For foreign languages learners


Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
Indeed a good one, Keit! Definitely enjoying the learning process is the most important.
There is another good point she touches in the video, at least to me, and that is, Podcasts. I don't remember in which talk that JB Peterson mentions this as an easy and enjoyable way to follow whatever you are interested in.
Podcasts are also a very good way to learn languages.


FOTCM Member
Also, I think it is important that we are willing to be a "fool" when we learn something new, as Jordan Peterson points out. Especially in the beginning we will make lots of mistakes, but that's okay, just do it badly. It's all part and parcel of the process, OSIT.

Learning French was always a bit hard for me, when I was younger because of my hang-ups, but when I was 'forced' to speak the language on a regular basis I lost my fear of making mistakes and looking like a fool.:-D


FOTCM Member
The main thing if you want to learn faster is to be constant (at least 1/2 a day, no skipping for more than 48 hours), and alternating skills (reading, listening, writing and speaking).

This article explains why alternating skills is a good idea:
Instead of concentrating on one skill at a time, you have to work on two or more.

But interleaving probably works because it forces the mind to work harder.

Instead of relying on learning a system and sticking with it, the mind has to keep searching and reaching for solutions.
And this one:
If learning can be defined as picking up new knowledge or skills and being able to apply them later, then how quickly you pick something up is only part of the story. Is it still there when you need to use it out in the everyday world? While practicing is vital to learning and memory, studies have shown that practice is far more effective when it's broken into separate periods of training that are spaced out. The rapid gains produced by massed practice are often evident, but the rapid forgetting that follows is not. Practice that's spaced out, interleaved with other learning, and varied produces better mastery, longer retention, and more versatility. But these benefits come at a price: when practice is spaced, interleaved, and varied, it requires more effort. You feel the increased effort, but not the benefits the effort produces. Learning feels slower from this kind of practice, and you don't get the rapid improvements and affirmations you're accustomed to seeing from massed practice. Even in studies where the participants have shown superior results from spaced learning, they don't perceive the improvement; they believe they learned better on the material where practice was massed.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I came across this channel on YouTube recently, I think it is a good and humorous source for people who are looking for assistance in learning English or even improving their English; however, I just noticed, you may want to skip her "Learn Sex English" course though. That one is too unrefined in my opinion. :rolleyes:



Jedi Master
For those who want to practice foreign language, there are Duolinguo "Stories" - they are quite fun and educative.

They combine listening, reading and understanding skills.
One hears the story as well as one reads it on the screen and then after every short chapter you have to answer either yes/no questions or fill in the missing word or repeat what was said, and so on.
Stories are about everyday stuff like shopping, public transportation, dating, etc.

Downside is that they are available for only some languages: for English speakers learning Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese, as well as Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese speakers who are learning English.


I've always enjoyed learning languages and motivation is the key. I've tried everything including courses, self-learning, full immersion in the culture, and they all have something to offer. I've also tried italki and I would recommend it if you can find an effective tutor. I've been fortunate in one aspect of language learning in that I've benefited from having a sharp ear for how a language sounds. Apparently it's one of the positive characteristics of the Hypersensitve Personality, as I learned recently. So my pronunciation of the language is pretty close to native and i've had teachers and native speakers comment on this while learning Russian, German and French. Almost foreign accent free. But I'm no prodigy when it comes to grammar and memorizing what I've learned. That work still has to be done. And getting there has different techniques that appeal to different individuals.
If there's one thing I've learned that I've really benefited from it's copying how a child learns. In other words listening and repeating and not getting hung up on mistakes (which I used to do). They can be rectified later. It may seem odd but talking to yourself by repeating sentences you've heard is excellent preparation for speaking with others, I find. I do it as a useful activity on my daily commute to work and it doesn't distract from keeping your eye on the road. And yes, exaggerate while speaking and connect with the emotions of the words. Put yourself in the shoes of the native speaker and let go. Don't try to shoehorn the sounds of your native language into the sounds of the language you're learning. Nothing gives you more confidence and helps you enjoy the language more than improvement in your speaking skills, and you get much more from this because it is, after all, the hardest of the language skills to master.
Speaking to yourself does really help to send the words and expressions to the hard drive of your long term memory.
Others in this thread have mentioned helpful apps, some of which I've also used such as Duolingo, Memrise and Anki. I'd like to add another one which i find really good, both for learners and those reinforcing their language skills. It's called Busuu. It has become really popular in recent years and it's visually well presented, intuitive and fun. Some of the techniques are similar to Duolingo but I feel the Busuu people have improved on that. There is a free and premium version but the premium version is good value for money if you use it regularly. It's a useful and creative distraction from the Covid madness these days.

Busuu, btw, is a language spoken in Africa with only 8 native speakers left.
I feel like i could easily be a polyglot when I look at how little of my time I spent studying languages, yet by my count I already speak 4+ languages - French, English and Spanish fluently (C2+), German advanced intermediate (B2). I can also read sanskrit and pali at an intermediate academic level, and checked out Hungarian and Russian basics, and have taught both English and French to foreign language speakers.

I suspect I'm not average, but by my estimates one can learn a language's basics in about a month, or get to a fairly comfortable intermediate level in about 3 months of 30-60min/day practice. My secret sauce has few ingredients - first, a combination of two methods, the already highly recommended Assimil method, along with Pimsleur tapes, a listen/repeat method. This ensures you create both the visual/written and oral/verbal foundations. After 2-3 weeks of those, I pick a book with a young target audience, about the level of Harry Potter 1 or 2, something that seems incredibly arcane and inaccessible at the time, but for which you already built most of the grammar and sentence structure basics you'll need. Now all that's left is to practice.

I read the book with Google Translate and a pad of paper. I start at page 1 and whenever I see a word I do not recognize it, without looking at the pad I google it and write it down. I finish the page, read down the vocabulary list 1-2 times, read the page aloud once, and start the next page.

First page will feel like it takes half an hour, the second one takes 15 minutes. After dozen pages or 2, you'll already be down to a couple minutes per page, and by the time you finish the book you'll rarely hit a page where you need to look up more than 1-2 words. You're now well on your way to a comfortable intermediate level and prepared for conversational practice, with a decent vocabulary breadth built-in.

Whatever you do, good luck, practicing languages is such great fun!

Il Matto

Padawan Learner
Learning other languages has long been something that lurked in the back of my mind. In my case, it seems that I 'asked the question' and then my life took a direction that gave me the answer: I married an Italian! Although my wife's grasp of English is superb, it was still necessary for me to learn to communicate in Italian; not just because being able to communicate with her family necessitated it, but also because not learning would have amounted to remaining ignorant of an enormous part of who my wife is..
I don't claim to have been a very good learner of Italian, and over the years I've utilised at least a few of the things mentioned on this thread. Apart from having the advantage of a level of immersion through living with a native speaker, using Duolingo, listening to Italian radio whilst doing things like cooking and cleaning, and reading bilingual short stories all helped. However, probably the most significant element for me was what Mariama mentioned:
Also, I think it is important that we are willing to be a "fool" when we learn something new,
I couldn't agree more. Learning another language has helped me to become more comfortable with appearing foolish (my mother-in-law still speaks to me as though I am a small child, and I've made many embarrassing mistakes!). I've learnt a lot of humility along the way, as well as how to actually listen.

I miei due euro..
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