How to Learn a New Language in 3 Months

Posted by No Comment

Learning a new language is a great thing to do, as it opens up a whole new world to you and because you’ll be able to communicate with and understand other cultures in ways like never before.

Unfortunately, many people are put off learning new languages as they perceive it to be too much effort (or at least ‘not worth the effort, as everyone speaks English’).

With research into language learning expanding all the time (along with the realization that most language courses don’t work), with enough determination and patience it is now perfectly conceivable to learn a new language within 3 months, and here’s how:

“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people came from and where they are going.” ‒ Rita Mae Brown

Decide on What to Learn

The whole idea is based around learning the key words and phrases that you’ll need the majority of the time, instead of trying to learn EVERY word – many of which you will never need to know.

Learning a new languageThe first step is to work out WHAT you need to learn.

This is done by looking at which words and phrases are the most commonly used and then filtering them by ones that you yourself will actually need (as some words/phrases may be common parlance in certain areas of another language but you will still have no use for them).

Selecting the right things to learn is key, as there’s no point studying for 10 years if you’re learning the wrong things.

Since three months isn’t a long to learn a brand new language, you’re going to need to consistently study. Because of this it’s best that you pick learning material that matches and focuses on your interests.

To put it simply, if you wouldn’t read about it in English, pick something that you would read about (e.g. the politics, sport or finance sections of a newspaper).

Answering the question as what to learn can often be answered by this question: “When you learn this new language, what will you spend your time doing with it?”

Using Pareto’s 80-20 Principle

Pareto’s Principle (or the ‘80/20 rule’) states that, in life, 80% of the results in any task comes from 20% of the effort/work (and in truth the principle is often more like ‘90/10’ than ‘80/20’).

This principle can be adapted to language learning, in the way that we can identify the 10-20% of words needed to understand 90-95% of the language.

“To understand 95% of a language and become conversational fluent may require 3 months of applied learning; to reach the 98% threshold could require 10 years.” – Tim Ferriss

To put this simply, you first want to learn the top 100 most commonly spoken words. This will typically account for around HALF of what you need to know. The other half comes down to learning specific words based around the area(s) you’re interested in.

For example, if you’re going to Brazil in 3 months time to teach soccer, you’re going to need to focus the a lot of your learning at learning soccer-specific/related words.

Learning the Grammar

This is the hard part, and is where most people trip up.

Whereas before we were just memorizing words through repetition, to learn how the grammar and sentence structure of another language works you have to first deconstruct it so that you can understand it.

As Michelle Schusterman puts it (when learning Korean):
“I heard sentences like “I the apple him give” (instead of “I give him the apple”). This is because Korean Hangul follows a subject-object-verb word order, whereas English is structured subject-verb-object. Identifying this difference right off the bat can save you tons of frustration as you start to study.”

Spending some time translating these 6 phrases will give you a basic understanding of how the grammar of how any language works.

  1. The apple is green.
  2. It is Nick’s apple.
  3. We give him the apple.
  4. I give Nick the apple.
  5. He gives it to her.
  6. She gives it to him.

Immersion – Using the Language

I know a girl who, after spending a year in Italy managed to learn the language fluently with the help of only basic languages classes. Her secret? Immersion. Living in an area that speaks a new language is the FASTED way to pick it up and internalize it.

Reading the paperBut what if you can’t move to a new country just to learn a language?

In truth it doesn’t matter where you are. The important thing is that you’re speaking to people in the new language you’re trying to learn, and there are dozens of places you can do this.

You could hire a language teacher/tutor, go to a part of town where that language is spoken, hook up with people who are trying to learn English (and who speak the language you’re learning) and teach each other or you might already know people who already speak the language who you could have a conversation with.

If the worst comes to the worst and you can’t find anyone to speak the language with, talk to yourself! Have two-way conversations (where you play both parts) or spend time commentating on the things you see around you.

“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” ‒ Frank Smith

Apart from speaking the language, reading the language is another way to immerse yourself. Reading and translating newspapers is a great idea, as are reading text books on your area of interest.

Note that most languages are slightly different when written as opposed to spoken, so keep that in mind.

No related posts.

Share this Article!