while going through my stuff, I came up with an essay on how I actually learned English and I thought, since there are dozens of people that still have a hard time speaking it on here, I might as well share it.
I don't think any of you know, but I'm almost finished with my traineeship as bilingual assistant, meaning I do commercial correspondence, general translating and teaching for a living.
I'll just take English as an example, this can be applied to any other language though.
I first had English class in elementary school (third grade to be exact) where my school was one of the few in Bavaria to try teaching English to kids in that age. I cannot express how grateful I am for that.
Although it is nothing compared to a fifthgrader English class, it gave me a basic idea of what English is and how it is different from German. I then developed interest in languages as a whole and started learning on my own (a bit.. haha).
Of course what you learn in school is the basic requirement for anything, vocabulary, grammar and pronounciation. Once you have a basic idea of that - it's all about applying the language to your daily life. What I did was, I put up post-its all over the house with the English word for that object. Then I started watching movies and TV series in English, eventually reading books in English. This will immensely benefit your vocabulary, feel for language and auditory comprehension.
Next up, since most of you are well, regularly active on the internet, start talking to natives! Most American/English people are very understanding when you only have so much knowledge of the English language. Even talk to people on Skype if you feel like it! The more often you do it, the more confident you get in talking that language and your skills automatically improve.
When you've had enough of that and what to go a step further, in most of the populous countries they offer student exchanges. Apply for one of those and go to an English-speaking country or get a native speaker to live with you for a couple weeks. This has helped me the most!
Most importantly, when you talk the language, START THINKING IN THAT LANGUAGE. When you talk in a foreign language and think in your native language, you'll have to translate it all, that takes time and requires you to make unnecessary breaks in between your sentences.
Other than that, there's not much to say, really. When you see a word that you have never seen in your life - look it up on a translator, check the meaning of it in your native language and try to implement it into your daily use of the foreign language. And when you really feel up to a challenge, go into famous literature, famous poets and all that.
That's mostly how I learned English over the past say 7 years and I can proudly tell you that almost all of my lecturers (which are native speakers, all of them), were surprised about how I hardly have any accent. I sound like a native most of the time!
There are several (e-)books on learning languages efficiently, I once saw one of those but unfortunately I don't remember the name. I only know it said, if you have the smallest bit of talent and effectively apply the language into your daily life as much as possible, you can fluently speak and write a foreign language within 6-12 months.
I hope any of you can relate and/or profit from this I'm just extremely bored and now I had something to write down, hahaha.