I started learning one of the hardest languages in the world at 52: Vietnamese, with its six tones, and impossible-to-get-my-mouth-around vowels and consonants. I’d never learned a language before, not even high school French. I’m now conversational. The secret? Live in the country, so it’s a living language. Take private classes. Talk every day. Make mistakes. Throw the language book out the window. Make sure what you’re learning is contextual. It’s doable, but not with an app.

Australian writer recently returned from 4 years living in Vietnam. Editor of Vox Virtus and Abroadingly. Blogs at dianelee.com.au and travellinghomebody.com.

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