For my first point I would like to express that I think that this sight is superb.
I know this question is asked thousands of times across message boards and websites, but I want to ask this to a group of individuals that I think I can trust.
What is the best way to learn a language? I am talking about the best method for long-term retention and everyday conversing. I don’t want a gimmick and I especially don’t want any recommendations focused around rote memorization. I am in no hurry to learn Italian but so a learn as fast as you can method is not necessary either.
Your Uncle Crabs
I’m interested in what others have to say as well.
I’m learning Spanish right now, and for that I’ve been using memrise.com.
It uses mnemonics called mems to help you remember the words and it covers just about any language, from Spanish to Lingala, as well as a wide variety of subjects. (Math, history, sciences…etc.) It’s free and definitely worth checking out!
I also use Pimsleur, which I find helpful for pronunciation.
My advice comes from my own personal experience, so what I’m about to say may or may not work for other people, but I believe it’s the best way to truly become fluent.
I started learning Spanish when I was 13. It started in school, and the more I learned, the more I started trying to speak with the Mexican guys at my school.
That in itself is the single most important aspect of learning another language. It’s one thing to learn the words, sentence structure, and grammar rules. But it’s another to learn to able to interpret and reciprocate real-time conversation.
I consider fluency to be when you can hold a conversation naturally. The only way to get to that point is by letting go of your fear of making mistakes, and just trying to speak with people, little by little.
Learn the sentence structure of your desired language, learn the words, and then work on speaking it with real people. One thing that helps a lot is watching movies with subtitles on. You can learn a lot that way.
Most importantly, dont give up. Best of luck. Hope this helps.
Have you read Gabe Wyner’s post on Lifehacker? That and his website would be my go-to recommendations for new polyglots.
You can easily get your first 4-6k words in a year if you just work through some Anki cards every morning. It’s boring at first, but as you get used to it the small successes accumulate and it’s sort of fun to watch your vocabulary grow.
After that, you’ll just have to immerse yourself in the language – one of my favorites is watching TV interviews and trying to answer the questions myself in real-time (muting while the actual interviewee is talking). Movies, music, books, tv programs or real people (gasp) also work great.
I’ve tried language software/tapes (Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone) and found them to be excruciatingly slow; several polyglots I know have suggested the same.
I’d suggest you just build a small starter deck for Italian in Anki and try it for a week.
Obviously the best way to soak up a new language (after you’ve learnt the very basics), is to spend time in a country in which it’s spoken. There’s also watching foreign films, reading foreign newspapers; just generally surrounding yourself with the new language as much as you can.
livemocha.com is a pretty legit language learning resource. Free courses in a ton of languages, and it hooks you up with other language learners so you can help each other out through practice.
Also, LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN! I’ve only just begun to become decent in spanish but the key was listening to it as I fell asleep. I put a few spanish podcasts on my ipod, and even if I didn’t understand a word they were saying it would still help. Listening helps you get the rhythm of a language. To me the hardest part about listening to a new language is figuring out where words are seperated; until you can do that it’s just a big jumble of noise, but it’s hard to do when you’re first starting cause nobody pauses between words when they speak. But I felt like listening to it as I fell asleep programmed it into my conciousness in a way. Good luck!