Learning strategies

Hey guys,

if you find yourself learning a new language and ever asked yourself: “What’s the most effective strategy?”, well I have good news for you. You are not the only one :wink:

Cognitive psychologists already asked themself this question and did a lot of reasearch on it ( Yay :raised_hands: :smiley: )

So now we can learn their methods and boost our learning :rocket:

I’m talking about “spaced repetition”, “active recalling” as well as “testing yourself”, these are all methods described in the book “Make It Stick, The Science of Successful Learning” written by two psychologists and a novelist.

Fun fact > chatterbug already implementet these methods in their system :clap: :catbee:

In addition to this book (which is really great by the way :heart_eyes:) you can watch a TedX talk from Chris Lonsdale, where he discribe how to learn any language in 6 months using, amongst other things, some of the methods described in the book.


I hope this is as useful and interesting for you as it is for me !

Feel free to recommend some books, videos etc. in the comments, I’m kind of into this topic :smiley: :v:


Thanks for the recommendation @johan! I will definitely check out this book and TED talk!

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I watched the TedTalk and to be honest, at first I was disappointed that Hyponopaedia, sleep-learning, does not work. It would be so easy and I think I’d be really good at it. :joy: :see_no_evil:

However, I took some notes while watching, because I thought a quick summary here could be interesting for others coming across this post:

Two common myths that are wrong:

  • You need talent
  • Immersion (moving to another country) is the easiest way

5 Principles for rapid language acquisition:

  • Relevance: Focus on language content that is relevant to you.
  • Use your new language as a tool to communicate from Day 1 on.
  • Comprehensible input: Understanding the message comes first, although you don’t understand the exact words yet.
  • Talking takes muscles.
  • Your psycho-physiological state: You need to be happy and curious. If you’re angry or sad you can’t learn. So don’t get too upset about not understanding every single word and relax.

7 Actions:

  • Listen a lot to the language (even if you don’t understand everything)
  • Get the meaning before you get the exact words, learn to read the body language.
  • Start mixing the words you know, even if it’s not a perfect structure.
  • Use your tools to ask “What is this?”, “Can you please repeat?”
  • Get a “language parent”. Someone who knows to slow down for you and understands you even if you use strange patterns.
  • Copy the face of a native speaker (and train your muscles).

This actually made me remember that I thought that I will never be able to pronounce the rolling R in Spanish… but after some youtube videos and some days of training it actually finally worked. :wink:

What is the most important learning strategy for you?? Or do you have others than the mentioned ones that work for you?


I would emphasize the fact that practice when you cannot understand everything is still very valuable practice. I listen to German on my head phones everytime I have to walk somewhere to run an errand and I’ve started watching only German series about 6 months ago and cannot always understand everything. However, I’ve learned a lot doing this! This is a way you can immerse yourself in the langauge regardless of your working language or the language of where you live. I play the German news in the background when I have to work on my computer and have been able to pick up a lot of great words because they are latin based. Many native speakers may shake their head at this… but I have used a strategy when having conversations that I try to pick out the points in a conversation that I understand (even if I don’t understand the rest) to formulate questions to keep the conversation in German.

Now as my own personal contribution, I would like to add one method that has been very beneficial to my language learning and possibly counter productive to other obligations in my life. If you have the opportunity to live in the country where the language you are learning is spoken then you should find a local watering hole where you feel comfortable and the people are inebriated enough to put up with you butchering their language (or at least a few at first). One, for a number of reasons, your inhibitions may be lowered and this will allow you to more openly speak. Second, an entire group of the people speaking the language will not want to switch to your language even if they are all fluent. Third, you will learn words and expressions here that will make you sound a lot more native or at least less like your grandmother.