How Do Polyglots Learn Languages Fast? 10 Polyglot Secrets -

Written by Dr. Nigel Ong in Learn Language

Polyglots are the masters of language learning, as they are able to speak at least 4 languages fluently. But here is one thing – polyglots are not geniuses, they just have the right technique and approach to learn languages fast. How do polyglots learn languages fast?

Polyglots use these technique, mindset and approaches to learn languages fast:

  • Having clear goals
  • Learn language within similar families
  • Have strong discipline
  • Commit long-term
  • Learn one language at a time
  • Learn in small chunks
  • Personalize their learning materials
  • Embrace mistakes
  • Enjoy the learning journey.

In this post, lets discover polyglots and their 10 secrets to learn languages fast.

How Do Polyglots Learn Languages? 10 Secrets

Clear GoalsPolyglots set specific, realistic targets like learning new words daily.
Language FamiliesThey use similarities between languages they already know and new ones, like shared words and grammar, to learn faster.
Disciplined ApproachPolyglots follow a strict routine, and practice daily to retain the language better.
Long-term CommitmentThey don’t just practice occasionally; they make language learning a consistent part of their lives over the long term
One Language at a TimeFocusing on one language until fluency helps them learn deeply and effectively
Small ChunksShort, regular study sessions fit better into daily life and help retain information better than long, infrequent sessions.
Effective MethodsThey choose methods that suit their learning style, for faster mastery.
Personal MaterialsCreating customized study materials, like flashcards makes learning more engaging.
Embrace MistakesThey see mistakes as learning opportunities and aren’t afraid to make them.
EnjoymentPolyglots incorporate fun into their learning with cultural media and interactions.

Polyglots Have A Clear Goal When Learning A New Language

Polyglots learn fast because they usually set clear goals – it is akin to plotting a map in the vast sea of language learning.

Take, for example, the ambitious goal of ‘fluency in three months.’ While it seems daunting, polyglots break it down into tangible targets. Perhaps they’ll aim to learn 20 new words a day or have a 5-minute conversation with a native speaker every week.

These micro-goals are not just milestones; they’re the signposts guiding the journey, providing a clear sense of direction and immediate motivation.

Goals also help polyglots choose the right resources. If you’re aiming to become conversational quickly, you’ll likely favor a language exchange or speaking practice over extensive grammar study.

Furthermore, goals enable polyglots to measure progress. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the vastness of a new language, you can feel the rush of achievement as you tick off each objective.

For example, if your goal is to be fluent in Chinese, and pass HSK Level 4, imagine the excitement you will feel when you pass Level 1, Level 2, and 3, on your way to Level 4.

Polyglots Learn A Language Less Foreign

Another trick polyglots have up their sleeve: leveraging the familiarity of language families. Imagine you’re proficient in Spanish; you’ll have a significant head start learning Italian.

Why? Because both are part of the Romance language family, sharing lexical similarities, grammatical frameworks, and phonetic patterns.

As you learn vocabulary in your new language, you’ll notice words that are cognates—words that look and sound similar with comparable meanings. It’s like meeting distant relatives at a family reunion; you recognize the features and sense a connection.

It’s this interconnectivity that allows language learners to scaffold their knowledge, building upon what they already know.

This is not just about saving time; it’s a more profound comprehension. For instance, learning ‘acqua’ in Italian might ring a bell if you’re familiar with ‘agua’ in Spanish.

Grammar structures also tend to be kindred. If you’ve ever wrestled with the subjunctive mood in French, tackling it in Portuguese may seem less daunting. Conjugation patterns in these languages aren’t identical twins, but they’re certainly siblings.

Polyglots don’t stop at words and phrases; they delve into the melody of the language—its unique rhythm and sound. Once your ear is tuned to one Romance language, adapting to another is like learning a new dance to a familiar tune.

This approach to learning is one of the keys to why polyglots can often speak multiple languages fluently; they’re not just learning—they’re recognizing and connecting. It’s a win-win in the language learning journey, and a secret not every polyglot might share.

Polyglots Are Disciplined Language Learners

With polyglots, discipline isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the scaffolding upon which their language learning success is built. They follow a meticulously structured routine with discipline.

Many polyglots structure their learning into specific, uninterrupted blocks of time dedicated to each language.

By creating a disciplined schedule, you’re not just committing time, but you’re also crafting a space for your brain to engage, absorb, and retain a new language.

Discipline extends to the tools and methods polyglots use. For instance, they often employ spaced repetition systems (SRS) like Anki flashcards to learn vocabulary, ensuring they review words just before they’re about to forget them, thereby cementing the language in their long-term memory.

Moreover, discipline means immersive practice. Successful polyglots immerse themselves in the language daily, even if it’s just listening to a podcast or reading a book in the target language during their morning routine.

They make the language an integral part of their life, creating a sense of familiarity and naturalness.

Discipline also means being relentless in speaking from day 1, continuously stepping outside the comfort zone. This rigorous and structured approach to language learning is a common thread you’ll find weaved into the fabric of every polyglot’s practice.

Discipline is the less glamorous, yet incredibly effective, secret behind the learning a language fast.

Polyglots Commit To Learn Their Target Language Long Term

You may think polyglots have a magical knack for learning languages quickly, but the reality is far more rooted in long-term commitment.

Delving into their routines, you’ll uncover a marathon-like persistence that powers their swift success. It’s not just about daily practice, but about sustaining that rhythm over months, even years.

Most polyglots’ commitment to language learning doesn’t wane after the initial excitement wears off. Instead, they keep a sustained, enjoyable engagement with the language, whether it’s through books, movies, or conversations.

It’s this long-haul dedication that helps polyglots solidify their fluency.

They know that language learning isn’t a sprint; it’s more akin to training for a series of marathons, each one in a different linguistic landscape. Polyglots set long-term goals, and they stick to them, turning language learning from a hobby into a part of their identity.

Behind every fluent speaker, there’s a timeline of commitment that often goes unseen. They invest time into learning not just the grammar and vocabulary but also the culture and idioms that bring the language to life.

It’s this depth of understanding, nurtured over time, that allows them to speak a foreign language as comfortably as they do their native tongue.

Polyglots Learn One Foreign Language At A Time

When you’re juggling the intricate patterns of syntax and semantics in language learning, focusing on one language at a time can be a powerful accelerator.

It’s a common misconception that polyglots absorb multiple languages simultaneously, like sponges. In reality, diving deep into one language allows you to create a strong foundational lattice upon which you can hang new vocabulary, grammar, and phrases.

Insider stories from the polyglot community, like those shared at the Polyglot Conference, reveal that even those proficient in several languages often advocate for a monogamous relationship with a new language until a certain level of fluency is achieved.

By channeling your efforts into one language, you give yourself the opportunity to engage with the learning material on a deeper level.

It’s not about the breadth of languages you touch upon but the depth of the connection you form with the language you’re learning.

As you marinate in the nuances of one linguistic culture, you’ll make progress far quicker than if your focus were scattered. This methodical, undiluted dedication is a secret key to unlocking fluency that polyglots whisper about in their multilingual circles.

Polyglots Learn In Small Chunks

Many polyglots often attribute their success to learning in manageable, bite-sized chunks.

You might imagine these language enthusiasts dedicating countless uninterrupted hours to study. Yet, many opt for the opposite—short, focused sessions that fit seamlessly into daily life.

For example, they might spend just 15 minutes in the morning reviewing flashcards, another 15 minutes listening to a podcast in the target language during commute, and then some time in the evening reading a book or speaking with a tutor.

This method of ‘spacing’ helps cement the language more effectively than cramming.

The logic is simple: when you learn new words or phrases, you’re more likely to retain them if you’re exposed to them multiple times, spread out over several days or weeks. It’s this layered repetition that drives the language deeper into your cognitive framework.

And because you’re more likely to stay consistent with short bursts of study, you don’t feel overwhelmed—a key reason why some language learners burn out and give up.

In the polyglot world, it’s well known that the brain needs time to process and sort new information. By learning in small chunks, you give your mind the space to do this, paving the way for a faster and more efficient language acquisition.

It’s less about the marathon sessions and more about regular, consistent practice—a strategy that any aspiring polyglot can adopt.

Polyglots Know Effective Language Learning Methods

There are many effective methods in learning a new language. Polyglots know about them well, and leverage their knowledge when learning languages.

Imagine you’re embarking on learning a new language. Rather than wading through traditional textbooks, you’d dive into methods tailored to your unique learning style, just as successful polyglots do.

Some polyglots may use the LingQ system from Steve Kaufman, which emphasizes learning words in the context of interesting and meaningful content rather than isolated lists.

Some polyglots may use Gabriel Wyner’s 625 word method, focusing learning the most common 625 words in your target language. Some started speaking from day one itself, even if it’s just a few words or sentences.

This method prioritizes active use over passive recognition, propelling language learners towards fluency by practicing real conversations. It’s not just about studying a language, but living it.

Incorporating techniques like spaced repetition, immersion through media in the target language, and using mnemonic devices are among the other effective strategies that seasoned language learners employ.

These aren’t just tactics; they’re a nuanced approach to mastering a language quickly and efficiently, turning what could be a years-long endeavor into a matter of months. It’s not just hard work but smart work, leveraging the best tool for each learning challenge.

Polyglots Create Their Own Language Materials

Polyglots also learn language fast by creating their own learning materials. Many often design personalized flashcards, compile tailored vocabulary lists, and even write their own dialogues to mirror real-life conversations.

Take the example of someone learning Japanese – rather than relying solely on generic resources, they might create a personal dictionary of most encountered words in their favorite anime series.

This method does more than just help you memorize words; it weaves them into the fabric of what you find engaging, embedding the language in your daily life.

Creating your own materials isn’t just about what you learn, it’s about how you connect with the material.

By focusing on personally relevant content, whether it’s through music, books, or even social media in the target language, you craft a learning pathway that’s both meaningful and effective.

These custom-made materials aren’t just educational tools; they are reflections of the language as it lives and breathes in the world around you.

Polyglots Are Not Afraid To Make Mistakes

Embracing mistakes as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks is a secret shared by successful polyglots. When you start speaking a new language, the fear of mispronouncing words or using incorrect grammar can be paralyzing.

However, polyglots learn languages quickly precisely because they are not afraid to make mistakes. Language learning is, after all, a process of trial and error.

Many polyglots understand that even with limited vocabulary, engaging in conversation is key. You may worry about saying “tengo embarazada” (I’m pregnant) instead of “tengo vergüenza” (I’m embarrassed) in Spanish, but it’s through these errors that the nuances of language become clear.

By regularly stepping out of your comfort zone and talking to native speakers, you’ll make lots of mistakes, yes, but each one teaches you something new.

This approach not only accelerates your learning process but also helps you to internalize the corrections, ensuring you’re less likely to repeat the same errors. So, go ahead, make mistakes – each one brings you closer to fluency.

Polyglots Enjoy Language Learning

Tthe way polyglots learn languages isn’t just systematic—it’s also delightfully engaging. This joy in learning is not just a perk; it’s a powerful accelerator in their language learning journey.

Polyglots do not just trudge through a textbook, but connect with a language. Polyglots harness this enthusiasm as they learn words and phrases. They don’t just memorize; they experience.

By indulging in movies, music, and even social media in their target language, they surround themselves with a vibrant tapestry of cultural nuances that textbooks can’t offer.

This immersive experience doesn’t just build fluency; it makes the process feel like less of a chore and more of an exploration.

Furthermore, polyglots often engage in language exchanges, where teaching their native language to others helps them solidify their own skills in the language they’re learning.

It’s an interactive way of learning that not only cements what they’ve learned but also breaks down the language into usable chunks rather than intimidating jargon.

So, when you start learning a new language, remember to weave in the joy. It’s not just about the words you learn but the smiles and connections you gain along the way. After all, if you’re enjoying the ride, you’ll be surprised just how quickly you can reach your destination.

Keys To Success In Learning Language – Look At The Way Polyglot Does It

While you marvel at polyglots, remember, every polyglot was once a beginner too. What they have instead are effective strategies, a lot of patience, and a willingness to make lots of mistakes, when learning a language.

You’ll make steady progress if you’re ready to adopt a polyglot’s approach to learning and embrace every opportunity to use the language you’re learning.