- spend a lot of time listening to someone who plays the guitar well
- spend a lot of time practicing.
In the world of foreign languages, this translates into:
- a lot of input (listening and reading)
- a lot of output (speaking and writing).
The approach of a beginner and an intermediate student will be different of course, but the learning philosophy remains the same.
When it comes to listening, the best thing to listen to are radio or TV talkshows, where the language is real (unlike in movies, or textbooks) and where there are no silent moments, like in movies or TV series for instance. An even better thing to watch are youtube videos (vlogs), where people speak in first person and talk about what they have been doing recently, where they went, what they think about this or that etc.
When it comes to speaking, more important than who you’re talking to is, how often you have the chance to talk to someone. Ideally, you should be able to talk to someone everyday, but at least an hour a day, three times per week. A good exercise is to talk to yourself in the foreign language.
Your ideal conversation partner should be different depending on what your level in the foreign language is. If you are an American learning Chinese for instance and you are a complete beginner, your ideal conversation partner is an American, who speaks Chinese fluently (they will be able to explain to you the language much better than a native speaker). If you are an intermediate or advanced student a native Chinese speaker is better.