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how to learn a language by yourself topic specific vocabulary

How To Learn A Language By Yourself: Choose Your Perfect Topic

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Learning a language by yourself is one of the best things you can do, especially as a beginner. So I really encourage you to learn languages independently.

It helps you to keep track of your language learning process and all words you’re learning. It also gives you a clear path of where you’re heading to. This article will give you a proven strategy for how to learn a language by yourself.


The beginning of our language learning journey starts with topic specific vocabulary. At first, we are going to choose a topic to learn vocabulary. So take a pen and your language travel notebook with some extra papers, and let’s get round to the process. We’ll have so much fun together.

Best Way To Learn A Language By Yourself

The best way to learn a language by yourself is to learn new vocabulary in topics (specific situations) that interest you. It means that you’ll pick up a few situations (topics) within which you want to speak a new language. Or topics in which you’re interested. After, you’ll think about all words you’ll need to speak within that situation.

Firstly, you’ll write these words down in your native language. And after, you’ll translate them into your target foreign language. This is the best way to learn a language by yourself.

Example: Let’s say you want to learn a language for travel. In this case, your topics (situations) might be airport, hotel, ordering food in a restaurant, booking a sightseeing tour, introducing yourself to your new friends, etc. So once you select the topics within which you can communicate when traveling, think about words you’ll need in each situation. After, translate all the words into your foreign language.

Let’s break it down and talk about this process in detail.

1. What Is Topic Specific Vocabulary

I want to inspire you with my language learning strategy and walk you through the entire process to eventually achieve your language learning goals. We’ll start right at the beginning with topic specific vocabulary.

So what does this mean? Learning topic specific vocabulary is essentially about choosing a certain topic within which you want to learn vocabulary. This is the first step in our language learning journey.

There are various topics that you can choose from. However, we are here to learn a language for travel, so let’s brainstorm a little bit about all travel-related topics that come to your mind. These are basically situations you go through once you are traveling. 

At the beginning of our language learning journey, we’ll write down a list of topics to determine which specific vocabulary to learn later.

Ask yourself questions like, in which situation you think you’ll mostly be using the language skills. When you’ll mostly be exposed to that language when traveling? I might think of a few situations/interesting topics to learn for now. So take a pen and paper and write the situations down for yourself as well.

Travel Topics To Learn Vocabulary

At the airport

Getting a taxi/local transportation from the airport to the city center

Check-in at the accommodation

Asking for sightseeing suggestions within a place

Ordering food in a restaurant/ on a market

Talking about my hobbies with a stranger I met during my travels

Talking about food

Ordering coffee with snacks, sweets in a coffee shop

Shopping (souvenirs, clothes, etc.)

May you think of other situations in which you use a foreign language while traveling, fill them into your list.

So you have probably realized that the situations you are going through when traveling are the topics. You’ll use specific vocabulary in each of those situations. These situations represent our topics.

Now it’s your turn and your own decision how much of the language you want to learn. In the next part of this article, I’ll walk you through these topics and teach you how to choose and learn a language by yourself with your topic specific vocabulary.

2. How To Pick Up Topic Specific Vocabulary

So you’ve already set your topic within which you’ll learn vocabulary. Awesome, you are one step closer to achieving your goal. Now, let’s pick up some words within this topic and create a list of useful vocabulary to learn.

Let’s say we want to prepare for the situations we are facing at the airport. Think about everything you have to handle every time you are flying to a new destination:

  • Greeting the assistant at the counter
  • Claiming your luggage
  • Weighting your language and putting it onto the tray
  • Getting your flight tickets – what is written on the ticket (aisle seat, window seat, gate, boarding time)
  • Getting through the airport
  • Taking off and landing
  • Finding your luggage at the destination
  • Getting out of the airport

These are all situations you usually go through when traveling to a destination and spending time at the airport.

Choose 1 Specific Topic To Learn A Language By Yourself

Now, let’s break it down even more. Take one section and think in-depth:

  • Greeting the assistant at the counter

Think about any words you might use to greet the assistant when doing the check-in of your luggage. Also, think about what she might ask you, what specific words she might use, and in what words you would answer.

Write all these words in your native language down into your language travel notebook. Once you are done, let’s continue.

To find out what is the language travel notebook and how to use it, read my separate post.


languages - language travel notebook
Language Travel Notebook: How to learn a language by yourself

3. Translate Your Topic Specific Vocabulary

You have the vocabulary in your own language. It’s time to translate these words into your target foreign language. I recommend the following sources to translate the words:

1.Google Translator – great only for translating words, don’t rely on it when translating sentences. It isn’t that accurate sometimes. But it’s an amazing tool for translating vocabulary only. The best thing is that you can also listen to the pronunciation of the words right away. This will help you memorize the words.

2.Reverso Translation – another great tool to translate your vocabulary. I love it because it automatically gives you the words you are translating in context and creates some sentences using the vocabulary. As with Google Translator, you can listen to the pronunciation of the words.

3.DeepL – DeepL is great for translating words, but it will help you translate your sentences in the next step of our language learning journey.

However, bear in mind that neither of these translators is perfectly accurate. Still, they are great tools for language learning beginners to get the first contact with vocabulary and translate single words. They’ll help you a lot at this stage.

This research part is a lot of fun. It helps you to memorize the topic vocabulary much easier and quicker.

translate words on your own
Topic Specific Vocabulary

4.Learn Your Topic Specific Vocabulary

Once you’ve translated all the words, have a look at what you’ve done. Read each word aloud for yourself and reflect. Use Google Translator for listening and pronouncing the words, so you get it right at the beginning. Just type the word into the translator, listen to its pronounce, and repeat it several times.

Try to memorize the words imagining the particular situation. Be at the airport, and talk to that assistant in the country of your chosen language. Imagine the assistant being in front of you right now. Once you go through that vocabulary, you get the overview of what you wrote within that topic, and you know what you have to learn now.

Repeat the process all over again. Memorize your topic specific vocabulary. After, close your eyes and think of all the words you can remember from your list.

Learning vocabulary creating associations in head
Learning new words and associating vocabulary with particular things

Vocabulary Lists To Memorize Words

You can also create vocabulary lists to learn and work with new vocabulary. First, write all the words once again to the vocabulary list. Then close your eyes, and repeat the specific words in your head. After, cross out those words you can remember and highlight the words you are still struggling with.

Then create a new list of vocabulary with only those words you still cannot remember. Then, again, close your eyes, and repeat those words in your head. This way, you’ll go through all the topic specific vocabulary and eventually memorize all the words. This is the initial step to learning the vocabulary.

Get the vocabulary list here to write down your vocabulary.


Vocabulary lists
Vocabulary Sheets

Fun Ways To Learn New Vocabulary

Creating the list of vocabulary and memorizing it in your head is just the beginning. After, you have to be in constant contact with the vocabulary and play with it

I’ve put together a list of fun and effective ways for how you can learn vocabulary fast. Check it out and choose your favorite method. You’ll create flashcards, play pexeso, do vocabulary walls, and do many more exciting activities. 

Learn Vocabulary In A Fun Way

Use A Language App To Learn The Basic

Before we jump to the next level (creating sentences), I would love to congratulate you. You’ve worked a lot with your topic specific vocabulary. It’s time to take it to the next level.

Creating sentences is already a more difficult level, which might be challenging for you if you’re a beginner. So, what I recommend you to do is to get a language app and learn basic vocabulary with it. Then, you can keep up with learning topic specific vocabulary (as I showed you in the example above) and incorporate a language app into the process.

Language apps are a great tool that teaches you basic vocabulary and helps you to understand grammar. So now, as a beginner, stick to the language app for a month or two, and learn the basics of the language.

I always recommend LanguagePod101 to my audience. It’s a language app that works with conversations in real life and dialogues. You’ll listen to these basic conversations from the beginning. It’ll help you to learn vocabulary in a context, which is what we need.

Check out why LanguagePod101 is the best language learning app and how you can use it.

Find Out More About LanguagePod101

Step-By-Step Guide To Learn Basics In Any Foreign Language

I’ve also created a full guide for you about what the basics of language learning are. Here is a step-by-step guide for what to learn in a new language. It’ll guide you on what you need to learn within vocabulary and grammar each week. This process will take about 2 months to complete. After, you’ll be ready to create sentences within your specific topics.

Step-By-Step Guide For What To Learn In A New Language

5. Create Sentences Within The Topic

After you learn the words within one topic, it’ll be time to create sentences using these words. Again, imagine you’re at the airport and think about all phrases and sentences you would use when checking in your luggage. Think about what the assistant would tell you. Write all these sentences down in your native language. After, try to translate them using the topic specific vocabulary you’ve selected at the first step.

As I mentioned above, DeepL translator is a great tool that will help you translate sentences into your target language.

Write these sentences down into your language travel notebook. Again, when writing, think of every single word you are putting down. Then think about the sentence and try to memorize it already at that moment. Finally, reflect on what you’re writing. Remember that it belongs to the learning process already.

create sentences how to learn a language by yourself
How to learn a language by yourself: Writing topic specific vocabulary

6. Process & Memorize Topic Specific Vocabulary

Well, perfect, that’s it. You’ve completed the process for one situation. Now it’s time to process this vocabulary with sentences. Don’t start with another situation or topic if you haven’t learned and processed the words from this section. 

I highly recommend taking the language travel notebook with you and talking to yourself when going to work or waiting at the bus station. Think about the sentences and repeat them in your head until you memorize them all. Refer to your language travel notebook every time you feel stuck and don’t remember a word or a sentence. After, you can pass on to the next situation.


I have other fun ways to learn new vocabulary that I included in my list of gifts for language learners. It has many fun games and activities, so check it out. It will boost your language process significantly.

Then repeat the process for another situation. Pick up topic specific vocabulary, for example, vocabulary on the plane ticket. Repeat the whole process of translating vocabulary within that topic, memorize it, and then create sentences using these words.

More Topics To Learn Vocabulary

If you want to learn a language for other purposes, check out my 8 topics to learn when learning a language. It includes exciting topics in which you learn vocabulary. This method will significantly improve your language learning process.

Topics To Learn Vocabulary In A New Language

More Tips On Language Learning

This is the first and essential step to learning a language by yourself. On this website, I walk you through the whole process of learning a language for travel in 7 steps. If you’re interested in how the entire journey looks like, check out my article about how to learn a language for travel in 7 basic steps

Go to the language resources if you want to incorporate more things into your language learning process. Choose from language appspodcastsbest foreign language books, and language magazines, or learn Spanish online for free with the best videos.

But most importantly, enjoy your language learning. You’ll be successful when you have fun learning the language.

Happy Learning!

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