How to learn a new language

language.jpgI would like to have some level of proficiency of Mandarin before I get to China. I have studied Spanish, Greek and Italian in the past with various degrees of success. While researching Mandarin, I came across Tim Leffell, author of Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune: The Contrarian Traveler’s Guide to Getting More for Less and The World’s Cheapest Destinations. Having just discovered Tim, I have not had the chance to read either of his books (but I will soon). What turned me on to him was an article he wrote on the different ways to learn a second language. Here are the various methods he discussed:

1. Community College or Language School Course—$50 to $600 per course
2. Rosetta Stone Language Software $195 to $245 per course
3. Pimsleur Language System $230 to $300 per course
4. Language Books—Free to $100
5. Music, TV, and Movies—Free to $20
6. Word-a-Day Desk Calendars
7. Post-its and a Pen—$1 to $3
8. Web Resources—Free

1. Very good way to learn, though quite expensive.
2. I’ve seen these ads everywhere but have not personally used the software.
3. I’ve recommend Pimsleur for the same reasons Tim’s says; I have the Italian version.
4. Books can only take you so far, you need to hear pronunciation.
5. This is a good supplement but without the basic fundamentals it won’t get you too far.
6. I like this idea and am looking for one, not sure if anyone makes a Mandarin version.
7. Even better idea than #6.
8. I found two free websites here and here. I’m sure there are others out there.

All of these methods can help in learning a language. The best approach would be a combination of some or all of the methods.

Here is my question: Have you tried to learn a language? What study method did you use? Are you still as proficient as when you were studying regularly?

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4 responses to “How to learn a new language

  1. I’ve learned Chinese up to a pretty decent level of proficiency, and am working on Japanese now. I live in Shanghai, so it’s a bit different for me, but even now as I invest more time into Japanese I’m not finding my Chinese to be wanting at all.

    If I were you, I would try ChinesePod for learning Chinese. The lessons are free, and even a one-year premium subscription ($240) is cheaper than most of the options you list. They have excellent material and are quite a bit of fun as well.

    Good luck in your studies!

  2. crouchingchina

    John B, Thanks for the tip. I’m checking out ChinesePod now. Look for my review of ChinesePod soon.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Pingback: Learning Chinese with an iPod « Crouching China

  4. Pingback: Hearing not seeing « Crouching China

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