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Polyglot Beginnings

Congratulations on picking up "Polyglot Beginnings: How to develop the right mindset for learning a new language"

The book came to life, because I realised how important the beginning of learning a foreign language is. It can literally make or break you.

If you start well and balanced you will become fluent faster than you ever thought possible, and you can become a very successful polyglot (speaker of many languages) very quickly.

If you start on the wrong foot, you might give up after 3 weeks and never learn a foreign language.

Scary, right?

The book is useful for language learners at any stage, whether you are just looking to start learning your first foreign language or you have learned multiple already.

The reason for this is that it's never bad to reinforce solid fundamentals for language learning.

During the book you’ll also be presented with how mindset and mental focus are key elements to early success in language learning.

What you’ll discover as you learn about these elements of learning, is they are applicable to all areas of life. If you want to become a better golf player, or do better on your school papers - the advice I'm about to share with you is useful for everything and anything.

In the back of the book, I'll also share my list of favourite resources sorted by medium. This way you can jump straight in to learning after finishing this book.

But first, allow me to share my story with you, this is my own personal polyglot beginning.


This book is about beginning a journey into learning a language, for me personally this was also the beginning of getting my life on track.

In the end of 2013 I was stuck. Feeling depressed and finding myself doing a university degree I couldn't care less about. I only did the bare minimum to avoid being kicked out.

Then something changed. I had previously come across the “Internet polyglots” but the idea of learning languages as a hobby, and perhaps even many of them seemed quite unrealistic for me.

  • I didn't have a job, so I relied entirely on the grants provided by the Danish government. Now I'm never going to complain about free studying and

getting paid to do it, but we’re not talking huge fortunes after rent is paid.

On a cold January evening I was browsing randomly, as I did so often and I came across Benny Lewis’ Fluent in 3 Months blog. I spent the entire night reading the website from start to finish. We’re talking hundreds of posts.

  • I was drawn to his story because some 10 years prior, he had simply left

Ireland, speaking nothing but English and now he lived in a new country every 3 months as well as speaking some 12 languages to varying extents. This was exciting to me. Here I was depressed, isolated and without any apparent future ambitions. Reading Benny’s posts gave me the empowerment to believe that if he could do it, so he could I. Before I dove head first into being a full-time language learner I took some

time to work the idea around in my mind. Two short months after, Actual Fluency was born as a way to keep myself accountable.

  • I was a serial quitter and I wanted to give myself added incentive to keep going when things got tough (as they invariably do.)

  • I was following a few other language bloggers and one thing I was noticing

was that podcasting was very unexplored in the niche. I figured it would be a

great excuse to ask some of the brightest language learners any question a new language learner might have.

That is how the Actual Fluency Podcast came about. As of writing this book I've published more than 50 interviews that is guaranteed to motivate, inspire and answer all the questions that arise when talking about foreign language learning.

You can check out all the episodes on AFPODCAST.COM

A year after I started my journey I could successfully converse in two new languages.

Had I learned Russian and Esperanto to fluency?

Far from it. But I now had 1 hour talks with my Russian tutor entirely in Russian, and I took part in a whole weekend of nothing but Esperanto in Berlin.

  • I know some people are more talented, maybe even faster, at learning languages that I am. To me that doesn't matter.

  • I didn't know any Russian a year prior, and now I could speak in it, understand news articles and even follow along in Russian sitcoms.

That was an amazing feeling.

I found a job through the language learning network and quit my dead-end university degree I was pursuing just for the government support, uprooted from Denmark and moved to Budapest, Hungary.

All this was made possible by becoming a language learner.

I'm not saying language learning is some kind of miracle cure for depression. I'm not a doctor either so this is simply what worked for me.

What I can say though is that becoming a language learner literally transformed my life and I'm confident it can change yours for the better too.


Before starting to give advice, tips and tricks on how to get started learning foreign languages the best way, it makes a lot of sense to take a bird’s eye view and consider the question: Why even learn a foreign language in the first place?

you might be familiar with some of these already, but my hope is that, by reading these reasons and benefits before or even during your language studies you can mentally boost your motivation.

And namely motivation is one of the most discussed topics of language learning. Without proper motivation it is very difficult to put in the consistent time and effort to learn a language.

Some languages will have more advanced grammar than you are used to and some will have strange pronunciation patterns, but the fact of the matter is that anyone can learn any language as long as their motivation is right.

That’s why this book deals primarily with motivation and mindset. But before we look into that, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you would even consider learning a foreign language in the first place.

1. Open your mind to other cultures

When you start to embrace a foreign language you also start embracing a foreign culture. This could start out small as in songs, literature and other written texts but eventually you might even go to the country, make friends and dive even deeper into the culture of your target language.

Culture is this esoteric thing that is so massive, it's actually hard to explain. It transcends music, food and tradition - it's everything that the subgroup of people offer to you.

For instance, going to Denmark you might find that Danish people are very cold and not very welcoming towards strangers. However, once you start to get to know them and take part in their "hygge" - that's the untranslatable word of extreme cosiness, like the feeling of curling up in front of a fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate - You'll discover that beneath the veneer of cold lies a beautiful culture waiting to be explored.

As far as I'm aware, learning the language is the only way to truly get into a country or region's culture.

Sometimes it starts the other way around. Many people get fascinated about manga for example, the Japanese comics and then decide to study Japanese to enjoy the comics in their original language.

However it is also very possibly somebody decided to learn Japanese for a different reason (we’ll look into that more later) and then stumbled upon the manga, and used it to stay motivated and focused in their learning.

The point is that it’s very easy to be quite oblivious about how other cultures, countries and languages work and operate. By learning a foreign language you get tuned into not only how the culture works, but also how the people think and express themselves.

2. Exercise your brain and delay brain degeneration and dementia.

A recent study published in the academic magazine "Neurology" came out with the following conclusion based on a study of 648 people:

"Overall, bilingual patients developed dementia 4.5 years later than the monolingual ones" Source: Neurology.org

That's pretty significant. So the brain gymnastics aspect of language learning is definitely not to be ignored.

3. REALLY Talk to more people

This one is quite obvious. There are still many countries and areas where people actually don’t speak English, so unless you learn the language you’d have a better chance of communicating with your cat than these speakers.

There’s also another point. Speaking somebody’s native language is way more powerful than speaking a common language such as English.

When I came to Hungary in 2015, for example, people would always be relatively cold towards me when I spoke in English. Professionals, random people on the street and so on.

However when I started to speak even the tiniest bit of Hungarian people's eyes would just lit up and a huge smile would form on their mouths.

Not many people bother to do this, so when you do, the reactions can often be priceless.

you might think English is just fine, particularly in Europe, where the level of English is incredibly high. Foreigners come to the country and while all communication is possible in English, they don’t feel as though they really get to know anyone.

However the native language, even when spoken poorly can often be a direct key to break the ice and form great lasting friendships.

Nelson Mandela said; If you speak to a man in a language he understands it goes to his head and if you speak in his mother tongue it goes to his heart.

So that's what we'll do.


Because not everyone speaks English

There is a common myth going around, that the whole world speaks English. This couldn't be further from the truth.

Talking about my move to Hungary in 2015 again, I would frequently run into people who did not understand or speak a word of English. Literally nothing.

This is very scary when you try it for the first time. I've always been living in countries where almost everyone speaks English, so coming here where good English skills are really rare was a bit of a wake-up call.

It was also exciting, because now I HAD to learn Hungarian - I couldn't simply rely on English any more.

So in other words, learn a new language, make communication possible and open more doors than anything else.

  • 5. To make yourself more attractive to potential employers

Multilingualism is a huge asset in the job market. Globalisation is making the world smaller and by doing so companies are always looking for people who can communicate across different languages.

Think of it this way, if you have the same qualifications as somebody else, but you happen to also speak Spanish you'd get a huge priority for the job.

Not only can you improve the standing of your current job, get promotions and pay raises but you can also use languages to make you eligible for completely new job titles, or go freelance as a translator, interpretor or other language-based jobs.

With languages, the world is your oyster.

6. To make new friends

When I was suffering from depression back in 2011 and before, I had a massive problem making friends and socialising.

Becoming a language learner totally changed this, because there are so many like-minded people on the planet who also share the passion of language learning.

Furthermore, as previously discussed, speaking a foreign language is a great icebreaker and gateway to new and amazing friendships.

I've made more close friends in the last 2 years than the previous 25 combined. That's saying something.

I hope these reasons gave you a bit of a boost to crack on, because now we're getting into the meat of this book.


Language learning is not a technically complicated process when done right. It's not like understanding how quantum physics work.

Actually the moving parts of learning a language are quite simple and better yet, all of us have learned at least one language instinctively from birth.

So how come so many people don't start learning a language because it seems impossible? Why is it so many people give up only a few weeks in? The reason is our mindset. The mental background for doing anything, and it’s the single element that actually makes learning a foreign language difficult.

We are constantly at war with ourselves, from we get up in the morning till we get to bed at night.

Whenever we encounter the tiniest bit of resistance our brains try and tell us that we should probably stop doing what we’re doing, to avoid putting ourselves in awkward or difficult situations.

It’s the same reason why maintaining an exercise routine is hard. Every time you run out of breath or your muscles start aching, the mind starts sending signals of doubt to our logical and reasoning brain.

You go from super excited about a new routine, to slowly, but surely stopping it all-together. Then you end up on the couch watching TV or on the laptop watching netflix.

It’s important to understand our self-discipline that is linked heavily to motivation and mindset is like a rubber band. When we get up in the morning the band is completely soft and every act requiring self-discipline tenses the band a little bit.

Eventually, if you keep giving your self-discipline tasks during the day it will snap and regaining productivity is like climbing mount Everest.

Some people are able to bounce back, but most people need a reset, usually sleep to repair the band.

Just like real muscles, if a ligament is torn enough times, eventually it will not be able to grow back. This is when we give up on our new routine all together.

There are good news, however. If we apply the right thinking and mindset to our new routines, we can learn to make the band stronger and most importantly realize when we are tensing it too hard and just take it easy.

Here’s the secret to learning a language: If you keep learning, no matter the method, you will eventually learn the language. This means that our number one priority is to put ourselves in a position where we keep going no matter how tough or hard it feels.

Later I will get into ways on how we can start a language learning routine without fail. There are some simple steps you can take.

For now, simply understand that the challenge of learning a language is all in your head. Approach the learning with a “yes I CAN!” attitude, and stay positive. This will pay huge dividends in the long run.

"Why" is the most powerful word in the world. It’s the word that explains every action of every human being. The reason it’s important in language learning is that without a strong why, it’s really hard to keep going.

Again going back to weight loss (you can see how language learning theory can apply to multiple areas of life) if you don’t have any reason for losing weight, be it a partner, family, health or anything then it’s going to be really hard to put in the time on the treadmill.

Language learning is similar, but has an important key difference. Progress in language learning is a lot less obvious than losing weight or getting in shape.

So in a way language learning can feel tougher, because progress is hard to measure.

You can look at the amount of flashcards you learn or the length of conversation you’re able to have, but more often than not the progress is a bit subtle.

The other thing is that many people want to learn languages mainly because “it could be nice” as a kind of vanity. I admit to also have been victim to this way of thinking early on, and I felt the negative effects very early because I was missing my strong why.

About 3 months into learning Russian I was doing great. Regular work, good progress and I was regularly adding words to my completed flashcards.

Then disaster struck. I was feeling like I was no longer getting anywhere. Words were getting harder, longer and more Russian and my self-discipline was being severely tested by this, somewhat minor resistance.

It brought my learning to a standstill and if I hadn't started the blog I'm fairly sure I would have quit right there and then. The blog and podcast with its relatively humble audience became my why. The feeling that some people, even if only a few, were really enjoying the content I was putting out made it a lot harder for me to quit.

Luckily many people have really strong whys for learning a language already. They might have a close personal connection like a grandmother or partner speaking the language, or they’re living in the country and are surrounded by whys.

This doesn't apply to everyone though. I've met plenty of people who wanted to learn languages, but they weren't really sure why. Sometimes the why can also come after you started learning the language.

So how do you come up with a strong why, when it’s not apparent what it might be?

You could of course start a blog like I did. People, myself included, love to read about other language learners. Be warned though, it's a lot of work to stay consistent and while it is definitely rewarding you need to make sure you're ready to commit to it before you go into it.

The other way is to visualise yourself speaking your target language. REALLY imagine yourself speaking the language. Think of the happy feelings and emotions that come with suddenly speaking a completely new language.

If you know anyone who speaks the target language natively, you can also visualise talking to them and the look on their face as you now communicate in their language.

Ideally write your whys down on a piece of paper. The act of committing it to physical paper will enhance the emotion attached to it. After you've done that be sure to frequently revisit it when you’re feeling like giving up.

Many people who start learning a language don’t even consider why. Just by considering this before you begin, you’re miles ahead of the curve.


This next section is on how to pick the foreign language you want to learn. If you've already got one, then feel free to move on to "On the importance of confidence"

However, I'd advise you still read through this section as it could help you make sure you picked the right language to learn. I also include a bit of back story on why I picked Russian.

Picking what language to learn is an interesting problem in several ways. When I first thought about it, it didn’t seem so complicated. Just pick something that’s related to you, your hobbies or your life and you’ll be fine.

However, in reality this is not as simple as such. First of all, what if no language emerges when considering those factors?

Are you doomed to never be able to learn a language? Of course not. You will have to work harder on your motivation and on-going commitment, but of course anything is possible. In the summer of 2015 I attended a polyglot workshop arranged by well-known polyglots Alex Rawlings and Richard Simcott, here they spent a fair amount of time talking about what language to choose, and this really cemented for me, just how difficult this is.

They even included a check list, where if you were unable to check off all points they cautioned you might not be properly motivated to learn that language.

I agree to a large extent you need good whys to learn a language, as I presented in the previous chapter. I don’t agree that every single box must be checked before we can successfully learn a language, but it goes without saying that the more boxes the better.

Let me tell you when I chose Russian.

When I first started my language learning back in 2014, I like many other new aspiring polyglots had no idea what language to go for first.

  • I knew I wanted to learn a new language, I just didn't have any idea which one. To my knowledge my entire family is from Denmark, so no hits there.

  • I thought about picking up French, because I had it in school, so I couldn't imagine it being too hard.

However, as much as I tried to find anchors or interest points to learn French I just couldn't find any. It was a feeling of “it-would-be-nice” and it just wasn't powerful.

At the time I was playing a lot of the video game Dota 2, which had a considerable fan base in China and Russia. It was a bit of a toss-up, but I was more fascinated by Russian as the Russian players had a reputation for being terrible at the game and also rude to the other players. They were also often in my games, whereas I would very rarely see Chinese speakers.

So I went into Russian with a desire to actually understand how these people behind the avatars where thinking and not least saying in the chat box.

Most of the time it was pretty rude things, but as I got deeper and deeper into the language I started to understand that a lot of the frustration simply came out of misunderstandings.

The Russian players didn't speak English, and if they uttered one word of Russian, English speaking Europeans would get mad and shout at them.

So the Russians would retort and suddenly two people who have no idea what the other person is saying are in a verbal war.

There were also plenty of tournaments with video streams in Russian. In

other words, there were plenty of ways to combine my hobby for the game with a new language.

But EVEN then I think my why, as we talked about in the last chapter, wasn't as strong as it could be because I started on a bit of a whim.

If I had sat down and spent the time on the action steps, then I think I would have done better with Russian.

If you are still unsure, here are some questions that can help you on your way.


Do you have family or friends who speak a foreign language? Do you have hobbies (like games) that have large foreign language followings? Does your employer operate in more languages or territories, where you could potentially be promoted or just more valuable to the company? Do you enjoy any foreign culture such as literature, songs or movies?

Consider learning the language to enjoy the works in their original language. This is particularly popular for Japanese, where people get into Manga or Anime first and then want to learn the language to watch or read in Japanese.

Consider also picking a language with someone else. The partnership will keep you both more motivated and be a constant reminder of your why.

You can also consider learning Esperanto first, if you only speak one language at the moment. Many studies have shown that learning Esperanto before a foreign language can highly improve the rate of which the foreign language is learnt.

In one study, French students in the UK were split into two groups. One group would do 2 years of French and the second group would do 1 year of Esperanto followed by a year of French. After the two years the second group outperformed the first by a significant margin.

Why is this?

Esperanto is a very regular language, which means that it’s super easy to learn and pick up. This boosts confidence and faith, which are crucial elements to success.

Furthermore Esperanto also introduces a minimal amount of grammar, so students will be quicker to understand grammar in foreign languages because they can parallel to Esperanto.

Whether or not to learn Esperanto is your decision, but be informed that if you do decide to learn it, you also gain access to a huge social network, meet-ups and events, couch-surfing (Esperanto has had it’s own couch-surfing since the 60’s!)

Many people love it and some people hate it, either way the effects of language learning is not disputable. If you’re ready to learn Esperanto I've collected a few resources that helped me, along with a few tips on:

Once you've picked your language it’s time to move onto learning it, but before we get into the juicy details let’s talk a little bit more about the mindset of a good language learner.


Language learning is a daunting task and there is a reason many people quit before they get properly going, or worse yet - don’t even begin.

This is because they lack the belief or faith that learning a language independently is actually possible.

People might see successful language learners learn languages and falsely attribute their success to something esoteric like genes, talent, aptitude or other silly excuses for why they are not out there learning a language.

The fact is, anyone can learn a new language.

  • I was in a deep hole, isolated and ambition-less and I still managed to learn Russian and Esperanto by myself to reasonable beginner levels.

As I said earlier I'm by no means an expert, but comparing my level now to a year ago is like comparing night and day.

  • I would not have made it here, if I gave up after a few weeks.

  • I want to take this last page of the first section to truly, genuinely, honestly tell you;

You can learn a language. Trust me. Don’t let anyone or your brain tell you differently.


I promised in the last section that I would get into the practical lessons of learning a language that I have learned from interviewing over 50 polyglots in this section. I will very shortly, but first I need to once again help you establish a healthy mindset for when you get started.

There’s a huge risk that you after having read or listened to a ton of motivational and inspirational material want to jump straight into the game of learning languages. This is totally fine, but the risk with this is you start way too enthusiastic and then burn out. It’s frequently called the honeymoon feeling. Analogous to coming back from a honeymoon to “real life.”

What I suggest is, and this is the sentiment that’s been backed up by almost anyone I've interviewed so far is that it’s way better to set conservative goals in the beginning. If your goals are too easy and you outperform them every day you feel great, but if your goals are too ambitious you will fail and the act of failing will really hurt your progress.

Learning a language, particularly on your own, requires a long consistent effort so be sure you start on the right foot.

Before we can begin learning a new foreign language we need to set some goals that we can follow and refer to if we feel lost or unmotivated.

Setting goals is a science in itself. There have been countless books written on the subject and people seem to be always interested in how to achieve their goals.

Commonly books will tell you what a good goal is, but I’d like to present you for the what a bad goal is. When I first started Russian I set very bad goals, so I feel like an undisputed expert on this topic.

Bad goals

This is what characterises bad goals:

Unrealistic: My first Russian mission had the ultimate goal of me speaking in 3 months. LOL. If your goal is too unrealistic you will burn out and abandon language learning all together. Avoid.

Shallow: If you’re not fully emotionally committed to the goal, it won’t have any effect on your studies. This also happens when your goal is too ambitious or easy - you simply disregard the goal as impossible or easy peasy and don’t leverage the motivational effects of the act of setting goals.

Vague: Take my goal from the previous sentence: Learn Russian in 3 months. Well, what does learn even mean?

I've had multiple discussions with other learners about what “learning” means and we all have different theories and ideas.

Some even consider learning to be impossible because we never fully learn a language. Imagine your native language, are there words you don’t know what means? Of course.

This is why the goal has to specify exactly where you want to be when the goal is completed. In the next paragraph I’ll show some examples of some great goals you can use in your language learning.

Untimely: “I want to learn German” When do you want to do this? There’s a great law called Parkinson's Law:

"work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"

So it goes without saying, without a deadline you never have any pressure or reason to actually work towards your goals.

Unmeasurable: How are you supposed to measure how you are progressing towards your goal if you have not set goals that allow measuring? For instance if your goal is to be fluent in German, how do you actually measure fluency?

A word on the phrasing of goals

Studies have shown that the brain is very susceptible to persuasive thinking. This means that for greater effect, we should avoid using hypothetical language like:

I’d like I would I could The goals will be stronger if you put them as fact.




Fake it until you make it. If you keep telling your brain you speak German, eventually it will believe you and you will gain a ton of confidence, that can carry you until your saying actually becomes the truth.

To help you set good goals in the beginning you can use the S.M.A.R.T criteria. I won’t go into much detail about these but they are:






Here’s for example my last goal for French: I will have a 15 minute natural conversation with a native speaker after 3 months. By the time of the conversation I have finished 100 out of 100 Assimil lessons, All the Michel Thomas tapes and The French tree on Duolingo and I would have learned 1000 new words as well as completed 20 tutoring lessons.

It might seem a bit verbose, but all the components are specific, measurable, realistic, attainable and timed by the 3 months goal. There can be no question if progress has been made towards this goal.

What this allows is to also make logical sub-goals as you get started. Now I have my 3 month goals it would make sense to break that down into monthly and then weekly goals for all elements of the goal.

Weekly goals

90 new words 9 Assimil Lessons 2 Tutoring lessons 15 Duolingo Lessons 7 Michel Thomas lessons

This might seem like a lot, so be sure to make goals that suits you personally. Overly conservative is usually better than overly ambitious in the long run.


Now that you've set great goals, let's get to work finding the methods you will use for learning that next language.

  • I often get asked, what are the best methods to learn foreign languages?

The answer is shockingly simple. The method which you enjoy the most is likely the one that will give you the best long-term results.


Because language learning, as we previously established, is a marathon - not a sprint. To become fluent requires consistent efforts of a long period of time and you just can't do that unless you actually find something you enjoy doing.

People are also very different. My friend Robin McPherson, who I interviewed on the podcast (episodes 9-10) really enjoys reading early on, attacking the foreign language book with a dictionary to build his skills.

  • I personally find that extremely boring. It's all about your individual


  • I can give you some ideas though, just to get you started.

There are 3 general categories of learning methods, they are audio-based, text-based or video-based. Within these we have a lot of subcategories, but these 3 provide a good starting point. In the next section I've included a list of my favourite methods. These involve a variety of systems, courses, books, websites and much more. Explore this list to try and find your favourite. One essential component, that possibly can't be avoided is to do some kind

of vocabulary training. I'll also list my favourite ways to do that, but bear in mind you don't have to use digital flashcards. Many people rely on handwritten wordlist-type systems that also show great results.

Ultimately it comes down to you as the learner.

Incidentally that's also where this starting-guide leaves you. I hope you've found it helpful for your new language learning studies.

Thank you + a quick favour

Before I introduce my list of favourite resources, I'd just like to thank you for picking up this guide. I've been working on it for a while and seeing it in it's full form is really amazing.

Before you go and learn your next foreign language, which I have no doubt you will, faster than you ever imagined, I'd just like to ask you one quick favour.

Would you share this free guide with your friends and family who are interested in learning languages? It would really mean a lot to me.

You can find all the sharing options on this page:


I'm going to list only resources that I have personally worked with. There's too much low quality crap going around, so it's essential that the recommendations you see in this list are genuine. If I'm not a fan of something, you won't see it here.

By extension I'm naturally limited in the languages I can recommend resources to. Luckily some resources are available in a ton of languages so even if you're not learning Russian, Esperanto or Hungarian (As I was by the time of writing this) then there are still good things for you in this list.

The list is split into 5 main categories. They are labelled conveniently.

I've added a few META-resources as well. Any of these would be a great continuation of this beginning guide to help you become a better learner in general.

Like Abraham Lincoln said: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe"

In other words, learning to be a better learner improves your learning tremendously upfront.


Fluent in 3 Months Premium: Benny Lewis runs the world's most visited language learning blog, is a best-selling author and speaker of 10+ languages. In this premium area of his website, he shares a large selection of resources to help you, including two of his previous courses, video tutorials, sentence packages and much more. Updated for 2015!

IWillTeachYouALanguage Foundations Course: Olly Richards has taught himself 7+ languages and runs the popular blog: I Will Teach You A language where he inspires and teaches people how to learn a language. This course is a perfect next step after this book.

Add 1 Challenge: The Add1Challenge is a community of language learners that go together to form unbeatable motivation and accountability so you can learn to have a 15 minute conversation in just 90 days.


Italki: The biggest and best tutoring directory on the planet. Learn or Teach here, end of story.


LanguagePod101: Available in 31 languages the format follows a native speaker and a learner who teaches you everything from the very basics to advanced levels of the language. Also tons of extra content. You can download their entire library for $1 by following this guide.

Glossika: You know spaced repetition for text, Glossika is spaced repetition for Audio. You learn natural sentences from a native speaker and thus learn vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar.

Pimsleur: Although I have struggled at times with Pimsleur and it comes at a relatively high price tag, the fact that you can borrow it for free in many libraries makes this a valuable resources in many languages. Focuses a lot of pronunciation and conversation.

Michel Thomas: By far the best introductory audio course. Michel teaches a style where you make tremendous progress in very little time. Only downside is that it caps out at a relatively low level and is not available in too many languages.

Forvo: Look up the pronunciation of words. Tons and tons of languages. Rhinospike: Request a text to be spoken by a native speaker.


Colloquial Series: I'm not a huge text-book person, but I do enjoy the colloquial series and the fact they offer all their audios online for free make it a great choice.

Penguin Russian Course: I found this book GREAT for Russian, it contains upwards of 2000 words of vocabulary and introduces most of the grammar concepts in a good pace.


Readlang: Input any foreign language text and get in-line translation. Also available as a Chrome Plugin so you can hover over words on ANY website.

Duolingo: Although heavily criticised I think DuoLingo is fun and a great way to learn languages on the go using their app. Gamification is a great motivator.

Lang-8: Send in foreign language text to be corrected by native speakers. By helping others you get priority for your own texts.


Memrise: The largest collection of online flashcard courses. Also my favourite due to it's ease of use and excellent mobile apps. You can also make your own.

Anki: The old-school rival of Memrise. A bit more rudimentary, but gets the job done.

LearnWithOliver: Pre-made advanced flashcards with lots of functionality and games to teach you the words better.

Thanks for reading my guide. I always maintain an updated list of recommended resources on the website here:

I'm always available for questions, comments or feedback. Simply email me on http://actualfluency.com/contact

To your success, -Kris Broholm