What is the best way to learn a language?
Well, learning a foreign language for adults it is a very different process.
It has been such an amazing experience. But when I think about how I learned to speak a new language as an adult, I get a little jealous of them, because for me, like other adults, it wasn’t so easy.
While children pick up languages quickly and easily with little effort, adults need to put in the work to succeed. It isn’t always a natural process.
Make sure to check out our post on the stages of second language acquisition to find out how we acquire language.
Now we will dive into the best ways to learn a language as an adult with practical and useful resources to help you along the way.
Best Ways To Learn A Language
Here are 10 ways you can learn a language as an adult.
1. Immersion is the best way to learn a new language
The fastest and easiest way to learn a language for most people, is immersion.
It is kind of like learning a language as a child, being surrounded by the language enough that you are almost forced to understand and speak it.
If you get the chance, travel to a country where people speak your target language. Rather than stay in a big city full of tourists, stay in a small local town and mix with the locals.
After I met my Italian husband while travelling Europe, I moved to Italy where he lived in Rome. I honestly thought that I could learn Italian in a few weeks and become a fluent speaker. But was I wrong.
After 5 years living in Rome I still only knew the basics. You see Rome is a huge city. I was teaching English, I had English speaking friends, and being an international city, I was able to get around with the little Italian that I knew.
It wasn’t until I went to stay in Calabria, in the south of Italy with my in laws where nobody spoke English there and I was forced to really learn.
Within around 3 months I had improved so much I could hold a proper conversation.
If you have the opportunity, immersing yourself in the language for a period of time is the best way to learn a new language.
2. Find your reasons why you want to learn a language
When you have a reason to learn the language, you will have motivation to learn it.
Is it because of your family history? Is it because your partner speaks the language? Is it because you love the culture?
Or is it simply because you want to learn something new?
Find your reason, because when you are motivated, you will want to learn.
3. Find a language exchange partner who speaks a foreign language
Find a language partner and do a language exchange. Meet up when you can and share your language skills together teaching each other your native language.
You could do some proper grammar lessons, or simply learn through conversation and then learn the grammar later.
Practicing and speaking the language is the best way to learn a new language, so just throwing yourself in there and trying is the easiest way to do it.
4. Watch foreign movies to enhance your exposure to a new language
While watching movies all day won’t teach you a language, it is a great way to get some exposure.
Watch your favourite movies or TV series in your new language and see what you can understand.
Put the subtitles if you need some extra help to start with and eventually turn them off when you think you have it!
5. Use a language app to give you a head start.
Language apps are fun and easy to use. Download them on your phone and learn along in your spare time.
You can set the language you want to learn, set your ability, and get learning! We have a few great Spanish Apps here that are great for adults.
Language apps are a great way to get started and learn a new language, however you will need to get some practice in with people who speak the language. That is where immersion comes in.
6. International friends make learning a new language fun
International friends make it easy to learn a new language. Spending time with a native speaker is priceless, and you can learn more than you will ever learn in a language class.
If you have a friend who speaks another language, make an effort to spend time with them and their friends or family.
Let them teach you some of the language they speak. When there are more native speakers speaking with each other, there is more chance for you to learn.
You can always pick up the grammar later on in other ways. The best thing is to just get started.
7. Language classes are great for perfecting your learning grammar
I know I know, like going back to school right? But how motivated are you to learn a new language?
That is what you need to ask yourself. And how fluent do you want to be.
If being able to converse in the language is enough, then Immersion is a great way to get you started. But if you want to perfect your grammar and speak like a native, you may need to take some classes, or at the very least do some online lessons.
I didn’t take classes, and I wish I did. I can speak Italian quite fluently, but my grammar isn’t perfect.
8. Learn about the culture
There is more to learning a language than just learning new words and phrases. The best way to learn a language is to also learn about the culture.
Learning about where the language is spoken, the history, the traditions and customs, religious beliefs can help you understand so much more than you think.
9. Learn a new language and have fun doing it!
The most important thing and one of the best ways to learn a language as an adult, is to have fun doing it! Motivation is the key learn a new language successfully. If you lose the motivation to learn then you are setting yourself up to fail.
Let us know how you learned a new language? Was it with one of these tips above, or another way?