How to Master a Foreign Language without Enrolling for a Formal Course

by Erhan

You must have faced situations where you wished you knew a foreign language so that you did not have to express yourself through gestures and miming. For this reason, it is always better to be acquainted with other languages apart from your mother tongue and the common English language. However, majority of language courses have a long tenure and you are required to attend regular classes till the very end. This may not be always possible considering your busy schedule and other engagements. Moreover, the course fee is often quite high which can make you feel that the effort is simply not worth it.

However, enrolling for a course is not the only method through which you can master a foreign language. There are other methods too, that come free of cost. Let us have a look at some such effective methods:

Spend more time

You have to immerse yourself in the language. The more time you devote to it, the faster will be the process of learning. A combination of activities is required that includes writing, reading, speaking, listening and studying phrases and words.

Read and listen regularly

Listen on your iPod or MP3 player while traveling or doing any other job that does not require concentration. Make sure to read clearly what you listen. Listen to things that you like or can be comprehended by you, either wholly or partly, and read them. Repeating the process will help you get more comfortable with the language. One full hour of attentive reading or listening is much more effective than multiple hours of traditional class teaching.

Concentrate on words and phrases

You have to gradually work towards building up your vocabulary. Start noticing words and how phrases are formed by their combination. Learn these phrases and words through repeated reading and listening. Use online dictionaries and create your own list of vocabulary for review. You will soon come across new phrases and words elsewhere. Once you have learnt these expressions, try using them. You may not speak accurately at first but do not get disheartened. Continue to use the words and phrases in relevant places and contexts and you can gradually acquire accuracy.

Enjoy the process

Do not treat it as a task that needs to be completed as fast as possible. Though having a deadline may work in most cases, here, it may just backfire. Instead, take your own time to get used to the foreign language and do not fret over what you are unable to understand or cannot remember or pronounce. Just spend time with it as much as you can.

Watch television and movies

Watching films or television programmes with subtitles can be very helpful in learning a foreign language. It is also a more entertaining and relaxing method of getting familiar with a language. You can enjoy a good film and absorb the phrases and words at the same time without making a concerted effort to learn the language.

Listen to tapes and CDs

Language courses CDs are readily available in the market or online. Though they do not come for free, they are a much more economical choice than a full-length course which usually involves more money and time. In case of CDs, you can burn them onto your MP3 player so that you can listen to them while doing a lot of mundane activities like travelling, resting, waiting in a queue etc.


It is important to have fun while trying to master a new language and there cannot be anything more fun and entertaining than music. Since songs are easy to listen to and are also catchy, they can be used extensively for learning a new language. Buy or download foreign music and listen to it repeatedly.

Magazines and newspapers

Refer to foreign magazines and newspapers and try to understand what is written. You can take the help of the pictures accompanying each write-up to decipher the meaning of the words and phrases. This is also helpful because there are many words which are not written exactly in accordance with how they sound or are pronounced. Thus, it is always good to see those words in written form. Also, whenever you come across a word that you have not heard before or do not understand, note them down in order to look out for their meaning in a dictionary later.

Use mnemonics for linking words

In this process, images are used for linking a word in your own native language with the equivalent word in a foreign language. For instance, for an English word like 'grumpy' whose French equivalent is 'grognon', an image of a grumpy man grunting with irritation is used. Dr. Michael Gruneberg is responsible for formalizing this technique which is called the 'LinkWord' technique.

Converse in the language

Speak in the foreign language for one whole day. No matter how difficult it is for you to express yourself, do not switch over to your own language for comfort. Agreed that it can be quite embarrassing to converse in a foreign language, especially one you are not that well-versed in, but it can help you master the language greatly. You can also talk to yourself to avoid embarrassment. While performing any activity, narrate it in the foreign language vividly even if no one is around you.

Swap languages

A language exchange is a process in which two or more people converse with each other speaking different languages in order to practice each other's dialect. This is especially helpful because every time you make a mistake, the other individual who knows the language properly can point it out and correct it thereby helping you learn better. You can easily find adverts in the classifieds section for language swaps since there are many like you who want to learn a foreign language but do not have the time to pursue a full-length course in it.

Following these methods can enable you to master a brand new language which can help you in the future in case you are required to travel to a foreign land.

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