🗣️🇻🇮🇱🇨🇹🇲 Learning Another Language🗣️🇺🇬🇦🇪🇹🇿

I’m learning Spanish at the moment and wondering if anyone has any tips, not specifically for Spanish either, but just in general when learning another language.

I’m using a couple apps, and one frames the lessons as streaks, so that’s quite a good incentive for me to keep going.

Don’t like realising that I can only really think in English and may never get a proper sense of the language. I was hoping to be able to read Spanish books in a few years time, and it’s a bit deflating to imagine that they will forever be mangled by my English brain!

However, what I really love about Spanish so far is some of the polysemes - the connective parallels are lovely. Bordar for embroidery and displays of fine skill? Brotar for budding, flowing, and even the appearance of rashes? Yes! That stuff’s delicious to me.

Struggling with the sheer variety of conjunctives though. Just when I think I’ve got something down there seems to be a wildly different version waiting just around the corner. Yet it seems like a language that can be ridiculously streamlined at other times.

Anyway, this is the place for (not your own) language chat!

1 Like

Have just learned using duolingo (Spanish). Has learned me enough to get by in Spain but not really enough for long conversations. Think you need to be conversing regularly to properly pick up a language. Think there are language exchange forums online.

1 Like

My tips for learning a foreign language as an English brained person

Step 1.
Watch lots of English films & TV series with subtitles in the language that you wish to learn and read the subtitles as you’re watching. You’ll get to see commonly used idioms that aren’t necessarily direct or even indirect translations of English terms. Write them down, these are useful.

Step 2.
Watch lots of films & tv in the language you wish to learn with English subtitles. This has a similar effect to step 1 except you get to hear the language use and familiarise yourself with pronunciation & tone

Step 3.
Once you’re comfortable & familiar with the first two steps (which you can actually switch between rather than doing in strict order) and have built up a store of vocab and general use then watch films & tv in the language you wish to learn with subtitles in that language too.

So far the visualisation of watching film & TV is helping you understand the language because you have the added input of non-verbal communication giving context to the words and their use. This is giving you a good grounding in dialogue and interaction but less so in abstract concepts or expression of internal thoughts or ideas. So, when you’re comfortable with step 3 start doing the following alongside it

Step 4.
Read newspapers in the language you wish to learn, try and do the crossword. Ideally at this stage you want 1 or several other native speakers of the language you’re learning to converse with. Talk with them about what’s in the news … or indeed the films you’ve been watching

Step 5.
You’re now ready to read novels and poems written in the language you’re learning. Unlike steps 1 & 2 I would avoid translations and try and find books/plays/poems that are canonical classics or modern classics in that language in order to get a cultural touchstone of how language is used by the pre-eminent writers in that culture. You know how many terms in English come from Shakespeare? It’s the same in any language culture with their great writers and how the language is shaped by their use of it.

Ideally find some kind of book circle where you can discuss what you’re reading … from step 3 onwards you really need to be regularly talking in that language

All the above can be done in 3-6 months and you can become more or less fluent if you are in a country where the native language is spoken. If you’re doing it from England it will take considerably longer - 2-5 years maybe. A good tip for language exchange if you’re in London or a major city is to see if there is eg a Spanish Church/community centre that you can visit and/or get involved with

Good Luck!

Also… once you get to the stage where you are sometimes feeling fully fluent and sometimes feeling self-conscious talking to native speakers or worried about saying something silly or incorrect then just remind yourself that people make mistakes in their own native language all the time too, it’s fine :+1:


That’s great, broad basics in many different languages mean you’ll always get by! And tying it in with your interests is surely a good way to learn as well. I only know a few Arabic words but they’re all beautiful. My granddad tried to teach me Polish when I was a kid but he gave up because I tried his patience too much! Sort of regret that but it just wasn’t interesting to me then. I’m actually terrible at pronunciation in every language so I prefer reading and writing anyway! Speaking makes me anxious, but it not being your first language is a good excuse really!

1 Like

Yeah I’ve got that but haven’t actually used it yet. And I definitely get the impression it’s kind of a ‘use it or lose it’ thing. Was gonna start maybe looking at Spanish articles, stuff like that, see if I can figure anything out. Problem I have is if I learn by rote I still don’t feel like I really understand anything and that makes me a lot less confident. If I have like adaptable knowledge I’m away and it’s great.

Haha, that makes it sound so straightforward! Wish I was so methodical. Great advice though, really appreciate it. Will definitely put it into practice, and hopefully get rid of my pesky monoglottish brain!

honestly, humans learn so much through mimicry. Steps 1-3 are basically mimicry+ exercises and the rest is putting it into practice and challenging the depths of what you’ve managed to learn through mimicry, which is loads more than you’re really aware of

1 Like

This is such good advice that I’m gonna make an effort to do this stuff as I have a degree in three languages and I’m a translator by trade yet my spoken production in two of my languages is utter pants

1 Like