1. Spend time in the language – Listen, read, write, speak and learn new words and phrases in the language you want to learn. Seek out materials and situations in the language that you find interesting and enjoyable.
2. Listen and read daily, even if you just have time for an online Word of the Day in your email from Transparent Language or another site. Listen to and read things you enjoy such as songs with printed lyrics on YouTube and movies with subtitles.
3. Study vocabulary – When reading or listening, write new words and phrases in a small notebook that you can keep with you. Study them when you have spare time in the day. You can also make flashcards on notecards or online with programs and apps such as Anki.
4. Relax and enjoy yourself. Play games, look at art, and find music you enjoy from the country of the language you want to learn. Music can have a powerful role in language learning helping with pronunciation and grammar while also appealing to the senses. Listen and sing along.
5. Classes – Classes can provide structure and motivation for your language learning. You have the benefit of a teacher’s instruction, support and feedback and other students with whom to practice the language in a fun way. Community colleges and churches often offer free ESL classes and some also offer foreign language classes at night for adults. Language institutes offer language classes with convenient schedules.
6. Private tutor – Learning a language with a private tutor gives you personalized instruction, support and feedback. The teacher can devote undivided attention to you and your learning needs. Language institutes offer private tutoring in person and online tutoring via Skype.
7. Audio programs – Living Language and Pimsleur CDs are great to listen to in the car or uploaded on a portable device. They may be available to check out at your local library.
8. Computer programs and cell phone apps – Some people enjoy learning with computer programs such as Rosetta Stone. You can also learn languages on your cell phone using apps such as Mindsnacks.
9. Language exchange – Find a native speaker of the language you want to learn who wants to learn your language. Sites such as Livemocha can help you find language exchange partners. See if there is a local Meetup group for your target language. Practicing with friends is great for your learning.
10. Immersion – Learning a language in a country where it’s spoken is very effective. You have the opportunity to be in the language all day, not just in class. You also have the benefit of meeting the locals and enjoying the culture.
Pamela Davis, M.Ed. – Certified ESL and foreign language instructor, founder of the Triangle Language Institute
Pam has a BA from Wake Forest University and an M.Ed. in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) from Meredith College. She is certified to teach ESL and foreign language in North Carolina, her home state. She has lived in France, Ecuador, Brazil, and Italy. She loves learning and teaching languages.