The Best Way to Learn a Language (and how I got a bilingual certification)

Wall full fo English words

I’m 24 and I’m a native Spanish speaker born and raised in Barcelona, Spain.

I also scored 110/120 points on one of the two major English-language tests in the world.

This article talks about what I did to become fluent in a second language and what, in my opinion, is the most efficient and best way to learn a language.

Study the basics of the language

First, let’s get the key and most obvious piece of advice out of the way.
To be able to speak a language fluently you need to know the basic grammar and syntax rules. It has been said before that grammar shouldn’t be the top priority at the very beginning of the learning process, but the best way to learn a language is starting by memorizing the fundamental rules to be able to write correctly. Getting to know the foundations will help you understand why a sentence is constructed that way and why a word is spelled the way it's spelled. And the more you understand how the language works, the more freedom and ease you’ll have to speak it!

Set milestones

One of the most important ways to learn a language is by setting milestones. And by milestones, I mean goals to prove to yourself you are, in fact, learning the language. 
Milestones also help with being consistent and not giving up on your dreams. So my recommendation is to set yourself a series of short-term goals, and in addition a long- term goal you should accomplish in 6 months, 12 months, or even over a couple of years.

For example, if your goal is to be fluent in German:

Your short-term goals could be: 

- Learn a new German word every day. (Look up what mutterseelenallein means and that can be your word for today!) Learn new words daily and you’ll improve and grow your vocabulary exceedingly.

- Complete a total of 3 hours of studying German every week. (Maybe 3 hours is too much for you. Maybe you only have time to do 10 minutes a day! That’s fine as long as you’re realistic!)

- Be able to maintain a 15-minute conversation about sports (or any other topic you’re interested in) in a month's time. The best way to learn a language besides consistency is to also make it enjoyable!

Your long-term goal could be:

    - Take (and pass) a language certification exam.
    - Read a whole book in German.
    - Become friends with a native speaker and only speak German with them.

Which leads me to my next tip.

Woman and man talking

Talk to native-speakers

Even if your goal is to be able to talk with a local solely in their language, that does not mean you should wait to converse in their language until you’ve mastered it. If you’re lucky enough to know a native speaker, practice with them! You’ll also learn about their culture and ways of thinking and that’s the main and biggest benefit of being fluent in a second language: seeing the world with a different set of eyes!

And no, you don’t have to travel to meet native speakers! There’re plenty of online platforms and apps where you can talk to people from all over the world. When I lived in Scotland I used Bumble to meet locals and practice my English and ended up making some really close friends! I’ve also used this free pen pal site to talk and get to know people that live really far away from me (but still was able to learn a language well by sending emails and postcards!). Nowadays, I use my Scottish boyfriend (sorry, Jack) to practice and learn new words and expressions that I would never have known if I stuck to only learning from textbooks! 

When I started engaging in conversations with native speakers is when I saw that my English was really improving. So I do think this is truly the best way to learn a language and could be the cheapest one if you want to!

Put yourself out there

Like I’m doing with this blog where I only write in English! It does take some courage to order at a restaurant in a foreign language or to write an article in a language that is not your mother tongue for native speakers to read. Especially at the early stages of learning the language, when making mistakes is embarrassing and having people point them out makes it worse! But if you’re wondering how to learn a language fast, putting yourself out there and practicing is how to do it. Practice makes perfect, so go ahead and start!

Keep reading: How to be productive working from home (the 20-minute rule)

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