your goal is to learn a new language cannot be measured, as it’s too ambiguous of a goal.
To succeed in learning a language in 30 days, you must first define what this process means to you. Set a tangible goal, which you’d want to achieve in this short amount of time.
Example goals could be:
- Passing a language test.
- Having a conversation with a native speaker.
- Being able to speak the language for a whole day (for example, during travelling).
- Finishing a book in the chosen language and understanding the message of it.
In order to keep track of your progress, it’s a good idea to also include milestones to your end goal. For example, after one week you want to be able to talk about certain topics such as family, work, hobbies and so on.
To add some accountability, which can help you stay on the right track, consider telling about your goals to other people. This can help you follow through with your goals and give you a better support structure to keep motivated. For instance, you can start a blog journaling your progress or simply tell about your goal on the language forums.
Some great insights into language hacking from Benny Lewis.
#2: Schedule your learning
You should also create a proper schedule to your language learning. This ensures you don’t skip it and can keep you on the right track.
Instead of blocking out a single big chunk of your day to learn, try dividing your learning moments throughout the day. This can improve learning, since you’ll be thinking about it more often, and to keep you motivated. It’s easier to get yourself to do something for just 15 minutes rather than a full hour.
Your schedule could look something like this:
- 15-30 minutes in the morning:
- Go through flashcards while eating breakfast.
- Use a language-learning app while travelling to work (unless you drive!).
- Listen to a language learning podcast on your way to work.
- 15-30 minutes during the day:
- On your lunch break, do some of the above options.
- Write down 30 phrases or 30 words and try to remember yesterday’s words.
- 30 minutes in the afternoon:
- On your way home, you can try one of the above options again.
- If you wrote 30 words during lunch, try to remember them.
- 1 hour in the evening:
- Delve deeper into the grammar of the language and practice phrases instead of words.
- Spend some time talking with your tutor or online friends.
- Write an e-mail to a language pal or watch a TV show in the language.
With the above schedule, you would easily spend over two hours learning the language and make it easier to reach your goals.
But if the above times seem unobtainable, try to ensure you study at least an hour in total each day and that one of your sessions last at least 30 minutes.
The problem with having only short session is that you can’t get into too much depth, meaning you might not learn as quickly. If you are taking professional lessons, get as many a week as you can, with at least one session a week.
#3: Focus on the common words
The problem with self-learning, and sometimes even with language courses, is how it often fails because we tend to focus on learning the wrong things at the wrong times. Courses often follow similar patterns, where you spend time learning family members and directions first.
While these include plenty of useful words, you’ll also end up learning words you won’t be using in real situations.
Define the words you want to learn and prioritize them during your studies. For instance, if you are learning the language for business reasons, you don’t want to waste your effort at the start talking about hobbies or food. On the other hand, if your aim is to go for a holiday, you’ll want to prioritize the words you’d use on your travel.
Most languages have a set of basic words, which you can use to create quite complex sentence structures and further enhance later with complex words. In fact, the website, How To Learn Any Language, believes most languages have around 500 words which make around 60% of the used language.
Therefore, by focusing on the Pareto principle, meaning you focus your efforts on the 20% of the common words and focus less on the 80%, you can quickly gain proficiency in a language. A good way of starting this is by checking out the base vocabulary of the most common English words, as they are also some of the most used in every other language as well. These 625 words will give you a magnificent understanding of almost any language.
If you divide these words throughout your 30 days, you’d need to study about 20 words a day. This would provide you with a good grasp of the language already.
This video shows you the 100 most commonly used English words including examples. Awesome stuff.
#4: Immerse yourself with the language
Finally, another key obstacle in the way for many language learners is focusing on the wrong way of using the language. Most students spend their time writing forms or doing small performance tests, instead of talking and using the language in a real life context. But to learn a language, you need to use it the same way you use your mother tongue.
It’s important to immerse yourself with the language right from the start. Don’t just study it during your scheduled lessons; change your thinking to your chosen language as well. The quickest way to learn is simply by speaking more, listening more and thinking more.
Start speaking in your chosen language
It’s important to try to find language partners to ensure you get to talk in your chosen language every day. It doesn’t matter whether you can only say simple sentences like “My name is” or “I want an apple” at the start; the crucial thing is to get a feel of the pronunciation.
If you can’t talk to another person, spend time talking aloud. You should consider language-learning software, which listens to your pronunciation such as Sanako Pronounce, to help you correct your pronunciation.
There’s another important element to speaking aloud and with other people: gaining confidence. Quite a few people study a language a long time, but lack the confidence to speak it even when they could. The sooner you start using it, the quicker your inhibitions will fade away.
Start listening to your chosen language
Aside from speaking, you must also listen to your language more. Try to be an active listener and pay close attention to the pronunciation and the different regional accents.
Listening is a big part of the learning if you are studying with tutors or language partners. But you can also listen a lot on your own. There are countless other ways to get your listening fix, such as radio shows, songs, videos on YouTube, movies and even podcasts.
Think in your chosen language
Finally, you should shift your thinking to your chosen language. This includes little things such as creating your grocery lists in that language or changing your phone and laptop settings for your chosen language.
Whenever you think of something during the day, ensure you try to ‘say’ this idea in the language you are learning. If you think of words you don’t know, write them down and look them up when you can.
Watch the below YouTube video on tips for thinking in a foreign language:
Learning a new language is a beneficial journey to embark on, but it’s a journey, which requires time and dedication.
Whilst it’s possible to gain a good grasp of a new language in 30 days, you must focus on finding the right resources and doing the right things with your studies. Whether you find a professional tutor or just a few language partners to talk with, communicating with other speakers is important.
By including enough listening and practicing to your daily schedule, you can learn a new language and enjoy the benefits of becoming bilingual.
“If a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment, not the flower" – this is my favorite quote …