To provide you with the most effective language learning tips, we’ve gathered seven personal experiences from successful entrepreneurs and marketing professionals. From prioritizing conversational practice to learning through song translation, these leaders share their unique approaches to mastering a new language. Dive in to discover the strategies that have personally helped them in their language learning journey.
Prioritize Conversational Practice
The best language-learning tip is to remember that the type of studying and practice you do is far more important than the length of your study sessions. For example, focusing on your verbal skills (conversational practice) is much more effective than simply completing flashcards. Someone who makes it a point to practice their conversational skills for five minutes per day will be further ahead than someone who just completes fill-in-the-blank drills for ten minutes. That is because memorizing words is not nearly as powerful as using words within the context of conversations. As such, it is imperative you allocate your study time accordingly. - Mathias Johansen, Co-Founder and COO, Guide2Fluency
Embrace Long-Term Commitment
Learning a language can’t be done with a few quick or easy tricks; it takes consistent effort over years to get good. English is my second language, and I am still working at it after years. My best tip is to set your expectations right. This will take a long time, but it is super rewarding when it starts coming together. Plan to stick with your practices for at least two years and see where that gets you. - Yanling Sidders, Co-Founder, Scott & Yanling Media Inc.
Immerse in Cultural Activities
As someone who’s ventured through bustling markets, serene villages, and vibrant urban landscapes, I’ve recognized the pivotal role language plays in truly immersing oneself in a culture. My language-learning journey has been a tapestry woven with moments of triumph and occasional linguistic hiccups. In a small town in Italy, I decided to learn some basic phrases to connect with the locals. Instead of relying solely on textbooks, I joined a local cooking class. The act of learning Italian while preparing traditional dishes not only deepened my understanding of the language but also forged meaningful connections with the community. - Anna Krizova, Travel Enthusiast — Therapist, Camino Adventures
Explore Alternative Learning Methods
Let go of the idea of “getting it right” the first time. Instead, accept that language learning is a significant undertaking, unless you’re being immersed in it during your early years. Take a step away from the textbooks and find new ways of learning. Through music, general conversation and listening, or even translated texts of your favorite books, you’re able to approach not only learning the language itself but also gaining a better understanding of cultural context and impact.
- Jessica Higham, Marketing Manager, This is School
Maximize Language Immersion
There is nothing better than immersing yourself in the language. When I arrived in Spain for my language course, I knew nothing more than “hola,” but four weeks later, I was chatting away with my taxi driver as I headed back to the airport. Being surrounded by the language forces you to have a go, listen hard, and tune into the accents and phrasing. Pronunciation errors are picked up quickly, and it’s much harder to get into bad habits. Since that trip, I try to book holidays to regions where most people don’t speak English, to force myself to practice my language skills. Having said that, it is often impractical to spend weeks in a different country if you have commitments at home. Other tips that have really helped me are listening to foreign-language radio shows and podcasts, and reading foreign-language books — both great ways to immerse yourself in a language without leaving the house! - Kim Allcott, Partner, Allcott Associates LLP
Connect with Native Speakers
Connect with a native speaker. Getting in touch with a native speaker is one of the finest ways to learn a language. It can be intimidating to speak with strangers in your target language. You may feel that your current skill level needs to be improved, or that you are afraid to make mistakes. However, working with a native speaker can help you rapidly improve the language.
- Axel Hernborg, Founder and CEO, Tripplo
Learn through Song Translation
Back in my college days, while running track, I used to listen to a lot of Spanish songs during my warm-ups. One day, out of sheer curiosity, I took my favorite track and translated its lyrics word by word. I was reverse-engineering songs, you could say. It was a fun method that helped me pick up vocabulary and understand sentence structures. By singing along, I improved my pronunciation without even realizing it. That song was “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony. Every time I hear it now, not only does it remind me of my training days but also my unique approach to picking up a new language.
- Jay Barton, CEO and Founder, ASRV