Cheap methods to learn a foreign language

For some it is a pipe dream to communicate in a foreign language effortlessly and it’s definitely possible to do so in a relatively short time with minimum exertion and investment. The fear of being ridiculed by difficult natives, committing mistakes and then sounding stupid are what that prevents us from understanding the foreign language benefits. Once we overcome this fear it is not difficult to learn any foreign language. Money has nothing to do with it.

What are the easy methods of learning a foreign language?

  • You do not have to be a perfectionist by knowing all the grammar and vocabulary of the new language. Initially you need to get started with how the language works, few key phrases and the necessary vocabulary.
  • Searching for a book-based mini course in your local library could be the first step.
  • There is a site (Omniglot) from where you can access free online courses. An exhaustive list of languages with summary pages is listed and all the essential information can be got from the free ones. One good example is BBC.
  • To learn the top 1000 words you can use a free flashcard application called Anki. The pre-made decks of the most important vocabulary can be downloaded and memorised at your convenience.
  • If it is difficult to memorise the words you can associate images and sounds with them and then it becomes tough to forget them. Memrise is another free language learning program who use memory tricks, images and other tools, designed to have some fun awarding you points as you complete activities.
  • Duolingo helps you to master a new language by translating sites on the web. So you get to hear the native speakers and will be able to translate by seeing the language visually. Again this too checks your progress by awarding points .
  • Pimsleur method is an audio-based method where you participate in speaking and sound exercises rather than memorising words. The exercises are about 30 minutes long where you will be speaking out phrases in the target language and then in your native and new words are continuously reinforced to challenge your memory. This is a very popular commercial product, available in 50 languages.It is not completely free but very helpful.

Once you have learnt the language it is important to keep up the practice by:

  • Reading online newspapers: A wonderful way to keep yourself abreast of the current events of a different country with the newly acquired language.
  • Watching movies with subtitles: It helps you to hear the native pronunciation, know how the words are used and at the same time the subtitles enable translation exercises.
  • Converse: Get yourself somebody who is fluent and with whom you are comfortable to shed your awkwardness and practice talking freely.

Use the google translate to understand the meaning of a word. You don’t have to buy a dictionary for that. Google Translate and word reference are good.

Your purpose is not to master a foreign language but to be able to converse. Therefore go for the shortest course to get an overview, learn the key basic vocabulary, the learning phrases and concentrate mainly on the conversational connectors.

To conclude therefore one needs to be convinced that though initially it could be intimidating, but you need to start somewhere. And with such easy availability of free tools like podcasts and online courses you can at least BEGIN.

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