I've been learning Spanish for a few weeks using the +Duolingo
app and Pimsleur audio lessons. I have a long way to go, but I've been making great progress and the process has felt pretty effortless.
Unlike my previous attempts, I've been embracing the approach of learning individual phrases and word forms by practice instead of trying to learn rules upfront. It's so obvious in retrospect that to talk naturally in a language, you're going to need it to be automatic, i.e. a habit, which will come with practice whether or not you study rules and exceptions. And the exceptions are so much less frustrating this way!
It's also exciting the kinds of high-tech language learning tools you can access for free nowadays. Duolingo gives you a personalized learning path that lets you progress at your own pace and practice your weak words at just the right intervals. You still need to be smart about your approach and combine different tools to cover all your modalities (reading, writing, listening, speaking), and I need to fill some gaps in my approach like learning more songs and having real conversations with native speakers. Still, I've made progress in a few intense weeks that rivals years of classroom study. It's so true what they say about a traditional classroom setting being the worst way to learn a language.