Learning a language does not have to be the Herculean task many portray it to be. One of the reasons people think language-learning is so difficult is because of the incredibly inefficient and, frankly, asinine methods they were exposed to in school. Anyone who has taken high school Spanish or German can aver that the teaching methods employed in those classes are needlessly complicated time-fillers. I myself would shake my head in frustration while my teacher rambled on about the applications of the past perfect tense. There had to be a better way!
And there is. I wanted to learn French for the longest time, but all I could remember after four years of high school French were “Oui,” “non,” “J’ai faim,” and “Je voudrais.” Hardly conversational material! I sought out the best way to become reasonably fluent in a relatively short period, experimenting with books and methods and websites. Here is what I did to become conversational in French, and you too can follow these guidelines to learn any language you wish!
For my money, the Teach Yourself language series is the best on the market when it comes to language-learning resources. I went on Amazon.com and purchased a copy of Teach Yourself French, complete with a CD containing the dialogues. This supplemented with a good English to French/French to English dictionary is all I used to get fluent in the language.
I studied each day for at least an hour, sometimes for as long as three hours. I didn’t bother with the exercises or anything, rather I would memorize the vocabulary and the dialogues. This is critical. You have to have a tablet, so to speak, from which to draw because the most efficient way to learn a language is in chunks. Rather than learning isolated vocabulary, learn whole sentences, paragraphs, or in this case dialogues. Every sentence in the book I found in French I eventually memorized.
This sounds like a task and a half, but this is where the CD comes in handy. It is absolutely critical to have a way to hear the language spoken so you can learn listening comprehension as well as gain the correct accent. Use the CD in conjunction with the book and you will learn twice as fast as someone who simply pours over a vocabulary list. This is a much more natural way to learn a foreign language.
Lastly, find yourself someone with whom you can practice your speaking skills. You can get a pen-pal, befriend someone in your area who speaks your target language, watch TV in the language or even spend some time in the country where the language is spoken. If you follow my advice and use me as an example, you will be speaking another language within weeks! Just remember to speak it out loud, even if no one is there to hear you and to be diligent in your studies.