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In my early 20s, I learned to speak Japanese. Since then, I have spoken to hundreds of people about language learning. I have given advice to college students and business professionals on the best methods to learn a language, and have been given advice from people who speak multiple languages. I have also taught English to all languages. I have been told that I must be lucky to “be good at languages” and have heard from many of those same people why they have given up on learning a language. The most common reason is that it takes too much time.

The truth is, I thought I sucked at languages too. I took two years of Spanish in High School and could barely say hello. After a year of Japanese in college, I could say less than that. But I stayed with it. I took another year in college, studied in Tokyo, and then spent the next eight years living in Japan.

I know what you are thinking, “two years of studying and a year living in the country of your target language? Sorry, I don’t’ have time”. Don’t worry, I don’t either. Luckily, that’s not what it takes to learn a language. It’s how I fumbled my way into learning Japanese, and consequently, how I picked up many of the more effective methods to learn a language.

There are much better ways to remember a language than to study words over and over again until you memorize them or spend hours on grammar drills. How you study and what you study matters more than how much you study.

Since learning Japanese, I have been wanting to add another language to my repertoire. Simply for the for the fun of learning a new language. To learn about the culture and meet new people. To show that anyone can do it. Spanish is the language I wasn’t able to learn in High School. What better example than learning Spanish to show that anyone really can learn a language, than the one I already failed at.

The Challenge: Learn to speak Spanish Fluently in 90 Days.

We should define fluent. To me, it means being able to speak confidently with a native speaker, not speaking like a native speaker. After 90 days I plan to have a good enough hold of the Spanish language to have conversations with native speakers about various topics. I won’t know every word or grammatical structure. I will know how to learn more by asking and discussing in Spanish. My focus will be on communicating verbally so speaking will be more important than writing.

The Methods and Materials

(This list will be updated as I find additional materials)

References:

Spaced Repetition Software: 

  • Anki

Spanish Materials

  • Pronounce it Perfectly in Spanish
  • Learn Spanish: The Fast and Fun Way
  • Spanish Conversation
  • Hacking Spanish
  • Most commonly used Spanish word list
  • Tons of free materials on the web

Speaking

  • Skype

Techniques

  • 80/20 Rule
  • Mnemonics for memorization
  • Spaced repetition for learning new words and grammar
  • Immersion (TV, radio, reading, using the internet)
  • Speaking as soon as possible

Follow along on my “Learn Spanish” journey and be please share all of your tips, tricks, and difficulties in the comment section.