Best learning hacks to master a new language [low budget]

You need to drop a ton of cash to become a language pro, right?

Nope, not at all! 

Check out this list of awesome books, courses, and more that’ll have you mastering a language without breaking the bank!

Nowadays, solo language learning has become much easier and cheaper than before. 

The availability of these books, courses and other resources below may vary depending on the language you’re learning, but many have translations or equivalents in different languages. 

Let’s start with books!

Top books for crushing it in a new language

  1. “Fluent English: Perfect Natural Speech, Sharpen Your Grammar, Master Idioms, Speak Fluently” by Barbara Raifsnider

It is a comprehensive guide aimed at improving English language skills. The book covers various aspects, including grammar, idioms, and natural speech patterns, with the goal of enhancing overall fluency. 

Raifsnider provides practical tips and exercises to help learners refine their spoken English, making it an accessible resource for those seeking to communicate more effectively in everyday conversations.

  1. Great for improving spoken English, idioms, and overall fluency. “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

It is a classic guide that focuses on improving English writing style and grammar. It is known for its concise and practical advice on clear and effective communication.

 The book is a valuable resource for anyone looking to enhance their writing skills, offering timeless principles and rules that can be applied to various forms of written communication.

  1. A classic for mastering English grammar and writing style. “501 Spanish Verbs” by Christopher Kendris and Theodore Kendris

This one is a classic reference book designed to aid learners in mastering Spanish grammar and verb conjugations. It provides a comprehensive list of 501 Spanish verbs along with their conjugations, making it a valuable resource for those seeking to strengthen their command of the Spanish language. 

This book is particularly useful for learners who want to navigate the intricacies of Spanish verb forms and tenses.

  1. Excellent for learning and practicing Spanish verb conjugations. “French Grammar For Dummies” by Veronique Mazet

Now an excellent resource for individuals looking to learn and practice French verb conjugations: this book is tailored to make French grammar accessible and approachable for learners. It covers essential grammar rules and provides practical exercises to reinforce understanding, with a particular emphasis on mastering the complexities of French verb conjugations.

Whether you’re a beginner or looking to refine your language skills, this book is a valuable tool for navigating French grammar with confidence. A helpful guide for learners of French, breaking down grammar concepts in an easy-to-understand way.

  1. “Genki I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese” by Eri Banno, Yoko Ikeda, and Yutaka Ohno

Thi is a comprehensive textbook designed for learners of Japanese at the elementary level. The book covers essential grammar, vocabulary, and kanji characters, providing a well-rounded introduction to the Japanese language. 

With a focus on practical communication skills, Genki I includes engaging activities, dialogues, and exercises to help learners develop their listening, speaking, reading, and writing abilities. It is widely used in classrooms and self-study settings, making it a popular choice for those starting their journey in learning Japanese.

Widely used for learning Japanese, covering grammar, vocabulary, and kanji.

  1. “Deutsch Aktuell” series by Wolfgang S. Kraft and S. Glas-Peters

It is a widely used and respected German language textbook series. The series is designed for learners of German and covers various aspects of the language, including grammar, vocabulary, and cultural insights. 

It is structured to cater to different proficiency levels, making it suitable for beginners as well as those looking to advance their German language skills. The series often includes a combination of textbooks, workbooks, and audio materials, providing a comprehensive and interactive approach to learning German.

A comprehensive series for learning German, suitable for beginners and intermediate learners.

  1. “Practice Makes Perfect: Italian Verb Tenses” by Alessandra Visconti

This book is a focused language learning resource specifically dedicated to Italian verb conjugations. It is designed to help learners grasp the intricacies of Italian verb tenses, an essential aspect of mastering the language. 

It typically includes explanations of different verb forms, exercises for practice, and examples to reinforce understanding. If you’re looking to strengthen your command of Italian grammar, particularly in the realm of verb tenses, this book can be a valuable tool for targeted practice and improvement.

  1. “Mandarin Chinese Characters: A Chinese Learning Workbook for Kids & Adults” by Patricia Li

It is a workbook tailored to both children and adults learning Mandarin Chinese. The focus of the book is on Chinese characters, which are a fundamental part of the language. It likely includes exercises and activities to help learners practice writing, recognize characters, and understand their meanings. 

The workbook format suggests a hands-on approach to learning Chinese characters, making it potentially engaging and effective for those looking to build a solid foundation in written Chinese.

  1. “Practice Makes Perfect: Complete Spanish Grammar” by Gilda Nissenberg

“Korean Grammar in Use” series by Ahn Jean-myung and Lee Kyung-ah

For those diving into Korean, it is comprehensive and popular. This series typically consists of different levels, each focusing on various aspects of Korean grammar at increasing difficulty levels. 

The books provide clear explanations of grammar points, accompanied by examples and exercises to reinforce learning. It is well-regarded for its systematic approach, making it suitable for both beginners and intermediate learners who want to deepen their understanding of Korean grammar structures. 

It has clear explanations and exercises.

This series is often used in classrooms and for self-study by those looking to improve their Korean language proficiency.

What are you saying?! Do you prefer courses instead of books? Oh, just scroll a bit more!

Best ranked online courses for mastering a new language

  1. Duolingo (various languages)

Duolingo is a popular app offering courses in many languages. It’s gamified and covers reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

  1. Babbel (various languages)

Babbel provides interactive courses in multiple languages, focusing on practical conversation skills.

  1. Rosetta Stone (various languages)

Known for its immersive approach, Rosetta Stone helps learners develop language skills through visual and auditory cues.

  1. Memrise (various languages)

Memrise uses mnemonic techniques and multimedia to help learners memorize vocabulary and phrases in different languages.

  1. Coursera (various languages)

Coursera offers language courses from universities worldwide. Examples include “Chinese for Beginners” from Peking University or “Spanish for Beginners” from the University of California, Davis.

  1. Busuu (various languages)

Busuu combines language learning with a social network, allowing users to practice with native speakers.

  1. BBC Languages (various languages)

The BBC offers free courses and resources for various languages, including grammar, vocabulary, and cultural insights.

  1. FluentU (various languages)

FluentU uses real-world videos, like music videos and movie trailers, to teach languages in context.

  1. Udemy (various languages)

Udemy has a variety of language courses, ranging from beginner to advanced levels, often taught by experienced language instructors.

  1. EdX (various languages)

This is a dynamic platform offering a diverse and comprehensive range of language courses, providing learners with a platform to enhance their linguistic skills. 

11. Lingvist 

Here you have an innovative language learning platform that utilizes artificial intelligence and data-driven approaches to tailor language lessons based on individual learning patterns.

With a focus on efficiency, Lingvist aims to accelerate language acquisition by optimizing the learning process through personalized content and adaptive algorithms.

Remember to choose a course that fits your learning style and goals. Don’t forget that combining online courses with regular practice, exposure to authentic materials, and conversations with native speakers can greatly enhance your language-learning journey. 

More budget-friendly stuff to master a new language

Mastering a language involves more than just books and courses. That’s why we decided to bring some additional resources and strategies to enhance your language learning:

  • Language exchange platforms

As it couldn’t be otherwise, we have to mention platforms where you can find people like you, eager to master a language! Our Speaky app has a lot of them right now, waiting to exchange languages with you. 

Other websites and apps that offer the possibility to talk to natives are Tandem, HelloTalk, and ConversationExchange.

That’s an odd opportunity to practice speaking and improve conversational skills.

  • Podcasts and audiobooks

Listening to podcasts or audiobooks in the target language exposes you to native speakers, different accents, and colloquial expressions. It helps improve your listening comprehension.

Podcasts give you real talk – it’s like eavesdropping on a cool conversation. Audiobooks, on the other hand, let you dive into stories without flipping a single page. It’s so convenient if you are driving or just rocking in a hammock! 

So, pick a language podcast that speaks to your soul, and blast those audiobooks like your own personal language jam. The more you listen, the more your brain soaks up the good stuff.

  • Language learning apps

In addition to Duolingo and Memrise, explore other language learning apps like Clozemaster, Lingodeer, or Drops. These apps often focus on specific aspects of language learning, such as vocabulary or grammar.

  • Flashcards and spaced repetition systems (SRS)

Platforms like Anki or Quizlet allow you to create flashcards for vocabulary and phrases. Utilizing spaced repetition helps reinforce what you’ve learned at optimal intervals.

Quizlet’s all about the quick-fire quizzes, making you feel like a vocab ninja. Anki, on the other hand, throws cards at you in a spaced-out rhythm, so you remember those words like they’re your childhood BFFs. It’s all about repetition, but without the boredom. 

  • YouTube language channels

Oh, how useful YouTube has been for helping people master a new language!

Many (really MANY) YouTube channels offer language lessons, cultural insights, and authentic content. 

Channels like Easy Languages, Learn German with Jenny, or SpanishPod101 are popular choices, but you’ll find a lot of others in many other languages!

  • Movies and TV shows

Watching films and TV shows in the target language immerses you in real-life conversations and cultural contexts. Use subtitles to aid understanding.

Your brain will soak up phrases and slang without even realizing it. Pause, rewind, and mimic the actors like they’re your language coaches. Trust us:  it’s way more fun than staring at verb conjugation charts. 

  • Social media

Follow social media accounts, forums, or groups related to language learning. Platforms like Reddit (r/languagelearning) or Twitter often have active language learning communities sharing tips and resources.

Twitter is like a language jungle gym. Follow folks who chat in the language you’re mastering, and don’t just stalk – join in! It’s the ultimate crash course in brevity and wit. Now, Reddit – oh boy, It’s a goldmine of language nerds and learners! Join language-specific subreddits, ask questions, and dive into the discussions. 

  • Language blogs and websites

Explore language-specific blogs, websites, and forums. Increasing your vocabulary naturally comes with developing your reading skills.

Bloggers spill the tea on real-life language struggles and victories, making it all relatable. Websites, on the other hand, are your one-stop-shops for lessons, tips, and maybe a sprinkle of language memes. Subscribe, follow, and get ready to absorb that linguistic magic. Whether it’s grammar hacks or local lingo, these online hubs are your secret sauce.

Websites like FluentU, The Polyglot Dream, or Fluent in 3 Months offer valuable insights and resources. You can also find the breaking news in 3 different levels of difficulty on News in Levels.

  • Online newspapers and magazines

Reading articles in the target language, even if they are initially challenging, can improve your reading skills and expose you to current events and cultural nuances.

Besides, you can have astonishingly different points of view on the same news you’ve heard in your country!

To round up

You see? It’s just a matter of choice to master a new language with books, courses and more resources, without spending a lot of money. 

Will you dive into it by yourself? Brave! Just remember: consistency is key. Incorporate a mix of these resources into your routine, to match your learning style and goals. Most of our community on Speaky follow this proven path.

The more diverse your exposure to the language, the more well-rounded your skills will become.

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