Welcome to the official /int/ language learning guide. The information here, although excellent, is rather general and incomplete and should serve only as a guideline. The page is compiled from a collection of posts made throughout /int/, from a very large variety of posters, from many countries. We would like to thank each of these anons for sharing their knowledge, while asking those who feel they could add to this wiki to please contribute. If you are viewing this page on a mobile/cellular device, please select View as a desktop site in your browser to see all page content. Language specific guides are here , but it cannot be stressed enough that this general guide should be read first. Most likely, you already have an idea of the language you want to learn. If you don't, or are just looking for a new challenge, look here. If you know what language you want to learn but there isn't a guide for it here, you can request it on my talkpage. If you make a page, please let me know and I'll be happy to add it to the language list. Include pictures, please. Please excuse any minor spelling errors on here, many people who have helped write this guide do not have English as a first language. Feel free to correct where necessary. There is also now a live chat function. The option to join this will also appear when you click on a language guide. We get around 250 hits daily, so don't be a stranger.
The Very BasicsWhat is the purpose of this wiki?
Hopefully it's to succeed in making something as rewarding as learning a foreign language less scary, and a more enjoyable experience. This guide contains a variety of tips, resources, DOs and DON'Ts gathered from mostly 4chan's /int/ board. While the tips here come from experienced users who have learned a new language enough times to know what they're talking about you should always experiment and see what works best for yourself.
How can I use it?
After reading this guide, jump to the language you want to learn by clicking here .
How can I help?
Go to the main page of any given language and contribute with what ever you can. Every page usually follows a template so all you need to do is type in the name of a language you feel you can contribute to and see what's missing from the temple. Simple things such as movies, music, books and so on that you take for granted are things others might have a hard time finding. Don't underestimate your knowledge and don't hesitate to contribute what ever you consider useful. Even correcting spelling mistakes can help a lot! If a page doesn't exist yet either request one to be made on /int/ or give it a try and create it yourself. Don't be afraid to ask, we're here to help.
More brotips on the main page are always welcomed as well. Don't be afraid to add bullet points of your own. Any contribution is always welcome. Knowledge is power and we thank you for sharing it.
So, how does one learn a language?
First and foremost make sure you do not spend more time reading about learning how to learn a language rather than actually learning a language. This is a mistake a good deal of people do, some ending up spending years "learning" without anything to show for.
The thing with languages, short of dropping everything and immersing yourself in a different culture, and only speaking 'x' language, there is no perfect end all be all method for learning. It's for this reason that you can find various different ways to learn using this wiki, for you see all of us are different, in that we all learn differently. Some of us like to study grammar books for 5 hours a day, while others would sooner burn books and watch movies all day. The best advice we can give you is to is to try a bunch of different resources and see which ones work for you. Then use them in combination with each other to get a balanced education.
I don't sound like a native! I need to practice before I try talking to people.
Not the case at all. This is a common mindset among people who learn languages often, and quite a detrimental one at that. You see, one of, if not the single most important aspect of language learning, is using the skills you pick up with other people. This means that you need to speak the language. Ideally from day one. Don't be afraid of making mistakes and sounding foolish. It's going to take lots of mistakes and lots of practice to speak your language at a passable level. Many people find that the native speakers you chat to don't mind your mistakes, and when they see you working so hard to progress, are more than happy to help you improve.
What do I need to learn a language?
Patience. Determination. Perseverance. With those three things on your side, eve the dullest among us can learn a language. Learning languages really isn't all that difficult. It just takes a lot of time and a lot of practice. That, and a lot of paper and ink. If you're into having physical copies of books, or if you prefer to download them, links for either will hopefully be available to you. The contributors do their best and happily give what you what ever link or name they can find. What you do with them is up to you entirely.
tl;dr At least 1 hour a day using one or several of the programs, websites or books you find posted here.
I don't have anyone to practise with!
There is likely a general on /int/ where you can shitpost in your target language.
So I've got my language picked out but, where do I start?
Now's the time for you to get down to business and start exploring your language. As said above, one of the most important aspect of language learning is actually speaking and using the thing you have learned in everyday life. Be it with friends over the internet, or with that cute girl at the local coffee shop. In addition to that, you'll need to study some grammar, and the best way to do that is with a book, some paper and a pen. People generally find this boring, but there's no substitute for the early grammar lessons you go through, as these truly allow you to speak and eventually think in the language.
Aside from those little tips we have for you, it's completely up to you. If you like reading dictionaries and making flash cards, then go for it. Interested in watching movies and listening to music? Another way to learn. Perhaps you like making grocery lists in your language and doing all your daily chores in it as well? Great way to pick up practical knowledge. The main thing we can say to you, is to keep at it, and have some fun with it!
Learning a language is too hard! Will I ever be fluent?
Learning a language, despite what you may have been told, is surprisingly not that hard or intellectually demanding. Like most things though, it requires a good deal of work and practise to become good at. But who says the work and practise has to be boring? You're working towards an education in which one of the primary ways you can study is by telling jokes or watching movies all day. Got a particular TV show you like watching? Chances are there's a dub out there, waiting for you to watch it.
Fluency is a funny thing. Nowadays, due to the emphasis placed on learning English, some people who don´t have English as a first language, even have accents and perhaps even sound like a foreigner. What you should focus on, is being able to simply get into a conversation with someone and express your thoughts and ideas in a clear and concise manner. The less you have to think about saying something, the closer you are to fluency. Don't think of fluency in terms of years or months. Think of it in terms of "When will I be able to THINK in the language?" And the answer to that is after a lot of practice speaking and listening.
What do I study first?
Basic vocabulary and phrases. Don't get carried away with trying to learn complex sentences if you can't count to 100, say where you are from or know how to describe colours and the likes.
How difficult is it to learn a foreign language?
There are simply too many languages out there to cover them all, but any language can be mastered as long as you dedicate time to it. You can do it, it doesn't take much as long as you study often! Believe in me who believes in you, your fluency and grammar will pierce the heavens! But the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the US Department of State has compiled approximate learning expectations for a number of languages based on the length of time it takes to achieve fluency.
Grammar is so boring! How in the world do I study this stuff?
Grammar. This is a fun one. Most people can't stand studying grammar, me included. Yet without grammar, one can't hope to make very much progress. For this reason, it is recommended you start grammar early and continue with it every chance you get. If you don't like grammar very much, just do a maximum of say 30 minutes a day. It may be boring but the rewards far outweigh the boringness. Think of learning a language like mathematics. If you don't know basic arithmetic, you have no chance of doing algebra. Much in the same way, if you don't know any grammar, when you speak the language you risk fucking it up often.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or sound silly but do try to correct yourself whenever you notice you’re making one. Learning a language is a lengthy process, sure you might think your progress is slow at first but if you use the material posted in “GENERAL RESOURCES” daily what you learn will stick with you until the day you die. You might even forget you know an expression and just find yourself using it. With that in mind, don’t be discouraged by what you don’t yet know but be motivated in knowing that whatever knowledge you’ve gathered is there to stay.
- There is no big fucking secret. There are no shortcuts to this and there are no significantly better ways to learn a language than what can be found in this sticky. Using the tools at your disposal daily is the best thing you can fucking do. Even if it’s just playing a Pimsleur 30 minutes audio file as you’re steadily falling asleep, though I do recommend taking this seriously, make sure you use the language you’re trying to learn daily.
- Watch shows and movies in the language you’re trying to learn. Even playing a movie or listening to a song, in said language, in the background can help you get used to it. Surround yourself with the language, learn the tones and the phonetic of it, make it so that your brain gets accustomed to hearing it. Again back to immersion. This will greatly speed up your learning process! Do this even if you don’t understand anything. Don’t be discouraged by a book in, let’s say, Spanish because you don’t think your skills are quite there yet. Even if it takes you a day to get through 5 pages that’s still progress! This also brings us to a very important point: Read a book nigga!
- Read and/or listen until you find a word you RECOGNIZE, put this word in your flash card program that has been mentioned before. The flash card program IS VERY IMPORTANT. The flash card program is the closest thing you’ll find to a shortcut for language learning. Learn how to use it and use it well. After 200 words or so, put in sentences instead. Use example sentences from a dictionary where you are absolutely sure of the translation. Don't be an idiot and make up your own stuff! Doing your language reviews daily is, again, the key.
- DO NOT use a single resource for language learning! There are dozens of great apps and programs available to use, and most of them are free or at least have free trials. Expand yourself, don’t be afraid to explore! It can take you only 10 to 40 minutes to try them out and see for yourself.
- Interest is more important than utility. If your motivations are purely utilitarian studying may not be fun, but if you want to really experience the culture, read the literature, or live in those countries then you will always find yourself motivated to do at least a little bit each day.
- If it's a phonemic language like Russian, memorize the sounds and read the words out loud. The reading speed will increase exponentially with practice and your mind will get more used to the other script. If it's a character-based language like Chinese, memorize your characters. Chances are you won't be learning from scratch in the country where it's spoken, so start with the written part. Memorize, memorize, doodle the characters on a separate notebook, improve your calligraphy. The threshold for becoming fluent in Chinese is knowing 3000 characters. That's a shitload of unique symbols so practice practice, practice, and don't give up.
- GRAMMAR. Can't stress that topic enough. You can't go around repeating phrases Rosetta Stone gave you. There's a point where you need to actually think what you're going to say, and there's no set amount of memorized phrases that will help you avoid grammar. Learn the structure of the language and its intricate details (i.e Russian and its pain-in-the-ass grammatical cases). Put that notebook and pen to good use and write shit down. Repeat it even when not necessary. Whenever you learn a new word, play with it and see what you can do using grammar. This is so important I really can’t stress it enough. Yes children learn a new language without grammar and yes you can do it too but years of hard study by ear could be turned into just a year of hard study thanks to the power and magic of GRAMMAR.
- Increase your memory skill by using color markers. For example: Instead of attaching a "der" or a "die" before a given noun use a marker: blue for masculine, pink for feminine and yellow for neutral. For Mandarin you can colourcode by tone. etc.
- Find native speakers, other students can negatively influence your language. Especially if you speak the target language with them. You might catch on to each others mistakes. Use lang-8.com and mylanguageexchange.com to find people.
Main page: General Resources
In general, it is not necessary for you to buy language software in order to learn a foreign language. Apps will generally be free, but have premium editions which typically remove ads and add a few features. In general you can expect 90%+ of the same functionality when using the free version. Most commercial programs have free alternatives as well.
Find more in-depth reviews of the general resources here.
Keep in mind that when learning a language, there is no ultimate source of knowledge. No resource is perfect alone. For this reason you need to constantly be looking for new sources to learn from. Have one book for grammar, one book for idioms, a dictionary or two, a couple of books for script learning. Watch some tv and listen to some music. Like lots of other skills, language learning requires a complete package of tools. However, language software can also provide you with a good overview of a language’s basic structure
|Duolingo||Desktop, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone||Free, $10/Mo.||Contains a variety of speaking, listening, translation, and multiple choice challenges covering many aspects of the language. Duolingo Effectiveness Study and more research here.|
|Lingvist||Desktop, iOS, and Android||Free, $20/Mo.||Flashcard system that uses statistically relevant words and phrases to aid memorization. Very good progress tracking, stats and audio quality.|
|Clozemaster||Desktop, iOS, and Android||Free, $8/Mo.||Similar to Lingvist in that it promotes memorization through the use of context and word association hence "cloze" (see: Cloze test).|
|Memrise||Desktop, iOS, and Android||Free, $9/Mo.||Pre-made and user-generated flashcard decks (over 20 million users). Corresponding courses for Assimil, Duolingo, etc. are available|
|Anki||Desktop, iOS, and Android||Free, $24.99 on iOS.||Popular flashcard software with user-made "decks"|
|JW Language||iOS, Android, and Windows Phone||Free||Made by Jehova's Witnesses for the purposes of missionary work. Has a really cool interactive grammar section which teaches the user my manipulating a sentence in various ways.|
|LingQ||Desktop, iOS, and Android||$10/Mo||Input (reading and listening) focused product. Plenty of user-generated content, but it is difficult to navigate. Import feature works well. Warning: Website makes it difficult to unsubscribe and delete credit card information.|
|Learning with texts||Desktop||Free||Very similar to LingQ. Difficult to install.|
|Assimil: "with ease" series||Audio + Book||$125||This method is focused on learning whole sentences, for an organic understanding of the language. Can be used to learn the basic rules of grammar and vocabulary of 2000-3000 words|
|Pimsleur||Audio||$575||150 30-minute lessons with a focus on speech and conversational ability. Try a free lesson!|
|Michel Thomas||Audio||$35-$125||Developed by Michael Thomas -- a well known Polish polygot. Michel Thomas teaches you grammar: how to use verbs. You'll have the skeleton of the language in your hands but little vocabulary.|
|Language Transfer||Audio||Free||Very similar to the Michel Thomas method, but free.|
|Rosetta Stone||Desktop||$20/Mo.||Covers pronunciation, reading, listening, vocabulary, writing. Can be used as a beginning tool but is generally considered overpriced and ineffective.|
|Radio Links||Flash Games||Other Resources|
|http://tunein.com/http://listenlive.eu/||http://www.digitaldialects.com/||Wordle is a word cloud4chan’s Foreign Language BBS
Lists of most frequently used words, very useful for deciding what vocab to learn
Our friends over at /lang/ have also created this handy pastebin link, full of resources.
|Balto-Slavic||North Germanic||West Germanic||Celtic||Romance||Hellenic||Uralic||East Asian|
See which pages are most active/popular here!
When you are learning a language, there is usually a big chance that it has characters which don't exist in your native alphabet. This is especially true if you are a native English speaker, where even languages relatively close, such as Norwegian and German have some extra characters, without even thinking about languages such as Russian or Arabic, which are entirely different. You do not need to buy a new keyboard or constantly use an online virtual keyboard for these characters.
If you are using Windows, it is very simple to add a new language, following these simple instructions . Once the language you want is installed, simply press Shift+Alt together to switch to the new keyboard, and just press them again to switch back.
If you use Mac, follow the instructions here . Once the language is installed, simply press Command+Space to switch between keyboards, and press it again to switch back.
For Linux, it will vary depending on your distro. For the two most common ones, Ubuntu and Mint, the instructions are very similar. When the language is installed, switch quickly between the language you are using by setting up a custom keyboard shortcut, described in the guide above.
Small changes such as changing the language you are learning to your default on Facebook , your phone, your desktop or in games, are very highly recommended. Some people have even said that have learned English entirely from playing video games. A video game shouldn't be your only source of learning, but it can definitely help if you are still learning it passively while relaxing.