7 legitimate shortcuts to learn a language faster (no tedious methods)

Chris Eubanks
4 min readNov 28, 2023
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

Skip the writing system / written standard

You are under no obligation to learn any characters or separate written standard. Your decision to learn to read and write all depends on your language goals. Speaking and listening are the number 1 signs of language competence. If you can understand fast spoken speech, you’ll know what your coworkers are joking about when you hear them laughing. You can always re-read or translate a text or email, but speaking requires on-the-spot understanding. If your daily hours are limited, you’ll get more returns putting 100% of your time into speaking / listening rather than allocating time to reading / writing.

A writing system may prove useful later as the language becomes more serious for you. For example, with Finnish I am learning both the written standard and spoken language. The level of seriousness of Finnish justifies this. But for Mandarin, I’m not learning any characters until my spoken language becomes competent. Had I allocated any time to writing characters, I would not have enough time to learn to listen and speak.

Focus on reality shows / comedy podcasts

If you want to understand chaotic real life speech between multiple speakers, reality shows and comedy podcasts will achieve this. Imagine a real life conversation between 3 friends on a sidewalk. They interrupt each other, crack jokes, make inside references, and mumble their speech. Listening to a comedy podcast where 3 or more people are talking over each other replicates this scenario. Watch with subtitles until you can understand a particular episode 75% without subtitles. Focus on the gist of what they are saying rather than what each word means.

While science / history podcasts are interesting, the guest typically gets a longer monologue, and they over-enunciate to get their message across. These podcasts help with real life speech somewhat, but they don’t resemble common social situations.

Audiobooks

While reality shows and comedy podcasts will give you as much natural speech as possible, audiobooks will be your vocabulary bath. Nowhere else will you have as much vocabulary in context…

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Chris Eubanks

Language learner. Rapidly learning the Finnish language. Follow me for specific knowledge that can't be found anywhere else on the Internet.