How to Learn A #Language in 90 Days

‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.’~Nelson Mandela

I personally speak 6 languages: Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, Friulano. Would love to speak more because I find them fascinating. I often wake up in the morning after having dreamed a situation where the characters all spoke their own language, but all understood each other. Probably my next language will be Portuguese, and the next one after that will be Chinese. Who knows? There are no limits to the human capacity to learn, as long as you keep trying you will reach your goal!

Editor’s noteI found this article by Maneesh Sethi of Hack The System very inspiring and wish to share it with my followers. This is a blog about travelling so you might ask yourself why I decided to share it in my blog. Why? Because whenever I travel the world, I try to speak to the heart of the locals and let the locals speak from their hearts. 

How to Learn A Language in 90 Days

I still remember the happiest moment of my life. I had decided to throw a party for my Italian friends while living in Florence, Italy. My friends didn’t speak any English, and I vividly remember throwing the party and trying to only speak in Italian. And then, someone asked me to tell a joke.

I don’t know if you know this, but telling jokes in another language is one of the most harrowing experiences you can imagine.

I began the joke. C’era una volta (Once upon a time) …

Halfway through the joke, I began to get flustered. I couldn’t remember the Italian word in the punchline. And 30 Italians were staring at me, waiting for the joke to end.

At the last minute, I remembered and completed the joke. I waited for the sound of crickets … but instead experienced a thunderous laugh and a round of applause. I had made dozens of Italians laugh, in their country, in their language.

Until today, that memory continues to be one of the happiest moments I’ve ever experienced. And it’s the reason that, over the last four years, I’ve studied languages and now speak five: English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and German.

The Benefits of Bilingualism

Becoming bilingual opens up a whole new world—a world of different people, of different cultures, of different emotions.

Learning a second language has many cognitive benefits. For example, learning a new language has been shown to delay Alzheimer’s, boost brainpower, reduce cognitive biases, and even increase concentration and the ability to tune out distractions. Your ability to build better habits will improve by learning a new language.

But, more so than cognitive effects, the ability to speak a second language has a ton of social benefits. There’s bliss in having the ability to order food in the waiter’s native language, to eavesdrop on people in an elevator, to impress natives by speaking with and understanding them.

The coolest thing about learning your second language is that it makes learning a third, fourth, or fifth language much easier. The challenge isn’t in learning a new language, but rather learning how to learn a language. Once you know the techniques, you’ll be able to apply the same grammatical patterns and language techniques in every new language you learn. It’s for this reason that, while Italian took me 3 or so months to master, Spanish took only 2 months and Portuguese took just a few weeks.

Why most people are wrong about language learning

I studied spanish for several years in high school, and even got good grades on national exams. But one day, when I actually tried to speak the language, I suddenly realized.

Four years of studying Spanish in school, and I couldn’t even order a burrito.

So what went wrong? According to official standardized tests, I was an expert in Spanish. But I couldn’t even do the most basic of tasks!

The fact is that we not taught languages in the ideal way. Students study languages in huge groups and think that a few worksheets and grammar exercises will be enough to learn a language.

Yet almost no one actually learns to speak.

In actuality, by doing worksheets, we are practicing for just that—for worksheets. But if you want to learn to speak, well, you actually have to practice by speaking.

So when people try to learn to speak a language out of a book, or with Rosetta Stone, I try to show them that they won’t achieve their goals that way. If you want to speak, you have to practice speaking. And if you want to speak a language rapidly, well, you have to start speaking. A lot.

The Basic Strategy Of Rapid Language Learning

Learning a language can seem daunting, so I’m going to provide an overview of the general strategy, before we get into the specifics.

Here is the breakdown. We’ll go more in depth into each of these later on.

1. Get the right resources for learning: A grammar book, memorization software, and films/books.

2. Get a private tutor. You want one for at least a month. I recommend four hours/day.

3. Attempt to speak and think only in the new language. Every time you can’t remember a word, put that word into your memorization software. Practice your vocabulary daily.

4. Find friends, language partners, and other speakers of the language. Once you can have basic conversations with your private tutor, you need to find other partners. If you haven’t already, think about moving to the country where the language is spoken. Consider a group class. Practice continuously. Stop speaking English.

That’s the basic strategy. Again, this strategy is intensive, because learning a language in three months is a difficult task. If you’d prefer to learn the language more slowly or you don’t have the ability to move to a new country and practice 4-8 hours a day, then you can modify the plan. It is extremely important that you practice every day, however—20 minutes a day is much better than once or twice a week.

Some of these concepts are hard to understand through the written word, so I created a video series, just for Zen Habits readers, that teaches the steps to learn a language. Get the Hack The System Language Learning Videos here.

The Resources You Need To Learn A Language

In order to learn a language, you’ll need some items that you can practice with. Here are the resources I always use.

The Necessary Resources

A good grammar book. This is essential if you want to learn a language. I recommend Dover’s Essential Grammar series: the books are very cheap, concise, and thorough. When I lived in Italy, the Dover Essential Italian Grammar book became my bible. I read it everywhere, slept with it, and even memorized it.

A phrase book. This is similar to a dictionary, but for phrases. You can start memorizing full sentences and phrases, and you’ll naturally learn the individual words. I’ll talk more about memorization tactics shortly.

An online dictionary. For most romance languages, I recommend For German, try http://dict.ccGoogle Translate can be useful, but it easily becomes a crutch. Use it sparingly.

A memorization app. You have to memorize vocabulary. I always put new words in my app, and practice them every night.

If you’re on a Mac, check out the app Genius. This genius app (pun intended) uses time-spacing techniques to test our knowledge. You’ll randomly be quizzed on words or phrases you are trying to learn, and the more often you make a mistake, the more often you’ll be tested. I recommend you put English on the left column and your desired language on the right, so that you’ll learn to speak in a new language, not translate from it. If you’re on a PC, I’ve heard good things about Anki.

Resources to learn from

A Private Tutor. I highly recommend getting an in-person private tutor through Craigslist or a nearby language school. However, if you can’t find anyone in your area or they are too expensive, check out Edufire is a website that allows you to take private and group classes online over the Internet. Again, remember, private lessons are essential, so skip the group classes.

Free language partners and tutorsThe Mixxer is an incredible resource. It’s a site that allows you to connect, via Skype, with language partners all over the world. Just choose your native language, and what you are trying to learn, and The Mixxer will find partners with opposite needs (who speak your target language and want to learn your native language).

At the beginning, online partners are a big help. Why? First, because chatting is much easier than speaking, so you get a chance to practice your language. Second, chat gives you a log of what you’ve been saying—and it makes it easier for your partner to correct you.

I use and to find language partners and language meetups, no matter where I live.

I don’t recommend Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone is incredibly slow. In Level 1, which takes 1-2 months to complete, you’ll only be familiar with the present tense. This is not a good use of your time.

Pimsleur tapes, on the other hand, can be beneficial because they help you practice pronunciation in the context of conversations. However, they are still quite slow. To test this, I started training with the German Pimsleur tapes two weeks before beginning my German classes. I felt like I was making huge progress by finishing 1/2 of the German 1 tapes—until I had surpassed that knowledge in fewer than two days with an actual teacher.

The 90 Day Plan to Learning a Language

It’s possible to achieve fluency, or at least a high speaking level, in just 90 days, but it requires intense focus. The biggest shift was in mindset: I had to change my self conception from ‘Maneesh: a blogger who wants to learn Italian’ to ‘Maneesh: Italian learner (who blogs in his extra time).

If you don’t have the freedom to focus fulltime on learning a language, that’s okay, but the process will take longer than 90 days. Just make sure that you continue to practice every day, or else you’ll lose your knowledge rapidly.

Days 1-30

The first thirty days are critical to learning a new language. You need to immerse yourself as fully as possible.

I highly recommend moving to a country where the language is spoken if you want to learn a language in 90 days. This will help you get into the language learning mindset, and will allow you to surround yourself with the new language. If you are able to move to a new country, try to live with a host family. You’ll learn a lot by eating meals with a family that hosts you.

In any case, during the first month, work one on one with a private tutor—not group classes. Group classes allow you to sit back and be lazy, while a private tutor forces you to learn.

This is important: you must be an active learner. Most people allow themselves to be taught to, but you have to take an active role in asking questions. The best way to understand this process is via video—part of the video series I made to supplement this post includes a sample of a class I took while studying Swedish, with explanations of the questions I ask during private training. Check out the language learning videos I’ve made for this post here.

You’re going to start encountering a lot of words and phrases that you don’t know, both with your private tutor, and when you practice languages on your own. Enter these words in your memorization software.

You want to start memorizing 30 words and phrases per day. Why 30? Because in 90 days, you’ll have learned 80% of the language.

This great article talks about the number of words in the Russian language.

the 75 most common words make up 40% of occurrences
the 200 most common words make up 50% of occurrences
the 524 most common words make up 60% of occurrences
the 1257 most common words make up 70% of occurrences
the 2925 most common words make up 80% of occurrences
the 7444 most common words make up 90% of occurrences
the 13374 most common words make up 95% of occurrences
the 25508 most common words make up 99% of occurrences

As you can see, you need to learn around 3000 to hit 80% of the words … probably enough before you can start learning words easily by context. At 30 words/day, you’ll have learned almost 3000 in 90 days.

Use mnemonics to help memorize words.

Days 31-60

After your first month, it’s time to focus on exposing yourself to the language as much as possible. After a month of private tutoring, you’ll have the ability to have basic conversations.

If your private tutor is getting expensive, you might consider doing advanced group classes at this point—it’ll save you money and give you access to other friends who are learning the language. Just be careful of speaking only in English. Try to make it a rule to speak in the new language as much as possible. Continue with your private tutor, if possible.

If at all possible, find a boyfriend or girlfriend who is a native speaker. Learning a language is much easier when you’re dating someone who speaks that language. I once met a man who spoke fluent Russian, and when I asked him how long it took to learn, he answered, ‘two wives.’ The best advice I can give you for finding a significant other is something my Italian friend once told me: “Couchsurfing isn’t a dating site … but it helps.”

Now is the time to start finding language partners. Check out the Resources section above and use The Mixxer and Couchsurfing to find people who speak the language you want to learn. Attempt to spend a few hours everyday practicing your language. At this point, because you have a basic grasp of the language, it shouldn’t be a chore—you are basically spending time socializing with new friends.

Try reading simple books in your target language and underlining words that you don’t know. You can add these to your memorization app.

You should start trying to think in the new language. Every time you try to express a thought to yourself, but can’t remember the word, write it down in your memorization software. Continue learning 30 words and phrases per day.

Days 61-90

By day 60, you should be in a good position to speak the language. You just simply need to keep practicing. Have deeper conversations with your language partners. Try to go out with them as much as possible—I’ve even found that a moderate amount of alcohol helps significantly with language practice.

Continue studying 30 words a day and practicing the ones you’ve already learned, and you’ll be approaching the 3000 word mark—enough to speak a language close to fluently.

By now, you can start watching TV and reading books in your target language. Rent some DVDs in the foreign language and try to follow along. If you need to, turn on the subtitles. Don’t worry if you have trouble, because understanding film is a lot more difficult than having a one-on-one conversation.

Keep on working on the language for several hours per day, and by the end of the month, you’ll find that you have a good grasp on the language. It’s pretty amazing what you can do in just 90 days with intense focus.


Congratulations! You’ve done it–you’ve learned a language in just 90 days. The best part is that you’ll find it much faster to learn your next language. You’ve done the hard part–learning how to learn a language.

You’ve unlocked a new skill. Language learning is about building a new habit—the habit of thinking and speaking in a new language. And once you perfect a single language, you’ve laid the foundation for doing even more.

Imagine, the next time you meet a waiter or tourist from Italy or Mexico or Greece, you could start talking, tell a joke, and—if you can remember the punchline in time—get to experience the elation of making someone laugh in their own language.

That, my friends, is zen.

#Sports Academy in #UK #Soccer – #Golf – #Tennis – #Dance

We are very proud to be working alongside one of the most experienced and trustworthy operator of the cultural and sport youth tourism sector in the UK and to be able to propose their products to all our clients.  The  Sports Academy Pogrammes are one of the most appreciated thanks to the quality of the sport, staff and training sessions available to the participants.



Offering intensive soccer, dance, golf or tennis camps with English option.

Our Soccer Academy has been  operating for 16 years and it is very well established; the Golf and Tennis Academies are becoming more & more popular and offering an increasingly high standard and good level of coaching. The general feedback we got from the 2012 programme was first rate from the quality of the coaching to the general facilities and to the programme itself. The Dance Academy was new in 2010 and once again we received wonderful feedback from those taking part in 2012. Students especially complemented the outstanding & varied tuition. All 4 academies will offer an English language or multi-sport option towards the end of the day.

– Soccer supported by Watford FC

– Dance supported by DAPA

– Fantastic venues for soccer golf dance & tennis

– Outstanding sports facilities

– Golf at the prestigious Epsom Golf Club

– Top quality coaching in golf tennis & soccer

– Modern, airy accommodation

– Matches against English teams

– Visits to well known grounds

– Groups /individuals welcome

– EFL option


The Sports Academy is based at Epsom College, just 15 miles from Central London and with easy access to both Heathrow & Gatwick Airports. It boasts top class facilities in all areas, especially sport. The College was built in the early 1850’s and its beautiful Gothic style buildings are set in 80 acres of Epsom Downs. The soccer pitches are of the highest quality and there are numerous tennis courts, all in top class condition. There are two sports halls. There is also an indoor swimming pool, two dance studios, and several squash courts. The college is little more than a 5 minute walk to the town centre.



The Academy is open to boys and girls between 10 and 16 years from all over the world, including Great Britain. We welcome individuals as well as organized groups/teams to the truly international environment that the Academy offers. Please note that the Elite Academy is NOT suitable for those who are at a very basic level or who merely want “social soccer, golf, dance or tennis”.


In addition to our top quality coaching staff , we have our own staff on site 24 hours a day. A Programme Director will oversee all aspects of the programme and they are in constant liaison with the soccer coaches, other staff, the school representatives, caterers, group leaders, the students themselves, Head office etc.. Under the Programme Director, at each venue, we have an Activities Coordinator and a Welfare & Pastoral Care Coordinator with Activity Staff to plan & organise the multi sport sessions, and Teaching Staff to take care of the teaching. All staff are chosen for their ability to work with children and look after their various needs. They are aware that students are away from home, some of them for the first time and pastoral care is a major priority. All staff accompany the students on their trips and are responsible for getting the students up in the mornings, ensuring they eat properly, planning evening activities and ensuring they get to bed at the appropriate time.


We include a full day excursion each week. This will, as far as possible, be related to the appropriate sport. Additionally there will be a trip out for the soccer players to watch a top team train and matches against local opposition for all sports.


We recommend fortnight stays but 3 and 4 weeks stays are also possible.

              START DATE              FINISH DATE

WEEK          1 July 3rd             July 10th

WEEK2        July 10th                July 17th

WEEK 3       July 17th                July 24th

WEEK 4       July 24th                July 31st


We have qualified teachers on site. We offer an optional TEFL course (this must be pre-booked). 12 hours tuition per week is offered and children will be taught according to ability with emphasis placed on conversation and communication. All course materials are provided and certificates are awarded at the end of each child’s stay. Further details on application.


Tennis, golf & soccer matches are organised against local English teams and will be geared strictly according to age/ability.


Epsom has an exceptional reputation for high quality food in its excellent dining room. Emphasis is placed on a good dietary balance as well as popular food allowing for different cultural tastes! There are three meals provided each day: traditional English as well as continental breakfasts; lunch and dinner with hot/cold options, a vegetarian choice as well as a salad bar.


A structured evening programme will include soccer & tennis related events (e.g DVD coaching and tactics presentations, tournaments, videos of famous matches) as well as non-soccer related events (eg: discos, barbecues, filmshows and other indoor Sports) Our staff are on hand throughout the day and evening.


At our Soccer, Golf , Dance& Tennis Academies, those not taking the EFL option have supervised multi activity sessions. These include tennis, swimming, water polo, volleyball, basketball, squash, table tennis, badminton, and lots more!




Accommodation at Epsom is in Fayrer House. Very recently refurbished, rooms are of a good standard and consist of a mixture of single, doubles and a few triples. Rooms are spacious, airy, nicely decorated and comfortable and there are plenty of showers & toilet facilities near to each room. Note we cannot guarantee specific rooms for any student in advance.




This will be the 17th year of the International Soccer Academy and we are delighted of the good relationship with Watford Football Club which has proved such a success since they joined the project in 2008. They take full control of the coaching programme which again combines the excellent – and unique – mix of soccer and English. The Elite Soccer Academy is designed for those who play regular soccer to a good standard and it is an intensive course. It will be available as a 1, 2, 3 or 4 week programme, but two weeks are highly recommended.

For those who do not play to quite such a high standard, we strongly recommend the English PLUS Soccer option at Brecon (July) and Cranbrook (August). See ACTM’s main Summer School brochure for further details

The Elite Soccer Academy offers a really high quality programme with top level coaching. We have welcomed football loving youngsters from all Continents. The youngsters gel as a group through the games, tournaments, skill sessions and simply through the communal living; this has resulted in some notable victories for Academy teams in the matches organised against local English club teams.

THE GOAL The aim remains very much the same: to help all participants appreciate the different dimensions that the game has to offer. They will learn through skill sessions, DVD presentations (where appropriate), team games and through making new friends from all over the world in a social soccer environment. Boys and girls alike will appreciate that football is fun and truly an international game. The fundamentals of soccer will be taught in addition to the roles, positional play, teamwork, ball control, team and individual techniques and the essence of fair play. The weekly programme is laid out elsewhere but the course covers intensive skill sessions, small sided as well as full side competitive games, video/lecture sessions, goalkeeping teach-ins as well as visits to well known stadia. Subject to age range/groups, there will be games against the Watford Academy sides. We will also endeavour to arrange a visit to a pre season professional game (as an optional extra/supplement).

COACHING STAFF As in 2012 we will be using the Watford Youth Academy’s Coaching staff who will handle all the coaching. We hope to receive visits from some of the Watford Senior team and we will try and arrange visits to Watford’s training ground to watch their senior side in pre season training.


The Tennis Academy was formed (and continues to thrive) in response to the growing number of junior tennis enthusiasts from around the world who enquire each year about the chance to practice tennis with professionals, in the UK. We provide the basics for keen intermediates, but the Academy is also designed to cater for those established players keen to develop their fitness, and the technical, tactical, physical, and mental sides of their game. Developing tennis skills as a youth enables a player to have the foundations for a lifetime of interest and improvement. A pupil may wish to play on a school team, play tournaments, compete at their local club, or just learn the game in a fun and exciting environment with other students. At Epsom Tennis Academy we have an instructional program that will enable pupils to get better, have fun and enjoy tennis forever. Service Line Tennis Management (, who are partners with us, provide the tennis coaching staff are vastly experienced and will lead the program to deliver the most up to date and effective teaching methods. Each pupil will be evaluated and placed accordingly to their ability and age where possible to ensure they remain focused and challenged throughout the week. There is an excellent Player: Coach ratio where the same coach works all week that group providing vital continuity for both sides. The Epsom Tennis Academy has a daily tennis schedule and includes, but is not limited to:

– 5 hours plus of Instructor lead training

– LTA & ITF Approved Coaches with experienced playing backgrounds

– Development of proper stroke mechanics as used by the world’s top players

– Learn and refine effective tactics and strategies through rigorous training

– Dedicated daily matchplay sessions to build mental toughness and tactical awareness

– Evaluations Report presented to pupil at end of the week with recommendations for improvement

– End of week tournament

Students enrol for one or two week programmes, and should be between 10 and 16 years old. All aspects of the game are covered – forehands, backhands, first and second service, returns of serve, volleys, drop shots and smash. Attention is given to the use of topspin and slice – and students also look at the latest techniques employed by the world’s top players – power-play and the drive volley amongst others. The morning sessions concentrate on the technical skills whilst the afternoons emphasize the tactical, physical, and mental sides of match-play. Each group will have time on the ball machine which is both beneficial to consistency and a valuable coaching aid. The speed gun determines whether the service has pace and control!  

COACHING STAFF Since 1983 the key to Service Line’s worldwide success has been the selection of qualified coaches trained to exacting Service Line standards. The Academy Team will be led by one of Service Line’s most senior tennis professionals and the coaching will be top class!! Parents can rest assured we have selected a caring, committed and enthusiastic team, with a thorough understanding of the skills needed to get the most from young people!“The tennis coaches blend serious tennis knowledge with a sense of fun, and are brilliant at involving every type of player” Ace Tennis Magazine September 2006.



This will be the sixth year for the Elite Golf Academy. We are proud and delighted to offer this at the prestigious Epsom Golf Club ( which is immediately adjacent to Epsom College meaning no transport is involved and no roads to cross! The programme will combine lessons with the Head Professional (and/or his assistants), matches against the juniors at both Epsom GC as well as other nearby clubs, visits to the driving range, plenty of time playing on the course (green fees included) and, where possible, a tournament at the end of the week with prizes. This programme is not suitable for beginners (indeed all students should have handicap certificates). Students should bring their own clubs & golf shoes as well as appropriate dress (no jeans).For those wanting a less intensive golf programme, we recommend our English PLUS golf programmes at Bruton, Abbotsholme, Wymondham & Brecon. See ACTM’s main summer school brochure for more details.




The Dance Academy was another huge success in 2012 with fantastic teachers and a real buzz to the programme. We have had hugely positive feedback from all those involved (students, parents, group leaders & the Dance teachers themselves!) We are really excited about our involvement with DAPA and together we look forward to taking the Dance Academy on to yet another level in 2013. DAPA has been running for over 12 years – supplying teachers for dance courses nationwide. DAPA’s base is in Kent where it has over 500 students at its Dance Academy. The 2013 programme will again offer a wide range of dance styles – Ballet, Street Jazz and Contemporary Dance. Courses will also cover limbering, stretching, and relaxation programmes associated with dance. Students will gain new technique and performance skills. Courses will also cover Tap dancing, Cheerleading and Irish Dancing .Our teaching staff are all very experienced with a background in the professional theatre and in the world of dance. Students wishing to join the course should already have a strong background in dance – it is NOT suitable for beginners. The course is hard work – but great fun and a fantastic way to keep in shape and improve your dancing skills over the Summer Holidays (Please note that for those not wanting such an intensive dance programme, we offer English plus dance at a number of our summer school sites, catering for all dates & ages – see summer school brochure for details).

Contact us for more info and booking