If you've always wanted to speak another language, or just want to understand your Spanish boyfriend, then you're in luck.


  Thanks to the internet, it's become easier and easier to learn a new language – and you don't even have to pay a penny.


  You can watch foreign films on Youtube or streaming sites, order books from every country in the world and chat online.


  Millions of language learners now also use Duolingo, a free app which treats learning like a game. Practicing earns you points and unlocks new levels of vocabulary.


  We asked one super user, Matthias Salzger, about his experience and what tips he has for beginners.


  Thanks to my online Spanish, I was top of my class'


  I started using Duolingo in June 2013. After seeing it in a Youtube video I thought: “It would be cool to speak some Spanish.” Soon I was hooked.


  I learnt all of my early Spanish on Duolingo. In fact, I switched schools in the autumn of 2013 and found out I had learned in three months on Duolingo what my new classmates had in three years. I passed a test the school required me to take with flying colours and quickly was at the top of my class.


  Besides Spanish , I learnt some Italian on Duolingo, what I believe to be almost conversational Esperanto , and a good chunk of my French.


  Duolingo can only get you so far. After you've got the basics, read. And then read some more. Skip the children's books and start with the stuff that you're actually interested in. Other than that, try watching a movie or a TV series.


  The most important tip in my opinion is to do what's fun for you.


  I guess my level in Spanish now is around B1-B2 (intermediate). I didn't get there with Duolingo alone. I also read quite a bit, watched some cartoons in Spanish and attended a language school in Spain for two weeks.


  But you don't need expensive programs like Rosetta Stone, a private teacher or even language classes. The really important factor is that you stay motivated and stick with it.

  你不必花很多钱购买“如师通”软件(Rosetta Stone)、请私人老师或是报班上语言课,最重要的是你要一直有动力,要坚持学下去。

  Matthias' 7 tips for learning a language:


  1. Set yourself a goal

  1 给自己设定目标

  This goal could be finishing the Duolingo tree, or being able to speak with your friend in their native language. Work every day at it!


  2. Team up with other learners

  2 和其他学习者相互促进

  When using Duolingo, don't forget to use the sentence discussion and read the grammar notes too. The discussion boards are also worth taking a look at (only available in the web version).


  Ask questions, look for people to learn alongside with and if you're already there check out Lingots For Stories, a weekly writing challenge managed by myself and other great Duolingo members.


  3. Start reading

  3 学会阅读

  Check out your local library or the internet (a lot of books can be found as pdf downloads). Now here comes what might seem like a bizarre tip: don't use a dictionary!


  Instead, try to understand the from its context. This might be incredibly hard in the beginning, but I promise it gets easier. You won't forget the words, as you might if you just look them up. And don't worry about getting it wrong as you'll encounter the again and correct your mistake.


  4. Watch films

  4 看电影

  Try watching a movie or TV series. You can stream it online. If you can't do that legally, see if the movies you own have an audio track in your language of choice. Youtube is also a great source for foreign language material.


  5. Follow your interests

  5 根据自己的兴趣去学

  I've tried reading children's books in Spanish but found them so boring that I never got past the first few pages. Then I read Ficcionesby Jorge Luis Borges, which is quite a difficult book, and I loved it. As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn't read or watch it in your native language, you also shouldn't in your second language.


  6. Chat

  6 和外国人聊天

  If you know somebody who speaks the language you're learning you should definitely try to get them to talk with you.


  7. Be patient


  The cost of learning a language isn't money but your time. It can take years.


  Don't expect a language course to just shove the knowledge into your mouth. You have to earn it.


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