There is a bewildering array of ‘howto’ guides around for learning a foreign language, along with books, software, cd’s, videos, language learning communities and courses both online and offline so here are a some quick tips to get you started..
Get hold of a travel phrasebook (or two), such as those published by Berlitz, Rough Guide or Lonely Planet which are a great source of common phrases. Such phrases can have you appearing to speak like a native in no time as long as the conversation doesn’t wander far from the scripted dialogue. These common phrases help you learn all sorts of words in context which is a great way to subconsciously extend your vocabulary and fluency while also boosting your confidence to actually use the language in the wild.
In every language there are certain words which are used far more often than the rest. The core words in a language which once you know them can give you near fluency without having to learn 50,000 words. Head over to your nearest search engine and look for the top 1000 words or most common words lists in your new language and get them memorized.
Memorizing vocabulary lists can be a boring and tedious process but if you learn just a few new words each day you will soon find yourself with a wide and increasingly usable vocabulary. A popular method for memorizing words is to use flashcards. You can make these cards yourself using the common word lists mentioned already or you can find ready made flashcards to download free or purchase.
In order to speak like a native it is necessary to hear how natives actually sound. There are a number of ways you can do this, for example you could use Pimsleur or you could go to YouTube and search for foreign language video. Another good way is to watch foreign language movies or tv shows with subtitles which combined provides a great learning environment in the shape of native speakers, instant translation plus visual context.
One final tip for language learning – just go forth and talk!