What are the best ways to learn foreign languages?
In fact, there's not one trick but a whole suite of tricks to help you learn a language. I'll use French as an example, but this advice applies to any language.
1. Understand the Language Learning Journey
People largely give up because they had the wrong expectations set. So let's bust some myths:
1) Learning a language isn't hard. It's just LONG.
2) Everyone is naturally good at languages. You already learned one, remember? You've just forgotten how long it took.
I'm going to use a metaphor that I hope will help you get the knack. I think of learning a language a bit like climbing a mountain (a large but easy mountain, the sort that anyone can climb so long as they keep going).
2. Intensity is vital to learning a language quickly.
To use my mountain metaphor, the ground is icy and slippery and the faster you can climb, the less you will slip back.
3. Be kind to yourself
I've used sunlight in this mountain metaphor to give you an indication of how it feels to be at these levels.
Expect a lot of fog and confusion for the first few hundred hours. EVERYONE feels this way, even the people who seem really gifted at languages. The difference is, anyone who's already been through that and reached the sunlight expects this stage, and it doesn't faze them because they know they'll get there eventually.
4. Prepare for the journey
If you're a complete beginner I find it's really important to absorb the sounds of the language before beginning serious study.
5. Practise looking stupid
You will speak and not be understood and you will listen and not understand. It's really okay and in fact necessary to learning. Feeling stupid is actually a sign of progress.
6. Find out where you are (and therefore what the next stage is)
7. Set goals
I highly recommend setting short term and longer terms goals. Short term goals can be as simple as how many hours of study you will do each week. Set longer terms goals like passing a specific CEFR level.
8. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
Repetition is absolutely vital to learning most things but especially important when learning a language.
9. Recall is more important than revision
Practising recall has proven to be 300% more effective than revising something.
10. Rote learn set texts in a foreign language
This is my number one trick and I've found this to be singularly the most effective method in acquiring a language rapidly.
Sleep is vital to memory.
12. Exercise & Nutrition
If you exercise, you get huge mental benefits. Eating healthily, just like exercise, has amazing cognitive benefits.
13. Learn about learning
This is about just taking time to reflect on what work best for you and thinking about how to improve on what you're doing.
Hope that's helpful!