What’s the quickest way of gaining native-level fluency in German, French, Italian or Spanish? Here’s the bad news: it takes years to dedicated practice to truly master a new language.

Here’s the good news: it takes a lot less time to achieve conversational fluency.

Conversational fluency refers to the ability to have conversations about everyday, normal things with someone who speaks a language natively at a conversational speed that’s normal. As an expat, this is a valuable skill if you want to know people in a foreign country and work with them. Below are four powerful ways of learning a new language quickly.

1. Make a daily habit out of learning the language

Some of the reasons people give for not being able to learn a new language is that they’re „bad“ languages and that it’s too hard. However, the reason most people who are trying to learn a language fail is that they don’t practice every single day. To become fluent in a new language, you need to make learning it one of your daily habits. Building a habit is the most effective way of changing your behavior and the beauty of it is that you don’t need to rely on motivation or willpower once the habit becomes ingrained.

A habit has three components:

  • Cue
  • Routine
  • Reward

The cue triggers the behavior (the routine) and the reward reinforces the behavior. So every time you take steps to learn the language, give yourself a little reward such as treating yourself to something. Most times, however, you’ll find that improving your skill will be reward enough.

2. Master the technique of speaking; don’t just memorize words

Another common reason for the failure of many people to learn a new language is poor memory. However, mastering the language has more to do with technique than it has to do with memory. There are a number of ways to grow your vocabulary in a manner that is practical.

You can start by learning cognates and the most commonly used words and phrases.

Cognates are words that are almost identical to words in other common languages. There are numerous words that span across the English, German, Italian, French and Spanish languages. Lists of cognates are available on many online learning resources. As you learn to use these words, take note of the differences in pronunciation.

For most languages, you need to learn at least 50,000 words to achieve native level fluency but only 2,000-3,000 words to achieve conversational fluency. Majority of these are the most commonly used words in the language and, again, you can easily find lists of them online.

3. Take advantage of good-quality free language learning resources

Thanks to the internet, you need not travel to the country where a language is spoken to learn how to speak it because there are innumerable online listening and reading resources. Immerse yourself in these resources on a daily basis.

Ideally, the language resources you use should be only one level above you otherwise you won’t be able to understand what you’re listening to or reading. The key is to step just outside of your comfort zone while ensuring that you know enough of the language to comprehend and interpret the input.

When it comes to formats, start with films and TV then move on to podcasts and radio once you’re at the intermediary level. With TV and film, the images give the words context, making it easier to understand.

4. Start speaking the language from day one

As mentioned previously, online learning tools and resources are a powerful way of learning a new language. An equally, if not more, powerful way of mastering a new language is actually speaking it with others. You have three options as far as speaking to others is concerned. You can speak with native speakers, your fellow learners, or your tutor during one-on-one classes.

Speaking to native speakers is arguably the cheapest option. There are a number of sites that offer language exchange meetings. Learning a new language by speaking to fellow learners during group classes adds a social dimension to the process. It is, however, not the ideal method if your aim is to learn how to speak the language since you and the others will have to take turns at speaking, which is unnatural.

Needless to say, one-on-one lessons are the most effective way to learn a language quickly. The downside of this method is that it’s the most costly of the three.


Use the above strategies and others will help you learn

  • German
  • French
  • Spanish

and other languages more quickly. Begin by cultivating a daily habit of learning. As your fluency improves day by day, learn to enjoy the journey.

Of course, if you’re committed to learning German as quickly as possible, the most effective way to do it is taking a course at Wortland.