Learn a language in three months (and get all your lessons for free)

Anyone who says learning a foreign language is easy is pulling your leg. But if you commit to learning every day, find the right combination of teachers (and technology), you can speak a new tongue in just three months.

Learn a language in three months (and get all your lessons for free)
Photo: Lingoda.

If you’re preparing for life in a new country, have just arrived, or even if you’ve been putting off learning since you got off the plane, here are 10 tips that will build your fluency and confidence in a matter of weeks.

Join the Lingoda Marathon and Learn a Language for Free

1. Learn face-to-face with native speaking teachers: Apps? Online memory games? Let’s be honest,  there’s no substitute for face-to-face classes with teachers. Especially native speakers who live and breathe the language. They’re also the people who will inspire and motivate you. Are they easy to find? Sure, once you’ve arrived in your new home country. But what if you want to learn with a fluent speaker before you pack…?

2. …Join an online learning classroom. If you’re familiar with video conferencing, or even just Skype or FaceTime, you’ll have a good idea of what it’s like to learn online, face-to-face with a language teacher. Companies that offer this service typically use a platform specially designed for the teacher to chat face-to-face with students, and present learning materials. The best also offer private or small group classes (3-4 students).

3. Choose a school with a flexible schedule. To learn a language in three months, you’ll need to take a class pretty much every day.  Not easy when you’ve just arrived in a new country and you need to find an apartment, track down a doctor and register with the town hall (among a million other things). Online learning gives you the opportunity to book classes any time day or night, including evenings and weekends. And of course there’s no need to travel to and from a classroom.  

From dating, to getting broadband installed, to registering at the town hall: learning a language should prepare you for real life situations. Photo: Lingoda.

4. Shop around to get value for money. Flat deposits, new furniture, removal vehicles: The first weeks in a new country can be expensive. Language learning doesn’t come cheap, but some schools are better value than others. Online language schools, such as Lingoda which offers English, Business English, German, Spanish and French, are often less expensive because they don’t have the bricks and mortar overheads of an offline school.

Join the Lingoda Marathon and Learn a Language for Free

5. Find your motivation! Learning a language in three months is all about discipline and good habits. If you’re an early bird, take your classes before work. Night owls need to find a quiet corner in the flat to take a late night course. Be prepared to make sacrifices. It’s no fun learning with a hangover! That being said, some schools offer their own incentives. Lingoda offers The Lingoda Marathon, a three-month course where participants get all their money back if they complete a class a day for three months (30 classes per month).

6. Find out whether learning materials are included. Make sure, wherever possible, that learning materials are provided by your school and aren’t a hidden extra. Textbooks and other materials are potentially expensive, so always read all the small print. And if you choose an online school, make sure that it offers a standard curriculum for all its classes – rather than leaving it up to the teacher to provide their own lessons. 

7. Get a certificate at the end of your course. There’s no point taking a language learning course if you don’t have the evidence to share with your employer or another academic institution. Ask up front if you’ll get the paperwork at the end of the course and find out how to use it when applying for a job or another course.

8. Learn for real life. We all know the drill from school. Learn the name of 20 animals in French. What are the most popular cakes in Germany? Not really useful when you’re stuck trying to register your address at the town hall. Modern language learning courses should teach you to deal with real-life situations. From opening a bank account and getting broadband installed to dating dos and don’ts in your new city.

Join the Lingoda Marathon and Learn a Language for Free

9. Learn for work. Learning a language isn’t just about vocabulary and grammar, it’s about learning how to work smarter – knowing how to appropriately apply for that job you want, how to express understanding to your work colleagues and how to ask for that raise you deserve. The latest classes, including online learning, should teach you all need to flourish in the workplace from applying for a job to running a meeting to organising a business trip.  

10. Choose the right level. You wouldn’t start running five miles a day from scratch. The same rule applies to learning a language. Make sure you get a proper assessment of your language skills so that you join a teacher and a class that meets your needs. Most schools use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, where beginners start at A1 right through to experts (C2).

Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to learning a language in three months! Like any new skill, there will be highs and lows, but the upside is huge. There is no greater thrill than when you speak a new language fluently and confidently in real-life, with real people.

If you’d like to learn a language in three months (English, Business English, German, French, Spanish) – and get up to 100 percent of your course fees refunded – check out the Lingoda Language Learning Marathon.

This content was produced by Lingoda.


Nine French words that the French just don’t use

These words are all technically correct and are in the dictionary - use them in everyday conversation however and you're likely to earn yourself a few funny looks and sniggers.

Nine French words that the French just don't use
Don't always trust the dictionary. Photo: Y-Boychenko/Depositphotos

1. Sacré bleu!

This one seems to crop up in Anglophone news headlines all the time when journalists wish to create a sense of classic Frenchness. For example a story in a San Fransisco based newspaper about an international battle over internet domain names was headlined 'French scream sacré bleu at US government'.

The reason for this is probably that it's in many French textbooks that Anglophone schoolchildren use so they grow up thinking that all Frenchmen shout sacré bleu! whenever they tread in dog muck or run out of Gauloises (and fair enough, it's probably too soon to start teaching kids about the joys of a good putain).

In reality this is very rarely used in France for the simple reason that it's very old fashioned. It would be like turning up in England and shouting 'crikey' or 'golly Moses' at people and expecting them not to smirk.

Although we should report that one writer at The Local says she heard it recently from a woman in the street who was nearly knocked over by a cyclist. She did add, however, that the woman was 'about 95'.

French tech words have a few traps for the unwary. Photo: AFP

2. L'accès sans fil a internet

This is a proper phrase that was coined by the venerable Academie Française and it means connecting to the internet without the use of wires or cable. For some reason, however, the cumbersome phrase never really caught on and the French prefer using the far simpler 'wifi' which was coined in the Anglophone world. In French however it is pronounced 'weefee' and after some debate it was decided that it should be masculine – le wifi. So if you need access to the internet in a hotel, café or meeting space you can simply ask someone Avez-vous le code pour le wifi? – do you have the wifi password?

3. Faire l'amour

Anyone reared on a diet of romance novels and fantasies about charming Frenchmen and/or sexy French ladies may be hoping to do a spot of this, but use the phrase and you'll find yourself less likely to score. In the same way that not many people really say 'making love' in English, faire l'amour is not widely used in France either. French people, especially younger ones, generally use either coucher (to sleep with), the English word 'sex' or a few slightly cruder alternatives like baiser or niquer.

4. Ménage à trois

And while we're hovering around the bedroom, this French phrase may be very well known in the Anglophone world to describe a night of fun involving three people, but is rarely used in that sense in France. If this is what you're after, you'd do better propositioning your two likely candidates for un trio.


If you want fireworks in the bedroom, you'll need to get the vocab right. Photo: AFP

5. Nonante

Sadly, this is not used in France and you're stuck with the cumbersome quatre-vingt-dix. The practical Swiss have decided that some of France's famously more outlandish numbering systems soixante dix, quatre-vingt, quatre-vingt-dix (70, 80 and 90) should be replaced with septante, huitante and nonante. In some parts of Belgium these are used too but not in France. So if you're based here you're stuck with puzzling out that 'four twenties, ten eight' means 98.

6. Mobile multifonction

This is another one courtesy of the Academie Française. The French language enthusiasts are so concerned about the possible erosion of the French language by a flood of techy new words from America that they've recently devoted quite a lot of time to coming up with French translations for popular tech gadgets and systems. This is a translation of 'smartphone' that has never quite caught on.

In reality most French people will refer to their 'smartphone' or even just their portable under the assumption that these days it's actually pretty hard to find a cell phone or mobile phone that doesn't have internet functions.

READ ALSO OPINION France's fight against new English words is totally stupid

7. Courriel

Another tech translation that never quite caught on is un courriel – this is the correct French translation for an email, but in reality most French people, especially the younger ones, will simply refer to un e-mail or un mail if they wan to send you an email.


Used in the Anglophone world to denote a fancy party invitation that requires a response Répondez s'il vous plait is a well known French phrase. The use of French, of course, indicating that this is a sophisticated affair that won't involve beer or chips. But in France you won't see that on invitations, if it's the kind of do that needs a response, the phrase used will be a simple Réponse souhaitée.

9. Mot-dièse

If you want to tag someone in on Twitter it's probably best not to use this one. Another contribution from the Academie Française, this provoked not just disinterest but hilarity on social media when it was suggested as an alternative to hashtag.