10 Kick-Ass Tips to Learn Any Language From Scratch

10 Kick-Ass Tips to Learn Any Language From Scratch

When I started learning languages
myself, I wish I’d had a framework of five, seven, ten simple rules of thumb to
follow to help me learn foreign languages. You’re luckier than I am
because I’ve compiled a list of ten rules of thumb to start learning ANY
language from scratch. When you start learning a language, always make sure
that you know EXACTLY why you started learning that language. That is CRUCIAL.
A lot of people make the mistake of starting learning a language without
knowing why or maybe they just heard that that language is cool or maybe a
friend of theirs is learning that language. These are not strong reasons.
You have to find your own strong and valid reasons. They’re going to help you
keep learning every single day. So one piece of advice is: take a piece of paper
and jot down your reasons, and you have to check whether these reasons are
really valid and really important for you. Like in any other field of life, we have
a number of false convictions and false myths that we tend to believe in, when it
comes to language learning, and in order to learn efficiently, well and by
yourself, you have to get rid of these convictions. In order to do that, take a
piece of paper and jot down all the negative convictions that you have
towards learning. Let me give you an example:
you probably must have thought – or still think – that in order to learn a language
you have to go and live abroad. That is not true! Or that you have to go to
school. So: jot down all the possible convictions and false ideas that you
have in your mind and pour them down on a piece of paper, so that you can take a
look at them and start dispelling them. This is really important to start
learning on the right foot. A very common mistake that people make
when learning a language is to just throw themselves at the language without
any planning. What you have to do is actually plan beforehand. There’s a very
simple way in which you can do this: just take a piece of paper, jot down a date of
reference and from that moment on, you tell yourself “I’m going to learn that
language”. After that, you just have to come up with two or three simple goals,
and you have to ask yourself this very important question: “what will I be able
to do within two or three or six months?” this, in turn, will define the actions and
the time that you will put to make it happen. So, for example, you might need 30 minutes a day, over 45 or 60 minutes a day, this
is really important actually it’s crucial if you want to make it happen
every single day. And this creates continuity and it is single-handedly the
ultimate secret to language learning: you have to learn EVERY SINGLE DAY, no matter
what you do and no matter your background experience. Okay, now you have
compelling reasons and a solid plan of attack. What is the next move? It is to
find good language learning resources and this is the point where a lot of
people make crucial mistakes. So how many times has it happened that for example
you find yourself wanting to download a lot of apps, find books and you find
yourself with a pile of stuff and you don’t even know how to start and where
to start? Here’s the catch: find just one good language learning resource and in
order to do that don’t look on the internet but go physically to a book
store where you can establish a physical connection with that book: leaf through
it, smell it, hold it: that’s the way you can actually gauge whether you will want
to use that learning resource. Find one, use it and then move on to something
else. This is absolutely crucial Once you have your language learning
material, you have to learn how to use it. What is the best method? The answer: is
there is no one-size-fits-all solution because every brain is different. If you
take a look at successful language learners, they’ll learn in a different
way there are some things that are common, but their methods are different
So, instead of looking at their method, just take a look at your method, start
learning a language, and then readjust. So start learning a language and ask
yourself: “is the method I’m using good for me?” “Is it efficient and is it
enjoyable?” if the answer is “yes” to both, then you are on the right track. If the
answer is “no” then this method is enjoyable but not efficient, it means is not good
for you. If it’s efficient but it’s not enjoyable, you have to change and you
have to abide by this line. And remember once you’ve found the method that works
for you, there’s no nothing and nobody stopping you from learning that language. When you start learning, whatever you do,
remember this very simple rule of thumb: focus 80% on language and 20% on
grammar. Think about for example about a five or six year old kid. They speak the
language without knowing anything about grammar. Why? Because they’ve internalized
the language through exposure, and that’s EXACTLY what you can do as an adult
learning a second language. So as a rule of thumb, what you should do is: expose
yourself as much as you can to dialogues and the real language and use grammar
only as a reference so you can use grammar notes or you can even buy a
grammar book but don’t focus on that, use it just as a reference to help you
understand the content of real language you expose yourself to. When I uploaded my first video in Swedish on YouTube I realized from the feedback
that I had gotten that something was off with my pronunciation and intonation and
I learned an important lesson: you have to learn the sound structure of the
language FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, give it attention,
give it care, because this down the line is gonna make a big difference.
Imagine developing the wrong sound patterns in the language like tying a
knot: the tighter it gets the more difficult it will be down the line to
undo it. The same thing goes for sounds so remember: take the time and put the
energy into focusing how the sound structure of a language works from the
very moment you lay hands and eyes and ears on the language. This is going to
make a huge difference down the line. Learning a language is never ever a
linear process, things change down the path, you have to keep this in mind when
it comes to choosing the way you learn languages, so you have to constantly
readjust your methods, your approach and the time you spend with a language
because this is a critical point. So for example, in my language learning path
what I do at the beginning and what I do when I am an intermediate student or an
advanced student is different. It’s different in WHAT I do and HOW I do it
and WHEN I do it. At the beginning I use for example my bi-directional
translation method, a method that I use to translate a language back and forth
in order to understand the basic patterns of the language – but down the
line, when I have a better command of the language, I would never dream of using
that technique, that would be “old” “old-fashioned”, I will use other
techniques to adapt and change my strategy according to my competence . This
is really important to remember so when you have found a method or a routine, use
that routine for a certain amount of time but remember that there will come
the time to change that routine and adapt it to your new competence. Do you see this phone and do you see this
paper? These are equally interesting and effective tools to learn any language you want. Now what do you have to keep in mind is that a combination of these two
things makes the difference, so it’s not about using just paper or using just
digital – it’s about combining both. It is scientifically proven that when you use
a piece of paper you’re and you’re using your pencil, or a pen and you’re using
your hand, you establish a connection with the words that you jot down, with
the words that you see and you have to you don’t have to be at the service of
technology but you have to make technology be at your service, so
technology gives you SPEED while paper gives you CONNECTION and if you combine
speed with connection that will make wonders for your language learning
endeavors. I started learning Romanian a few years
ago, but unfortunately I gave up after a few weeks. Why did that happen? When
looking back I realized that the reason, or the main reason why it happened is
because I didn’t establish human contact. I kept reading books I kept listening to
things but that was not enough for me, so a very important lesson I’ve drawn
from that is that you have to have rewards down the path, it’s not just
about hitting the books it’s about discovering things, making connections
sharing laughs, and you have a lot of different kind of rewards: you have social rewards for example you can have a conversation on skype or you can meet
a person face-to-face in a bar and trying to speak that language or you
have cultural rewards: reading a book an interesting book in that target language
by a famous author, or watching a movie in that target language and all these
rewards create a sense of continuity, you want to continue. Imagine learning a
language like walking down the path, you stop at certain cities and then you take a rest, you get to know people and that in turn will help you keep going and
this is what language is all about. At the end of the day, it is about having
experiences, talking to people, having laughs, discovering yourself and
discovering others, and ultimately, it is about sharing. So here you have it these are the 10 rules of thumb to start learning any language. If you want to
know more details and more stories, more pictures and more links, you can click on
the link in the description box below. Thank you very much.


98 thoughts on “10 Kick-Ass Tips to Learn Any Language From Scratch”

  • I wish the best for you, I've been listening a lot of things with you, it's possible see into your eyes you love, you literally are in love with what you make and you've been sharing through your website and videos here at YouTube a passion and motivation to keep on developing our goals!

  • The problem I am learning latin, and I searched real book but I find any book about latin, so I download some book on my kindle and I began to study, and beleive it help me lot.


    Gracias luca.
    Excelentes tips como siempre.
    Nos inspiras con tus niveles tan altos en los idiomas tan altos que en cada lengua que hablas pareces nativo hablante de ella.

    Gigante en los idiomas Luca lamparielo.

  • Gustavo Velasco says:

    Muchas gracias Luca por estos valiosos consejos. Inspiras a seguir aprendiendo y sobre todo a disfrutar del proceso 👏👏😃

  • Thanks for both the list and the encouragement! I'd be interested to know more about your experience with Romanian, as it's a language I've struggled with myself.

  • Zgadzam się w stu procentach z tym, żeby nie skupiać się totalnie na samej gramatyce. I pomstuję, że nakupował masę książek, z których nigdy potem nie skorzystałam. 😛

  • Das ist eine großartige Zusammenstellung von Tipps. And you are also really motivating. Cảm ơn anh Luca nhiều lắm.

  • Thank you!
    Your article was not only well done, but it was also very helpful! I still have problems finding the right method of learning. I still search too much in the Internet for always new sources. But I have understood that language learning is about goal setting, motivation and continuity of work.

  • Let me share something here that I just came to realise. Maybe someone will find it useful.
    I speak 6 languages that I have learned in different ways, namely 3
    1/ English by torture, that is, in the spanish education system. I should put spanish native level here too maybe.
    2/ French and dutch by consistent study
    3/ Portuguese and Italian. learned with fun and for the fun.
    My problem comes with number 3. I have noticed that when have one around I cannot speak the other. It's very weird to me because that doesnt happen with the rest. but if I have those 2 around I end up speaking portuliano or italorguese. Now here is the thing, I think this is due to the system I used for learning those 2. It was merely getting some basic concepts in a short time, say 1 hour get all the grammar you can get, then hearing for hours, days, weeks,…vocubulary will feed in eventually, and it does (I am spanish native speaker so it is not that suprising). The problem is thatit looks like I have now both in the same pot and only if the environment is purely portuguese or italian I can use the corresponding language correctly.
    (disclaimer: with italian it was pretty straight forward, also because I used to watch many neorealist italin movies with no much talking :D. Portuguese was a bit slower, I started Avenida Brasil and until Ch 80 or so I was not really understanding the most of it, luckly enough this a 179 episodes tv soap so I could catch up at the end :D)

  • I am forced to learn Arabic for my university prerequisites language class, and I'm tying hard to understand and use that language 🙁 I will try to try using your tips from this video. Wish me luck!

  • English Forever says:

    If I could send you a picture, I'd send you one with the pile of books that I have in front of me right now. I'm getting rid of these books. I've had them for wuite a long time, and I never do anything with them. I just keep telling myself that I might use this or that, maybe if I this or that. B.S. Focusing on one thing, one piece of writing as you said, with an audio file. Cool. I'm trying to learn French. Well, I'm going to learn French.

  • Luca soy una seguidora, me gustaría que en algún vídeo hables en español o que traduca lo que dises te doi la gracia es por ese que me da una motivacion de seguí aprendiendo gracias.:-😉😀

  • 01 know your why
    02 get rid of false myths
    03 prepare a plan of attack
    04 find one good resource
    05 find your method
    06 focus on language before grammar
    07 work on phonetics from the start
    08 readjust on the go
    09 combine digital with paper
    10 create rewards along the way

  • Hi luca, I have one question. How do you know when you finish learning a new language? I realize, we dont even know all of the words in our native language and we can say we speak it and understand it.

  • Learn Languages With Yogee says:

    Isn't the word false a redundancy with the word myth… false myth??? It is called a myth because it's false.. but…

  • First time I have ever heard 'rules of thumb', and I'm American (despite my screen name). I mean, we usually have one rule of thumb per subject/theme. It is THE rule of thumb for some topic. This is not a criticism, just a comment. Right now I am studying a "Western Asian" language from scratch. Wish I could speak a dozen languages. Well done. Bien hecho.

  • The best way for me its to just get a notebook, type x language from zero on youtube, and learn it, I can t with the books.. I just can t . its really boring. I wan t someone to explain it to me, a real person. not just to read the book, there might be things that are not even explained there, errors that can t be fixed, etc. thats the most effective way for me. oh and yea.. When it comes to learning a languages from school, I… just associate school with something boring so yeah.. I learned english mostly from watching youtube. french? .. the teacher made us hate the language. ':3

  • Luca …I’m in my seventies.
    Have been studying Italian and am pretty good.
    Now started French on duolingo. Is that a good system to use every day. I find it fun.

  • No tengo ni puta idea y tampoco tengo una respuesta racional a la pregunta de por qué he estado aprendiendo español durante tres años. Estoy motivado y disciplinado porque persigo este "objetivo" con una consistencia obsesiva, pero realmente no sé por qué.

    Todos los demás consejos en el video están bien.

  • Why do I find myself repeatedly watching these videos on how to succeed in learning a foreign language but never actually getting out there and learning it?🤣

  • Can you give is a reference of how you do this. 7:30. For example as a beginner you do by directional translation with a book. Then as an intermediate you do what? And the next step and next step etc. Just an example of our process. Thanks


    6:20, sorry but this tip will cause a lot of problem for most learners. For me, I have learned english and french and I have a great pronunciation because I like to listen podcast and the radio. by that, I've got the right pronunciation. at start, a language is hard, we need to learn vocabulary and a lot of things. I think, being able to transmite the thoughts is the first goal, then work on pronunciation and, of course, learn more vocabulary. Grammar comes naturally with time. I know people that never went to school and they do not know how to read or write. However, they can speak well and with the right grammar. if you read aloud, you will improve your pronunciation. text + audio is a powerful tool to "master" this. Of course, pronunciation is important, more than grammar in my point of view. I also hate so much to work on a language. I learn it by watching animes, listen the radio and some jokes. that's why I see listening as the most important skill to learn. when you understand the spoken language, you are ready to live on that language, with audiobooks, tv shows, movies, animes, and more. of course songs are hard to get the meaning because of pronunciation and the changing meaning of the words, like; metaphors

  • Victor Scudero says:

    If I'm learning two languages at the same time, can you please tell me how many days should I dedicate to each one of them? Thank you.

  • nick cinquina says:

    You're english is so good bro! Barely even an accent, if I talked to you on the street I would never think that you are not a native english speaker

  • Jari Kinnunen says:

    I think. Science and technology are easier topics to begin learn a foreign language if you already know it most in your own language. The language in them is simplified and accurate.
    If you are studying something, you can learn the same topic alongside in foreign language.

  • What a great scaffold I wish I had watched this one month ago when my Mandarin journey started. I realize now that I've wasted a great deal of time and energy because I've been doing a lot in an ad hoc way. Because of this wonderful video I'm going to press the pause button on this project for a short period and put your tips into practice . XIE XIE NI for the time and effort that you have put into your own language journeys and then allowing all of us out here in the YouTube universe to benefit from your success(es). Zhu ni much success in all of your future endeavors. You are a true inspiration. TZAI TIAN! 😊

  • Крокодил Гена says:

    Dear Luca! Your lessons are great and I would like to ask you to continue from week to week. Thanks.

  • からきましたインド人です
    N it's really helping me in terms of learning the Japanese language…

  • Jätte bra video Luca! Jag är italiensk men lärde mig svenska förra året! Nu ska jag gå vidafe med franska!
    Tack för spännande innehål! Hejdå

  • That one and only one Language App you wanna try is called Linguitive. Try it and see how fast you can boost your vocabulary in your targeted language. Find it in App Store.

  • Peace Love Vegan Beauty & Lifestyle says:

    OMG Thank you so much! Grazie mille per tutto! For so long time I wanted to learn Italian but never really started. Now I feel determined to do it.

  • Luca, din care oras esti? Nordul Italiei e plin de romani si moldoveni. Cum de nu ai gasit pe nimeni, sa practici romana? Cand te intorci acasa, striga , "sa-mi bag pula", si iti gasesti imediat partener/a pentru discutii )))

  • Here's a tip that always works on me:

    Learn 200 of the most common words, watch movies in the language, get friends that are natives of the language (if you don't already have in real life) and talk to them everyday or go to your desired language's part of the social media.

    If you're learning French, Spanish, German or English, the series "Extra" is really helpful.

  • Hi Luca, ich schreibe einfach mal in deutsch. Ich habe das Gefühl, dass ich einfach nicht gemacht bin um Sprachen zu lernen. Mein Englischlehrer hatte mir damals ähnliche Worte gesagt wie dein Lehrer zu deiner Schulzeit. Nur hatte es wenig mit Talent etc. zu tun. Viel mehr damit, dass ich den Anschluss verpasst hatte, weil ich nie Vokabeln gelernt hatte. Nun Spreche ich fließend englisch, zumindest kann ich mich gut verständigen. Vor einem halben Jahr habe ich angefangen in Japan zu leben und japanisch zu lernen, ich lerne nahezu jeden Tag. Meistens 1-2 Stunden verteilt auf den Tag.
    Irgendwie komm ich aber kein bisschen voran. Ich weiß aber auch nicht woran es liegt. Versuche eine Strategie zu finden alles zu lernen, besonders kanji etc. aber voran kommen tue ich nur langsam. Dies ist etwas frustrierend.

    Ich habe auf meiner Reise durch Asien viele Leute getroffen die ebenfalls 4-6 Sprachen sprechen können. Was mich sehr beeindruckt hat. Nur wie soll man dies in seinen Alltag integrieren. Wenn noch viel Sport, Studium etc. ansteht.

    Danke für die Zeit! Und mach bitte weiter mit deinem Kanal. Gefällt mir sehr gut.

  • Lucas advises us to find your own method that is efficient AND fun, but at 5:08 he says "Focus 80% on language and 20% on grammar." So what do you do, if what is efficient AND fun for you is to BEGIN by focusing 80% on grammar and 20% on vocabulary? I'm a mathematician by training. I like to start by knowing the rules. Answer: Fun and efficient is more important. So I focus more on grammar. Once I understand as much grammar as one would be expected to lean in the first year of a university course, I'm ready to focus 80% on "the language." So after the first month or two, the 80-20 suggestion works for me, too, but not at the beginning. Thanks for the video!

  • This is a good video, particularly towards the end.
    The first few points are missing some things though.

    1 Know your why

    You need to realize that "why" needs to contain ways that you're going to use the language in the future. A reason like "I want to exercise my mind" seems awesome and solid but will get you demotivated in the long run because if you aren't going to use the language, you're going to be forgetting it faster than you learn at some point.

    Also, the whole point is sort of untrue because if you don't know why but learn effectively, you're going to learn it anyway.

    2. Get rid of false myths.

    You haven't listed the myths, you've only given 2 examples (going to school/country). People will not know what to do other than deal with those 2.

    3. Prepare the plan of attack

    I'm worried that advice in the form given will just make most people procrastite more. You should have added that planning should not take more than half an hour, maybe with one or 2 reviews later.

    The most important bit of the plan is how much time per day you are going to spend on learning.

    Also, I don't think planning can keep you reliably motivated. You need other stuff like rewards and habits for that. For example, you can plan the habit which goes: "each time I get on a tram, I'm going to open my language learning app".

    4. Find one good resource

    "Smell the book" seriously?
    Also, you should not concentrate on paper resources only, evaluate apps as well.

    The rest of the points seem very good.

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