Tips/advice for learning a new language

What activities helped you learn a new language?

  • Did you take classes or learn on your own?
  • Did you practice with native speakers or watch movies and shows?
  • Were you able to learn quickly or did it take a long time?

Let’s use these questions to get the conversation started!


I love learning while playing games. When I start to learn a new language, I always focus on memorizing the vocabulary. Because I really like it to realize, that I can spot the familiar words, when I’m watching a show in the language, that I’d like to learn. When it comes to languages I’m more intuitive. For example I don’t really progress a lot, when I focus on learning the grammar, but by memorizing the vocabulary and watching shows/listening to music etc. the grammar kind of starts explaining itself to me (or at least it helps a lot).
I learned 4 languages in school/college (I count that as taking courses) and I’m currently trying to learn one on my own. The majority of time I rely on the media for learning languages, but I also like to practice with native speakers once in a while (if I am able to find one, I don’t like doing it via the internet).
For the language I learned in college everything went really quick. I’ve finished all the language courses in one year. I can understand quite a lot, but it is still hard for me to speak it. With the one I am trying to learn on my own everything ist kind of slow, because I only work on it, when I’m really motivated and since it was my own choice there is no pressure to finish it quickly.


I learned Korean by myself by using online websites and watching movies/k-dramas. I think that a really good tip is to watch a movie/drama that you enjoy with subs of your native language or subs with the language that you want to learn. ^^


I’ve tried to learn some languages on my own, but I have the most success taking classes since there are set goals to meet. For me, the ideal class focuses on speaking skills right away, rather than putting that off until advanced levels. Otherwise I can read and write well but I am too shy to speak the language. Most of the languages I took were just writing heavy, though, so I learned that I need to supplement the classes with my own work, such as memorizing conversations and practicing speaking those out loud.

A Korean class I took also taught me a fun way to practice speaking. We would watch some of a k-drama episode (here on Viki^^) and maybe take notes while watching, then we’d discuss with a partner in Korean about what happened in the episode. I think this could be done by oneself too just by saying a summary of what occurred.

I would love to hear if anybody has more tips for practicing speaking without much help from native speakers. :smile:


I learned Italian using books I bought or borrowed and my vocabulary and grammar were pretty good (3 months). I was lacking in speaking so I hired an Italian teacher (3 months). So it took me 6 months in all to learn Italian (note that I was already fluent in English and I knew a little bit of French which was a big help). However, when I went to Italy my conversations were too slow, people were bored waiting for my answer. I started watching Naruto and other cartoons (it was dubbed as everything else in Italy), since the vocabulary is simple, to increase my speed of understanding. Then I started reading books in italian and a few months later I was able to watch a film without having to stop it every 30 seconds.
I learned English and French by taking classes for years. Listening to music and watching films in the language you want to learn helps a lot but I think the results are greater if you already have a certain level in that language.


When I learn English I took a course class in early age. I’ve studied it for about many years 'till now. So, now I can speak English fluently or write in English well. It was a long time to learnt English, wasn’t it? But, I enjoy my result of learning it. Beside learning by a tutor, I learn English by musics and movies. That’s really useful.

Now, I use that way to learning Chinese. By Chinese songs and dramas (mostly Taiwanese dramas) I understand its languange step by step. Before, I had taken a course class to for Chinese. It’s help me so much. I think Taiwanese is almost same as Chinese mainland than Chinese maindland - Cantonese. I need to extra thought when I read or hear conversation Cantonese. But, in Taiwanese I understand what its words mean.

Seem I will start learn Cantonese after I speak Chinese fluently,

1 Like

I learned English in school like most people so nothing special about that. Though I must say I learned more everyday English by watching TV and such in English and the time I was active in an international chatroom. At first with a dictionary so I was slow but later it was ok. The problem with school English was is that you do learn a lot of English in certain situations but not so much everyday. Like I had to learn all parts and such of a car in English when I was 16 because we had a theme to bring the car to the garage to have it fixed. But till now I didn’t even have to use it, don’t even remember most of it. I noticed that sometimes I was a bit ahead of my classmates because they only used English in class. Years ago when I wanted to learn Japanese I wanted to take classes but there was only one option of a private class in the evening which was way too expensive for a poor student like me. So I tried on my own, found out which books some Japanese courses used and bought them too. To bad I couldn’t keep myself motivated because the study material was a bit boring and I couldn’t focus on Kana. So I let it rest for time being.

Now I’m focusing on Korean and although I can’t take classes because all options are quite far from here. So I’m studying on my own, learned hangul in less then 2 days and the study material I use now is a lot more fun. From time to time I ask help from a native for help. I’m not really far yet because I’m busy with other things but I’m thinking that when I have a good beginners level I want to try the TOPIK test. I did download some old tests to see how they are like and I still have a long way to go.

For both Japanese and Korean it does help me a lot to watch Kdrama/Jdrama and I always sing along with Kpop,Jpop or talk along with what I’m watching :wink:
What I always find fun too is the what I call ‘guessing game’ then you watch something without any subs and you guess what’s been said and such. Viki is also a great help in this, I watched some Kdrama with Hangul subs to improve my reading and hearing of the different sounds and sometimes I sub too (only the things I know)

1 Like

What websites did you use to learn Korean?
And what is your native language?
I’m American and only speak English.
I keep hearing that Korean is very hard for English speakers.

I learned English when I was almost 9 years old. One day my dad brought a private tutor for us (me and my siblings). Since I was young, English is a must in my house (my dad went to US and Japan for study). I love learning new language, but I prefer taking class for basic knowledge (grammar, writing, pronounciation, etc) and then after I understand the basic, start to read book, watch film and try to talk with someone who is fluent with that language.

Okay I will take the example of 2 of the languages I know, English and Korean.

For English. Well I learned that language quite late (compared to other people I lived with over here) because I used to attend a French school. So we didn’t have English classes till like grade 5.
However, since my cousins all spoke English, they used to tease me with it while talking to each other in English and leaving me alone with no one to chat with. So back then I always cried to mom to help me learn so she would buy me English teaching CDs that teach English in a fun way. It was a great CD that I lost later on when we moved so I have no idea what the name was. But it became my obsession so I could learn some words and not let my cousins make fun of me :stuck_out_tongue:

Then after a while we had classes at school and I paid extra attention to class but then again I had privileges over my classmates since I had already started learning which made me always ace that course. Later on it became the language I use daily with Arabic. I even use it more than Arabic. I watch English series and even series with English subs never Arabic. So I think that for me, practice was key to learn English. But it certainly did take a long time. And I always keep on learning new things about English.

For Korean. Well I can’t say I learned that fully yet. But I did learn the Hangul and some sentence structure with basic vocab.
It started when I watched a Korean series for over 30 times (yes too addicted) in a small period of time. After a while I had memorized quite a few basic sentences and their meaning. Which made me want to learn the language more and more. I googled the letters which I memorized with the pronunciation in like 3 days. Then I found this app on my ipod called istart Korean. It has lessons that you listen to and that cover lots of grammar sentence structure rules etc… It was great for a lazy person like me.
After a while I had to stop studying korean because I was too busy with school but watching kdramas and practicing speaking with some Korean and Korean-speaking friends did help a lot.
Now I’m able to hold a convo of a few sentences. And I’m back to studying with a new book I bought thanks to the recommendation of a great Viki friend!

But the thing is the key to learning a new language is constant practice! Whether it’s watching videos in that language or learning from a book or practicing it with people. Determination and your love for the language plays a big role as well.

1 Like

The book that was recommended to you. What is it? And are there any others you would recommend?

… a Korean series for over 30 times. LOL!! The only K-drama I have watched so far is, ‘The Queen’s Classroom’.
It hasn’t been 30 times, but at least 10. I had a hard time even getting people’s names straight, so that’s where my re-watching started, plus I loved it so much. In all my life, nothing ever impacted me like this drama!!!
Well, I am still watching it, but I only have the last 2 episodes to go and then I am ready for my next drama!!
Finally!! ^^

Hello everyone! I love learning new languages, and during the course of my life I have studied 9 languages, including English, Korean, Japanese as well as French, German, Spanish and even Gaelic!

I don’t speak all of these languages fluently, I gave up on some of them, but I realised that I have a gift for learning new languages. People always ask me for tips so I thought I’d share some with you.

While I was studying English at school, I thought the classes were not sufficient to bring me to proficiency. There was too much focus on grammar, and not enough on speaking, which I believe is a problem in other countries as well. So I complemented the literary part by developing some listening and speaking skills by myself:
I’d buy English magazines (which often contain slang, idioms and modern, everyday language, as opposed to literature or grammar books) and try to translate every article little by little, increading my vocabulary.
I’d listening to English music and try to write out the lyrics by myself, later checking if I had got it right and learning from my mistakes.
I’d watch movies in English with subs, which helped my understanding greatly, especially for the more difficult accents from around the English spekaing world! (Billy Elliot is one of my favourite movies, but the first time I watched it in English I couldn’t understand a word! Haha ^^;)

For Japanese, I used the website which helped me with some common expressions which you wouldn’t necessarily find in books. It’s a great resource!
I used to practice the Hiragana and Katakana alphabets by writing them out many times, and then writing some easy-to-remember words - this helped me remember some syllables which I was mixing up in the beginning, like cha and ra and ki, for example…
I also bought a pack of Kanji flashcards and I find them very helpful for learning and remembering Kanji!
I also started attening language exchange meetings in my local library, where I made many Japanese friends, who then helped me out.

For Korean, is my biggest resource at the moment, as they are very active and I can find different levels as well as interesting videos or podcasts.
Watching Kdrama helps as well! I always pick up some useful words, and little by little improve my fluency - I’m always told I sound natural, probably thanks to drama marathons! ^^;
And I also attent language exchange meetings. I joined a cultural exchange group and made lots of Korean friends, which helps!!

I really hope some of these tips help you out… I still have a long way to go with Korean, but the most important thing is not to give up and keep the motivation ^^

1 Like

This is the book: There are many others if you want more… surf through amazon you’ll find lots.

The thing is… I watched those 30 in just 2 months :stuck_out_tongue: so yeahh it was serious addiction. Boys over flowers.

Good luck with your new drama!!

1 Like

Hi :slight_smile: I use easytolearnkorean because they have cute photos along with it ^^ Also I’m not Korean, I’m Hmong and learnt Korean on my own time by myself. And yeah, I heard Korean is hard to learn for English speakers. I think it’s hard for every language, honestly.

1 Like

I searched easytolearnkorean on google. That’s a website or a book? Or is it both?

Hmong. You are from Laos?

I think it depends on how much you like the language and how much time you are willing to invest for it. Also your determination.
For example… it would take me ages to learn Russian… I just hate that language :stuck_out_tongue:
But I think if I were to learn Chinese it would be easier for me. Because I would be really excited to learn chinese!

True. Me and my sisters were talking about that. I learned French for 3 months in September at school and struggled super bad. But I have to learn a language to graduate. [Yeah, my school sucks] So I guess I’ll try next year again. But I learnt Korean mostly cause I was really interested. I could have learned French but the teacher pushed up to our ends which was why I quit T.T

I think it’s just a website to learn Korean. lol. And my parents are from Laos, they don’t speak English but I was born and raised in America ^^

1 Like

Okay, thank you!! I will have to look at it!! ^^

Hey, thanks for telling me about that book!!
If you are going to learn Chinese, you have to decide on Mandarin or Cantonese. Mandarin they speak in Beijing.
In Hong Kong, they speak Cantonese. IDK, if they are similar or not, only that this is what they speak.

1 Like