How to Teach Yourself a Foreign Language

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Last updated 2023-01-18


Welcome to How to Teach Yourself a Foreign Language. The purpose of this guide is to prepare you with the skills and knowledge you need to learn any foreign language as effectively and quickly as possible. It is designed to support you from the absolute beginner stages through to an upper-intermediate level. What’s more, it’s completely free! If that sounds useful to you, read on!

How this guide works

This guide does not contain the perfect technique to learn a language (such a thing doesn’t exist), nor will it talk about what I do personally. Instead, I take the best of what the world has to offer about language learning and give it to you in a form that is practicable, insightful, and easy to understand. I will do this by guiding you through the key topics of learning your language. These include:

  • The resources you need
  • Where to find resources
  • How to use your resources optimally
  • What activities to do
  • How to learn more effectively and efficiently

This guide focuses on placing the most important information at the start while leaving the extra info for later. This means you don’t need to read the full guide before you begin learning. If you’ve never learned a language to fluency before, I recommend you read at least until the end of Building a Method, but you can begin your journey once you’ve read the chapter Resources.

As for the rest, though it might seem like a lot of info, I advise you to think of it as an investment. If you start with a bit of theory now, you will save time in the long run by doing it better the first time.


Principles are the basic underlying rules and ideas that enable you to be an effective language learner. If there is something I want to highlight as a principle, you will find it in a blue box as seen below. I advise you to pay attention to them.1

Principle: Example
This is an example principle.

I’ve scattered most of the principles throughout the guide to prevent you from getting overloaded. While a principle may be placed under a certain section where it is most relevant, it will also apply to other aspects of your learning.

About me

In case you were wondering about me, I’m a language learning hobbyist who moderates the r/languagelearning community on Reddit. This guide does not stand on the basis of my achievements, but is created by me combining (to the best of my ability) all the advice commonly given out by successful language learners. I have spent a lot of time learning languages, learning how to learn them, and searching the web for answers to common questions. Over that time, I’ve gained a lot of insight into what a beginner needs to start. That’s what I’m aiming to share with you here.


This guide has taken many hundreds of hours of research and writing to create. If you would like to say thank you, I appreciate any and all emails sent my way. You can also buy me a coffee if you’d like to thank me in a slightly more tangible way.

Buy Me A Coffee

If you prefer a book format, you can get the PDF here or download it from its GitHub repository. I have also placed the ebook on Leanpub. Move the slider on the right to select a donation (you can move it all the way to the left to elect to pay nothing), then press “Add Ebook to Cart”. Please note the website is updated more frequently than the book.

If you think something is missing or have any queries, you can send me an email here: sajforbes [AT] gmail [DOT] com

Click here to start your journey

  1. Many principles you will sometimes hear called “language hacks” elsewhere online, though this is somewhat of a misnomer. Elaboration can be found in the section Why is the term “language hacks” a misnomer?