I recently watched a video by What I’ve Learned on YouTube which was a great overview of how to ACTUALLY learn a language, not the crap they teach in highschools nowadays where it can take up to 4 years before students are even comfortable speaking in basic conversations.
The method called Comprehensible Input has been around for quite some time, popularized by Steven Krashen, who is a language researcher and polyglot, fluent in 8 languages and is actively learning more.
Since then, language learning has been boiled down and optimized to a point where many claim that anyone can learn to be fluent in a language in 6 months.
I could honestly just end the post here and link you to Refold, a website the explains language learning in very good detail and will walk through how to efficiently allocate your time towards learning language.
So DEFINETLY go to their website and keep it open in another tab for later because it is amazingly useful.
My experience with learning Russian has been an interesting one so far. I started on Duolingo after becoming interested because of my mom and two of my close friends that spoke Russian.
Since then I’ve taken First-year Russian in University and continued to practice via Duolingo, but my skills in the language were still pretty minimal.
What really accelerated my learning was the method described in the website I linked above: listen, listen, LISTEN to content in the language.
Active listening and passive listening are both useful, immerse yourself in the language for several hours a day. (video is also useful)
The brief explanation of why listening is so useful is because our brain is really good at recognizing patterns. This is how we learn language as a baby, listening to our parents and others, picking up patterns.
And since we are adults we can use even more tools to our advantage: Anki is flashcard software that is really useful for memorizing new words NOT so you can recall them later while trying to communicated, but instead to better understand content that you are listening to or watching.
The key is to find content in the language that is enjoyable! Otherwise the process becomes much more difficult and slow. I personally am a big fan of Russian music so I listen to a lot of it while translating the lyrics and memorizing the words I don’t know so I understand the music better.
Many languages have specific podcasts that speak at a beginner level which can be another good place to start. If you are interested in Russian language I absolutely recommend checking out Russian With Max.
I’m sure anyone can become fluent in Russian only watching his content. I use it all the time, he has amazing videos and a great podcast.
It’s honestly insane how quickly you are able to pick up a language using the above methods. Becoming fluent is more difficult, but I’m getting very close to being fluent in Russian after only 6 months of using the comprehensible input method of acquiring language.
And I could have been way more efficient if I was disciplined.
Regardless, if you are interested in learning any language I absolutely recommend diving in. It may seem daunting at first, but follow the method briefly described in this post and on Refold.la and I guarantee is will not only be effective but also very satisfying.
It still takes a lot of work to acquire a language and I recommend setting aside 30 minutes to 1 hour per day of active listening (podcast, YouTube videos or a TV show) and at least another 1 – 2 hours of passive listening (music and podcasts) if you want to maximize acquisition without burnout.
Even if you can’t commit to so much. Taking 30 minutes everyday to work on a language can get your really far in less than a year. It’s amazing.