How to Learn a Foreign Language: A Practical Guide with Tips and Resources

About this Book

Learning a language can be a daunting process. Should you self-study? Take a course? Buy a software program? Hire a private tutor? What kinds of learning systems are available and which might be right for you? How about the myriad online resources available? And, very importantly, where should you begin? Oh, by the way, how long will all this effort take anyway? You will find the answers to these questions in this short but thorough guide to learning a foreign language.

Author Jeff Blum has taught English and studied four languages (Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai), but he still struggles just as anyone must when learning a language. Jeff did extensive research on all aspects of language learning in an effort to improve his own efforts and he has carefully curated that research into this guide to help you with your efforts as well.

In the book you will find:

  • A look at the systems and techniques advocated by various language learning experts and sites.
  • A consideration of personal factors in learning a language (motivation, personality, goals, etc.).
  • A look at the 8 language learning blocks with recommended resources for tackling each.
  • An overview of the most popular language learning products on the market (Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, etc.).
  • A comprehensive set of resources to aid you with whatever approach to study you pursue.

Whether you are young or old, beginner or advanced, studying your first foreign language or your fifth, there is something for you in this book. If you are a language teacher, this book might help you better understand what your students are up against while giving you ideas and extra resources to aid your teaching efforts.

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External Links Found in the Book

  1. Jana Fadness makes a good argument
    https://web.archive.org/web/20190818092250/https://www.janafadness.com/blog/how-to-learn-any-language/
  2. collection of language profiles
    http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/e/languages/index.html
  3. Omniglot
    https://www.omniglot.com/writing/languages.htm
  4. Greg Thomson’s growing participator approach
    https://growingparticipatorapproach.wordpress.com/six-phase-programme/
  5. Wendy Maxwell’s
    https://www.aimlanguagelearning.com/
  6. accelerative integrative methodology
    https://sunnyearthacademy.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/63/
  7. social interactionist theory
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_interactionist_theory
  8. Stephen Krashen
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Krashen
  9. theory of second language acquisition
    https://www.sk.com.br/sk-krash.html
  10. relational frame theory
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relational_frame_theory
  11. Gabriel Wyner’s four stage system
    https://tim.blog/2014/07/16/how-to-learn-any-language-in-record-time-and-never-forget-it/
  12. Fluent in 3 Months Premium program
    https://courses.fluentin3months.com/p/fi3m-premium
  13. Pimsleur
    https://www.pimsleur.com/
  14. Speed Learning Languages
    https://www.speedlearninglanguages.com/
  15. Rosetta Stone
    https://www.rosettastone.com/
  16. Fluenz
    https://fluenz.com/
  17. Assimil
    https://www.assimil.com/
  18. How to Learn Any Language in 3 Months
    https://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/01/20/learning-language/
  19. Mark Manson summed up the importance of motivation
    https://markmanson.net/foreign-language
  20. Language Acquisition Device (LAD)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_acquisition_device
  21. According to David J. James
    https://huliganov.tv/2010/04/25/repost-of-the-article-that-used-to-be-on-www-goldlist-eu-now-extended/
  22. Stephen Krashen’s “Monitor Theory”
    http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/books/sl_acquisition_and_learning.pdf
  23. learning styles
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_styles
  24. difficulty of the language being studied
    https://voxy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/110329-VOXY-HARDLANGUAGES-FINAL-WIDE.png
  25. How Long Does it Take to Learn a New Language?
    https://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/how-long-does-it-take-to-learn-a-new-language/
  26. What? Me Worry About Language Learning?
    https://web.archive.org/web/20130414201215/http://www.languageimpact.com/articles/gt/whatme.htm
  27. five skills researchers at Northwestern University found that underlie language acquisition
    https://mic.com/articles/110628/13-scientific-studies-prove-music-lessons-were-the-best-thing-your-parents-did-for-you
  28. five principles of rapid language acquisition
    https://daringtolivefully.com/how-to-learn-a-new-language
  29. comprehensible input
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Input_hypothesis
  30. Gairns and Redman
    https://www.professorjackrichards.com/wp-content/uploads/moving-beyond-the-plateau.pdf
  31. According to the BBC
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-44569277
  32. according to Paul Nation and Robert Waring
    https://www.lextutor.ca/research/nation_waring_97.html
  33. lemmas
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemma_(morphology)
  34. Other sources
    https://www.professorjackrichards.com/wp-content/uploads/moving-beyond-the-plateau.pdf
  35. Research has shown
    https://www.lextutor.ca/research/nation_waring_97.html
  36. How many words do I need to learn?
    http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/e/guide/vocabulary-learning/how-many-words.html
  37. How Many Words Do You Need to Know in Spanish (or any other foreign language)? And WHICH Words Should You Be Learning?
    https://howlearnspanish.com/how-many-words-do-you-need-to-know/
  38. Joshua Foer agrees
    https://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/nov/09/learn-language-in-three-months
  39. 1000 Most Common Words
    https://1000mostcommonwords.com/
  40. Stuart Jay Raj compiled
    https://web.archive.org/web/20190131124508/https://stujay.com/2015/12/22/what-words-should-i-learn-first-when-learning-a-language/
  41. “first words” list in Google Sheets
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1GsNe8GVzgIuOeeEVBCcoIvxVMDO5xnEgGRr8EKtcSGI/pubhtml
  42. New General Service List
    https://www.newgeneralservicelist.org/
  43. BNC/COCA Headword Lists
    https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/lals/resources/paul-nations-resources/vocabulary-lists
  44. Oxford Learner’s Word Lists
    https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/wordlists/
  45. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
    https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/about/wordlists/cefr
  46. spaced repetition system
    https://www.fluentin3months.com/spaced-repetition/
  47. Spacing effect
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacing_effect
  48. Leitner system
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leitner_system
  49. Anki
    https://ankisrs.net/
  50. LanguageCourse.net
    https://www.languagecourse.net/mobile/comparison
  51. Quizlet
    https://quizlet.com/
  52. SuperMemo
    https://www.supermemo.com/en
  53. Fluent Forever
    https://fluent-forever.app/
  54. Clozemaster
    https://www.clozemaster.com/
  55. Glossika
    https://ai.glossika.com/
  56. All Japanese All the Time (AJATT)
    http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/
  57. Tatoeba
    https://tatoeba.org/en/
  58. ReadLang
    https://readlang.com/
  59. Drops
    https://languagedrops.com/
  60. DuoLingo
    https://duolingo.com/
  61. Internet Polyglot
    https://www.internetpolyglot.com/
  62. LingQ
    https://www.lingq.com/
  63. Memrise
    https://www.memrise.com/
  64. MosaLingua
    https://www.mosalingua.com/en
  65. Reverso Context
    http://context.reverso.net/
  66. 6 times
    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/studies-in-second-language-acquisition/article/effect-of-exposure-frequency-on-intermediate-language-learners-incidental-vocabulary-acquisition-and-retention-through-reading/2469BC59A78EF0C13BE42F35C107CB05
  67. 17 times
    https://www.thoughtco.com/vocabulary-reps-4135612
  68. Noche Oscura, a novel written in Spanish for Spanish language students
    https://www.dadoque.com/noche-oscura/
  69. University Word List (UWL)
    http://webhome.auburn.edu/~nunnath/engl6240/wlistuni.html
  70. LyricsTraining
    https://lyricstraining.com/
  71. FluentU
    https://www.fluentu.com/
  72. Language Learning with Netflix
    https://languagelearningwithnetflix.com/
  73. Viki Learn Mode
    https://support.viki.com/hc/en-us/articles/231829048
  74. Happy Scribe’s tool to convert SRT to text
    https://www.happyscribe.com/subtitle-tools/convert-srt-to-text
  75. Learning With Texts (LWT)
    https://learning-with-texts.sourceforge.io/
  76. online LWT version
    https://learningwithtexts.com/
  77. export your personalized LWT vocabulary to Anki
    https://youtu.be/TgobEh52GSc
  78. Benny’s LWT video
    https://www.fluentin3months.com/learning-with-texts/
  79. order of acquisition
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_acquisition
  80. 5 steps to learn a language in 3 months
    https://matadornetwork.com/abroad/5-steps-to-learn-a-language-in-3-months/
  81. advice from Tim Ferriss to deconstruct the language
    https://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2007/11/07/how-to-learn-but-not-master-any-language-in-1-hour-plus-a-favor/
  82. Google Podcasts page
    https://podcasts.google.com/
  83. Innovative Language Learning
    https://www.innovativelanguage.com/
  84. spanishpod101.com
    https://www.spanishpod101.com/
  85. CoffeeBreak Languages
    https://coffeebreaklanguages.com/
  86. One Minute Languages
    https://coffeebreakacademy.com/courses/category/One%20Minute%20Languages
  87. Linguistica 360
    https://www.linguistica360.com/
  88. IMDB
    https://www.imdb.com/
  89. Frank Andrade analyzed and ranked 500 TV shows
    https://medium.com/learn-languages-with-tv/a-data-driven-approach-to-learning-any-language-by-watching-tv-and-movies-95525ddff52e
  90. Trending feature on YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/feed/trending
  91. TuneIn
    https://tunein.com/radio/regions/
  92. Speedshifter
    https://gb.abrsm.org/en/exam-support/apps-and-practice-tools/speedshifter/
  93. Audacity
    https://www.audacityteam.org/
  94. Liu Na and Nation have shown
    https://www.lextutor.ca/research/nation_waring_97.html
  95. e-Reader like the Amazon Kindle
    https://www.lengthytravel.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-electronic-book-readers-e-readers/
  96. Assimil
    https://www.assimil.com/
  97. Beelinguapp
    https://beelinguapp.com/
  98. Rhinospike
    https://rhinospike.com/
  99. Forvo
    https://www.forvo.com/
  100. talk to write in most places where you can type with a keyboard
    https://support.google.com/gboard/answer/2781851?hl=en&co=GENIE.Platform=Android
  101. Olle Kjellin’s chorus repetition approach
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285234145_Quality_Practise_Pronunciation_With_Audacity_-_The_Best_Method
  102. prosody
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosody_(linguistics)
  103. speech shadowing
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_shadowing
  104. Speedshifter
    https://gb.abrsm.org/en/exam-support/apps-and-practice-tools/speedshifter/
  105. Audacity
    https://www.audacityteam.org/
  106. Gabriel Wyner’s minimal pairs method
    https://blog.fluent-forever.com/chapter3/
  107. Fluent Forever pronunciation trainer app
    https://fluent-forever.com/product/fluent-forever-pronunciation-trainer/
  108. Meetup
    https://www.meetup.com/
  109. CouchSurfing
    https://www.couchsurfing.org/
  110. InterNations
    https://www.internations.org/
  111. Mundo Lingo
    https://mundolingo.org/
  112. PolyGlot Club
    https://polyglotclub.com/
  113. Eventbrite
    http://www.eventbrite.com/
  114. Amikumu
    https://amikumu.com/
  115. aren’t enough members
    https://amikumu.com/statistics/
  116. Conversation Exchange
    https://www.conversationexchange.com/
  117. Easy Language Exchange
    http://www.easylanguageexchange.com/
  118. HelloTalk
    https://www.hellotalk.com/
  119. Idyoma
    https://www.idyoma.com/
  120. Interpals
    https://www.interpals.net/
  121. Language Pal
    https://www.hellopal.com/language-pal/
  122. MyLanguageExchange.com
    https://www.mylanguageexchange.com/
  123. Speaky
    https://www.speaky.com/
  124. Tandem
    https://www.tandem.net/
  125. The Mixxer
    https://www.language-exchanges.org/
  126. Tinder
    https://tinder.com/
  127. Bumble
    https://bumble.com/
  128. diacritics
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diacritic
  129. HiNative
    https://hinative.com/
  130. iTalki
    https://www.italki.com/
  131. PolyGlot Club
    https://polyglotclub.com/
  132. Reddit
    https://www.reddit.com/
  133. StackExchange
    https://stackexchange.com/
  134. Google Input Tools
    https://www.google.com/inputtools/try/
  135. LanguageTool
    https://languagetool.org/
  136. Tips for Choosing a Spanish School
    https://www.dadoque.com/tips-for-choosing-a-spanish-school/
  137. iTalki
    https://www.italki.com/teachers/
  138. LingQ
    https://www.lingq.com/
  139. Preply
    https://preply.com/
  140. Tutoroo
    https://www.tutoroo.co/
  141. Verbalplanet
    https://www.verbalplanet.com/
  142. Verbling
    https://www.verbling.com/
  143. NaTakallam
    https://natakallam.com/
  144. writing on the Fluent in 3 Months site
    https://www.fluentin3months.com/language-learning-wall/
  145. study by Jack C. Richards of Cambridge University
    https://www.professorjackrichards.com/wp-content/uploads/moving-beyond-the-plateau.pdf
  146. book2
    https://www.goethe-verlag.com/
  147. Assimil
    https://www.assimil.com/
  148. Babbel
    https://babbel.com/
  149. Berlitz
    https://www.berlitz.com/
  150. Busuu
    https://www.busuu.com/
  151. DuoLingo
    https://www.duolingo.com/
  152. eLanguage’s Learn to Speak
    https://elanguage.com/
  153. Fluenz
    https://www.fluenz.com/
  154. FSI Language Courses
    https://fsi-language-courses.org/
  155. Glossika
    https://ai.glossika.com/
  156. Language 101
    https://language101.com/
  157. Language Transfer
    https://www.languagetransfer.org/
  158. Mango Languages
    https://www.mangolanguages.com/
  159. find a library locator
    https://mangolanguages.com/find-mango/
  160. Michel Thomas
    https://www.michelthomas.com/
  161. Mimic Method
    https://www.mimicmethod.com/
  162. Mondly
    https://www.mondly.com/
  163. Mondly review at Fluent in 3 Months
    https://www.fluentin3months.com/mondly-review/
  164. Open Learn
    https://www.open.edu/openlearn/languages
  165. How to learn a language
    https://www.open.edu/openlearn/ocw/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=68248
  166. Pimsleur
    https://www.pimsleur.com/
  167. good review of the Pimsleur method
    https://www.fluentin3months.com/pimsleur/
  168. Rocket Languages
    https://www.rocketlanguages.com/
  169. Rosetta Stone
    https://www.rosettastone.com/
  170. Speed Learning Languages
    https://www.speedlearninglanguages.com/
  171. Transparent Language Online
    https://www.transparent.com/personal/transparent-language-online.html
  172. article about learning Spanish
    https://matadornetwork.com/abroad/8-essential-tips-for-learning-spanish/
  173. The Most Effective Method for Learning a Language Alone
    https://lifehacker.com/5839401/the-most-effective-method-for-learning-a-language-alone
  174. four Fs of learning
    https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/staatsbook-never-stop-learning/
  175. Reddit
    https://www.reddit.com/
  176. Google Translate
    https://translate.google.com/
  177. WordReference
    https://www.wordreference.com/
  178. Conjuga-me
    https://conjuga-me.net/
  179. 123 TeachMe for Spanish verbs
    https://www.123teachme.com/spanish_verb_conjugation/
  180. Verbix
    https://www.verbix.com/languages/
  181. Lingro.com
    https://lingro.com/
  182. Rikai.com
    http://www.rikai.com/perl/HomePage.pl?Language=Ja
  183. POPJisyo
    https://www.popjisyo.com/WebHint/Portal_e.aspx
  184. SpanishDict
    https://www.spanishdict.com/
  185. imiwa?
    http://www.imiwaapp.com/
  186. Midori
    https://sukolsak.com/midori/
  187. JED
    http://www.umibouzu.com/jed/
  188. Jisho
    https://jisho.org/
  189. Pleco
    https://www.pleco.com/
  190. Talking Thai
    https://word-in-the-hand.com/
  191. Thai-language.com
    http://www.thai-language.com
  192. Yookoso!
    https://www.yookoso.com/
  193. dado que
    https://www.dadoque.com/
  194. Noche Oscura en Lima, Peru
    https://www.dadoque.com/noche-oscura/
  195. complete grammar guide
    https://www.dadoque.com/grammar/
  196. AJATT
    http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/
  197. Confessions of a language addict
    https://confessionsofalanguageaddict.com/
  198. archives
    https://gbarto.com/multilingua/confessions/
  199. Create Your World Books
    https://createyourworldbook.com/
  200. Fluent in 3 Months
    https://www.fluentin3months.com/
  201. Laoshu 505000 YouTube Channel
    https://www.youtube.com/laoshu505000/
  202. Laoshu 505000 Facebook Page
    https://www.facebook.com/Laoshu505000
  203. Growing Participator Approach
    https://www.growingparticipation.com/blog
  204. I Will Teach You a Language podcast
    https://iwillteachyoualanguage.com/podcast
  205. Language Mastery
    https://languagemastery.com/articles/
  206. Lindsay Williams
    https://www.youtube.com/user/LindsayDoesLanguages
  207. Lingua Frankly
    https://linguafrankly.blogspot.com/
  208. Lucas Lampariello
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOJ88yDbqOkAZXNuuYpAAAA
  209. Olly Richards
    https://www.youtube.com/user/IWTYAL
  210. Omniglot
    https://www.omniglot.com/
  211. Richard Simcott
    https://www.youtube.com/user/Torbyrne/videos
  212. Steve Kaufmann YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/user/lingosteve
  213. Steve Kaufmann Blog
    https://blog.thelinguist.com/
  214. The Fluent Show podcast
    https://www.fluent.show/
  215. The Mezzofanti Guild
    https://www.mezzoguild.com/
  216. The Yearlyglot
    https://www.yearlyglot.com/blog/
  217. A Few Simple Ideas for New Language Learners…and old ones needing some new life
    https://web.archive.org/web/20130406021406/https://www.languageimpact.com/articles/gt/simple_ideas.htm
  218. Building a Corpus of Comprehensible Text
    https://growingparticipatorapproach.wordpress.com/building-a-corpus-of-comprehensible-text/
  219. Commentary: You’re not studying, you’re just…
    https://www.lltjournal.org/item/2497
  220. David Bolton’s Language Learning Tips
    http://www.language-learning-tips.com/
  221. I Learned to Speak Four Languages in a Few Years: Here’s How
    https://lifehacker.com/i-learned-to-speak-four-languages-in-a-few-years-heres-5903288
  222. Kick-starting Your Language Learning: Becoming a basic speaker through fun and games inside a secure nest
    https://web.archive.org/web/20130507120946/https://www.languageimpact.com/articles/gt/kickstrt.htm
  223. Language Learning and Technology
    https://www.lltjournal.org/
  224. Language Learning in the Real World for Non-beginners
    https://talkinturkey.org/1.2.1/TT_v1.2_Learner_Edition_Files/06_Other%20Resources/02_LLearning_in_Real_World.pdf
  225. Leave me alone! Can’t you see I’m learning your language?
    https://growingparticipatorapproach.wordpress.com/leave-me-alone-cant-you-see-im-learning-your-language/
  226. Lessons learned from 50 years of theory and practice in government language teaching
    https://howlearnspanish.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/gurt_1999_07.pdf
  227. LinguaTrek Natural Language Learning E-Book
    https://www.linguatrek.com/nll-ebook-en/
  228. New ways to learn a foreign language
    https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED089546.pdf
  229. On the mortality of language learning methods
    https://web.archive.org/web/20080208190123/webh01.ua.ac.be/didascalia/mortality.htm
  230. Peace Corps Volunteer On-going Language Learning Manual
    https://files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/library/M0064_ongoinglanguage.pdf
  231. Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning
    http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/books/sl_acquisition_and_learning.pdf
  232. Ways to Approach Language Learning
    https://web.archive.org/web/20130204080648/https://www.sil.org/lingualinks/LANGUAGELEARNING/WaysToApproachLanguageLearning/WaysToApproachLanguageLearning.htm
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