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  • Confessions of a Serial Language Learner

    I’ve mentioned my personal experience and history with language learning in a few different posts. And I do my best to keep this page updated.

    I grew up with exposure to Spanish but stopped hearing it at home at a really young age. I quickly forgot nearly all of it.

    Thankfully, my third language stuck.

    My History Learning Languages

    But I was never really satisfied with just two languages under my belt. At the age of 15 I began learning Arabic so that my friend and I could share a “secret”-to-us language at school. I loved learning the script, but I struggled with it and quit after a semester.

    Not long after, I set a goal I kept to myself, worried about what people would say if I shared it with them. I decided I would speak 8 languages. But after my Arabic course, I didn’t really do anything to pursue it (music was becoming a bigger part of my life).

    It was only at university while studying for my Master’s degree things changed. I needed to learn other languages for my major and I took the requirement seriously, taking courses for the suggested languages. It was then I realized how much I loved not only speaking other languages but the learning process itself.

    I started on Italian, continued German (which I had dabbled in before), took up Croatian, and begged my roommates for one or two lessons in Mandarin (though again, nothing stuck). And that, with a few years in between, brings me to today.

    Am I a polyglot?

    I don’t at all feel comfortable calling myself a polyglot. I prefer to say that I’m an “avid language learner” or a “language lover”. I love being a part of the language community and am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to get to know several other awesome language lovers. But there’s one other title I’m comfortable giving myself… I feel confident calling myself a “serial language learner”.

    Today, I’d like to share a few things…

    A few confessions from a serial language learner.


    Confessions of a Serial Language Learner

    Being unable to avoid walking into any bookstore you pass just because you can’t keep yourself from perusing their foreign language section.

    If there’s a book in the foreign language section that looks interesting, it’s impossible to avoid an impulse buy. #allthebooks!

    Forgetting words in your native language as your brain makes room for words in your target language. It’s a thing. Your brain only has the capacity to hold many words and the more languages you know, the fewer words you are capable of knowing in each (I wish I had a link to the article I read on this). So make the words you learn count! Learn words that are relevant to you and the conversations you imagine yourself having.

    It’s frustrating. Oh so frustrating when you realize you have the same sentence written in your notes five times. That means all five times you stumbled across it, it was new to you. Or when you chat with a native speaker and despite being able to speak to them, you do not understand a word they say. Or when you have entire conversations by paper because your reading and writing progressed so much more quickly than your speaking skills.

    You have breakthrough moments that make every frustration and moment of self-doubt worth it.

    Realizing you will never live long enough to learn all the languages on your list or read all the books in your “to read” pile.

    Having to choose a finite list of languages because of the above.

    The confusion of dreaming in another language.

    The joy of realizing you dreamed in another language.

    When you fill a notebook and can’t decide whether to keep it in case you need it for reference, copy your most pertinent notes into another notebook to condense and continue or just start over.

    When you work on your language in a language app and they release a new language and that new language tempts you away from what you were working on. Or when you look at their list of offered languages and that temptation arises.

    When you used to know more in a language. For some reason, you still think you are at the same level even though you haven’t practiced and get called out on it when someone shares that language and tries to speak with you and nothing comes out.

    When suddenly the food you eat, the movies you watch and the music you listen to get on your significant other’s nerves because they are all in your target language and they don’t feel like reading subtitles or learning how to use chopsticks or eating with their hands or listening to that same k-pop song you have on repeat for the 100th time.

    When you only intend to study for an hour and end up spending most of the day immersed in your target language, forgetting to write a blog post so you either skip blogging or throw up some travel photos instead.

    When you feel like you should be progressing more quickly. The truth is, with language learning, and most skills, there is nothing quick about it. You can quickly learn certain facets of a language like specialized vocabulary, but to really become fluent or conversational (and retain it) it takes years. Anything else is like cramming for a test. You may pull it off but you can forget remembering it six months down the line.

    If you’re learning (or have tried learning) another language, can you relate to any of the above? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Or, if you have any of your own language learning confessions to share, feel free!

    August 7, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 342

  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Vocabulary in French: How to Talk About Your Favorite Books in French

    I’m a bookworm. One of my favorite genres, aside from history or historical fiction, is that of la fantaisie/fantasy (“fantasy”) and la science-fiction (“science fiction”).

    When you get to the intermediate level in a language, diving into content created for native speakers is an effective way to boost your skill in a language. And that’s why I dive into books as soon as I’m able–LingQ helps a ton with this!

    I read in French as much as I read in English, but there’s something I make sure to do whenever I read.

    I only read books in French I would have read in English.

    That means I don’t read something just because it’s in French. It has to be something I’m interested in–regardless of the language the book is in.

    Sometimes this means I read translations of my favorite books–like “The Name of the Wind”, “Game of Thrones”, or “Eye of the World” in other languages. Though sometimes I read books in the same genre in French, too. Pierre Bourdieu is one of my favorite French fantasy authors!

    Needless to say, I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction in French, so I thought I would share some of the most common fantasy/science fiction vocabulary I’ve come across in my reading. Please let me know if you feel if anything is missing from this list!

    Please note that some of these are words that I have come across in my reading and some are ones that I have added on my own – any that seem out of place are those that I had to look up while reading.

    Science Fiction and Fantasy Vocabulary in French with English Translations

    Fantasy and Science Fiction Nouns in French

    These are some of the characters, objects, and ideas you may come across when reading science fiction or fantasy in French.

    Key Fantasy Vocabulary in French

    • une quête – “quest”
    • une légende – “legend”
    • un mythe – “myth”
    • le héros – “heroes”
    • le méchant – “the villain”
    • une dystopie – “dystopia”
    • une aventure – “adventure”
    • une théorie du complot – “conspiracy theory”
    • sous-création – “world-building” (I’m not totally sure about this one)
    • l’intrigue – “intrigue”

    Words to Discuss Knights in French

    • un chevalier – “knight”
    • une lame – “blade”
    • une épée – “sword”
    • un bouclier – “shield”
    • une lance – “spear”
    • une cotte de mailles – “chainmail”
    • une armure – “suit of armor”
    • un ordre de chevalerie – “order of chivalry”

    Words to Discuss Magic or Something Otherly in French

    • un magicien – “magician”
    • la magie – “magic”
    • un sorcier – “wizard”
    • une sorcière – “witch”
    • un sort – “spell”
    • une malédiction – “curse”
    • un système de magie – “magic system”
    • les ténèbres – “darkness, obscurity”

    Words to Talk About Characters in French

    • le protagoniste – “the protagonist”
    • l’antagoniste – “the antagonist”
    • le roi et la reine – “the king and queen”
    • un aubergiste – “innkeeper”
    • les pommettes – “cheekbones”
    • les androïdes – “androids”
    • un dragon – “dragon”
    • un serviteur – “minion”
    • les nains – “dwarves”
    • les elfes – “elves”
    • les gobelins – “goblins”
    • Bilbon et Frodon Sacquet – “Bilbo and Frodo Baggins”

    Fantasy and Science Fiction Verbs in French

    These are some of the verbs you might come across in your French reading.

    • échouer – “to fail”
    • rebiffer – “to balk”
    • jaillirent – “gushed”
    • aiguiser – “to whet”
    • chuintements – “hissing”
    • chamade – “racing, pounding”

    Fantasy and Science Fiction Adjectives and Adverbs in French

    Use these words to get more descriptive when speaking French.

    • farouchement – “fiercely”
    • en sueur – “sweaty”
    • épique, héroïque – “epic, heroic”

    Fantasy Book Titles in French

    • Le Seigneur des anneaux – “The Lord of the Rings”
    • Le Hobbit – “The Hobbit”
    • Trône de fer – “Game of Thrones”
    • Le nom du vent – “The Name of the Wind”
    • Le Cycle de L’Assassin Royal – “The Farseer Trilogy”
    • Le Meilleur des mondes – “Brave New World”
    • La Guerre des étoiles – “Star Wars”
    • Harry Potter à l’École des Sorciers – “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”
    • Conan le Barbare – “Conan the Barbarian”
    • Le Maître du Haut Château – “The Man in the High Castle”

    Any other fantasy or science fiction words you’d like to see on this list? Let me know in the comments!

    August 6, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 583

  • Clear the List | Monthly Language Learning Strategies Update | August

    This last month has been exciting, with lots of new updates. I will, of course, get into more detail about what those are below soon.

    The Free Language Learning Library

    As a friendly reminder, in case you missed the update last month, my free language learning library moved! If you’d like to join and get access to the materials available within the library, access it here.

    The Language Hacking Podcast

    We’re into the second month of the Language Hacking Podcast over at Fluent in 3 Months where I’m co-hosting with Fi3M founder, Benny Lewis.

    We’ve interviewed a lot of fascinating folks, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

    If you give the podcast a listen, or if you already have been listening, we’d love your reviews!

    Here’s how you can celebrate the podcast with us:

    • Step 1:  Subscribe on Apple Podcasts (or your favorite podcasts app) so you don’t miss an episode.
    • Step 2: Listen to Episode 1.
    • Step 3: Leave a review to let us know what you like about the podcast.

    Virus Prevention Vocabulary is Now on Drops

    In addition to recently releasing Croatian, Drops also released a new topic so you can learn vocabulary to discuss recent events in your new language.

    You can now spend 5 minutes a day learning thousands of new words–including those related to staying healthy–in 39+ languages!

    For now, on to #clearthelist …

    If you’re new around these parts, #clearthelist is a linkup where we share our monthly goals, and by we, I mean myself, and Lindsay of Lindsay Does Languages.

    We’d absolutely love for you to a part of our community. You can join us by adding a link to your own goal post below.

    So let’s get started, sharing our goals and motivating one another to #clearthelist!

    Please feel free to tag your posts or photos with either #clearthelist on your favorite social media channels!

    Last Month’s Highlights on Instagram

    Last Month’s Goals

    Continue filling the gaps in my Mandarin vocabulary I’ve noticed since Little Linguist’s arrival. // We’ve put together a plan to create more of an immersion environment at home. I’m hoping we’re able to better implement it this month.

    Maintain my vocabulary learning streak. // Yes! I’ve been able to successfully maintain my vocab streaks and even with a new language.

    Keep working through my YouTube Queue.  // Another month of adding more videos to watch rather than watching many of them, but I did manage to get through a few of them.

    Fluent in 3 Months Challenge // I ended up having to stop my Russian challenge because I started a new language…

    Keep reading Game of Thrones in Russian. // I have kept this up!

    Study Stranger Things in Hungarian. // Same as above with Russian. 🙂

    Begin to do some coursebook work. // I started a Pod101 course, and while it isn’t a course “book”, it is a course, so I’ll count it as a win.

    Maintain my weekly lessons in each language. // Yes! Many of my tutors are on summer vacations, but I’ve been able to keep up my lessons with those whom are still around.

    This Month’s Goals

    Continue filling the gaps in my Mandarin vocabulary I’ve noticed since Little Linguist’s arrival. // We have a new plan in place to make Mandarin even more a part of our routine.

    Maintain my vocabulary learning streak. // This has been a great way to rebuild my language routine, so it’s staying on the list indefinitely!

    Keep working through my YouTube Queue.  // Really this time!

    Fluent in 3 Months Challenge // I started a new language so I’m jumping into another challenge a bit late. I’m very excited about this project!

    Keep reading Game of Thrones in Russian. // It has been a good way to keep up my Russian and even improve it.

    Study Stranger Things in Hungarian. // It has been a fun method for boosting my Hungarian reading comprehension.

    Keep working through the PersianPod101 course. // And once I’m through much of this material, I hope to invest in a course book!

    Finish Pimsleur’s Persian 1. // I’ve completed the first two lessons so far.

    Maintain my weekly lessons in each language. // It makes sure I’m using all my languages each week.

    Resources I Used This Month

    A quick recap of the materials I am using.

    What I Am Using to Learn Chinese

    What I’m Using to Brush Up/Improve My French:

    • LingQ
    • Listening to French radio/podcasts/music

    What I am Using to Learn Russian:

    What I am Using to Learn Persian:

    What I am Using to Learn Hebrew:

    What I am Using to Learn Korean:

    What I am Using to Learn Spanish:

    What I am Using to Learn Italian:

    What I’m Using to Learn Japanese:

    What I’m Using to Learn Croatian:

    What I’m Using to Learn Hungarian:

    Not Currently doing any study for: German, Hindi

    What I’m Using for Little Linguist

    Resources That Aren’t Language Specific

    The Biggest Lesson I Am Taking Away from This Month

    13 wasn’t my final number. I initially thought I’d stop at 10 languages, but then it became 10, 12, then 13. And now I’m at language 14 (and technically this number would be higher if you counted the languages I dropped).

    What this number will end up being in the end remains to be seen. I may keep it at 14, may drop some languages, or may even get to a higher number.

    For now, the lesson I learned is that I should stop saying xyz will be my “last” language because as of yet, it hasn’t been the case.

    Don’t forget that I would love to hear all about your goals for this month! Please join us by adding your post to the linkup below! 

    Clear The List Linkup Rules:

    1. Share your goal post whether it includes your aspirations for the month or year. Submissions unrelated to the theme or links to your homepage will be deleted.

    2. Link back to this post. You can use our button if you wish.

    3. Follow the hosts: Lindsay from Lindsay Does Languages and Shannon from Eurolinguiste.

    4. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE: Please visit the site of the person who linked up immediately before you and leave them an encouraging comment! By hosting this linkup, we’re hoping to create a positive community where we can all share our goals. If you do not do this, you will be removed from the linkup.

    5. Share on social media using #ClearTheListToggle panel: Vergo Post Options

    August 4, 2020 • Eurolinguiste • Views: 241

  • How to Choose the Best Resources to Learn a New Language

    One of the great things about technology, the Internet, self-publishing, and the rise in entrepreneurship is that we now have a plethora of language learning materials available to choose from.

    At the same time, one of the most troubling things about figuring out which language learning resources you should use is that we now have a huge selection of materials to choose from. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t work for you as a learner can be quite the enterprise.

    A question that I’m often asked is “how did you learn Italian/Mandarin/Croatian/etc.?”

    I typically reply that I’m self-taught, but that’s not entirely true. I use a number of resources to pick-up and develop vocabulary, sentence structures, communication skills, and the cultural aspects that go hand-in-hand with a language.

    But the truth is, I’m only kind of really self-taught. Really, I’m just self-motivated. It’s the native speakers I converse with and resources that I use that steer me in the right direction and help me along my way.

    Let’s get back to the question.

    It often comes from curious, soon-to-be language learners–those looking for the one resource that will “teach” them the language. But there is no one resource. Instead, you need to find a combination of resources that teach you the skills you need in the way you need them.

    So I try to impart the importance of selecting the language learning materials that work for them personally. Everyone learns differently, finding enjoyment in learning in their own way. Choosing the right tools for your language learning journey–for just you–can go a long way in helping you to remain motivated while you steadily progress.

    The Best Language Learning Resource

    I began learning my second language in school, buried in grammar books and vocabulary exercises. I was focused on memorizing words and conjugations that would be stored on my mental hard drive until the test only to be dumped immediately after. It wasn’t a very useful or beneficial way to study language.

    It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to use the language outside of school that I really began to see any significant progress. Suddenly I had a reason to really hang on to the vocabulary and grammar I was learning in school. It felt incredibly rewarding to carry on a conversation in another language and it drove me to continue my efforts. In just a few months, my abilities far surpassed what five years in school had ever allowed me and that was all the motivation I needed to keep going and even take on new languages.

    Using a language with other speakers is by far the BEST way to improve your accent, your grammar, your vocabulary, and your overall skill in another language, but only once you’ve set up a foundation on your own.

    But you still have to build that foundation. You can’t expect to launch into a discussion of Russian literature or French politics without having learned the vocabulary to go along with the conversation.

    The Best Language Learning Products

    That need to build a foundation is where things like online learning programs, podcasts, grammar and vocabulary books, audiobooks, and flashcards come in handy.

    Here’s what I suggest when evaluating and selecting resources:

    Consider Your Current Level in the Language When Choosing a New Resource

    You have to take the level you are at into consideration when selecting resources. Someone who is completely new to a language will have to implement an entirely different approach than someone who is more advanced.

    Just like you might not want try having a conversation with a native speaker right off the bat, you also shouldn’t stick to the same methods you started out with once your abilities become more advanced. Your speaking/reading skills may grow stagnate and that can be frustrating. The best thing to do is seek out resources that will help you reach the next level.

    Try Out Language Learning Resources for Yourself

    As I mentioned before, the various methods and tools available are going to work differently for each person who reads this, so it’s incredibly important to try things out and find out what works best for you.

    Personally, I’ve spent several years playing around with different resources and discovering what works for me and what doesn’t. I suggest you do the same.

    Your goals also play an important role when you’re selecting resources. If you want to begin speaking as soon as possible, going with audio-based resources can be one of the most efficient routes to take. For this, I would suggest something like Pimsleur or Assimil.

    I listen to Pimsleur lessons whenever I’m in my car for an extended period of time and they’re a great way to establish basic speaking and comprehension skills.

    Assimil is a bit different, and while it has audio, it also has text to go along with it and you really need to use the two together. Since I can’t (and won’t) read while driving, I only listen to Assimil in the car if I want to “immerse” myself in the language or review what I’ve already worked on. And, of course, you can always listen to music and watch movies in your target language as well.

    If a grammar-focused method works better for you, or you’re more interested in reading and writing than speaking, a grammar or vocabulary book may work for you. As far as resources I recommend, I like Assimil (again), the Routledge Grammar Books, and some of the books in the Practice Makes Perfect series. I also really like Schaum’s grammar books.

    There are also dual-language books that come with one language on one side and another on the other (or one language printed immediately under the other).

    If you’re at the intermediate or advanced level, you can try diving right into foreign language books, translating words you don’t know as you come across them (or after you finish each passage). Starting out with easier texts (like Dr. Seuss) and then transitioning into more complex texts (Harry Potter then even texts by native speakers on more complex topics).

    If gamification methods work best for you (or you just enjoy earning points for your efforts or playing games), some of the online tools available may work for you. I personally like Drops, Memrise, and LingQ.

    You can also go with a good phrasebook to help you build a foundation in any language. The Lonely Planet series is pretty good, but if you’re just getting started, almost any one will do.

    If you’re looking for more recommendations and reviews, I plan to start posting several in the near future.

    I’ve started to create resource pages for each language I am studying. You can check out the pages here – French, Italian, German, Mandarin, Spanish, Breton, Russian, Japanese, Korean, and Croatian.

    What materials do you use to study and practice the languages you’re learning? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

    For more language learning tips like this, check out my collection of articles on Pinterest!

    August 3, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 392

  • New Language Project: Learn Persian

    I’m learning a new language.

    Yes, this means I’m up to my 14th language I either am in the process of maintaining, learning, or using on a somewhat regular basis.

    What’s the motivation for doing this? Let’s get into the reason behind it.

    My New Language Project: Learn Persian

    Since Drops released Persian, I’ve toyed with the idea of learning the Persian language (also known as Farsi). Where I live, we have a large community of Persian speakers, many of whom I count as friends and I’d love to share the language with them.

    Given that my last language project didn’t pan out as planned (I intended to learn Hebrew for a trip to Tel Aviv that didn’t happen due to COVID-19), and the fact that travel guidelines are still restrictive, I decided to learn a local language. Something that I could use while still at home.

    My Goal Learning Persian

    At the end of about 90 days, my goal is to surprise some friends with my ability to speak Persian. They’ve occasionally taught me a word here or there in the language, but I haven’t yet seriously studied the language and I know they’ll be thrilled to find out I started learning it on my own.

    I plan to practice the language in other settings leading up to the “big reveal”, but I’m hoping to surprise them like I did my co-workers at Drops with Hungarian a while back.

    How I’m Going to Learn Persian

    My Farsi Language Learning Tools

    Preply

    I plan on taking weekly lessons (perhaps more) during the duration of my Persian learning project. I’m currently trying out several different tutors on Preply, and will hopefully have one selected by the end of the week!

    PS. Have you seen Preply’s learning goal dashboard? It’s amazing! You can select a study goal and it’ll break down how much you’ll have to study to reach it. I set the ultimate goal of B1 in the language and it estimated how many weeks and hours of study I needed.

    Drops

    To start building my vocabulary and foundation in the Persian language, I’ll study new words each day with Drops.

    Fluent in 3 Months Challenge

    I’m joining a challenge a bit late (just over a week), but I plan on taking part in an Fi3M challenge for the extra accountability and community while learning a language.

    PersianPod101

    In my first week, I like to dig through all the Pod101 videos available to quickly learn basic phrases.

    Pimsleur

    One of my favorite resources when starting to learn a new language is Pimsleur because it’s been a great way to get in both listening and speaking practice.

    My Language Learning Routine

    My routine for learning Persian will look like this at the start of this project:

    Every day:

    • 5-15 minutes of vocabulary study with Drops
    • 15-30 minutes of video lessons with the PersianPod101 Youtube channel
    • 30 minute Pimsleur lesson

    Every week:

    • 1 lesson with my Farsi tutor
    • Additional research and study as needed

    My Initial Plans for My First Week of Learning Persian

    In the first week of learning Persian, I’d like to accomplish the following:

    • Learn the Persian writing system
    • Get my self introduction down in Persian
    • Learn around 100 words

    My Updates

    I’ll update you on my progress about once every two weeks either by blog post or by video. To keep everything in one place, I’ve put this page together so you can find all my Persian updates in chronological order.

    Have any questions about this project? Let me know in the comments below! I’m putting together an “Ask the Polyglot” video and post answering many of the questions you’ve sent me about my Persian language project—whether it’s about starting a new language or about my learning strategies in general.

    I also plan to make regular videos on Instagram and Youtube – so be sure to follow me there.

    In the meantime, do you have any advice for me as a new Persian learner? Have any resource recommendations you couldn’t live without while learning the language? Let me know in the comments below! I look forward to hearing from you.

    July 29, 2020 • Language Project, Language Resources • Views: 368

  • How to Improve English Comprehension Skills: A Guide for Beginners to Advanced Learners

    The following is a guest post.

    One of the pillars of learning a new language is comprehension. And if you’re new to the English language, you must be wondering what you can do to improve your comprehension skills.

    Whether it’s reading comprehension or English listening skills, you must take the necessary steps to progress your knowledge of the language as much as possible. It might sound like a difficult task, but this article will show you just how easy and accessible the methods and techniques you need truly are.

    You’ll be shocked by how much you can improve your English all by yourself.

    Why You Need to Improve Comprehension

    Again, comprehension is the bedrock of any language. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to understand this article or even have a conversation. You can’t speak if you don’t understand, that’s why it needs to be your highest priority.

    Comprehension is a through-line that’s found within many parts of a language; everything from the written form to the spoken form of a language requires comprehension on your part.

    That’s why it’s up to you to find the best techniques to improve comprehension and truly master English fluency.

    Tips to Improve English Comprehension

    Now that you know the importance of comprehension and how it can affect your ability to learn a language properly, you’re probably curious about what you can do to improve it. Luckily, there are many simple and easily-accessible methods to help you bolster your English comprehension.

    These methods will cover the entire spectrum of comprehension (from reading to listening). They will also get progressively harder as you go along. Think of each one as a stepping stone to the next.

    Learn Vocabulary

    Before you can even begin to comprehend full sentences, you must first be able to comprehend individual words. This, above all else, is your first order of business.

    Luckily, you’re reading this article, so you’ve already begun the process. You’ve learned enough of the English vocabulary to make sure you’re reading comprehension allows you to understand this article.

    Nonetheless, it’s never a bad thing to keep going with it. There are over 170,000 English words out there! Naturally, there’s no way you’ll learn every one of them (most native English speakers won’t), but it just goes to show that there’s always room for improvement.

    Read Everyday

    Speaking of reading comprehension and developing reading skills!

    Once you’ve got a firm grasp on the English vocabulary, it’s now time to begin using that knowledge to read. Again, you’re already ahead of the game because you’re reading RIGHT NOW. Good job!

    Hopefully, reading in English has become a regular part of your day-to-day life. Reading has many benefits outside of just improving reading comprehension. Regardless of what language it’s in, you should be reading a little bit every day. This is especially true if you are attempting to learn and comprehend a brand new language.

    So, in the interest of improving your reading comprehension skills, you’ll want to keep reading texts just like this. Do so at least once a day.

    Watch TV Shows & Movies

    You’re probably happy to see this one. Who wouldn’t want to use education as an excuse to sit around and watch TV? Fortunately, it’s not just an excuse, it’s a legitimate technique that’s helped countless people learn English.

    If you can comprehend English in the written form, it’s time to test your skills at understanding it when it’s spoken. Especially in a fast-paced, colloquial manner; as is the case with a lot of dialogue in television and film. Entertainment is a reflection of how people talk. If you want to eventually talk, you’re going to have to start absorbing how other people talk.

    On top of that, English listening is made a lot easier with the help of subtitles. You can either use English subtitles or subtitles in your language as a handy frame of reference. These will help to improve your English overall.

    Listen to Podcasts

    One of the greatest tips for listening and improving your listening skills is consuming podcasts. Your best podcasts for learning English are just a click away!

    Mind you, without the subtitles or visual cues, podcasts are a little trickier than watching TV and movies. This is an intermediate step, for when you’ve mastered the previous ones. But it’s a great resource to help you with English listening and improving comprehension overall.

    Podcasts are a window into a conversation or monologue that will help you better understand the nuances of comprehending English. The complexity of the format and subject matter will push you into the direction you want to go in. Plus, they can be enjoyed from anywhere at almost any time.

    Talk to Someone

    For the most advanced of all the steps, you have the act of speaking. All your tips for listening skills will mean nothing if you can’t use them to hold a conversation with another human being.

    Conversations are a give and take situation, where the take is made up of comprehension and the give is based on how well you can comprehend. All-in-all, a conversation is built upon the act of comprehension. So, being able to carry one out with someone is a true test of how far you’ve come and how far you need to go.

    Let’s be honest, the reason that you’re so keen to improve your English is that you want to eventually get yourself to the point where you can speak to someone. Don’t worry if it feels shaky at first, just fight through that feeling — you won’t be perfect in the beginning.

    Conclusion

    Comprehension is the end-all-be-all of learning any language. That’s why it might seem like an almost impossible thing to master, especially in the beginning. But it’s prevalence is what makes it so easy to learn. Every language-learning method out there focuses on comprehension in one way or another — it’s almost inescapable.

    So, just keep in mind that improving your English comprehension isn’t as difficult as it seems. There are a lot of fantastic resources out there for you to learn from, it’s just a matter of putting in the necessary work.

    About the Author: My name is Alla. I am an education enthusiast. I know 4 languages and desire for more. I work at Preply. I help tutors and learners find each other and know how to make online education effective and interesting.

    July 13, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 490

  • Focusing on Pronunciation: How To Take Your Language Learning To The Next Level

    Let’s face it: the older we get, the more we know that learning a new language can be a very daunting task. It is more natural to introduce a language when our brains are like sponges at a young age and we can soak everything up. But as adults, the burden of practicing pronunciation on top of simply learning to understand the language can seem insurmountable at times. Learning a new tongue not only takes time but also requires understanding those proper phonetics and where to put emphasis on every word, which can be intimidating. 

    There are many ways that we can make learning a new language easier for ourselves. Besides the normal practice methods that you’ll receive from working with a language learning platform, there is a tried and true method for helping you nail those correct phonetic sounds.

    Singing has long been a way to enhance learning a new language and provides a gateway to understanding language as well. Music and singing in another language can make a huge difference in your language learning process. Below are some reasons why singing is the perfect route to take in helping your pronunciation and taking your language learning to that next level.

    Music is a Universal Language to Understanding

    Music just on its own can speak to so many people on all kinds of levels. People may not always recognize the words you’re singing, but they can always recognize a tune that speaks to them or a song that they are familiar with. Studying music can help to make you a better language learner. It helps to break down language barriers and connect people across all cultures.

    You can always find and make new friends through music, so it is always a great resource to utilize when in a foreign country to help establish likeness and common ground. Not to mention, learning the lyrics to a song in another language can help you learn common phrases, and at times, even slang, which is not always a focus when studying another language by itself. You can understand the emotions and feelings associated with a specific song, which can, in turn, help you to express the proper emotions behind a common phrase from that song.

    Pronunciation is More Pronounced

    Though that seems like a redundant phrase, it is absolutely a true one. When you practice a song by singing it, you learn how to properly pronounce each word due to the way the music and notes are structured. This greatly improves your knowledge of how to speak in a foreign language, and you can also impress native speakers with your excellent diction, which is one of the building blocks of singing.

    Singing Helps Strengthen Your Accent

    Taking intensive singing lessons can actually help to reduce your foreign-sounding accent. Voice instructors help you learn about sentence patterns, rhythm, tones, and counting beats as well as practicing the pronunciation the right way. If you’re learning a language from home or on your own and you’re unable to physically meet with a voice teacher, a great way to add in vocal work is by taking vocal lessons online so that you can still see your teacher’s face and mouth shape, and allow them to hear and correct your emphases when singing so that you can practice your new language the correct way. The experience will help you to hear the correct pronunciation in a repetitive nature, correct stress patterns, and support a range of other linguistic skills needed to speak properly.

    Research Backs it Up

    There have been studies done in the past that prove the cognitive effects that singing can have on someone’s self-esteem, social skills, and improved memory. But what do we know about whether singing songs can improve pronunciation in a new language? 

    A study conducted by psychologists proved how the imitation and pronunciation learned when singing a song can actually improve one’s ability to speak their language, and help with learning a foreign language. The results showed that singing performance is a better indicator of the ability to imitate the speech, even more so than the playing of a musical instrument. This idea of vocal behavior demonstrated that, with music, you can improve your auditory memory to help benefit the speech and motor flexibility associated with learning the correct pronunciation of a new language. People with stronger musical skills also tend to have better pronunciation abilities in their non-native languages. 

    The intonation is another factor here. When you learn how to sing words and phrases in another language, it aids learning to place the right emphasis on words by transferring that intonation into the speech of that language. The same phrases that are spoken rather than sung will have the same emphasis when learned by singing first. 

    Singing Lessons Give You More Than Speech Class Does

    Although imitation is an important aspect when learning a new language, it can be difficult for people to transfer those sounds that they hear directly into speaking skills. When you try to learn spoken words through the listen/repeat method, and read the words at the same time, it may change the way that you listen to the pronunciation. This is because, when reading something our instinct is to pronounce it the way that you’re familiar with from your own native language, which isn’t always correct. This can lead to a very noticeable accent when speaking a foreign language as well. This is what gives vocal instructors the initiative to use a different method, known as the “call-and-response” technique, rather than reading words. 

    Those learning by singing will hear the emphasis and musical tones of the words within the song, that way there is no risk to your memory converting a word you see into your own native sounds and you’re more sure to be singing and pronouncing the language correctly.

    Sing Songs at a Slow Pace

    It is important to note that when learning and practicing songs in a different language, you should start with songs that have easy melodies and rhythms. You don’t want to challenge yourself too much off the bat, since learning the language is going to be a big enough challenge, to begin with. You should always start with easy songs and build your way up, just like you would do in a regular language class. Otherwise, you allow for the possibility of becoming frustrated and giving up too soon if you start with higher expectations, so just remember to go at a slow pace and be sure to practice the pronunciation of each word and syllable as a native speaker of the language would until you feel comfortable enough to take on a more challenging piece.

    With singing classes, you’ll be well on your way to mastering a difficult language in no time, with the ability to speak more conversationally and fluently. So take your learning to that advanced level and work on your pronunciation with voice lessons.

    The above is a guest post contributed by Donna Maurer.

    About the author: Donna has had a love for music since elementary school when she took her first piano lesson. Having tried her hand at numerous instruments, she now spends her time writing about music and music education, in addition to teaching lessons in NYC. Donna is a contributor on multiple parenting and music blogs and loves sharing helpful information on music education for parents and for her fellow musicians.

    July 6, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 795

  • Clear the List | Monthly Language Learning Strategies Update | July

    The year is now halfway through. How are your language learning goals going in 2020? Let me know below in the comments!

    As for me, this month, I have a few new updates to share.

    The Free Language Learning Library

    My free language learning library has moved! If you’d like to join and get access to the materials available within the library, you can access it here.

    The Language Hacking Podcast

    Over at Fluent in 3 Months, Benny Lewis started a new podcast–The Language Hacking Podcast–and has kindly invited me to join him as his co-host!

    Several of the first episodes are already released, so you can check out our interviews with Scott Young, Paulette (an Fi3M Challenge participant), my interview with Benny Lewis and Benny’s interview with me!

    If you give the podcast a listen, or if you already have been listening, we’d love your reviews!

    Here’s how you can celebrate the podcast with us:

    • Step 1:  Subscribe on Apple Podcasts (or your favorite podcasts app) so you don’t miss an episode.
    • Step 2: Listen to Episode 1.
    • Step 3: Leave a review to let us know what you like about the podcast.

    Croatian is Now on Drops

    My last bit of news for this month is that Drops released a new language, one very near and dear to my heart! Croatian is now available on Drops.

    You can now spend 5 minutes a day learning thousands of new words in this language!

    For now, on to #clearthelist …

    If you’re new around these parts, #clearthelist is a linkup where we share our monthly goals, and by we, I mean myself, and Lindsay of Lindsay Does Languages.

    We’d absolutely love for you to a part of our community. You can join us by adding a link to your own goal post below.

    So let’s get started, sharing our goals and motivating one another to #clearthelist!

    Please feel free to tag your posts or photos with either #clearthelist on your favorite social media channels!

    Last Month’s Highlights on Instagram

    Last Month’s Goals

    Continue filling the gaps in my Mandarin vocabulary I’ve noticed since Little Linguist’s arrival. // We read a book in Mandarin each night, watch movies, and do other bits of immersion at home.

    Maintain my vocabulary learning streak. // YES!

    Keep working through my YouTube Queue.  // I didn’t work on this during the month of June, so I’ll keep it on the list.

    Fluent in 3 Months Challenge // In progress.

    Keep reading Game of Thrones in Russian. // Yes! I’ve continued reading and discussing Game of Thrones with my Russian tutor.

    Study Stranger Things in Hungarian. // Yes! We’ve completed two whole episodes and are getting into our third.

    Begin to do some coursebook work. // I also haven’t managed to incorporate this yet, so it stays on for next month!

    Maintain my weekly lessons in each language. // Yes! Some of my tutors are on holiday and I took a week off for our company offsite, but otherwise, I kept this up.

    This Month’s Goals

    Continue filling the gaps in my Mandarin vocabulary I’ve noticed since Little Linguist’s arrival. // I want to make sure Little Linguist keeps up his Chinese lessons and play and continue reading with him each night.

    Maintain my vocabulary learning streak. // This has been a great way to rebuild my language routine, so it’s staying on the list!

    Keep working through my YouTube Queue.  // Since I didn’t start this last month, I’d like to work this in this month.

    Fluent in 3 Months Challenge // The end of my Russian challenge is coming up!

    Keep reading Game of Thrones in Russian. // This has been an enjoyable way to work on Russian on my own and with my tutor and I’m learning loads of fun vocabulary.

    Study Stranger Things in Hungarian. // Same as above with Russian. 🙂

    Begin to do some coursebook work. // Since I couldn’t do this last month, this also remains on the list for this month.

    Maintain my weekly lessons in each language. // Because it’s still keeping me accountable and moving forward!

    Resources I Used This Month

    A quick recap of the materials I am using.

    What I Am Using to Learn Chinese

    What I’m Using to Brush Up/Improve My French:

    • LingQ
    • Listening to French radio/podcasts/music

    What I am Using to Learn Russian:

    What I am Using to Learn Hebrew:

    What I am Using to Learn Korean:

    What I am Using to Learn Spanish:

    What I am Using to Learn Italian:

    What I’m Using to Learn Japanese:

    What I’m Using to Learn Croatian:

    What I’m Using to Learn Hungarian:

    Not Currently doing any study for: German, Hindi

    What I’m Using for Little Linguist

    Resources That Aren’t Language Specific

    The Biggest Lesson I Am Taking Away from This Month

    Prioritizing!

    Now that the move is over, I’ve been catching back up on everything else. Prioritizing tasks has been ever more important for me!

    I’ve put together a system with the app Todoist as well as with my calendar to keep on top of all the tasks I need to complete, making sure the most important are checked off first.

    Don’t forget that I would love to hear all about your goals for this month! Please join us by adding your post to the linkup below! 

    Clear The List Linkup Rules:

    1. Share your goal post whether it includes your aspirations for the month or year. Submissions unrelated to the theme or links to your homepage will be deleted.

    2. Link back to this post. You can use our button if you wish.

    3. Follow the hosts: Lindsay from Lindsay Does Languages and Shannon from Eurolinguiste.

    4. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE: Please visit the site of the person who linked up immediately before you and leave them an encouraging comment! By hosting this linkup, we’re hoping to create a positive community where we can all share our goals. If you do not do this, you will be removed from the linkup.

    5. Share on social media using #ClearTheListToggle panel: Vergo Post Options

    July 3, 2020 • Eurolinguiste • Views: 552

  • Clear the List | Monthly Language Learning Strategies Update | June

    I’m back this month with another language learning strategies update. And I’m excited to share I’ve been able to maintain my routine through the last month–and am set up in our new home to keep at it!

    On to #clearthelist …

    If you’re new around these parts, #clearthelist is a linkup where we share our monthly goals, and by we, I mean myself, and Lindsay of Lindsay Does Languages.

    We’d absolutely love for you to a part of our community. You can join us by adding a link to your own goal post below.

    So let’s get started, sharing our goals and motivating one another to #clearthelist!

    Please feel free to tag your posts or photos with either #clearthelist on your favorite social media channels!

    Last Month’s Highlights on Instagram

    Last Month’s Goals

    Continue filling the gaps in my Mandarin vocabulary I’ve noticed since Little Linguist’s arrival. // Little Linguist had a couple of Chinese lessons this month and I’ve been doing my best to keep our playtime in Chinese. Now that the move is over, we’ll hopefully be able to get into a more consistent routine.

    Maintain my vocabulary learning streak. // I missed a few days this month, but overall, maintained daily learning. The days I missed were because it was after midnight before I checked the time (it was during moving days).

    Keep working through my YouTube Queue.  // I feel like I’ve added more video lessons this month than I’ve studied, but I found several Hungarian vloggers that talk about language learning in Hungarian, so I’m very excited to get to them.

    Fluent in 3 Months Challenge // I’m behind doing my day 30 video, but I’ll have it to share soon.

    Keep reading Game of Thrones in Russian. // My tutor and I are reading through this together and discussing it each week. We’ve been keeping on track with it.

    Study Stranger Things in Hungarian. // Likewise, my Hungarian tutor and I are discussing Stranger Things in Hungarian each week. We’ve done one lesson doing this so far, and are keeping with it.

    Find a new Japanese tutor. // I found one! We’ve had a couple lessons now and I like her teaching style.

    Maintain my weekly lessons in each language. // With the exception of the “offsite” week for work, I managed to have lessons every week for the six languages I’m working on actively this month. #majorwin

    This Month’s Goals

    Continue filling the gaps in my Mandarin vocabulary I’ve noticed since Little Linguist’s arrival. // I want to make sure Little Linguist keeps up his Chinese lessons and play. I’d also like to incorporate some Chinese reading each night.

    Maintain my vocabulary learning streak. // This has been a great way for me to really get back into my language studies, and it’s an easy thing I can do each day to maintain contact with my languages. I’d like to maintain this.

    Keep working through my YouTube Queue.  // I really want to work my way up to those new Hungarian videos I found!

    Fluent in 3 Months Challenge // I’ll be preparing for Day 60 in the challenge.

    Keep reading Game of Thrones in Russian. // This has been an enjoyable way to work on Russian on my own and with my tutor and I’m learning loads of fun vocabulary.

    Study Stranger Things in Hungarian. // Same as above with Russian. 🙂

    Begin to do some coursebook work. // With a few of my languages, I’m at the point where I need to sit down and work out some of the grammar. I want to be sure I do this whether with physical course books or online courses starting this month.

    Maintain my weekly lessons in each language. // Because it’s keeping me accountable and moving forward!

    Resources I Used This Month

    A quick recap of the materials I am using.

    What I Am Using to Learn Chinese

    What I’m Using to Brush Up/Improve My French:

    • LingQ
    • Listening to French radio/podcasts/music

    What I am Using to Learn Russian:

    What I am Using to Learn Hebrew:

    What I am Using to Learn Korean:

    What I am Using to Learn Spanish:

    What I am Using to Learn Italian:

    What I’m Using to Learn Japanese:

    What I’m Using to Learn Croatian:

    What I’m Using to Learn Hungarian:

    Not Currently doing any study for: German, Hindi

    What I’m Using for Little Linguist

    Resources That Aren’t Language Specific

    The Biggest Lesson I Am Taking Away from This Month

    I still get nervous when I need to use my languages.

    Having the Courage to Speak is something I still need to work at everyday. After our recent move, I discovered that our neighbors are Hungarian after hearing them chat one evening.

    The next night, they were outside again and I deliberated for almost an hour over whether or not I’d head over to meet them. I walked to the window to look out, put my shoes on, paced the hallway, went and sat back in my office, looked out the window again, paced the hall some more. I even went down, opened up the front door thinking about heading out, before going back inside and back into my office.

    I gave myself a million excuses. It’s late. I’d be interrupting them. They’ll think I’m weird for just walking up. What if I forget what to say? My Hungarian really isn’t that great… Finally, I thought, “I should just do it.” What was the worse that could happen? Really?

    I headed out, scuffing my feet along the ground as I walked up the driveway so I wouldn’t surprise them. They looked up, said hello in English and I replied in Hungarian, “Hello. I heard you speaking Hungarian. I also speak a little Hungarian and I was just very happy to hear the language, so I wanted to say hello.”

    They immediately switched to Hungarian. We chatted for a bit and then I went back home. It was a very pleasant, very friendly experience and now I know some of my new neighbors. It was worth working up the courage, and it’s experiences like this that are good reminders!

    Don’t forget that I would love to hear all about your goals for this month! Please join us by adding your post to the linkup below! 

    Clear The List Linkup Rules:

    1. Share your goal post whether it includes your aspirations for the month or year. Submissions unrelated to the theme or links to your homepage will be deleted.

    2. Link back to this post. You can use our button if you wish.

    3. Follow the hosts: Lindsay from Lindsay Does Languages and Shannon from Eurolinguiste.

    4. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE: Please visit the site of the person who linked up immediately before you and leave them an encouraging comment! By hosting this linkup, we’re hoping to create a positive community where we can all share our goals. If you do not do this, you will be removed from the linkup.

    5. Share on social media using #ClearTheList

    You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

    Click here to enter

    June 10, 2020 • Eurolinguiste • Views: 777

  • Clear the List | Monthly Language Learning Strategies Update | May

    So much has changed since my last #clearthelist post! I’ve started a new language, have already completed my first Fi3M Challenge with it and am already on to the next language project! It’s time for a quick catchup!

    On to #clearthelist …

    If you’re new around these parts, #clearthelist is a linkup where we share our monthly goals, and by we, I mean myself, and Lindsay of Lindsay Does Languages.

    We’d absolutely love for you to a part of our community. You can join us by adding a link to your own goal post below.

    So let’s get started, sharing our goals and motivating one another to #clearthelist!

    Please feel free to tag your posts or photos with either #clearthelist on your favorite social media channels!

    Last Month’s Highlights on Instagram

    Last Month’s Goals

    I didn’t share these, so let’s skip to this month!

    This Month’s Goals

    Continue filling the gaps in my Mandarin vocabulary I’ve noticed since Little Linguist’s arrival. // Little Linguist has actually started having his very own Mandarin Chinese lessons!

    Maintain my vocabulary learning streak. // I want to keep up my vocabulary learning streak for as long as possible–something I was very good at doing but have fallen off on. Now that I’ve picked it back up, I’ve noticed that it does have a significant impact on what I actively use when speaking the languages.

    Keep working through my YouTube Queue.  // After my Youtube channel was terminated, I had to recreate my queue. I’m back up to several hundred videos I can work through to improve my languages.

    Fluent in 3 Months Challenge // I’m almost a month into my Fluent in 3 Months Challenge for Russian and I’d like to keep working at it.

    Keep reading Game of Thrones in Russian. // My tutor and I are reading through this together and discussing it each week.

    Study Stranger Things in Hungarian. // Likewise, my Hungarian tutor and I are discussing Stranger Things in Hungarian each week.

    Find a new Japanese tutor. // I’d like to keep up my speaking practice in Japanese, so I’m currently looking for a new tutor.

    Maintain my weekly lessons in each language. // I’m currently taking weekly lessons for many of my languages, and I’d like to keep it up.

    Resources I Used This Month

    A quick recap of the materials I am using.

    What I Am Using to Learn Chinese

    What I’m Using to Brush Up/Improve My French:

    • LingQ
    • Listening to French radio/podcasts

    What I am Using to Learn Russian:

    What I am Using to Learn Hebrew:

    What I am Using to Learn Korean:

    What I am Using to Learn Spanish:

    What I am Using to Learn Italian:

    What I’m Using to Learn Japanese:

    What I’m Using to Learn Croatian:

    What I’m Using to Learn Hungarian:

    Not Currently doing any study for: German, Hindi

    What I’m Using for Little Linguist

    Resources That Aren’t Language Specific

    The Biggest Lesson I Am Taking Away from This Month

    Over the last year, a lot has happened–for example, I’ve released two albums, have traveled some, and as you all know and have experienced first-hand, have been working to adapt to the changes brought on by COVID.

    When I first picked my language studies back up after being on-and-off with them for some time, I made a big mistake. I tried to pickup my routine exactly as I had left it off.

    Needless to say, that didn’t work out for me.

    The reason I dropped off was two-fold. One, life. Two, my language learning routine had gotten to the point it was no longer sustainable. I was trying to do too much.

    So after a couple of failed attempts at getting back into it, I decided to take it slow. I participated in a Fluent in 3 Months Challenge to give myself something clear to work towards– a 15-minute conversation. I then began doing lessons again for my key languages. Once I had established doing this as a routine, I added podcasts back in. And then vocabulary study.

    I’m now at a point where I’m able to include other things like reading and tv shows. But I’m be careful not to take too much on.

    TLDR? I learned to ease myself back into a habit after dropping off.

    Don’t forget that I would love to hear all about your goals for this month! Please join us by adding your post to the linkup below! 

    Clear The List Linkup Rules:

    1. Share your goal post whether it includes your aspirations for the month or year. Submissions unrelated to the theme or links to your homepage will be deleted.

    2. Link back to this post. You can use our button if you wish.

    3. Follow the hosts: Lindsay from Lindsay Does Languages and Shannon from Eurolinguiste.

    4. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE: Please visit the site of the person who linked up immediately before you and leave them an encouraging comment! By hosting this linkup, we’re hoping to create a positive community where we can all share our goals. If you do not do this, you will be removed from the linkup.

    5. Share on social media using #ClearTheList

    You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

    Click here to enter

    May 18, 2020 • Eurolinguiste • Views: 829