Today, I am fluent in Mandarin and Portuguese, and high conversational in Spanish. I am in the process of learning language #5, Russian. Being fluent in 3 languages and conversational in 2 is not an easy process. I practiced every day. It took hundreds of hours of Duolingo, Quizlet flashcards, and even more hours of Spotify and YouTube. Here is my process to achieve fluency in any foreign language.
1. Duolingo to Get the Basics
Duolingo is a great place to start for learning any foreign language. For starters, it is free and easy to get started. You can download the app on iOS or Android or access it on the website. Getting started only takes 5 minutes.
You also have a broad pool of languages: everything from Spanish to Mandarin Chinese. Most importantly, the app offers a skill tree of lessons that you can progress through that start at basic vocabulary words that eventually progress to idioms. By going through the skill tree, you will know exactly where you are at.
Duolingo is an excellent way to get started to build your vocabulary, learning the language’s tenses, and understanding the basic grammar.
2. Quizlet Flash Cards to Learn How to Speak
Using Google Translator to create Quizlet flash cards took my comprehension and speaking to the next level. I would emulate a basic conversation in my head, use Google Translator to translate those sentences, and then create Quizlet flash cards.
- For starters, Quizlet has an excellent app allowing you to download and port your flash cards on your phone. That way, you can study when you’re riding public transportation or on an airplane with no Wi-Fi.
- Secondly, Quizlet reads the phrase back to you with perfect pronunciation. For instance, if you are practicing Spanish, the flashcards will read the phrase back to with perfect pronunciation as if it was read by a native speaker. Practice your pronunciation by repeating the phrase.
3. Verbling to Hold a Conversation
After using Duolingo and Quizlet for 3-4 months, you can add Verbling to your practice routine. The best kind of practice is a one-on-one lesson with a fluent speaker. There are two problems with one-on-one lessons:
- They can get expensive
- It can be difficult to find a speaker in your area
Enter Verbling, a platform to help native speakers and students find each other. If you find a teacher in a developing country, like Brazil or Colombia, lessons can be extremely affordable. Right now, I spend $10.00 an hour for my Spanish teacher who lives in Colombia.
4. Spotify to Learn Idioms
Spotify playlists can be an excellent way to pick up idioms and colloquial expressions in your foreign language. Luckily, there is a Spotify playlist for just about any language.
5. Watch YouTube Videos
Try watching interviews and TV shows in your target language! YouTube has a very useful subtitle tool that you can turn on.
6. Change Your Phone to Your New Language
When you’re ready, you can change your phone to the new language. The main benefit is that your news feed and all your apps will come in the foreign language as well. This will improve your reading comprehension immensely.