Six Months into Learning French and Slovak

It ain’t that hard. Tips and tricks.

Marjan Krebelj
12 min readNov 27, 2022


Earlier this year, I decided to finally learn French and Slovak. I started both languages as a complete beginner, and I think I’m doing well so far. I can read and listen to more accessible texts in both languages (like news, magazines, documentaries, youtube videos, etc.). Movies and TV series are still incomprehensible to me in both languages, mainly because the colloquial language differs significantly from the proper one (especially in French) and because the spoken dialogue is more often than not divorced from video. Documentaries and youtube videos tend to visually present whatever they speak about while characters in movies or TV series just sit there and speak, so it is harder to guess what they say. However, my writing and speaking abilities remain relatively poor due to a lack of practice.

How much more French can you get? Paris 2011. Photo by author.

During this time, I not only studied these languages but also inspected the process of learning itself.

What is the most effective way to learn a language?

I learned this:

stay away from linguists and language teachers as much as possible and approach them only when other methods are exhausted.

In other terms: language teachers and language textbooks are of the greatest value when you are dealing with a specific question or a problem. Which implies you need to have at least some amount of work done to have encountered the problem in the first place.

This goes against the grain of conventional practice and requires a bit of argumentation. I will start with the fundamental premise that the best way to learn a new language is founded on immersion, enjoyment, and emotional stress. What all of them have in common is that they mimic (or constitute?) the way we learn a language as newborn babies. Our brains extract and then synthesize language from and to real life.


Immersion means that you surround yourself with your target language. Babies are surrounded by language from the moment they are born and their brains start picking up patterns soon after. Which sounds appear in which context?



Marjan Krebelj

Once an architect, now a freelance photographer/filmmaker with passion for words.