Learn a Language from Scratch by Yourself

Raissa Correia
5 min readFeb 18, 2020

So often we see ourselves seeking to learn another language, a second, third, to have more work options, for an interchange, to study, for a relationship, to get involved in a new culture.

We grow up with the idea that to hit the fluency in a new language, it demands years, and plenty of many to pay for courses and teachers during this period. These presencial courses usually are only in commercial time, presenting the content too slowly.

Due to all this factors, I developed a practical methodology to learn a new language from absolute zero experience in home, with constante 30 minutes to an hour a day, in a couple months you’ll already notice a difference in your proficiency level.

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Phase 0: Getter Sources and Create a Learning Environment

The first step is to have easy access at home, in your phone, in your PC the sources that i’ll talk about, creating a practical environment, so from the most to least relevant:

  1. Duolingo: Install the app or star the website, it’s really great to build vocabulary, phrases and simple rules to start.
  2. Dictionaries: The best one is Google Translate, the app with the desired language package and also in Chrome add the extension or the fixed tab, also usefull for quick consultation.
  3. Grammar and Verb Books: In western languages, the 2 most essential technical books are the small grammar, and the irregular verbs reference, speciality in latin origin languages..
  4. Youtube: Seek for youtube channels who make content in your language about the one you want to learn. It’s also important later to add channels in your desired language to keep practicing listening, but in the beginning will be really hard, because Youtube is usually really fast.
  5. Reddit/Forums: Reddit is always great for that questions that are hard to find a answer, if they are too specific, and you need a answer from a person with a lot fluency.
  6. A notebook: A small notebook is great to keep tracking in 3 sections: grammar rules quick access, a sample of your already discovered vocabulary and the last with sentences and stories that you’ll create. You can do it in Google Docs, or any other digital shape, but typing in not as memorable to mind than writing by hand.

Now, with resources in your hand, let’s put them in practice in each phase of comprehension.

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Phase 1: More duolingo or other apps and less the others

In the beginning we have a lot of bottlenecks, we have no idea from where to start: it’s necessary a small vocabulary and building the simplest sentences: “Chris is Smart”, “Hannah works a lot” to make it happen it’s important to make lessons in some site, or app and watch basic videos about the desired language simplest phrases. 30 to 45 minutes a day is the ideal timing, it’s repetitive and boring but don’t give up is the most important, and don’t over do in a day to compensate, consistency is far more important.

With this done, write in your notebook the phrases you learnt, and the most simple grammar rules, the “how to build the sentence thing”, and this will become a great self consult and checking material. Making an awesome foundation to more complex sentences.

Phase 2: Content Consumption and more Grammar

I enjoy Duolingo, because to do it at all will be a pretty long process, several months to over a year. When you gether this amount of knowledge 2 things are necessary:

To make a grammar knowledge compilation, like in the first phase, but now needs to be more concise. Also the “complicated and weird” words with unexpected orthographic and pronunciation. Consulting this compilation write new phrases, with more and more complex grammar behind it, checking in the translate, asking on Reddit if writing or talking like this is “normal”, google this sentences quote on quote if it’s wrong will result fewer results than the more normal version. It’s also great to use some time to change between youtube channels of different types of content.

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Phase 3: Make Stories and More Content Consumption

After a certain point, you are able to write not only phrases, or small samples of text, but whole stories, narrative, descriptive, technical texts, changing themes and characteristics is really important.

After writing, go in front of the mirror and speak, recording yourself like an actor, or a spokesman to guarantee the evolution of pronunciation and speech, phonetic abilities.

At this stage you are able to consume books, movies, series, youtube, podcasts, because your questions will be more rare and viable to search them.

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Phase 4: Writing and Talking a lot with real people in real time

With all this practice, in the last phase the main thing is to meet people, in person or in internet groups to chat and talk, specially who is also learning the same language as you at this moment, and know your native language. Here are some references to make it happen:

Italki, paid website to talk with teachers

Hellotalk, to talk to foreigners

And also facebook, whatsapp, telegram, and other kinds of groups.

With these three approaches you have the 3 types of people, the teachers, the native and learners like you.

I wish you a great experience in learning a new language!



Raissa Correia

Just a brazillian fullstack dev @raideveloper on twitter and instagram