If youve always wanted to speak another language, or just want to understand your Spanish boyfriend, then youre in luck.
Thanks to the internet, its become easier and easier to learn a new language - and you dont 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 youve got the basics, read. And then read some more. Skip the childrens books and start with the stuff that youre actually interested in. Other than that, try watching a movie or a TV series.
The most important tip in my opinion is to do whats fun for you.
I guess my level in Spanish now is around B1-B2 (intermediate). I didnt 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 dont 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.
Matthias 7 tips for learning a language:
1. Set yourself a goal
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
When using Duolingo, dont 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 youre already there check out Lingots For Stories, a weekly writing challenge managed by myself and other great Duolingo members.
3. Start reading
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: dont use a dictionary!
Instead, try to understand the word from its context. This might be incredibly hard in the beginning, but I promise it gets easier. You wont forget the words, as you might if you just look them up. And dont worry about getting it wrong as youll encounter the word again and correct your mistake.
4. Watch films
Try watching a movie or TV series. You can stream it online. If you cant 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
Ive tried reading childrens 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 wouldnt read or watch it in your native language, you also shouldnt in your second language.
If you know somebody who speaks the language youre learning you should definitely try to get them to talk with you.
7. Be patient
The cost of learning a language isnt money but your time. It can take years.
Dont expect a language course to just shove the knowledge into your mouth. You have to earn it.