How To Learn a New Language in college

Written by Charaf Mrah

Hi there! I'm a Software Engineering major currently studying in college. The purpose of this website is to share my learnings and insights with you, in the hopes of providing value and assistance to those who may need it.

Updated Feb 19, 2023

Do you want to learn a new language while in college? let me tell you how I learned 4 different languages and how you can too.

So before we jump into the tips, let me give you some background information about me:

  • I used to live in Algeria (I speak Arabic natively & learned French at age 7)
  • I moved to Qatar when I was 12 (learned English at age 12)
  • Learned German basics my senior year of high school
  • I moved to Turkey when I was 18 (Currently learning Turkish)

As you can see, I have some experience with learning new languages.

But here’s the thing: I didn’t perfect all of them. I would say I’m pretty good with Arabic & English, Moderately good with french (even though I learned it before English), and elementary proficiency with German & Turkish.

And so I learned what made me “perfect” some languages, and not the other ones.

Problems you face when learning a new language:

Lack of motivation:

I think the number one reason people don’t continue learning the new language they picked is the lack of motivation.

Just like working out or studying, people can sometimes rely on their current feelings and don’t stick to a consistent long-term plan.

They can feel very excited during new year’s eve to start working out and getting to the shape of their dreams, but this feeling wears out 2 weeks later, or 2 days later.

Some skills take more than feeling motivated. Motivation is a monetary thing, discipline isn’t.

Little time:

You can allocate 4 hours per day to learn a new language as fast as possible.

But soon you find out that this isn’t sustainable and end up ditching the whole plan.

The language might be hard:

In some cases, the language you’re trying to learn might be hard for you, depending on your native tongue.

Arabic might be hard for native English speakers for example.

I found French “hard” grammatically as they have many many many irregular rules & verbs that even natives struggle with.

How can you ACTUALLY learn a new language (the solution):

Set a clear goal as to WHY you want to learn the new language:

How can you combat lack of motivation? by discipline.

How can you get disciplined? by having a clear set goal.

Before you start learning a new language. Sit down and think of why you want to do it?

The stronger the reason, the more likely you’ll stick to the plan.

If you just want to show your friends how cool you’re, then this might not be a very strong goal.

But if you’re let’s say learning French to study in France or visit France, then this might be a solid goal choice.

Maybe it’s because you want to have discussions with other people, or you would like to increase your human capital.

Just have a clear reason as to why you want to learn that new language?

Have a long term plan:

Don’t plan your language learning journey by looking at your schedule for the next week.

Plan by estimating your schedule for the next year.

10 mins per day of learning the new language is more effective than 4 hours per day for 2 days and then slacking off.

Language learning apps aren’t enough:

I genuinely like the new language learning apps like Duolingo, Memrise, Busuu (which I have reviewed here).

But these apps are great to an extent.

They’re great for learning new vocabulary and some grammatical rules.

But to truly learn how to speak a language or listen to a conversation and understand it, you need more than using language learning apps.

I would suggest immersing yourself in the culture of that language.

Immersing yourself into a culture these days is very easy. Just follow Instagram accounts in that language, watch TV shows, listen to their music, join Discord servers and speak…etc


Learning a new language gets easier as you learn more and more languages. And the more you learn the more you know that you need 3 key things to learn a new language effectively:

  • Have a clear goal as to why you want to learn that language
  • Have a long term plan (at least a year)
  • Immerse yourself in the culture

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