Welcome to the learning centre. Here, you'll discover everything you'll
ever need to know about how to learn a new language. The page is organised into categories, and the "Big Questions" within
those categories. Browse the topics below, or select a language for
specific resources on the language you're learning.
How to Learn a New Language
Big Language Learning Questions
Who is Olly Richards?
Language Learning Projects
Language Learning Projects
Core Study Sequences
Teaching and Learning
How to Learn a New Language
On this page you’ll find my most popular, controversial and oddball (not necessarily in that order) views on how to learn a new language quickly.
Everything here is born out of my (admittedly unusual) 15+ years’ experience of learning languages, teaching languages, and even training teachers to teach languages!
These articles and videos will help you get to grips with some of the big language learning questions, so you can become a more confident and effective student of the language you care about.
For resources related to the specific language you’re learning, choose from the list below.
For other languages, use the “search” function on the blog page.
Otherwise, get stuck in…
“Olly’s top-notch language-learning insights are right in line with the best of what we know from neuroscience and cognitive psychology about how to learn effectively. I love his work—and you will too!”
Why Motivation and Passion Are Everything – Motivation is one of the biggest predictors of success in language learning. Find out how to cultivate your own unstoppable motivation, and hear from 100s of readers about their own “why”!
#2 Who Is Olly Richards
Find out about me, and how I personally learn languages. My ideas on how to learn a new language have evolved a lot over the years and continue to do so.
I’ve also made every language learning mistake under the sun. So you’ll get to have a chuckle at my expense here!
Who Is Olly Richards? – Who is Olly and how does he learn languages? This mini-documentary filmed in Egypt gives you a look behind the scenes “on location”.
I try to document my language learning experiments in videos and blog posts. I do this to keep myself motivated and accountable, but also so you can benefit from my experiences.
I don’t always travel to learn languages. However, for these projects, most videos are filmed on location around the world.
Learn Thai Project – Thailand In 2016, I went on a two-week mission to learn Thai in Bangkok, Thailand. You’ll see how I got on, every step of the way – from complete beginner, to holding a 25-minute conversation with my teacher after only 10 lessons.
Spanish Immersion Project – Mexico In 2017, I travelled to Mexico with my friend Jan in search of “immersion” in Spanish. It didn’t go so well, and many considered the project a failure. However, failure is the greatest teacher, and this project contains some valuable lessons on how to learn a new language for those who are considering traveling abroad.
Learn Cantonese Project – Various Countries A number of years ago, I decided to learn Cantonese, the language of Hong Kong (and others). For most of the first year, I recorded monthly video updates, and discussions of how I was learning this very difficult language.
#4 Language Skills
Learning a new language involves building competence in the four major skills. The articles will show you how to do this.
The Big Listening Con – Why Most Listening Practice Material Isn’t Fit For Purpose – 99% of listening practice material in language classrooms and textbooks isn’t fit for purpose. Here’s why, and how you can quickly get better at understanding fast, spoken language.
How To Learn Vocabulary In A Foreign Language – When a new word evaporates from your mind right at the moment you need it in conversation… it’s no fun. This short series teaches you how to memorise words and NOT forget them later.
The Grammar Myth… Debunked! – Just how much of your precious time should you spend learning grammar? It’s popular in language & teaching circles to “bash” grammar. But here’s my own take on the value of grammar in language learning.
#5 Core Study Sequences
“These are the most useful language learning videos on all of YouTube!”
RECENT VIEWER COMMENT
When I learn a new language, I tend to use the same “core” study techniques over and over again, every single day… because they’re so damn effective!
Last year, I decided to sit down and film these techniques one-by-one, so you can steal them and use them in your own learning.
Here’s every post in the series, labelled with either the name or the purpose of the technique.
How to Study With Textbook Dialogues – “This was the article of yours that had the biggest effect on me.” – a reader told me why this simple change to how he studied textbook dialogues transformed his learning.
Are you wasting your money on language classes? – A controversial article that suggests why you might be better off not paying for expensive language classes. It ends by describing how to spot a truly great teacher you should never let go!
Michel Thomas Publisher Reveals How She Changed The Face Of Language Learning If you’ve ever walked into a language bookshop, you will have heard of Michel Thomas – famous for his language courses. But did you know about the secrecy surrounded his methods? I sat down with the publisher who pulled of the biggest language learning coup of her time and persuaded Thomas to release his method to the mass market.
How To Learn A New Skill Quickly With Jonathan Levi – Levi is a master of accelerated learning, and teaches people to learn new skills quickly by distilling those skills to their core elements. If there’s something new you want to learn in your life, this interview is a must-listen.
This is the course that reveals my complete method for learning a foreign languages quickly, in a step-by-step and easy-to-follow fashion. If you're struggling to make progress in the language you’re learning right now, and want a straightforward plan for studying, so you can become fluent faster, this is for you!
Are you tired of forgetting words when it comes time to speak your new language with people? If so, Bulletproof Memory is exactly what you need. This course teaches you the secret to developing the ability to reliably learn and memorise new vocabulary without forgetting it later..