Language Hacking?

(ualo) #1

Being able to speak multiple languages fluently has been something that has allured me for a long time. As you can tell, English is my current language, and it’s high time to get into gear to expand my language skills. I used to learn French & Spanish when I was younger in school - so I can pick up on the context of what is being spoken. When it comes to speaking, that’s a different story.

I was wondering for those polygots, do you have any language hacks or be able to point me in the right direction?

I’m also guessing it is better to focus on learning 1 language first, then more? I am roam around SE Asia… so I am thinking Chinese Mandarin?

Thank you =D


(Mette Glargaard) #2

Go to a country where people only speak the language you want to learn - makes it a LOT easier to learn. I am in Nicaragua at the moment and my Spanish is improved 500% in the last 3 months because they do not speak English :slight_smile:


(Philip Broughton-Mills) #3

I have tried a variety of methods (books/audio/DuoLingo/Memrise), and the problem I find is that there is always plenty of vocabulary that is not relevant to me. The method that I have settled on is making my own flashcards in the free AnkiDroid app, thus only having to study words and phrases that I actually use, and can be very specific to my profession or interests.

Mandarin is classified as one of the most difficult languages to learn, taking 4 times longer than Spanish. (Source:

One thing I recommend avoiding is mnemonics. Some people use a mental image, for example: “train station” --> “Garfield the cat at a train station” --> “gare” [French word for train station]. But this is bad because it adds an extra layer instead of just converting directly to the information that you want, so is too slow to be used in real life outside of a classroom. I made a similar mistake when learning Bulgarian, adding an extra layer by first converting from the Bulgarian alphabet to the English. Example: “Здравейте.” --> “Zdraveyte.” --> “Hello.”

If I have a specific question, I ask in the Italki community section to get an answer from a native speaker for free. (

The ideal way to adopt new vocabulary (though not grammar) is to treat everything that you say as a single language. For example, you are already comfortable with the idea that the words “small” and “little” are different but have the same meaning, so there is no reason that you can’t add another word, such as “petite”, to this list. In this way, there is no translation, only memorisation.

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(Mario) #5

Thank you so much for referring
Learning many useful tips and hacks!