Learning a new language is a goal that almost everyone shares, and a goal that almost everyone gives up on. However, the learning process can be greatly accelerated with a few simple techniques. You too can learn a language, to a conversationally fluent level, in just 4-6 months!
Learn Vocabulary with Spaced Repetition
Spaced repetition is a flashcard-based memory technique. It is an incredibly effective tool for quickly and easily storing foreign words in your long term memory. It uses the psychological structure of memory to smoothly move information from short term to long term. The method is as such:
Say you have a list of 50 new words you want to learn. Your first instinct may be to make up 50 flashcards, and go over them every day. Now, this is a method that is commonly used by schools and language institutions, and it works. Using spaced repetition, however, you can halve the effort and double the results!
How it works is simple. You go through your flashcards, and take a note of all the words you got wrong. Separate the words you got correct in a pile, and the words you got wrong in a different pile. Then, you repeat this process with the wrong pile until you get them all right. The next day, repeat this process, however now we increase the interval. Take the flashcards that you got right on the first try that day, and leave them untouched for TWO days. As you progress, increase the interval, until you're only reviewing certain words once a week, once a month, and then never again!
Read Foreign Books
Find a book you particularly enjoy, that has been translated in the language that you are attempting to learn, and dive right in. It will be enormously difficult at first, you'll be making lists of words you don't recognise and struggling to get through each page. However, if you manage to stick with it throughout the entire book, the results will be enormous. What a lot of people don't realise is that 95% of language is around 2000 words, constantly recycled. Learn 2000 words of a language, and you can converse with pretty much anyone in that language. Now, a book may throw in an interesting word here or there, but assuming you haven't picked some exceedingly old and prententiously-written piece of literature, you will probably encounter those 2000 key words many many times.
Listen to Foreign Radio in the Background
This may seem like an odd suggestion, however it is a very effective way to get used to listening and deciphering words, as well as giving you an idea of the spoken rhythm of the language. Find a foreign radio station on the internet, preferably one with plenty of talking, and simply put it on while you do other things. Even if you aren't constantly paying attention, you are being exposed and will pick up on many subtleties subconsciously.