25 Facts and Tips to Help You Learn a Foreign Language Fluently

Posted by , Updated on March 22, 2024

Are you considering learning a new language, possibly Spanish? It would be beneficial to know if you reside in Miami, Florida, or intend to travel to someplace Spanish, perhaps the Dominican Republic, which I hear is particularly breathtaking at this time of year. Or maybe French, which is useful if a trip to France is in your future plans. Our goal is to provide useful information and advice that will enable you to learn a new language more rapidly, regardless of the language you desire to master. Despite the common misconception that adults can’t learn a foreign language, that’s not true at all! So, disregard that myth, and perhaps begin preparing for a trip to France or Dominican Republic. Here are 25 facts and tips to guide you towards becoming fluent in a foreign language in a quick and efficient manner.


Only 4% of students that study a language in school achieve fluency after 3 years

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Most of the other 96% stopped because they had wrong expectations and ineffective learning methods

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First, lets address the expectations. Most people take 600 or more hours of intensive study to reach fluency in the simplest languages (French, Spanish) and nearly 1,200 hours for more difficult languages (Mandarin, Russian).

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Even if you are learning a simple language, and you study one hour per week, it will take over 10 years to reach fluency (600 weeks).

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And that is why people get frustrated. Anyone can learn a new language (you already learned one!), it’s just that we forget how long it took to learn our mother tongue.

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Which brings us to the main point of this list. To learn a new language it requires one thing…immersion. When you learned your mother tongue as a child you were basically “studying” non-stop for several years.

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So what does immersion mean? Immersion means that you are constantly learning and using your language. By immersing yourself in the language you can easily cram 40 hours into 1 week instead of only 1 hour.

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And at that rate you can cut 10 years down to 4 months.

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That’s what the 4% did to achieve fluency. But now the question is how? And no, you don’t need to move to another country.

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First of all, start by learning the right words. Did you know that only 300 English words account for more than 65% of what you say everyday? In fact, there are numerous words you probably don’t know in your mother tongue (and will never use!)

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Once you’ve found and learned your list of 300 words (google!), start reading online newspapers and blogs right away. Even if you don’t understand anything. You will at least recognize some words and start to subconsciously process others.

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Look up any words that you don’t know. In the beginning this will be tedious but remember, you are in this for the long haul. Eventually you won’t need your dictionary (or google translate)

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You’re going to feel like giving up but the key is to do a little bit everyday. The most successful language learners have a purpose. Job? Living abroad? Family? If you don’t have a goal or a purpose you will not make it.

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Furthermore, the internet today is a language learners paradise. You can immerse yourself in the local culture from a distance. Read local news and pretend you actually live in the country. This kind of total immersion, or “pretending”, is actually a key trait of successful language learners. They manage to identify with the language they are learning.

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Speaking of pretending. It’s time to start talking. Yes, already. But to start with we’ll talk to ourselves. Pretend you are meeting somebody or sitting in an interview and introduce yourself. Do this throughout the day.

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Talking to yourself isn’t enough though. We need to start listening to people too. Once again, the internet is an amazing resource. Youtube videos are a great opportunity to listen to natives and start picking up the flow of the language. As before, don’t be discouraged if you don’t understand anything. Definitely try to find videos with subtitles though. And don’t forget your dictionary if you don’t recognize a word!

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The one thing we haven’t covered so far is writing. You need to start writing things. Any thing. As self centered as it sounds, a good starting point is once again talking about yourself. Try to write out your biography. This is an excellent way to reinforce vocabulary that you will almost certainly use right away.

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Read the news on your phone when you are in the check out line at the grocery store. Think/talk/translate things to yourself in your new language constantly. Write your biography, and watch the news. All in the new language.

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In fact, your goal should be to eliminate English from your life as much as possible. Set a goal like “after one year I will watch all of my news in insert-language-here”

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Possibly the most important thing we can reinforce is to make use of the internet. There are incredible free language learning tools out there.

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Duolingo is a great free alternative to Rosetta Stone and will give you a solid foundation in your new language as long as you supplement it with some grammar lessons

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In fact, we would recommend starting off with a program like Duolingo as an introduction and then moving on to the steps we outlined above.

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None of this will be enough to bring you to fluency though. All that we have said so far will give you a foundation for the real secret. Are you ready?

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Friends. That’s the secret. You now have everything you need to hold a rudimentary conversation in your language. Whether it's Skype, email, or your French neighbors (best option!) you need to connect with people that use that language. Don’t use English, push through it, and before long you’ll see yourself fitting into the a new culture and learning the language without even trying!

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And that is how people learn languages effectively. Keep in mind that if you don’t use your language in all 4 aspects (talking, writing, speaking, reading) constantly, with a purpose in mind, then you will never be fluent. However, if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and learn just enough to surround yourself with foreign speakers (even virtual ones!) then you will achieve fluency almost without trying.

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