Languages consist of two core components: grammar and vocabulary.
The knowledge of any language, however, is expressed through any of the four skills:
1. Reading — The main source of input for most language learners, where the main aspect is the language’s script.
2. Writing — Generally comes with reading, but eﬀective writing often requires learning spelling or stroke order.
3. Listening — Involves learning the language’s sound system, including vowels, consonants, and tones. Understanding how letters correspond to sounds (orthography) is an important ﬁrst step.
4. Speaking — In addition to being able to hear the sound system, the learner must learn to use these sounds. It also includes other aspects of pronunciation such as rhythm and intonation. Pronunciation is an important skill that is crucial for those who are learning to communicate.
The skills of reading and listening together are called input (or content). The skills of writing and speaking are called output.
Once you complete the beginner stages you will know:
Basic grammar — Basic verb and noun forms, the general structure and logic of the language
A functional vocabulary — approximately 1,000-2,000 words, enough to be understood in basic conversations
The basics of the four key skills — enough to function in whatever context you are learning for
We need four core resources to start learning the basics:
A beginner course
A ﬂashcard program
First, we will discuss where to ﬁnd them and what they are, then we’ll look at how to best use them and how to study efficiently.
Spend some time hunting for resources by reading guides and recommendations from other learners. Every time you encounter something you think you might like, bookmark it then keep looking. Once you’ve spent some time hunting, then go back and choose what you think will work for you, keeping in mind the insights from these tips.
There are several ways you can ﬁnd good resources:
Google search communities dedicated to your target language — see if they have a list of recommended resources
Google search for guides or articles about learning your target language
Look through some popular repositories of resources
Language repositories link to or display a large number of language resources for many languages in one place. Some include resources about learning techniques and methods. Below we will list a couple useful ones. It can get easy to be overwhelmed by the quantity of resources listed, so be sure to focus only on what you think will be most useful for you.
Once you have found some good resources, you will need to choose which to use.
Generally, you only need 1-2 courses, 1 ﬂashcard program, 1 dictionary, and as much input as you can ﬁnd. You don’t have to stick with a resource if you decide you don’t like it.
There are key factors you should always keep in mind:
How much you think you will enjoy using it — keep in mind there is a lot of room for individual preference
How well it aligns with the principles of learning