An audio guide
Whether you are learning a language for the pleasure or for
professional reasons, it’s always useful to use an audio guide.
What’s an audio guide?
It consists of mp3 files that you can put in your player to
listen to them, have a first contact with the language,
get used to it and learn some basic words and sentences.
There are a lot of audio guides.
You can either find them on the internet or in libraries or
simply buy them in bookstores.
Among the famous audio guides, the one I know are “Rosetta
Sone” and “Pimsleur”.
I personally tried “Pimsleur” to start learning Hungarian and
To learn more about the Pimsleur method, you can read my review
This is really useful, especially if you want to directly
communicate while traveling.
A phrasebook is a book with ready-to-use sentences and
expressions, written in your native language from one side, and
the language you are learning from the other, with phonetics to
indicate the pronunciation.
There are many good phrasebooks.
One of the most known is “Assimil”.
A “teach yourself” book
I particularly like the book series “teach yourself” and I used
them a lot to learn Hungarian.
This book combines communication, pronounciation, grammar and
It usually consists of lessons where instructions are written
Each lesson starts with a dialog, written in the language you
Then, in the bottom, the new vocabulary or the key words; the
minimum words are written with their meaning in
English so that it’s easy to understand the dialogue.
The book comes with a CD or audio files. With that, you can
listen to the dialogue and try acting it out by yourself,
imitating the pronunciations and intonations of the language
you are learning.
You will also find exercises to understand more the dialogue
and have some cultural facts related to it.
I think this is one of the best methods if you want to learn a
language by yourself.
But you should keep motivating yourself and work regularly, and
believe me, this is not an easy thing.
It may sound wierd, but dictionary is not really the first
thing you need when learning a new language. Unless you want to
learn different words out of context, trying to translate
made-up sentences from your native language to the language you
are learning is not really recommended.
In the same time, while you are using a phrasebook, a “teach
yourself” book or having a teacher or a tutor, the more you
immerse yourself in the language you are learning, the more you
will need to know the meaning of new words or looking for how
to say certain words in the language you are learning.
Google translate has been criticized but is a good compromise.
A teacher or a tutor
The best way to learn a language, especially if you have no
experience with learning languages, is to do it with an expert.
If the language you are learning belongs to the family of a
langauge you already are fluent at, then maybe you can do it
without a teacher. But if you suddenly decide to learn Chinese,
Arabic or Polish and you know no language connected to those
and you have no experience, then better have someone to guide
Among the websites that I highly recommend are italki.com.
On this website, you can offer language classes or tutoring and
learn languages in the same time.
But if you are not good at teaching nor have enough money to
take language classes there, you can always look for a language
A language partner
A language partner is a person who wants to learn one of the
languages you are already fluent at and who can help you in the
language you are learning.
One more time, italki.com is one of the most useful websites
for that purpose.
If you want more info about how useful it is to have a language
partner, read my article here.
Let’s sum up what we said
So what are the first steps to learn a new language?
1- Find a good audio guide so that you get used to the language
and have a first contact with it!
2- Find a good phrasebook if you want to start speaking now
with practical sentences (especially if you are a travelling
3- Look on the internet, in libraries, in book shops, a “teach
4- Have a dictionary
5- Help yourself with a tutor, a teacher or a language partner