How do you actually go about learning another language?
It sounds like a huge task, but it can be quite manageale if you break it down and use the right resources
Nowadays, it is easier than ever to learn a new language due to the Internet and the communications revolution. It is also cheaper than ever due to abundant online resources.
Here are some basic tools I recommend for anyone starting a new language:
1) A basic phrasebook
For most people, this is a great place to start. You can find one at your local bookstore or Amazon for under $20. It will be useful for reference as you progress.
2) A spaced-repetition flashcard system (SRS)
This is essential. SRS is by far the quickest and most efficient way to improve your vocabulary. The most popular SRS app is Anki, which is available for all major devices (web, desktop, smartphone). It is free on all devices except for iPhone and iPad, which costs $25. Still, it is worth every cent when you consider the amount of time you will save.
You can either create your own flashcards or select from shared decks that other people have uploaded. It is generally better to create your own flashcards because you attach context and meaning to the words. This makes them easier to remember.
Learning 20 new words per day should take less than 25 mintues. If you devote yourself to this, after a month you will know 600 new words After one year, that's over 7,000 words! It is a great activity for downtime like bus rides, etc.
3) Audio input
As a general rule, the more exposure you have with a language, the better.
Listening to online radio via an app like TuneIn can help your brain tune into your language's sounds and rhythms.
You may not understand much of what is being said at first, but eventually you will recognize more and more words. Make your new language a part of your day.
Audibooks and podcasts are another great way to increase your listening comprehension. Innovative Language courses offer a wealth of audio content for 30 different languages. You can get a limited free account or sign up for a paid account to access premium content. They also offer monthly specials.
4) Online newspapers
Instead of going to CNN.com, why not go to NRK.no (for news in Norwegian) or Aftonbladet.se (for new in Swedish)? Whatever language you are learning, find a news site and set it as your home page. This will naturally increase your exposure to your language throughout the day.
5) Language exchanges and tutoring
Speaking is the oldest and most basic form of language expression. Ignore this aspect at your peril!
Online language exchanges are great for practicing your speaking skills. It can seem intimidating to actually speak your new language, especially as a beginner. You will probably feel foolish and your brain will hurt, but speaking is probably the fastest way to learn a language.
There are plenty of online language exchanges where you can have live conversations with a native speaker. Getting feedback from a native speaker is invaluable for pointing out what you need to work on. It also gives you real-time feedback that you just can’t get from listening to radio or watching foreign films.
Here are some recommended sites:
6) A good dictionary/translator
Invest in a good bilingual dictionary or find a reliable online dictionary. This will be your friend :)
Google Translate is a good option for single words, but do not rely on it for entire sentences. WordReference.com is another good option for many languages.
That's a basic list of some tools to get your started.