How I used the internet to painlessly relearn a foreign language & you could too

  • Spanish is roughly the easiest language for English speakers to learn , and is useful so highly motivating to practice, which meant early on I could make massive progress in just a few months.
  • I could already go slowly through a newspaper and kind-of understand it, or watch a Spanish movie and half understand what they were saying. If you’re starting from a lower level it might take longer to reach escape velocity.

1. Watch Netflix in your foreign language.

Why it’s useful

Drawbacks

What to watch

2. Listen to ‘News in Slow Language-X’.

Why it’s useful

Drawbacks

3. Vary the speed.

See the speed varying thing in the top left?

Why it’s useful

Drawbacks

4. Practice spaced repetition flashcards with Anki.

Why it’s useful

Drawbacks

5. Go through a list of words from most to least common.

Why it’s useful

Drawbacks

6. Set your phone, laptop, browser and Google to use your language.

Why it’s useful

Drawbacks

7. Use the Linguee dictionary.

Why it’s useful

Drawbacks

8. Now just start reading and listening to normal things in your target language.

Drawbacks

9. Go travelling and use what you’ve learned.

  1. I don’t naturally have a time in my daily life when I’m going to sit down with a book and write in it
  2. it’s just more boring than watching Spanish Netflix or reading the newspaper
  3. I already knew enough grammar that it wasn’t obviously a more effective way to learn anything in particular.

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Robert Wiblin

Robert Wiblin

I research the world’s most pressing problems and how to solve them at 80000hours.org. More about me: robwiblin.com.