Written by:
Jul 18, 2023

How to Learn a New Language on Your Own

Are you wondering how to learn a new language by yourself? Or are you ready to set sail on your language-learning voyage today?

Let us help you discover the best ways to learn a new language by yourself and become a language-learning superhero! On our journey, we’ll discover the secrets of language learning without a traditional teacher and provide you with useful tips to achieve your goals. We’ll also show you how Language  Drops can make vocabulary learning easy and fun!

Smiling young man, his finger on his lips, hinting a secret.

Now, if you are curious about the hows, in this blog post we'll share 15 invaluable tips on how to learn a new language on your own. We’ll talk about how to set personalized goals and create a study plan that fits into your daily routine. How to start from the basics and gradually expanding your knowledge and language skills. 

We’ll tell you tips on how to find a native speaker friend or use authentic language experiences like music, TV shows, and movies. We’ll also explain the power of reading, writing, and labeling objects in the target language and also the importance of making a habit, and staying patient with yourself.

What is Language Learning?

Language learning is like having a superpower that lets you understand different perspectives and build bridges between cultures. But it's not just about expanding your horizons and broadening your worldview. You're discovering the secrets of new cultures, developing fluency, and connecting with incredible people from all around the world as well. And learning a foreign language can also make your brain do wild backflips. 

How? At its core, language learning is a cognitive process that engages various areas of the brain, stimulating neuroplasticity—the brain's ability to adapt and reorganize itself. 

And because language is much more than just words and grammar rules, it's rather a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle. It has the speed and rhythm of how it's spoken, the dialects, those tricky tongue-twisters we all heard about, and of course, the slang. Learning a new language is like stepping into a whole new dimension of human expression and communication. 

Once you enter this world, you have to keep in mind that it’s not only about acquiring words and catchy phrases. You have to immerse yourself in a whole new way of thinking, communicating, and seeing the world. So get ready, because language learning awaits, and it's gonna be one memorable adventure!

Is it Hard to Learn a New Language?

Young girl trying to learn a foreign language and having a hard time.

Learning a new language might seem like a big, scary challenge at first, but trust me, it's absolutely doable! The difficulty level can vary depending on a bunch of things, like how similar the language is to your native tongue, your previous language-learning experiences, and how much effort you put into the process. 

If the new language is similar to your own, with familiar sounds and sentence structures, you actually have a head start at the very beginning. On the other hand, if it's a whole new system with different grammar rules and strange words, it might take a bit more time and effort to get the hang of it. But I have good news for you: anyone can crack the language code with the right mindset, smart strategies, and practice, practice, practice!

But let's clear something up—even though we can confidently say that learning a language isn't "hard," we have to accept the fact that it takes a lot of time and there are no super instant, easy ways to learn a language. 

Think about it, you've already mastered your mother tongue, right? That is basically real  proof that you've got what it takes. It's just that sometimes we get a bit impatient and don't give ourselves enough time to absorb all that new information. We all have our own pace, and factors like age or an incorrect language-learning system can also play a huge role. 

If your journey doesn't excite you or isn't personalized to your interests, it's like trying to eat a boring sandwich when you crave a juicy burger. No wonder you start to feel anxious or even bored! So, what can we do then, you might ask.

Well, just take a deep breath, enjoy the experience, and remember that language learning is all about giving yourself time, finding fun resources, and having fun.

Can You Learn a Language Without a Teacher?

Heck yeah! Learning a language without a teacher is totally achievable! We live in a digital age, and with all the cool tech resources available, self-guided language learning has become a real possibility.

One of the greatest perks of going teacher-free is the freedom to make it your own. You get to curate your learning experience to match your interests, goals, and the resources you have on hand. Feel like trying out audio lessons? No problem! Want to go get interactive with language learning apps? They’ve got you covered! Or maybe you want to give online communities a try and connect with language buddies? Go for it! The possibilities are endless!

But going solo does have its challenges. Without a tutor to guide you, you might find it hard to structure your learning path, get instant feedback, or track your progress accurately. That's where self-motivation comes into the picture. You have to be disciplined and actively seek out opportunities to practice and improve. You’ve got to embrace your inner manager and take charge of your language learning journey. Set those specific targets, create a killer study plan, and stay consistent. 

With dedication, discipline, and all the right resources by your side, you'll unlock the doors to a new language and a world of opportunities. The more you engage with the language, the more fluency and confidence you'll gain.

Learning a foreign language is like nourishing your brain and expanding your heart. It's a personal journey of growth and understanding. So, if you've got that fire in your soul, you can totally learn a language on your own. 

15 Tips on How to Learn a New Language by Yourself

1. Know your Goals:

Before anything else, you have to set your own, personalized goals and know your targets! What do you want to achieve by learning this new language? Be clear and realistic about it. Want to be fluent enough to chat with the locals on your next trip? Or maybe it’s your goal to pass that language exam? 

Whatever it is, set achievable targets and keep your eyes on the prize. Once those are clear, you have to make your own strategy, and you have to customize it. So, think about your goals, your style, and the resources you can find first. 

2. Create the Plan:

Next up, it's about creating a study plan that suits your groovy schedule. We're talking about finding that sweet spot where language learning fits into your daily routine without messing anything up. 

Light bulb with multiple idea bubbles around it

When creating the plan, make sure that you cover all the language skills you need. Think about listening, speaking, reading, and writing. That’s right, the whole package! 

Leaving any of those out, you’re going to miss a key element of language acquisition, and trust me, you don’t want that. While making the perfect plant, focus on consistency as well. Regular practice sessions will keep your language skills on point. So pencil in those study sessions like a boss and stick to them. 

3. Start simple:

Keep it simple and take it step by step. If the language is completely new to you, you have to start from the basics. Think greetings and daily routine questions, things like "How are you?" or "I need water." 

These everyday expressions are going to ease you into the language and help you get familiar with its nature. Once you've nailed those, you can slowly move on to tackle numbers, pronouns, or short phrases. 

One thing to remember here is to not worry about the missing pieces. At first, everything will almost sound like gibberish, but hey, it's all part of the process. It doesn't matter if your grammar's a bit wonky, your sentences are incomplete, or you're missing a few articles here and there. You are going to add those little pieces one by one, and before you know it, you'll speak the language like a pro.

4. Start Speaking the Language:

Because of the above, you have to start speaking that foreign language, from day one. It’s a tough start, but you have to try to break free from the chains of self-doubt and dive right into the language pool. 

It doesn’t even matter if you can't or don’t want to find someone to listen to your linguistic adventures at first. You can grab your phone and record an audio message and play it later for your language partner or even for yourself.

It can be embarrassing sometimes to listen to your own voice, but trust me, you’ll immediately feel how helpful this tactic can be, once you start actively listening to those recordings.

5. Have a Native Speaker Buddy:

native speaker language exchange friends holding their national flags

When you have someone to talk to, not only will you feel the burning need to speak their language, but you'll also have a language expert by your side. 

But, how can one find a native speaker buddy, you might ask. Well, there are loads of free or budget-friendly online language learning apps and websites where you can find native speakers eager to do a language exchange. 

Those platforms can be your gateway to connecting with language learners on the go. You can schedule small sessions, exchange resources, and start experimenting with what you already know! You can also find like-minded language learners in your city’s language meetups who are just as hyped as you are about language exchange.

But if you don’t fancy going out, online language communities are also buzzing with fellow language enthusiasts. From forums to social media groups, these platforms can be your secret weapon to connect with a global community, where you can ask questions, seek advice, and engage in discussions.

6. Use Gestures:

If you feel you are lost for words, you still have non-verbal communication at hand. First off, try and pay close attention to how native speakers greet each other, bid adieu, or express different emotions. Take note of the sounds they make, the gestures they use. It's like decoding a whole new world of cultural expressions and linguistic quirks. 

Then, when you find yourself looking for the right words in the middle of a conversation, don’t panic. It’s time to get those expressions down from the shelf. Wave your hands, put them in your mouth, and point at things. You can create your personal sign language with a set of unique hand movements and facial expressions.

7. Tune In:

To truly grasp a language, you have to soak yourself in it. But we're not talking about textbooks here, oh no. You have to go authentic and listen to some real-life conversations. We’re talking about music, TV shows, and movies here. 

Listening in on those not only will help you get used to the sounds of the language, but it can also help you pick up those colloquial words, accents, and also the gestures that make the language come alive. 

Watching TV shows and movies in the language you’re learning isn't just about practicing your language skills. It's also a sneak peek into the culture even before you hop on a plane. Try watching them with subtitles on, they’ll serve as a workout to help you get familiar with the patterns and natural tone of the language and the culture as well.

8. Read in the Target Language:

Start off with children's books in your target language. Why? Because they're like little language heroes, using simpler vocabulary and sentences that are easy to grasp. Think of it as a gentle introduction to the language. 

a bookworm reading and learning from a pile of books

But you don’t have to stop there, you can gradually level up to more complex texts and challenge yourself. Find a mouthwatering recipe you want to cook in the language you're learning. Whip out those pots and pans and embark on a delicious culinary adventure. 

If cooking is not your jam, you can try and change the language settings on your phone and computer to your target language. It's like creating your own little language bubble without even trying too hard. 

This will constantly expose you to the language, making it seep into your brain effortlessly. Plus, it's a sneaky way to level up your tech skills too!

9. Write in the Target language:

Writing and reading are like a dynamic duo that'll boost your language skills. Once you start writing in your target language, those words will stick with you like glue. It's like a magical connection that etches the vocabulary and phrases into your brain. 

Start writing short texts first, and then you can try writing down your thoughts in a language-learning journal, and after a little while, you can even try crafting short stories or essays. But you don’t have to think big, even taking small notes can make a big difference!

10. Label Objects:

If writing doesn’t excite you, you can try to label objects in your surroundings with their names in the language you're learning. It's like giving your environment a linguistic renovation.

Stick those labels on everything you can find, from the frequently visited fridge to your favorite pair of boots. Every time you glance at them, you'll reinforce your vocabulary even before realizing it. 

You're walking home from work, passing by familiar objects, and suddenly find yourself at a loss for the word "door" in your target language for a second. These little moments of stumbling and rediscovery will propel you closer to your language goals, in a matter of no time.

11. Review:

One of the keys to mastering a foreign language on your own is to actually review and go back to what you’ve covered before. Repetition helps you solidify that knowledge in your brain by flexing your language-learning muscles and making them stronger. 

Self-review can also help you be real with yourself and take a closer look at your progress. For that, you can try doing self-assessments where you evaluate your skills, or even record yourself speaking the language and give it a listen. 

Another great way of reflection is a language learning journal. You can keep track of your wins, challenges, and even your struggles and also practice writing in the learning language. This can give you some serious insight into how far you've come and what you should really focus on.


12. Make It a Habit:

There’s no other way to put it, you have to get rid of laziness and believe in the power of consistency. Our brains can be a bit dull sometimes and they prefer sticking to familiar habits rather than exploring the unknown. 

But we can easily outsmart them by creating a schedule or a solid routine. It can help your brain simply switch to autopilot mode, making it easier to stay consistent without feeling overwhelmed by the size of the project.

And it doesn't actually have to be a massive time commitment—just a few minutes each day can make a world of difference. With a little daily practice, achievable goals, and a sprinkle of motivation, you'll be well on your way to language mastery. Remember, this journey is about progress, not perfection.

13. Be Patient:

young man talking about the importance of time and patience

One thing you always have to remember is to be kind to yourself and don’t rush things. Every step forward counts, no matter how tiny it may seem. Remember, it's all about progress, not perfection. 

So, if you stumble upon a tricky greeting or struggle with that formal speech, take it easy! It's a gradual process that takes dedication and practice. Just like building a beautiful sandcastle, language skills need time to develop. 

Oh, and here's a gentle reminder: don't give up! Rome wasn't built in a day, and fluency won't magically appear overnight either. Embrace the ups and downs, the victories and the hurdles. Keep that patience alive and trust in your ability to succeed. You've got this!

14. Make Mistakes:

Trust me, making mistakes is an essential part of the game, and guess what? It's actually a good one! Truth is, you have to make sure, you make those mistakes because they are your stepping stones to improvement as they are teaching you valuable lessons along the way. 

When you're learning a new language, it's all about facing the fear of speaking incorrectly and setting aside any lingering embarrassment. But you have to enjoy those embarrassing moments as well, especially in the first few months. 

Don't be afraid of failure or the occasional awkwardness of a situation, and make peace with the fact that your accent might not be spot-on, and you won't understand everything right away. Because none of that matters in the long run. What truly matters is your commitment to this exciting language-learning experience!

15. Celebrate milestones:

For now, you probably got the idea that learning a language isn't a walk in the park. But it is something truly rewarding! It's not just about learning words and phrases—it's like diving headfirst into a whole new culture. 

So whether it's nailing a conversation or understanding your favorite song, every step forward is worth celebrating. These are your little boosts of motivation, reminding you that your self-study efforts can lead to real results with time and dedication.

young people having a party and celebrating their successes

Remember, even when the going gets tough, your motivation will keep you moving forward. So, set those goals, celebrate the small victories, and keep that fire burning bright. And don't forget to enjoy the experience along the way. It's all about the progress and the incredible experiences that await you. 

How Drops can help you learn a new language without a teacher?

Let me introduce you to a true game-changer in the world of language learning: Language Drops! With Drops, learning new words becomes a total blast, because it's like playing a game, but with the added bonus of expanding your language skills. The lessons are carefully crafted to keep you entertained while you soak up all that exciting new vocabulary. 

So, if you're ready to take your language learning to the next level and have a ton of fun while doing it, give Drops a try. I’ll show you why!

Vocabulary 📖

Drops is like your personal word fortress, stacked with over 350 curated lessons including 4500+ illustrated essentials. Talk about variety! But with Drops, you're not just learning random words. Oh no, you're immersing yourself in carefully organized lessons that cover a wide range of topics. Whether it's food, travel, or pop culture, Drops has got you covered.

We’ve done all the hard work, so you can focus on mastering those words and unleashing your language prowess.

Audio 🎧

Forget about artificial voices or low-quality audio recordings. Drops knows that's a big no-no when it comes to honing your listening comprehension. That's why we go the extra mile to provide you with crisp, clear, and high-quality audio for every single word. Drops partners with native speaker voice artists to provide you with authentic pronunciation and intonation. No shortcuts here—just pure language goodness delivered right to your ears.

Progress 📈

Let's be honest, seeing progress is a major motivation booster. It's like a pat on the back that keeps you fired up and ready to take on the language-learning world. With Drops, you'll be able to track your language learning journey and see the amazing strides you're making. We provide detailed statistics on your progress, showing off the number of words you've mastered and how far you've come. At Drops, we know it’s important to celebrate those language milestones and give yourself a big high-five for all your hard work.

Games 🎮

Drops takes a game-based approach to make learning a foreign language a total blast. Say goodbye to boring textbooks and hello to flashcards and interactive gameplays that make the learning process exciting. But don’t get me wrong, Drops isn't just about playing games—it's about leveling up your language skills. Our games and exercises are made to make learning fun and effective, helping you practice and strengthen what you've learned. What’s more, is that the rewards and external motivation will make you want to keep coming back for more. 

smart phone with Language Drops screen and new units

If you're studying a language by yourself, Drops is a must-have tool. It has amazing features that make learning vocabulary enjoyable and effective. Whether you're a beginner or an advanced learner, Drops can provide you with the resources and support you need to accelerate your language learning journey and achieve your language goals.

Learning a new language is exciting and rewarding. Just remember to be dedicated, consistent, and patient. By using Drops and following these tips, you'll make great progress on your own. Start today and discover the joy of learning a foreign language with Language Drops!

Zita Palik is a Hungary based Language Content Manager and an 80's music maniac.

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