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In the mid-1970s, I learned German grammar and vocabulary by studying Teach Yourself German on the Chicago 'L' five days a week. That 95-cent paperback was cheaper and more compact than a recorded course, and the current edition is still a bargain at ten times the price.

Different people have different learning styles, and not everyone has a knack for learning languages from books. But if you're the kind of person who relates to grammar and the printed page, a good language textbook is invaluable--especially if you're familiar with the sounds of the language or have an audiocassette to help with pronunciation. 

Classroom courses and tutoring

The quickest way to learn a language is to spend several hours a day in a language school, preferably in a country where the language is spoken. If that isn't practical, two or three evening classes a week are a good alternative. Even a once-a-week class can be useful, if you study on your own during the rest of the week.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to take classes in a private language school, a university extension program, or adult-education classes at a local public school. Private tutoring is another option. I once took 12 hours of private Danish instruction at the University Language Center of Minneapolis, which I supplemented with language recordings and a textbook. Although I certainly didn't achieve fluency in Danish, I knew more Danish than most other foreign tourists when I stepped off the DFDS ferry in Esbjerg that summer.

Online studies

"Distance learning" via the Internet is the 21st Century answer to correspondence courses. An online course can help to provide discipline for self-study, and it may be worth investigating if you live in a town where classroom instruction isn't available.

Online language resources such as dictionaries, recorded prounciation guides, grammar tips, forums, and chat rooms are also worth investigating. For links to these and other language resources, see page 4.

Next Page > Language links > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

In this article:
Languages for Travelers - introduction
Self-study courses
Books, classroom courses, online learning
Language links



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