Learning foreign languages on your own is not as hard as you think. People like to say that you the only real way to learn a foreign language is a) to move abroad and immerse yourself in the language and, if you can’t do that, then b) to have a private tutor, expensive classes at an institute and a university degree in a foreign language.
While living abroad really is the ultimate way to learn a foreign language, what these people fail to realize is that you can do all of these things and still have only a middling knowledge of the language. Sadly, I know several people who fit this description, and these very people still espouse the conventional wisdom that learning a foreign language is near impossible unless you have a year abroad and lots of fancy courses. I suppose people in general are falling more into the trap that you can buy education, experience and knowledge, and that anybody, if they get the right teacher, can learn anything.
It’s time to divest yourself of this conventional wisdom and face facts. Learning a foreign language, whether abroad in elegant salons, or sitting on a ratty sofa your parents’ basement, requires only two things: consistency and creative use of language-learning resources. Brilliance will help, but as long as you’re smart enough to get a university degree (i.e. a mere nick above average) you can easily learn a foreign language with resources available at your public library, on the Internet and in local bars, barring, of course, that you live near a major city.
The first thing you have to do is decide which language(s) you want to learn. There are lots of things to take into consideration, but in my view the most important factor is whether or not you like the language and will stick with it. There’s little point learning a language half-assedly, unless you just want to be able to ramble a few elegant and sexy sounding words to your significant other, so you should pick something that you’re going to hang with for the long haul. That decided, you can get to work.
To continue, see post two here.