Are you thinking of learning a foreign language? Maybe you’re relocating to Italy and need to learn basic Italian. Maybe you just want to learn how to speak Chinese for fun. Or, maybe you want to be able to read The Lord of the Rings in Swedish. Regardless of your reasons for wanting to learn a foreign language, there are many tools and resources that can help you achieve your goal.
But before you enroll in any language learning program, there are some things you need to know about learning a language.
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- Why Learn a Foreign Language?
- Tips and Recommendations When Learning a Foreign Language
- Learning Method
- Obstacles You May Encounter
- Should I Focus on Reading and Listening More Than Writing?
- Do I Need to Learn Grammar?
- What Level Should I Aim for?
- Do I Need to be Fluent in the Language I'm Learning?
- How Do I Start?
- Can I Benefit from Learning a Language Beyond Just Speaking It?
- Why Do I Need to Pay When I Can Learn a New Language for Free?
- Language Specific Tips
- Additional Resources
- Now, on to You
Why Learn a Foreign Language?
There are many reasons to learn a foreign language: to upskill, to get qualified for a job, or simply to get into a new hobby.
One of the best reasons to learn, however, is if you’re an expat in a country where you don’t speak the language. When you can speak the locals’ language, it will be easier for you to communicate with the people and better understand the local culture. It will make your life a whole lot easier.
That said, some expats can live for years in a foreign country without learning the local language and do just fine. But being able to speak in the local tongue can bring immeasurable convenience and help you in unexpected ways.
Here are a few good reasons to learn.
To Get Better Job Opportunities
If you move to another country to find employment, you will gain an advantage if you can speak that country’s language. Besides your skills and professional experiences, your facility with the local language can make your resumé stand out.
In addition, you can get more job opportunities particularly if you apply for roles that require dealing with locals. You can even get offered a higher-than-normal salary because of your bi- or multilingual abilities.
Avoid Overpaying for Goods and Services
Being a foreigner in any country has advantages and disadvantages. One of the major disadvantages is being charged higher prices for goods and services simply because you’re foreign. While you won’t be able to completely avoid this — such as, for instance, if you’re white and live in an Asian country, or vice versa — you will be able to negotiate prices for things like apartment rent if you can communicate in the native tongue.
Plus, you will be more confident in asking locals where you can get better deals and which stores do not overcharge foreigners.
Connect with Locals More Easily
Expats who make the effort to learn the local language also tend to have an easier time making friends and connecting with locals. Locals generally appreciate foreigners who make an effort to learn the local language. It sends the message that you want to learn their culture, traditions, history, etc.
Note that there are certain countries where it’s imperative to learn at least the local language basics. Otherwise, you risk drawing the ire of locals who refuse to speak in any other language but their own whenever you, a foreigner, speak to them.
Live More Comfortably
Lastly, being able to speak like a local will make your life easier. As a foreigner, you will encounter many scenarios that will test your patience for which being able to speak the local language can make a huge difference.
Whether it’s applying for a visa at a local immigration office, ordering food from restaurants, or giving instructions to a cab driver, proficiency with the native language can make an otherwise difficult situation manageable and help you avoid miscommunications.
Tips and Recommendations When Learning a Foreign Language
Here are some things to note once you’ve decided you want to learn.
Make sure you have enough time to study and practice what you learn if you want to get the best results. According to research conducted by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), it takes about 480 hours of study to learn the basics of a language. This means that if you spend eight hours a day in your study of the language, in 60 days (2 months), you will be proficient at the basics of that language.
Set a Goal
You must also set realistic and achievable goals to keep you motivated.
For example, you can set a goal of one hour of study per day. This will allow you to keep track of how far along you are in the language course and see if you’re making any progress. Setting reasonable goals can also make you less likely to give up and get frustrated.
Bear in mind that achieving the proficiency of a native speaker can take months or years. And even then, you might still not be able to speak with full proficiency. But you shouldn’t worry about achieving that level of proficiency. Ultimately, it matters more to learn enough as to be able to communicate well with the locals than to achieve native or bilingual fluency.
The more you practice, the faster you will learn. You probably have lots of responsibilities, but setting aside some time in your day to practice what you’ve learned will pay off.
And it doesn’t have to be a slog. Set aside 15 minutes of practice and then add a few more minutes as you go along. Also, practice needs to be purposeful. Some of the ways you can enhance your learning is by watching movies or TV shows in the local language with subtitles, reading books written by local authors, listening to local music, listening to podcasts, finding study buddies, etc.
Immerse Yourself in the Language
This entails putting into practice what you’ve learned in everyday situations where there’s a good opportunity to speak the local language. These are instances such as buying food from a street food vendor, asking strangers for directions, or talking about yourself when in a social setting.
The best way to learn a language through this method is by spending some time in a country where the language you want to learn is spoken. This way, you will have the opportunity to be exposed to the language by interacting with native speakers, This will allow you to learn by listening to native speakers and practicing with them, thereby maximizing the skills you’ve learned so far and understanding certain nuances in meaning, tones, and manners in which the language is spoken.
For students, there are international student exchange programs and study abroad offerings that allow young people to practice and improve their language.
Language learning is often integrated into other skills such as writing, reading, speaking, and listening. And regardless of what level of study you prefer (beginner, intermediate, advanced, etc.), there are several language learning methods you can choose from, with some focusing on certain related skills more than the other.
The Direct Method
In this method, instructors will not allow you to speak in your native language and only in the language being taught. This method focuses on enhancing pronunciation.
Grammar Translation Method
This method mostly involves the memorization of grammar rules and vocabulary and makes little to no emphasis on oral ability.
This method uses the repetition of phrases in dialogues used in everyday situations. The focus is on learning a new language by hearing it before then learning its written form. This method may work well for people with good auditory perception.
In this method, students learn the language by learning it in natural ways. First, they learn the basics, then they spend time hearing and speaking it. This method also entails learning about the culture, listening to music, watching movies, practicing every day, etc.
Immersion promotes the assimilation of the language, as you are forced to continuously interact with other people using the language you are learning.
And if you already know the basics of the language because you have studied it for a long time, immersion allows you to practice, learn new expressions, and regain the fluency.
Pros and Cons of These Methods
The Direct Method
- Pro: As this method encourages to speak using the knowledge you acquire while listening in class, it will help you develop your pronunciation.
- Con: If your way of learning is visual, it might be difficult for you as there is very little use of written explanations of the rules or vocabulary.
Grammar Translation Method
- Pro: Unlike the previously mentioned method, this method will encourage you to learn grammatical rules and you will also learn to read and write properly in the new language.
- Con: One disadvantage is that this method hardly focuses on the development of speaking and listening skills. Another disadvantage is that if your way of learning is auditive, you might find that taking this method of learning will not be useful for you.
- Pro: If your way of learning is auditive, this might be the right method of learning for you. It will develop your speaking and listening skills.
- Con: A disadvantage of this method is that, unlike the grammatical method, this focuses on developing the listening skill and not so much on the writing skill.
In my opinion, this is the best method of learning because it doesn’t only focus on the development of a particular skill, but it develops all the skills needed to learn a new language.
Therefore, when choosing a language learning method, you must bear in mind that it will depend on you and your efforts to succeed in your learning process.
Online courses are a simple and inexpensive way to learn new languages. You can opt for an online course, which is one of the most popular ways of learning new languages nowadays. Some of the best platforms to get online language courses are:
You can also find a good language school with experienced teachers, but this option requires you to have enough time and finances. Schools that offer language certifications will be the better choice.
These schools teach and prepare students on the skills they need to dominate the language they are learning. Then, they take some tests to evaluate the students’ level of competence and issue an official certificate.
Another option could be to find a private teacher or tutor (who should preferably be a native speaker) which, in my opinion, would help a lot to speed up the learning process because you would be the only student, so the teacher will focus on you and your achievement.
Or, you could learn it yourself! There are also many people who have learned languages on their own. You can do that too. You only need to have the determination and find the right resources to facilitate your self-learning (books, videos, online sites, etc.)
And, of course, as mentioned above, by being in an immersive environment, learning will come naturally.
Obstacles You May Encounter
There are so many mental barriers that you might have to face when deciding to learn a new language, such as:
- Negative thoughts about oneself (“I’m not good at learning languages”)
- Realizing that it will take you years (at least 2) to be a little fluent
- Thinking that you need to achieve a perfect native speaker’s pronunciation
- Thinking that you need to spend a lot of money on courses and language schools, etc.
One or more of these thoughts may cause you to feel anxiety and insecurity, resulting in mental blockage and fear of learning. The barriers to overcome differ from person to person. Some people will experience negative thoughts about their own abilities of learning, while some others will experience wrong thoughts about the process of learning.
To overcome these barriers, you must be self-aware and find a way to convince yourself of your capability of learning any language.
You must keep in mind that you have the capability to learn any language (or at least the basics) to communicate with speakers of that language.
Be natural, be yourself. The more you practice, the more confident you will feel.
Think positively. Positive thoughts can also help you learn better.
Lastly, every country has different accents and pronunciations, which reflects differences in the cultural history. Every foreigner has a particular accent that they developed from their home country, and that accent blends with the new language they are learning. So don’t be too bothered by your accent when you’re speaking a foreign language; you don’t have to sound like a native speaker. Depending on the language, people will still be able to understand you even if you have a foreigner’s accent.
Choosing an Ineffective Learning Method
As I mentioned above, it’s very important to carefully choose a method of learning a foreign language because your success or failure will depend on your choice. Choosing an ineffective method can frustrate you and compel you to discontinue learning.
Every person has their own preferred way of learning — some people are visual learners, some are kinaesthetic learners, some are auditive, and some others are a mixture of these. It’s critical that you identify what kind of learner you are, so you can choose the best method of learning languages based on the kind of learner you are.
Some people can learn languages a lot easier than others — some people are just natural at it. But the speed and ease with which some people learn a language can also be attributed to several factors.
For example, I started learning a language on the platform Babbel, but it didn’t work for me because I’m a visual learner and my lessons were all written and not auditory (I’m an auditory learner). On the other hand, I know of someone who did great in learning languages because in the platform that she chose, the program involved teaching many rules and concepts, which worked very well for her because she tends to absorb lessons quicker in such teaching method.
First Steps to Overcoming Obstacles
There are a few things you should keep in mind to overcome obstacles to learning.
- You must have an objective and a goal. Your goal could be to get promoted in your job, be able to communicate better with your native speaker friend, or be able to travel to a foreign place and speak their language easily.
- Develop a habit of setting aside a few minutes every day and a few hours every week for learning.
- Remember to enjoy the learning process, allow yourself to make mistakes, and not be too harsh on yourself. Try to see the humor in your mistakes, so you can be rid of your embarrassment and insecurities.
- Be critical. When learning a new language, it’s okay if you want to make comparisons with other languages about the complexity of the language, to confound yourself with slightly ridiculous expressions, or to compliment other expressions, etc.
Persistence and hard work are crucial in the learning process. If you persist and work hard, you will eventually meet your goals.
Should I Focus on Reading and Listening More Than Writing?
Writing is an important part of learning any language. You might think that you don’t need to know how to write properly in the foreign language you’re learning, especially if your profession doesn’t require writing skills in that language. But believe it or not, it will greatly help in your learning.
Do I Need to Learn Grammar?
It is important to learn at least a little grammar because good grammar will help you be more confident when communicating.
What Level Should I Aim for?
It depends on the reason why you’re learning the language in the first place. If you are learning a language because you are going on a trip, you might need a basic A1 level, but if you’re learning the language to communicate with clients in a professional setting, you’ll need a B1 level (per the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages or CEFR) to learn to communicate fluently.
Do I Need to be Fluent in the Language I’m Learning?
Although it would be fantastic to achieve the highest level of fluency, it’s not necessary to be able to communicate well. If you complete a basic level, you will still be able to communicate in useful contexts/situations. The level of fluency you wish to achieve largely depends on your reasons for learning the language.
How Do I Start?
The best way to learn a language is to learn as children do. They become familiar with the language by listening to it. It is important to identify the phonetic differences in the new language as compared to your language. A native speaking teacher would be most helpful.
Can I Benefit from Learning a Language Beyond Just Speaking It?
Yes. You can pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field of translation, or you can teach at your level — from basic to intermediate level classes — to train university-bound students.
Why Do I Need to Pay When I Can Learn a New Language for Free?
Well, there are many reasons why a paid method is usually better than free sources.
First, paid courses are better structured and give you more learning resources. You can follow steps and improve your language fluency systematically.
Second, there’s also an option to customize lessons to be suitable to your learning style and the purpose of your language learning.
Third, it gives you more motivation to learn a language since you have paid for it. The instructors or apps that you are using will also keep motivating you to learn a language.
Forth, it saves you time. This is because you will learn a language faster than trying to learn on your own saving you a significant amount of time.
Language Specific Tips
We interviewed successful language learners who’ve become proficient in Spanish, French, Thai, and Japanese so that you can find out how to reach the same level of proficiency in a reasonable amount of time.
Also, these language learners cite the main challenges that they faced when learning their respective languages and how to overcome those challenges.
Let’s take a look at Spanish first.
Spanish may seem like an easy language to learn for English speakers. However, it’s also easy to hit a roadblock with your development. Grammar, especially por vs. para, ser vs. estar, and the subjunctive, is also a challenge.
So, to be fluent in Spanish, you need to change your mindset, practice grammar, and immerse yourself in the language. You can even make a personal dictionary in to master the words that you use regularly.
Rebecca Deitsch, founder of Books ‘n’ Backpacks and PhD student in Classical Philology at Harvard University who has been studying Spanish for four years at the university level, said:
“The main challenge to learning Spanish, in my experience, is related to mindset: many people think that Spanish is an easier language to learn. While you can certainly learn some basic phrases quite easily and quickly, you will soon hit a plateau and find that you need to work hard to get past it. So, when you start or continue learning Spanish, you have to remind yourself that every language takes time and effort; you are not dumb or bad at languages because you are struggling. Learning a new language is hard.
“On a more concrete level, Spanish learners often struggle with listening comprehension most of all. I know this is something that caused me problems for years. I could speak, read, and write just fine, but whenever anyone started talking, I would only catch every other word.
“The solution to this is to listen to as much Spanish as you can from the beginning. Put on music in Spanish, watch Spanish-language TV shows (with subtitles), or watch the news in Spanish. At first, you won’t understand much, and that is okay.
“You are getting used to the sounds of the language. Once you know a decent amount of vocabulary and grammar, you can try listening to audio books and then follow along with the text of the book. This gives your mind some help in processing spoken Spanish.
“You will make mistakes at first, and that’s okay. This is really an instance of practice makes perfect. Read more Spanish, listen to more Spanish, speak more Spanish. With time, your understanding of the language will improve.”
Ariel Sheen, another successful Spanish language learner and PhD from Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Colombia, said the following:
“Spanish is often viewed as challenging because of several grammatical rules that are the inverse of English, such as adjectives appearing after nouns, the non-existence of gender-neutral nouns, differentiation between temporary and permanent states of being (ser vs. estar; preterite vs. imperfecto), among others.
“As dull as reading grammar books and practicing grammar exercises sounds, there’s no way around it if you want to become fluent. One of the ways to get around the tedium of this is joining or creating a learning group with other people that are seriously committed to improving their skills. Making competitive games out of it can, surprisingly, become fun.
“English speakers have difficulty pronouncing Spanish words correctly as they frequently apply norms typical for English. The A, O, and E vowel sounds are made further back in the mouth in Spanish, while the C, G, H, J, double LL, QU, R, V, and Z also sound significantly different than their corresponding letters in English.
“Similarly, whereas English letters can change their sound based upon their combination – ghoti is famously a creative spelling of fish based on pronunciation customs – Spanish is always pronounced the same.
“A real simple way to get your mouth to become familiar with these sounds is to do an exercise everyone did as a child – practice the alphabet out loud. As your mouth becomes familiar with associating letters with specific sounds and producing them out loud, the gringo accent will start to disappear.
“While completing my PhD studies in Medellín, Colombia, at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, I found that the best way to begin to develop specialized language abilities, meaning knowledge of words specific to a particular discipline, was to consistently translate my reading assignments from Spanish to English and to make my own dictionary based on my work.
“This was a significant investment of time on my part, but also enabled me to produce a reference guide specific to my field of information – innovation and technology management.”
You can check out his website, ArielSheen.com, where he regularly express his views on various topics and shares his personal tips on language learning.
Tenses and verb forms are the two main challenges of learning French. In fact, these two challenges alone might make you want to give up learning French altogether.
But the key to overcome these challenges are, again, to practice and immerse yourself with the language. You can regularly listen to Spanish music, watch Spanish TV, or communicate with native Spanish speakers.
All of this will help you to naturally pick up the forms, and you’ll be fluent in French in no time.
Mark Hemming, a British national and French translator who has lived in France, said:
“The two most difficult aspects of French are the sheer number of tenses and verb forms that can seem very confusing for English speakers, as well as French’s nasal vowel pronunciation that we just don’t have an equivalent of in English.
“For verb forms, practice the different forms out loud and practice making your own sentences so you’ll be ready when it comes to speaking. Start with the present tense first, and when you feel comfortable with this, move on to past and future forms.
“When it comes to pronunciation, don’t worry too much, as you’ll be understood even if you don’t get those nasal sounds perfect.
“For both issues, the most important factor is to start speaking and communicating with others in French whatever your level, as practice makes perfect. Be confident and enjoy learning a new skill.”
Another successful French learner, Saurabh Jindal, a traveling expat from Talk Travel App, said that an audio guide was the most important tool that helped him learn French.
“For me, the quickest way to get around a new language has been to use audio guides. I listen to them a lot during the day – sometimes, even as a replacement to music. The biggest benefit I have noticed has been the ability to understand the accent of the foreign words.
“In the beginning, it was a pain to decipher what was being spoken, but regularly hearing the audio guides enhanced my comprehension of the spoken words. And once at that level, it made it easy for me to connect the words together, get their meanings, and form an understanding of what was being spoken.
“Similarly, being in the actual environment where you have a lot of foreign language speakers, and if you force yourself to converse with them in their language, makes you think and use the words. Practice makes a man perfect, and it couldn’t have been more apt for learning languages. I tried to speak whenever I could, even if it was broken, but gradually got hold of things and now I am at a decent level.
“I used DuoLingo in the beginning to learn French. Then, afterwards, I found Paul Noble’s audio guides for Spanish and French to be really great. They present real-life daily scenarios and make you go through them and you form a good understanding.
Last but not least we have Diana Grote, the founder the language learning website avagupress.com. She mastered French after living in the country.
“The challenge of learning French is that eloquence and nuance are at the heart of the language, and are highly valued. As a language learner, especially starting out, fluency (much less eloquence) seem like such impossible goals that it can be demotivating.
“To help your language learning, try to develop a nose for ‘million-Euro sentences’ – sentences that you read or hear in French that you can recognize as poignant, eloquent, or otherwise beautiful. While it’s probably going to be hard to form million dollar sentences as you’re learning the language, try to add ten euros at a time to your sentences. Switch out a generic word with something more specific, use the relative clause or difficult verb tense you’ve been practicing, or adjust the sentence in some way to strive for a beautiful sentence.
“Consciously pushing yourself to use better and better sentences will accelerate your language learning progress and make that goal of eloquence feel within reach.”
Thai language is totally different from English. This means students will be faced with challenges right from the start, including with the Thai alphabet.
Since Thai is a tonal language, and every tone forms different vocabulary meanings, it’s a challenge to understand all of them at first. But with time and practice, you’ll get the tones for sure.
Rose Campau, an expat who lives with her family in Bangkok from time to time, said:
“For myself, the most challenging aspect of learning Thai was the alphabet. It was my first time learning a language that used something other than a Roman Alphabet, and it was a huge learning curve. I downloaded an app that allowed me to trace letters on the screen while progressively adding more, and this helped my learning immensely.
“Immerse yourself in your downtime. I started watching a ton of Thai television shows, which helped me pick up everyday phrases and nuances without even trying. My favorite, which conveniently has multiple seasons on Netflix, was a show called ‘Girl From Nowhere.’ As you get more advanced, you can re-watch with Thai subtitles turned on to help your pronunciation and reading comprehension, too.”
Inez Stanway, another successful Thai language learner said:
“There are a few key things to keep in mind when learning Thai. First, it is important to be patient and consistent with your studies. Practice regularly, and soon you will begin to see progress. Second, Thai is a tonal language, meaning that the way a word is pronounced can change its meaning.
“Pay close attention to the tones when speaking, and try to mimic the pronunciation of native speakers as much as possible. Finally, Thai is a very concise language, so it is important to choose your words carefully. With a little practice and patience, you will be able to master Thai in no time.”
Learning Japanese is a real challenge for English speakers because it has a different alphabet, different language structure, different pronunciation, and different grammar.
So, many people get stuck as soon as they start learning Japanese because there are three alphabets. And once you learn are at an intermediate level, you will hit another road block because of grammar.
The good thing is that they are many tools to help you learn Japanese such as manga, anime, dramas, podcasts, and TV shows. With time, patience, and practice, you’ll be able to master the language.
Matt Heron, the founder of SpiritJapan.com said that:
“Although I live in Japan now, one of the biggest challenges is the written language. There are four writing scripts (Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana, and Romaji). It is difficult to learn new vocabulary without being able to read and knowing only one or two of the scripts is not enough. They are all regularly used and intermingled.
“For beginners, I suggest learning Katakana as it is used for loan words, so there is a higher chance you will understand the word just by being able to read it. I also suggest learning words such as gurai (roughly), mitai (similar to), or other very common responses.
“With phrases like these, you can explain what you are thinking without needing to know the exact words.”
Dallen Nakamura, the founder of TheTrueJapan.com, has been living in Japan for more than 12 years and shared his insights on how to master Japanese based on his own experience.
“Japanese is a difficult language, especially for native English speakers. This is because of the completely different language structure (subject-object-verb language for all of you grammar lovers out there) and thousands of Kanji characters you’ll need to learn to be literate. I believe you’ll face a few major problems at each level of your Japanese journey.
“When you’re beginning, getting used to the pronunciation and grammar structure will take some time. But as a beginner, learning Japanese is very exciting, so you’ll probably be very motivated to study. A bigger problem is finding what to study.
“You’ll need something structured to get a good grasp of the basics – a good teacher, course, or online lessons (I like Japanesepod101).
“I think you’ll face the most problems at the intermediate level. Many people begin to get tired or even frustrated at this level. You’ll feel like you’re not improving at all, even if you are studying. This is most likely because you put a lot of time into learning Japanese and have mastered a lot of new grammar, words, and Kanji.
“However, you still can’t have a fluent conversation with someone, nor can you read books without looking up Kanji characters every five seconds. Don’t give up. If you get over this point, your Japanese will start to get awesome.
“If you reach this sticking point for speaking, the reason is simple – you aren’t speaking enough. You may not have the opportunity to talk with native speakers, or you may even be shy.
“Not to worry. The best way to practice speaking is with a teacher. There are sites like Italki where you can hire a private teacher or tutor to help you with speaking. This is the best way to do it, but it costs money.
“A much cheaper (even free) way is to watch Japanese movies or TV. Find a show you love, and watch it multiple times. You can’t just watch it. You’ll need to study it. Write down and look up any words or grammar you don’t know. Research the answers.
“Also, be sure to practice speaking. Write down phrases or even conversations you hear. Practice them over and over to match the intonation and rhythm of the speaker. This will do wonders for your pronunciation and intonation. I recommend services like Netflix or Disney + because many of their shows include Japanese subtitles, which is super helpful when you can’t understand what someone is saying.
“Also, reading books will help to improve your Japanese. Yes, it is frustrating when you have to look up tons of Kanji you don’t know. But reading is fantastic for learning the nuance of words and phrases in Japanese, which is very difficult to learn from a book.
“At the advanced level, you’ll also face problems where you will have trouble saying exactly what you want. At this point, speaking with native speakers is the best. Hiring a private tutor (online or in real life) is the best. Keep on reading and practicing speaking.
“I believe that at any level, speaking is key. It helps bring relevancy to the material you are studying. It also enables you to understand how all the pieces of the puzzle (grammar, vocab, intonation) come together.
“Hiring an online tutor or teacher is great for this. At an intermediate level, watching and studying Japanese movies or TV is great for improving. Just be sure to practice repeating conversations you hear. Reading is also wonderful for learning both Kanji and vocabulary. I highly recommend Satori Reader if you can afford it.
“Even if you just want to become good at speaking, I highly recommend learning Kanji. Not only is it super useful if you ever go to Japan, but it also works to help you remember vocabulary and vice versa.”
At ExpatDen, we know that learning a new language is important for expats. This is why we have come up with an extensive list of articles that can help you learn a foreign language.
Check them out:
Now, on to You
Although learning a language requires a lot of effort, the numerous benefits are worth it. Also, when you are learning a new language, you can see the results immediately if you know, and are motivated by, the reasons you are trying to learn. Know the method that works best for you and be persistent. There really is no secret to it; by taking the first steps, you can learn one or even several languages.