- Is it possible to learn a language in 6 months?
- What if I’m bad at languages?
- How to learn a language in 6 months
- What’s the best way to learn a language?
Us Brits don’t come out on top when it comes to learning languages. According to a report by the Higher Education Policy Institute, only 32% of people aged 16-30 are able to speak a foreign language compared to the EU average of 89%.
One reason for not learning other languages is the idea that “everyone speaks English anyway.” The British Council Language Trends 2020 Survey found that “Global English appears to be a threat to, as opposed to a motivator for, uptake of languages at secondary.”
At the same time, the UK continues to be a melting pot of cultures and languages, with an estimated 300 different languages being spoken in London by tourists, students and residents.
Is it possible to learn a language in 6 months?
There are so many language blogs with lists of top tips and hacks to help you become fluent in a ridiculously short amount of time. Language experts like Chris Lonsdale have become well-known for creating approaches to speed-learning which maximise language fluency. But before you try to learn a language in 6 months, it might be better to ask yourself ‘what’s the rush?’
Language learning doesn’t have to be hurried, nor should it be a chore. It can be an enjoyable process that can enrich your life and become a bigger part of who you are. 🌱
First, you should start by choosing a language that you’re motivated to learn. If you’re a speaker of English then German will probably be easier than Italian or Turkish because English and German are both Germanic languages. So, if you’re looking for the easiest language, choose one that has similar origins to the one(s) you already know. However, if you’ve no interest in German culture and have no plans to visit Germany, but love Italian films, food, music and culture, then perhaps Italian would be a more logical choice.
What if I’m bad at languages?
Firstly, if you’ve struggled with languages before, make like Taylor and “Shake it off!”. Stop repeatedly googling ‘How to learn a language in 3 months’ and take the pressure off yourself!
One big barrier to language learning is error terror! These are the feelings we experience when we make a mistake. You say the wrong word and your cheeks flush hot with embarrassment, you feel a bit foolish and self-conscious. Why?
If you missed a goal while playing your favourite sport you wouldn’t stop the game and give up, would you? The same approach can be applied to language learning. Try to make friends with your mistakes - learn from them and keep going!
How to learn a language in 6 months
There are various approaches to language learning. Some people want an immersive experience while others are happy to sit quietly, book in hand as they learn 200 words a day. Here’s a run-down of the options on offer.
The immersive experience
Travelling abroad to live, work or study in a foreign country is undoubtedly one of the best ways to learn a language in a short period of time. It’s a great cultural experience and you’ll meet lots of new people and create lasting memories of your adventures abroad. You’ll have the opportunity to listen to native speakers and improve your pronunciation by hearing the language all around you. Once you start to manage day-to-day interactions, your confidence will soar!
The only downside is that if you’re attending a language school or studying abroad rather than working, it can be quite costly.
The language app
Using a language learning app such as Duolingo for a few minutes each day is a great way of learning words and phrases. Language learning apps can be cheap or free to use and offer the convenience of learning anywhere, at any time. Using these apps feels more like playing a game than studying so it’s a fun way to learn.
The disadvantage of these apps is that they can be great for vocabulary but light on grammatical content so you might learn the words you need but you won’t always be able to put them together and create your own sentences.
Podcasts such as Coffee Break Languages offer a range of short podcasts at a range of levels for free.
Some episodes focus on areas of vocabulary while others address grammar rules. This is a great way to learn more about a language at an appropriate level.
However, there’s sometimes not much of an interactive element to podcasts, so it can be easy to switch off or get distracted. If podcasts aren’t your thing, then there are also a wide variety of YouTube channels that offer language learning content. Don’t just click on any old thing though, but take time to find channels that offer well-structured lessons at the right level for you.
A language course
Taking a language course is a great way to learn a language alongside other students, especially if your teacher takes a creative and interactive approach. However, it’s easy to get lost in a big class and you may not feel confident putting your hand up. If you prefer a more personal approach, GoStudent has a range of expert tutors who can tailor lessons to suit your learning style. 🎓
Watching TV shows and films
This is a lovely way to pretend you’re studying while you switch off and read the subtitles. 😆
Yes, it’s true that watching TV shows and films can help get your ear in and expose you to pronunciation, but it means nothing if you’re not listening actively.
If you’re enjoying what you’re watching too much to stop and write things down then watch it twice, once for pleasure and once for learning. When you go back a second time, pause for new words and write down interesting phrases. Don’t stop for every new word but maybe just focus on one character or one scene and really explore it for language and information.
What’s the best way to learn a language?
Whether you still want to learn a language in 3 months or you’ve decided you want to be fluent 6 months from now, then here are our top tips.
- Focus on frequency - Look for lists of the top 100 spoken and written words and start by making sure you can recognise them in speech and writing.
- Grammar matters - Familiarise yourself with basic grammar – i.e. tenses and verb conjugations of the most common verbs.
- Keep it relevant - Find something you care about and read about that in the language you’re learning. If you’re a fan of horror films, find and read film reviews in that language, and then watch the films themselves.
- Be a parrot – In the same way that babies learn to talk by mimicking, practising imitating and repeating the words and sounds that you hear.
- Plan – Start to work a set amount of time for language learning into your day. Short sharp bursts work best but it doesn’t have to be boring. You could listen to a podcast during your coffee break or do a vocabulary quiz on your favourite app on your bus ride home.
- Be realistic – set yourself realistic goals for what you think you can do in a given time. For example, order a meal in a café after a month, or have a short conversation with someone after 3 months.
- Celebrate! – Celebrate your achievements and successes (and embrace your mistakes as learning experiences.)
- Don’t stop – If you’ve challenged yourself to learn a language in 6 months, don’t stop 6 months from now. Keep going and see where it takes you! If you’ve learnt the beginnings of a language in a few months, can you learn a language in a year?