Having spent a significant amount of my life trying to learn different languages, I can sympathize with the problems of a would-be bilingual. It takes many hours of study to learn a language and college courses or quality language programs can be expensive. After spending thousands in college trying to acquire basic communication skills in Spanish, I came to the realization that sometimes the best way to learn a language is outside of a school. The common perception that language learning requires schooling is misguided- colleges want your money because in essence, most colleges are still a business. Here are 5 ideas about how to acquire a language quickly:
Get to know people who speak the language you are trying to learn.
Whether this is online or in person, make some friends who speak the language. The less they know of English, the better. Having a friend to communicate with not only helps you to quickly learn how to think in the other language, but also will push you to study. If they are also trying to learn English, then you can have a language exchange program set up where they help you work through a language textbook while you help them. Having studied Chinese during my stay in Taiwan and achieved a moderate fluency, I can personally attest to this method.
Find a church or volunteer program in your target language.
If you are lucky, you live in an area where your target language is spoken often. If so, find a place to go to church at or volunteer at where that language is used often. This allows you to not only do an activity that helps others and pad your resume, but also helps you learn a language more quickly.
Listen to music or videos in your target language.
Whether you use videos found on You tube, or from Best Buy, watching a video and listening to a CD allow you to listen to and adjust to the natural cadences of the language. It also is a cheaper option than paying for expensive college courses.
Use online resources such as About.com to start to gain a wider vocabulary or your local library.
Why pay for a language resource when you can borrow it? Check your local library for books on your language and take note of the various words, phrases, and grammar used.
Depending on the language you want to learn, it could be cheaper to spend time abroad doing nothing but studying on your own and making friends than studying at a university. If you plan on studying Chinese, living in Taiwan and China is far cheaper than living in Westernized countries and you can always pick up private English lessons to make some side income. Studying Spanish also has the same benefits because it is far cheaper to live in Mexico or Guatemala than the United States.