Top tips for learning a foreign language

Friday April 29th, 2016

Always wanted to learn foreign languages, but didn’t know where to start?

Here is some advice and best resources for learning foreign languages!

I consider myself lucky to have been brought up with several languages around me, but my language learning did not stop as I grew up. I now speak 5 languages fluently and am on course to learning Spanish as the 6th which is currently somewhere at the intermediate stage.

I have experienced language learning in various forms and styles. Being brought up with two ( Russian and Polish), being fully immersed into a language as a child/teen ( Lithuanian, English), systematically learning Portuguese at university as part of my degree, doing German for a year as an optional choice at a university in Portugal during my study abroad period and now learning some Spanish in my spare time.

These experiences allowed me to find out some methods, tips, strategies (whatever you wish to call them!) that made language learning more effective and enjoyable.

So… I have devised a short list of tips that may enhance your language learning.

  1. Be realistic

Just like anything in life language learning requires work and dedication. Do not expect results to come easily if you are not willing to put in the effort!
Learning a language has to become habitual. If possible dedicate at least a small amount of time several times a week (or even better every day even if it just 5-10 minutes!).

Without goals motivation may become an issue, when results don’t come by easily expectations are often high and unrealistic, quitting seems like the easy option.
But remember it is always the easy way out to be a quitter.

  1. Languages are about words, right?

That however does not mean you have to know all of them!

However, what does help is knowing the essentials. There are various studies suggesting that learning words is one of the most beneficial practices at ANY stage of learning. Whether you just started or whether you are aiming to reach the advanced level. Right at the start knowing a base of words will boost your confidence and will give you a sense of gratification. You may not be able to comprehend everything you read and hear, but recognising familiar words at the beginning may already you allow you to understand the gist of the conversation or text.
But, when aiming for that advanced level, broadening and learning you vocabulary will push you step and step closer to reaching it. After all, we are still learning new words even in our native languages!

  1. Languages are about grammar…? Learning a language does not have to be boring!

For years and years languages have been taught via textbook, students were dreading the moment when they had to memorise one grammatical rule after another.

I keep hearing stories from people across the world from Brazil to Russia who spent many years at school learning English (via good old fashioned textbook and blackboard), but then when approached by a tourist unable to give simple directions to a bus stop.
It is very important to know grammatical rules of the language, but by no means dedicate your whole time to grammar, not only it isn’t always applicable in relation to everyday spoken language, but it can be dull and boring.

  1. Plunge yourself into the pool of …

the language that you are learning.
Immerse yourself into the language as early as possible. I understand that not everyone has the possibility of going abroad to practice a language (and even that doesn’t guarantee you will get any practice, apart from when ordering tequilas at the bar). But immersion does not have to be in the form of you travelling abroad to experience and hear the language. I am talking about films in your target language- it will give you a huge insight into colloquialisms, culture and society, which I believe are extremely important to know when learning a language. Watch them with subtitles in your native language to begin with, you will be surprised how many words you will be able to recognise just because you have a subtitled translation in your own language. Then once you are more comfortable, swap the subtitles of your native language to the ones of the focus language. It will require a lot more concentration, but will also provide you with a different kind of scope of learning.

  1. Technology and internet

Videos, language tandem, apps such as duolingo, memrise and even google translate.
Are all useful tools for learning languages. Apps such as duolingo and memrise are particularly useful when starting from scratch, as they will provide you with a base of basic words and phrases and allow you to broaden your vocabulary in a relatively easy way, by simply pressing pictures on your phone.
There are tons of material online in forms of podcasts and videos that will improve your listening skills.

However, relating back to point 4. Watching, listening, reading, learning words is great, but it will not provide you with the ability to speak (at least in a short period of time, some people after several years of  learning a language without spoken practice still struggle to communicate well).

Which also relates back to number 3 and the example of people learning English for many years, yet unable to string a simple sentence.

When I say immerse yourself I mean, you have to speak, preferably as early as possible.
You have to overcome the fear and the excuse of ‘I just want to learn some grammar first and some more words so that I feel more confident when speaking’. But without speaking practice, speaking will not develop!  In this case I would suggest using the internet to help you here. Language tandem and exchange is extremely common online! There are millions of people across the globe trying to learn languages, so a great way is to share your language with them and they will share theirs with you.

Taking all this into consideration and now having read about some of the things that you can do yourself to enhance your language skills. Regency Education would like to help you to speed up your language learning even further, as at Regency you can get online one to one lessons in English, Spanish, Latin, French and German. Having lessons online is an interactive and time-efficient method, which allows you to connect with teachers from different countries without having to leave your room. Whether you require someone to help you with a language exam you have coming up, or perhaps you are just interested in someone with experience to help you develop your listening and speaking skills.

We will find the right tutor for you. Also see our list of top internet resources for learning English and other languages below.

Roman photo

About the author. Roman Lososovskij has a BA in European Studies & Portuguese from University of Manchester, is an English language tutor with Regency Education. He teaches children from 8 years old and adults online.

Best online resources for learning the English language we found so far:



Youtube channels:

Tandem/Language exchange