Speed Learning Languages

Thomas Edison

Speed Learning Languages:

Ever since I was 12, I had a fascination about languages, how wonderful it would be to be able to converse with people all around the world!

However, it was during my University days in Australia that I started to truly appreciate this skill set. It was a real eye opener as I met many students from different parts of the World. Though all of them speak English to a high standard, it wasn’t easy to be fully integrated into their groups as many of them prefer to mix with people from either their same country or people who can speak their same mother tongue language.

My craving for this skill set grew enormously from then.

My attempts at learning a foreign language started with my amusement with the Japanese language where in my youthful days, comics and Japanese dramas were in the rave. In recent years, this trend shifted to the Korean counterparts.

I tried taking up Japanese lessons before while in Singapore and a short night course in Australia, but I still have much trouble communicating with others in that language. Fast forward years later to today, my grasp of the language shrunk to only greetings and “excuse me”. I believe it has to be the method of teaching and my own lack of patience when it comes to a long term commitment in learning an extra language. Truth be it, if there was any extra time, I would dedicate it to my University studies and projects, which seems to be a valid excuse, except that many others were able to cope with both their studies and learn an extra language.

Tim Ferriss in his blog post mentioned that language lessons doesn’t work that well and proposes another way of learning, learning the vital components and speak to natives. Sounds like the thousand light bulb experiments that Thomas Edison (photo from wiki above) is so famous for, make enough errors and correct them as you go along, wahla, a skill is learnt.

Sounds cool, seems logical, let’s do it!

Here’s a few fantastic free websites to learn the basics from, great thing is that they have the foreign language version, English version and YES, the voice version. Gosh, I’m loving BBC languages section.

BBC Languages – Speed Learning Languages


  1. Learn French Fast: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/french
  2. Learn Spanish Fast:http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/spanish/
  3. Improving my Chinese Fast: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/chinese/
  4. Learn German Fast: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/german/
  5. Learn Italian Fast: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/italian/
  6. Learn some Arabic: www.bbc.co.uk/languages/other/quickfix/arabic.shtml
  7. Learn some Russian: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/russian/quickfix/
  8. Learn some Japanese: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/other/quickfix/japanese.shtml
  9. Other languages: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/other/quickfix/


Do you know of any other sources that encourages speed learning? Let me know in the comments and I’ll check it out. Let’s learn!


  1. Fluent says:

    Your post reveals an interesting and surprisingly common approach to language learning: the need for speed. It surprises me how many people these days want to pick up a language within a few weeks or months.

    Not saying it isn’t possible, and people like Benny the Irish Polyglot and Tim Ferriss show how you can pick up the keys to communication extremely soon. But personally, I believe that the secret to success in language learning is not in a special method of picking up verbs first, or grammar first, or whatever part first – I think it’s all in the confidence. Tim Ferriss or Benny Lewis, like a Gary Vaynerchuk, are people who get a lot of mileage out of selling their successes with a huge amount of confidence. And this is the best tip I could give you for communicating in a foreign language right away: just do it! The fastest way is to cram more immersion into less time, so when someone tells you that language lessons don’t work, that’s only half the story. Language lessons which only happen once a week won’t give you a lot of knowledge quickly if you never practice outside those lessons. Language lessons with someone who points you to interesting websites, gives you fun homework and catchy songs, might work a lot better. The more you have the language around you, the more you learn. But surely you won’t ever get over that awkward scary moment of trying to talk to someone else in a foreign language for the first time. (I remember the first time I plucked up my courage and talked to someone in English. An actual Englander. I WAS SO PROUD. They almost certainly thought I was an idiot, plus I couldn’t understand a word they said.)

    I write a language learning blog at http://www.fluentlanguage.co.uk/blog – all about people’s excuses, and why languages are fun, and why I love them.

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