How many times have you heard someone on the Internet claim that they are ready to show
you “the ultimate, absolute best way to learn a language”?
Hi, my name is Luca from LucaLampariello.com and today I’m going to bust all the myths
and misconceptions about what people think are the best ways to learn a language.
Then, I’ll show you the truth—the right language learning method that will help you
personally find the fluency you’ve always been looking for.
The problem with using the magic word “best” when it comes to methods, strategies, and
resources is that “best” is subjective.
What is best for you might not be best for me.
Or worse, there might not be a “best” at all.
Just “the best we’ve found so far”.
But when people look for advice on how to do something well, that’s what they ask
They want the best, the fastest, and usually the cheapest.
This goes for anything from learning the guitar, learning to make money, and yes, of course,
learning a foreign language.
People are obsessed with “the best”, so that’s what they look for.
If that’s what you’re looking for, then I’ve got some unfortunate news:
After 30 years of learning languages and 10 years of coaching people to do the same, I
am 100% positive when I tell you this:
There is no absolute best and fastest way to learn a language.
Before you click away, you should know that there’s good news, too!
News that will help you master a foreign language, even sooner than you think:
While there is no absolute best and fastest way to learn a language, there definitely
is a best and fastest way FOR YOU, personally, to learn a language.
A method that is tailored to your likes and dislikes, your learning style, and your schedule.
What you need to do is figure out what that method is.
However, you don’t have to do it alone.
Today, you and I will discover it together.
A method, built on solid learning principles, that is customized to you and your circumstances,
and applicable to any language you want to learn.
Ultimately, the method you use should have seven key traits:
It should be unique to your circumstances It should be enjoyable, in a way that suits
your interests It should be flexible to different learning
scenarios and environments It should enable you to learn every single
day It should be built around comprehensible input
It should incorporate all four major language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking)
It should grow and evolve according to your own experiences and desires.
Let’s look at each of these in more detail:
Trait # 1.
Your method should be unique to your circumstances Have you ever wondered why most people do
not succeed at learning a language at school?
There are many reasons, but one of the most obvious is this: schools employ a “one size
fits all” method of instruction.
No matter their personal interests, learning styles, and goals, each student is forced
to listen to the same lectures, use the same textbook, do the same homework, and receive
the same types of assessments.
Now, I know that the classroom environment is an impractical one in which to expect truly
personalized learning, but the truth is still the same: everyone learns differently.
How you go about a learning task will have a huge impact on whether or not you, as an
individual, learn the desired skill, or memorize the desired information.
And that “how” needs to be aligned with your personality, taste, and drive as a human
Trait #2: Your method should be enjoyable, in a way that suits your interests
Let’s go back to that language class for a second.
Let’s say you’re learning French, and your French teacher loves literature.
As a result, all of the course curriculum, in one way or another, is tied to classic
French novels and short stories.
Now, let’s also say that you love French, too, but you personally hate literature.
To you, there’s nothing more boring than poring over old books with old characters
using old, flowery language that has nothing to do with the world you currently live in.
Given your dislike of literature, do you think you’ll learn as much from your French class
as your classmate, who, let’s say, can quote Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables from memory?
Simply put, you learn best from the things that you personally find interesting.
If you’re a big sports fan, you would do much better in your hypothetical French class
if you used the language to learn about recent happenings in France’s national soccer league,
I’m a firm believer that we should learn language through the topics and activities
that move us.
That make us tick.
If you combine your language learning with those activities, you’ll have an unbeatable
combination that will motivate you endlessly.
In addition to enjoying what we learn from, we have to enjoy how we learn, as well.
If you see a method touted online as the best-ever way to learn a language, that might sound
great, but what if it requires you to learn in a way that repulses you, or bores you to
Should you push forward?
For your health and sanity, do not force yourself to use a method you hate, no matter how good
other people say it is.
Trying to do so will only lead to disappointment, and ultimately burnout.
This is what I’ve seen as a language coach.
I’ve spent years developing my Bidirectional Translation method, a learning strategy that
I’ve found works brilliantly for me and most of the students I work with.
However, if a student tries the method, and doesn’t like it, I don’t push it on them.
Instead, we move on and try a different method.
In general, people will stick with the learning strategy that they like best, not the one
that everyone says is best.
So find the method you like, and stick with it.
Trait 3: Your method should be flexible to different learning scenarios and environments
When I first developed my Bidirectional Translation method, I applied it to each and every language
I decided to learn.
For the most part, it worked great!
I had amazing success using the method with ten languages.
However, when I tried using the method with Japanese, something entirely different happened—it
I hit a wall, and couldn’t make progress.
Stubborn, I decided to try to push forward anyway.
But no matter how hard I tried to apply and reapply my tried-and-tested Bidirectional
Translation method, I couldn’t get anywhere.
In hindsight, what I should have done then was be flexible.
I should have taken my Bidirectional Translation method and attempted to adapt it to better
suit Japanese, rather than the other way around.
Instead, I remained rigid and inflexible in my learning strategies, and that’s why I
Here’s how you can stay flexible in your approach to learning, even in those times
when you hit a wall.
Once a month, stop and engage in a self-reflection exercise.
Ask yourself “is what I’m doing enjoyable?
Is it working well for me?
Do I wake up every day wanting to engage in my learning?
If not, how can I change things so that the answers to the above questions can all be
Answering these questions allows you to readjust and reassess your learning methods, making
them stronger and more adaptable in the long run.
Trait #4 Your method should enable you to learn every single day
This is something I say in every video, interview, and blog post, ad nauseam:
If you want to learn effectively, make sure you learn every day.
If you can do this, then time will become your greatest ally in your language learning
Because if you can learn every day, even for just 20 minutes at a time, you will be aided
by the so-called “compound effect”.
The gains you make every single day will slowly but surely accumulate, like a snowball rolling
down a mountainside.
Pretty soon, what was once a tiny snowball will become something much, much larger.
When this concept is applied to language learning, you’ll see results that are even beyond
your wildest expectations.
I’ll never forget when a friend of mine called me with amazing news.
He had been learning Japanese for a long time without much success, but one day, he decided
to take my advice, and commit to learning for at least one hour every day.
After only six months, he managed to even have an hour-long conversation with native
speakers, something that had previously only been a dream to him.
Keep this critical idea in mind at all times: language learning is not something that you
do just for a few weeks, or months; instead, it is a skill for life.
Learning every day will help you make that happen.
Trait # 5 Your method should be built around comprehensible input
If you’ve ever attempted to learn a language before, then you probably know the feeling
of learning for a few months, and then attempting to watch a movie in your target language to
see how your skills match up.
Even with subtitles of any kind, I’m sure you found that you understood way less than
I’m also sure you found it overwhelming, and perhaps a bit discouraging.
First things first, let me tell you that it’s extremely normal to feel that way.
Native-level, authentic content is extremely difficult, and to understand it, your brain
needs massive quantities of input over a long, long time.
So how do you get there, especially from where you are now?
How do you go from understanding nothing, to understanding nearly everything?
Here’s the answer: You must get a lot of comprehensible input.
As you learn new words and phrases, you must digest content that features those words and
phrases, as well as some things you’ve never seen before.
What you already know will help to serve as context for the new, unknown elements, and
gradually you’ll figure out what the new stuff means as well.
This is the cycle of comprehensible input.
You learn from what you can mostly understand until you can understand all of it.
And then you move on to the next thing you can mostly understand.
To start, I personally recommend anything with both printed text and audio, and even
audio-visual materials with subtitles.
Other beneficial features include simple and clear grammar notes and explanations, vocabulary
lists, or even full translations into your native language.
This kind of material facilitates your quick understanding of the content, and as a consequence
makes it more enjoyable and fun to learn with.
And with enough comprehensible input at the early stages, it won’t be long until you
can venture into content that’s specifically meant for native speakers to enjoy.
Trait # 6: Your method should incorporate all four major language skills (reading, writing,
listening, and speaking)
A lot of language learning methods focus on just one skill.
For example, you can easily find courses all about speaking, that endeavor to help you
improve in just that one area.
However, knowing a language is not about mastering one skill, but many.
In particular, there are four major language skills, which include reading, writing, listening,
Over the years, I’ve had many students come to me after years of focusing on just one
of the above language skills.
They want me to help me “fix” their language abilities, which have now become patchy and
I’ve seen many examples of this, really.
Someone who can listen well, but can’t speak even a few words.
Someone who can read well, but can’t follow a conversation.
Stories like this exist in all combinations.
After a short inquiry, it always turns out that their unbalanced skills reflect the choices
they made along their learning journey.
For instance, an American student of mine told me that he could read well, and listen
to the radio, but couldn’t speak at all.
Naturally, I asked him how he regularly practiced his speaking skills, and...well, he actually
had never spoken Spanish at all.
Somewhere, deep down, he just hoped that after enough listening and reading, his ability
to speak would come naturally.
Here’s a bit of knowledge you should always keep in mind as you learn: if you don’t
practice a skill, you won’t learn it.
So, naturally, to develop all four skills, you need to practice all four skills.
This doesn’t necessarily mean dividing your learning time in four and devoting one chunk
of time to reading, speaking, and so on.
But it does mean that you have to work on developing all of these skills over the course
of a week, a month, or even a year.
With time, you’ll find that practicing all four skills together will help them reinforce
one another, strengthening your brain’s ability to use and absorb the language in
Trait #7 Your method should grow and evolve according to your own experiences and desires.
Whatever language learning method you ultimately choose, it should not be something that is
decided for you by someone else.
Instead, it should come directly from your tastes, desires, and goals as a learner.
Other people’s advice can be helpful, but always keep in mind that no one is going to
learn your target language for you.
Your language skills are your responsibility, so how your method is structured, and how
it grows and evolves over time should also be your responsibility—and yours alone.
It’s like Steve Jobs said in his famous Stanford commencement address: “Don’t
let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice”.
This is true for everything.
The internet is full of loud and convincing voices about language learning—mine included!
Listen carefully, but take everything with a grain of salt.
When you like something you hear, write it down.
Test it out.
Compare it with other advice, and see how it stacks up.
Draw from your common sense and experience, and ultimately integrate the things that resonate
You can discard the rest.
So there you have it, those are the seven traits of the language learning method that
will work best for you.
Not me, not your teachers, or friends—you!
If you want more information, check the links down in the description box.
I’ve left lots of links to some great resources, including a blog post I’ve written on this
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many more great videos!
And as always, thanks for watching!