My best suggestions for learning another language

Here are my best suggestions for learning another language…

First, I tell my friends they should write freely in their native language, and then translate it…


Then they should show it to someone who is a native speaker in the language they are learning, so they can check the word choice, and help with the grammar and pronunciation. (I think this is not so important in the beginning)

A friend can also record things for you to listen to the correct pronunciation, and to practice with.

The idea is to start with what is basic, and then gradually build on that, with the things we want or need to talk about.

This is the method I used to learn Mandarin when I was living in Taiwan, and teaching English, and this is the method I am using now.

It is a natural method. It is direct, and practical, and efficient.

Back then I relied on people to help me with the translations, but these days we have a lot more technology available to do that part of it. (I use google translate, and deepl)

We still need actual native speakers to help us though, and to practice with, but learning is much easier these days.

And second,

I think it’s a good idea to record yourself, using the app on your phone, first in Spanish, and then the English translation of what you are learning, and practicing. Then, it is possible to transfer the recording to an application that lets you ‘loop’ one or more recordings, that is, play them over and over.

Then, when you are doing other things, or when you go for a drive, or when you are shopping, you can listen many times to the words and phrases you are learning.

I feel like learning to say something in new language similar to learning a piece of music. We have to practice the same things many times, so we can remember them, and feel comfortable with saying them.


Essentially, you should write a lot, and translate it, and keep good notes. This way you have a record of what you are learning, and it’s easy for a friend to help you fix small mistakes. It’s also more polite, I think, than interrupting every time something is not perfect. The most important thing is to express yourself. We’re all life-long students when it comes to this.


Here are a few questions for beginning conversation, in Spanish and English.

If you look at these on a computer, you can see both languages side by side. You can write your answers in Spanish on the left, below the questions, and see the English ones on the right. Then you can practice these things with native speakers.