Today I will show you the basic material needed in order to start learning a new language.

Flash cards

It is a very easy and efficient way to learn vocabulary. You can buy them or make them yourself on a piece of paper. The trick is to take them with you everywhere you go so that you can study vocabulary whenever you have 30 seconds available.

Language tapes

You will need as many good language tapes as possible. Do not waste money on “miraculous” programs that claim to teach you how to speak a language with 5 or 10 tapes. What you are looking for are programs with 25 or 100 tapes. That’s right. Only with this amount of tapes you will be able to get enough practice in the target language from your home.


If you plan to use the language actively for practical purposes (i.e. while travelling), a phrasebook is handy. If you have to wait until you master enough grammar and vocabulary to make your own phrases that can take some time. You can save time with a phrasebook. Good phrasebooks have useful phrases, not “Waiter there is a fly in my soup” phrases. They should also include pronunciation, if possible using sounds from your native language to translate approximately sounds in the target language.


It is a book that will teach you the language grammar from scratch, lesson after lesson. Grammar books are not so useful for the beginner, as they do not prioritize the material and go into too many details. You just have to make sure that the book you want to buy is the best for your purpose.

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A good dictionary

Yes, a good one. The dictionary you want should be English-Target Language and Target Language-English. If your mother tongue is not English, use one in your mother tongue, no matter how well you think you speak English. If you can compare several dictionaries, look up the same rare word in all of them. Take the one that gives you the longest definition, if possible with examples, pronunciation and idiomatic expressions. If you buy only one dictionary, you must make sure it will contain as many words as possible back and forth. Do not buy a travel dictionary with short entries and few pages. You can always buy such a dictionary later, when you travel to the country.

If cost is no object, you can buy “language software”. Don’t believe what they say on the box though, all they do is provide, at best, a few hours of entertaining practice of your target language.

I hope you find this information very useful and I will see you next week with more tips on how to learn a language.