You no longer need to pore over thousands of pages of dry academic text to learn a new language. Today, we have access to far more efficient and affordable means — right at our fingertips.

Whether you’re keen on picking up a new language for fun, for travel, or for new opportunities, this list of tips will have you well on your way to conversing in a new tongue.

Set goals

The first step to achieving anything is to set clear, attainable goals. In this case, say you want to learn German. You have to lay down some specific milestones — such as learning 30 basic German words in your first week. Then set another goal for the following week.

Grab a study buddy

Accountability is a key factor here. Research has shown that spacing out learning is more effective than random elongated sessions (30 minutes a day for a week is better than 3–4 hours of studying in one day). However, there are some days when you just don’t feel like learning, which is fine … until one day becomes two, and two becomes ten.

It’s times like these when having a study buddy around is helpful. The joint commitment keeps both of you on track and provides a support system. The best part is, your study buddy can be anywhere in the world! Check out an online forum dedicated to language learning where you can find plenty of potential partners on the same skill level as you.

Mingle with native speakers

Similar to using online forums to find a study buddy, you can converse with native speakers online. Better yet, find out if there’s a meetup in your area or an active community of native speakers. Put your learning to practice and use the opportunity to listen to how native speakers phrase their words and sentences. First-hand learning is always high reward. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes; it’s all part of the learning process.

Read, watch, and play

Admittedly, conversing with someone in person can take a while. So, in the meantime, turn to media. If you’re learning Spanish, watch a Spanish language TV shows with the subtitles on. Listen to a podcast in said language, or even pick up a few children’s books. These tales will feature basic language, perfect for new learners.

Arm yourself with the right apps

Carry your learning with you by downloading any one of the many language teaching apps available. Duolingo, Babbel, and FluentU are three popular options. Make use of translation services like Google Translate as well for easy sourcing of specific words.

Feature photo credit: Philippe Bout/ Unsplash