Learning a new language can be challenging. Languages can be overwhelming and it is difficult to know where to start, but learning a new language can be extremely beneficial.

I have been studying French for seven years and have decided to begin learning Italian as well. As a student who enjoys learning new languages in her spare time, I am here to share my tips and tricks with you. All of the resources I have used in my language learning process are linked below for you to use.

I’ve broken down this page into four categories that pertain to learning a new language to simplify the process:

Start with Vocabulary

Vocabulary is the foundation of every language. Without knowing vocabulary, you are not going to have much to say. That is why vocabulary is a great place to start. Now, I know what you are thinking: there are so many vocabulary words, which do you learn first? Here is what I do to learn basic vocabulary words when learning a new language.

Tip #1: Look around your room, apartment, or house. Look at the objects around you. The furniture, the decorations, the food in the fridge. Make a list of these items. Once you’ve done this, research the translation of these items in the language you are trying to learn. Every time you see and use these objects recite the translation. Chances are, these are items you are using daily. This will help you memorize how to name them in your target language and it will give your brain a visual to match to the name. Then try learn how to describe these items in your desired language. What color are they? Are they big or small? Learn as many descriptive words as you can in the language so you are able to describe the objects around you.

Eiffel Tower in Paris

Learning Verbs

When learning a new language, memorizing verbs and their conjugations can be extremely difficult. Especially because you can’t just memorize the verb and its meaning, but you must also memorize the conjugations for I, you, us, he/she, and they. That is a lot of memorization, and what verbs do you even start with? My method for learning verbs is quite similar to my method for learning vocabulary.

Tip #2: Go through your daily routine and take note of the tasks you are performing. In the morning, what are you doing? Are you cooking? Eating? Do you drive to work? Identify the verbs you are using in your daily routine. Learn their translations and recite them as you go about your day. This provides repetition.

Tip #3: In certain languages, there are rules to verbs. For example, in French, you have regular and irregular verbs-which have different conjugation patterns. You can choose to group verbs based off of these rules and learn one grouping at a time.

Once you have some basic vocab and verbs down, this is where I would begin using a language app daily to keep up with vocabulary.

Woman sitting outside at a restaurant

Listening to a New Language

Listening to someone speak in the language you are trying to learn and being able to translate it, in my opinion, is the hardest part of learning a new language. You have to be able to translate as quickly as they speak or it is difficult to keep up. I have some tips for learning a new language that will help your listening skills improve drastically.

Tip #4: Listen to music in the language you are trying to learn. Find a few songs you really enjoy (because you will be listening to them a lot) and find the written lyrics. Have the lyrics in front of you while listening to the song so you are seeing the words simultaneously while hearing them. Translate the lyrics so you understand what each phrase means. Ever notice you can memorize song lyrics more quickly than you can notes for a test? Putting rhythm and repetition to phrases in another language will help you learn them faster.

Tip #5: Listen to podcasts and Youtubers that speak in the language you are trying to learn. Familiarize yourself with the way different people speak the language. I have also found (if you are a native English speaker) it can be easier to understand someone who is also a native english speaker speak in the language you are trying to learn. Watch their body language when they speak to help you understand what they are saying. Youtube gives you the options to add captions or slow down videos that are too fast, this is a great resource to practice listening with.

Duffel bag and passport

Resources for Learning A New Language

These are all of the resources I have used in my language learning journey.

Language Apps

Duolingo: This is a free, fun app that incorporates reading, writing, listening, and speaking all into one. This is my favorite way to study vocab as it resembles a game.

Babbel: This is a monthly subscription you pay to take language courses, however, the first lesson of every course is free to try and is super helpful.

Podcasts and Youtube Channels

Coffee Break Languages: These are podcasts built for those learning languages. I love listening to these in my free time and the hosts talk slowly so it is easier to understand them. I have linked the website but you can also find these podcasts on Spotify!

DamonandJo: This is a Youtube channel of two Youtubers who are polyglots (speak many languages). They travel all around the world and make videos in all different languages.

Learning Methods

Method of Loci: This is one of the oldest known strategies for memorization that is proven extremely effective. You memorize items by visualizing yourself in a familiar place like your bedroom, and you place objects you want to remember in that familiar place. While the link I provided uses the example of memorizing a shopping list, many people use this method to memorize vocabulary for learning other languages.

Start Learning!

The best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible.

My final tip: Don’t get discouraged. They say it can take 10 years to become fluent in a language, so do not get frustrated if you cannot understand a native speaker after a few months of practice.

Good luck! Bonne chance! Buena suerte!