What is the best way to learn a new language? I began home schooling myself to speak Spanish around 3 weeks ago now. Obviously, the best way to learn is to live in a Spanish speaking country, fully immersed. As I am currently stuck in the UK, I researched what would be the best way to learn a new language without immersion. Many people want to learn a new language, but don’t quite get around to doing it. Like anything, if you want it enough, you will work at it.
Private Tutor – £20 per hour+
Let’s get this one out of the way. It’s the best way, probably the quickest way, and of course, definitely the most expensive way. If you can afford this, your primary school probably taught Latin anyway. Good luck to you if you can, but it certainly wasn’t right for my budget.
Evening/weekend classes – £5 per hour+
These classes are less personal, and you would probably need more classes in a group than you would with a private tutor. On the other hand you have a group of people in the same boat as you to bounce off, which may help some people. These were much more reasonably priced than I expected, but still way above my budget.
Paid online training – Various costs
Anything from a group of set, in depth videos, to Skyping a native for a fee. These can range from 99p to £10 per hour and the set videos looked like a bit of a con to me. The Gumtree ads I saw for Skyping Spaniards I’m sure would have been useful, but expensive.
Online training – free
There are many websites claiming to help you learn a new language “fast and free”. I tried a few of them before coming across Duolingo. This website aids you through the language step by step, and uses your microphone (if you have one) to help you annunciate words. I found it to be a fantastic tool and use it every single day. I’m not even halfway through, but I don’t believe that an entire language can be learned in a few weeks, and if a website tells you they can do that, they’re lying! An added bonus on here is you can practice by translating other people’s essays, and be marked on your work. Also, for every phrase or word that comes up, there is a ‘Discussion’ button where anyone can write what they think. If you don’t fully understand what is going on, this button can be a god send. Find Duolingo here.
Books and/or dictionaries – £1+ per book
Books cost money, but I stole some from my kind Auntie so paid nothing, which is perfect for my cash flow! They’re not as useful as Duolingo for me but I use my Spanish/English dictionary a lot, and I imagine I will continue to for a good while.
Compact Discs – £0.25+ per CD
I purchased ‘Collins Easy Spanish Free With The Daily Mail’ CD’s off eBay. I would rather pay for a free CD than buy the Daily Mail! These CD’s are a godsend, and well worth the £1.98 paid for all 6. They teach you some very handy phrases, and more importantly teach you to listen and understand what is being said when somebody is speaking a different language.
Overall, nothing beats immersion. It’s also worth noting that there is no ‘quick fix’ for languages either, you have to want it and work at it. I found free online help (Duolingo really is a cut above the rest), free books from a family member and very cheap CD’s online were the best way for me. I have conversational Spanish skills already, and it cost me £1.98. Anyone can afford to learn a new language with that price!