Has anyone here successfully learned* another language?

*Learned being defined as the ability to communicate with native speakers without trouble (or basically, at an expert level).

I'm curious to know because I'm wondering what your typical daily routine as far as learning the language goes? (i.e. study this, listen to that, speak with so-and-so, watch this, etc.).

I'm in the process of trying to learn a language, and currently my daily routine looks something like this:

  • Coursebook w/ audio
  • Flashcards based on adaptive recall (via http://www.memrise.com)
  • Texting with a native speaker (reading/writing)
  • Sometimes the opportunity to Skype with a native speaker (not typically, though)
  • Attempting to listen to radio in that language (very hard and don't understand much)

What methods should I add? I'd like to know what has worked for people that have successfully learned another language.

  • Edited my definition since you want to be smart :P
    – user1234
    Aug 6, 2013 at 1:02
  • 1
    Reading books and newspapers in your target language, and eventually writing some, also helps. Beyond a certain level of competence, you learn a language by using it. Aug 6, 2013 at 1:50
  • Welcome to Linguistics SE! While language acquisition is definitely a linguistic issue, linguistics is more about examining the inner mechanics of language (including learning), not about tricks for learning foreign languages. I think it would be better if modified your question to be a bit more on topic? Like maybe "What methods of L2 acquisition are shown to improve performance?" Also, there is a proposal on Area51 for a site dedicated to language learners.
    – acattle
    Aug 6, 2013 at 4:06
  • I seem to remember we didn't allow "language learning" questions but I can't find anything on Meta to back it up, so I'm leaving this open for now. In any case, Shane, your question seems to ask more for "personal experiences" and that's really discouraged on the SE Network, because it asks for opinions than facts. I'm putting your question on hold as such. This means that you can revise it and make sure you're not primarily asking for opinions but more about facts. For example studies on language acquisition methods. Also make sure that you're not asking a duplicate of another question.
    – Alenanno
    Aug 6, 2013 at 8:33

2 Answers 2


I agree with Microtherion (fantastic name, I love it!!): the things you are already doing are great, but reading is what seems to be lacking. I mostly learn(ed) English that way.

Seeing a lot of words and constructions in context greatly helps you to polish/grow your intuition; and it is relatively easy to motivate oneself to read. You can learn to speak a language like an expert by speaking and listening alone, but then you'd probably need a lot of exposure. The great advantage of reading is that you can look things up and go over a sentence or paragraph multiple times, and at your leisure.

I think newspaper or Internet articles about something that interests you are a good start. Do make sure the website sticks to conventional grammar.

Another thing that can help is chat rooms. The problem is that you need to find a room with interesting people who are willing to talk extensively to someone who does not speak the language well yet, but it is possible.


Low threshhold: internet news, internet television, subtitled movies.

Reading of light lecture.

Passover in the country, at best something like a pen pal conference, goal oriented (whatever is of your interest). Quiet tourist evading others, in a pension.

To the flash cards, which one acquires relatively passively. Try stories, sentences, fibulation.

Talk to yourself.

Finding a native speaker and making it work is hard for me. Maybe sit in on a group of native speakers, if they meet in a student café, to at least learn by hearing.

  • 2
    What does "Low threshold" mean here? Can you please re-write all of these as sentences? I would like to edit your post, but I'm not quite sure what everything means. For example, I do not understand "Quiet tourist evading others, in a pension." Also, I do not know what "fibulation" means, and can't find the word on the Internet. Aug 6, 2013 at 19:05
  • Passover- like the holiday?
    – Adele C
    Aug 6, 2013 at 21:16

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