Language Resources

  • Martial Arts Vocabulary in Japanese: Learn How to Talk about Karate in Japanese

    Earlier, I wrote a post that featured taekwondo vocabulary in Korean, sharing my interest and history in martial arts. Initially, I started with karate before moving to kickboxing and later kungfu, only to finally settle at a school that teaches both taekwondo and karate. The former a Korean practice and the latter, Japanese. 

    Because the school teaches a blend of Japanese and Korean arts, commands are given in both languages. We’re asked to move into ready stance in Korean, but told to bow to the flags and black belts in Japanese.

    As I shared in my taekwondo vocabulary post, kinesthetic learning, that is, tying learning to movement, is a powerful way to learn a new words in a language. Particularly because not following commands in class meant having to do push-ups, and I hate push-ups. So knowing what I’m being asked to do in Japanese and Korean is paramount to avoiding those extra push-ups.

    And if you’d like to learn more Japanese karate words, Drops recently released several hundred new words to help you learn how to talk about Japanese culture. The topics cover everything from food to traditions and even–you guessed it–karate!

    Karate Vocabulary in Japanese

    The Japanese word karate in Kanji, or Chinese characters, is 空手 (karate). It might also be called 空手道 (karate-do). This literally means “empty hand”. It’s name is a clue to it’s style! 

    But before we get into specific vocabulary, first, let’s learn the basics! Here are a few branches of Japanese martial arts in Japanese.

    Types of Japanese Martial Arts Vocabulary

    Keywords for Japanese Martial Arts

    And here are a few more key terms including, the Japanese words for those who practice martial arts, the locations, etc. In this list, you’ll learn the word for instructor is sensei in Japanese. It’s worth going further with this particular Japanese translation. The word sensei is used for instructors and teachers but it literally means “the one who comes before in life”. This meaning is beautiful–it implies that we learn from those who come before us. Your karate sensei has already walked the path you are learning now! 

    Basic Japanese Words You Should Know

    If you study martial arts in a school where Japanese is spoken, there’s a good chance you’ll hear some of these words:

    Karate Commands in Japanese

    • Attention: きおつけ (kiotsuke)
    • Begin: はじめ (hajime)
    • Ready: よい (yoi)
    • Stop: やめ (yame)
    • Bow: れい (rei)
    • Kneel: 正座 (せいざ, seiza)
    • Move to ready position: 構えて (かまえて, kamaete)
    • Turn (around): 回って (まわって, mawatte)
    • One more time: もう一度 (もういちど, mou ichi do)

    Karate Stances in Japanese

    • Stance: だち (dachi)
    • Natural stance: 兵こだち (へいこだち, heiko dachi)
    • Informal stance: 結びだち (むすびだち, musubi dachi
    • Straddle stance: きばだち (kiba dachi)
    • Back stance: こくつだち (kokutsu dachi)
    • Cat stance: 猫だち (ねこだち, neko dachi)
    • Feet together stance: 閉塞だち (へいそくだち, heisoku dachi)
    • Front stance: 前屈だち (ぜんくつだち, zenkutsu dachi)
    • Sumo stance: しこだち (shiko dachi)

    Body Parts Used in Karate in Japanese

    Basic Karate Technique Terms in Japanese

    • Basic Technique: きほん (kihon)
    • Block: 受けうけ (uke)
    • Chi: き (ki)
    • Cross-legged sitting position: あんざ (anza)
    • Focus: 決めきめ (kime)
    • Form: かた (kata) listen to how kata is pronounced in Japanese
    • Form starting point: えんぶせん (enbusen)
    • Form Technique Application: ぶんかい (bunkai)
    • Karate mats: 畳 (たたみ, tatami) hear how tatami is said in Japanese
    • Kick: げり(keri), please note that this pronunciation changes to (-geri) when following another word but is said with a “k” sound when alone
    • Kneeling Technique: せいざわざ (seiza waza)
    • Punch: つき (tsuki)
    • Snap: けあげ (keage)
    • Sparring: 組手くみて (kumite)
    • Strike: うち (uchi)
    • Sweep: ばらい (barai)
    • Technique: わざ (waza)
    • Throw: 投げなげ (nage)
    • Thrust: けこみ (kekomi)

    States of Mind in Japanese Martial Arts

    • Martial state of mind: ざんしん (zanshin)
    • Meditation: もくそ (mokuso)
    • No Mind: むしん (mushin)

    Directions for Karate in Japanese

    • Back: うしろ (ushiro)
    • Front: 前まえ (mae)
    • Side: よこ (yoko)
    • Right: 右みぎ (migi)
    • Left: 左ひだり (hidari)
    • Low: げだん (gedan)
    • Middle: ちゅだん (chudan)
    • High: じょだん (jodan)

    Block Techniques in Japanese

    Earlier you learned that 受け is “block” in Japanese. It’s literal meaning is “receive”. This is because when blocking a punch or kick, you aren’t trying to stop it with brute force. Instead, you’re receiving it. Thinking of the blocking technique in this way will help you better executre your blocks. 

    • Downward block: げだんばらい (gedan barai)
    • Outside block: そとうけ (soto uke)
    • Inside block: うちうけ (uchi uke)
    • X block: じゅじうけ (juji uke)
    • Rising block: あげうけ (age uke)
    • Knife hand block: しゅとうけ (shuto uke)
    • Verticle knife hand block: たてしゅとうけ (tate shuto uke)
    • Sweeping block: ながしうけ (nagashi uke)
    • Back Hand block: はいしゅうけ (haishu uke)
    • Elbow block: えんぴうけ (enpi uke)
    • Augmented block: もろてうけ (morote uke)
    • Wedge block: かけわけうけ (kakewake uke)

    Japanese Word for Sparring Techniques

    “Sparring” in Japanese is kumite. This word literally means “entangled hands”. Here are a few “entangled hands” techniques in Japanese.

    • Basic one-step sparring: 基本一本組手 (きほんいっぽんくみて, kihon ippon kumite)
    • Three-step sparring: 三本組手 (さんぼんくみて, sanbon kumite)
    • Five-step sparring: 五本組手 (ごほくみて, gohon kumite)
    • Semi-free style sparring: 地涌いっぽん組手 (じゆいっぽんくみて, jiyu ippon kumite)
    • Free-style sparring: 地涌組手 (じゆくみて, jiyu kumite)
    • Reaction sparring: 開始一本組手 (かいしいっぽんくみて, kaishi ippon kumite)

    More Kicks in Japanese

    • Roundhouse kick: まわしげり (mawashi geri)
    • Knee kick: ひざげり (hiza geri)
    • Side thrust kick:よこげりけこみ (yoko geri kekomi)
    • Side snap kick: よこげりけあげ (yoko geri keage)
    • Kicking combinations: れんげり (ren geri)

    Punches & Strikes in Japanese

    • Straight punch: からつき (kara tsuki)
    • Stepping punch: おいつき (oi tsuki)
    • Front hand punch: きざみつき (kizami tsuki)
    • Reverse punch: ぎゃくつき (gyaku tsuki)
    • Hook punch: かぎつき (kagi tsuki)
    • Two punch combo: れんつき (ren tsuki)
    • Hammer fist: てついうち (tetsui uchi)
    • Back fist: うらけんうち (uraken uchi)
    • Ridge hand: はいとうち (haito uchi)
    • Knife hand: しゅとうち (shuto uchi)
    • Spear hand: ぬきて (nukite)
    • Elbow strike: えんぴうち (enpi-uchi)
    • Reverse elbow strike: うしろえんぴうち (ushiro enpi uchi)
    • Return hands to ready position: ひきて (hikite)

    Now it’s your turn. Practice these words and expressions, and if you’re in karate or another branch of Japanese martial arts, see if you recognize any of them! You can also look up instructional videos for karate in Japanese to test your new vocabulary. This will help you instill these terms in Japanese. 

    If you’re ready to take what you’ve learned to the next level, you can combine these terms to talk about combos in karate. And you’ll get to chat about one of your hobbies – martial arts – in Japanese. 

    What about you? Are there any karate-related words or phrases you’ve picked up in Japanese? Let me know!

    And if you’d like to learn more words like this in Japanese, don’t forget to check out Drops. A fun, engaging way to learn new Japanese words in just 5 minutes a day.

    May 14, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 262

  • Martial Arts Vocabulary in Korean

    A few years back, I was really into martial arts. I practiced a branch of kung-fu, but ended up having to take a break. When I was ready to start up again, my school had closed. I didn’t start looking for a new school right away and a short break slowly became a long break. 

    As you know, I enjoy food, so it soon became clear that I needed to start doing some sort of exercise again to balance things out. I decided to start practicing martial arts again. 

    I found a new school, but it wasn’t kung-fu. Instead, they taught a combination of Japanese and Korean martial arts – hapkido, taekwondo, karate… 

    I went in for my evaluation to see if I could stay at the same belt level I was at in kung-fu. As the class lined up, the Master called out “차렷!” and I was like a deer in headlights. Wait, what?

    As the evaluation proceeded, I quickly realized that this class wasn’t just a physical learning experience for me, but also a language learning experience. Depending on what we worked on in class, commands were given in either Japanese or Korean. 

    Kinesthetic learning – tying learning to movement – can be a powerful way to learn a new language and this was my first opportunity to try it out. But not following commands in class meant push-ups, and I hate push-ups. So I decided to do a bit of preparation on my own. 

    I found a list of taekwondo vocabulary in Korean and started working with my tutor to learn and use it my very next lesson. 

    If you’d like to learn Korean-specific words like these, Drops recently released several hundred Korean culture-specific words. You can become a cultural inside and learn lots of new Korean words for free with Drops.

    Taekwondo Vocabulary in Korean

    The Korean word Taekwondo in Hanja, or Chinese characters, is 跆拳道. This literally means “to stomp / fist / way, discipline”. It’s name is a clue to it’s style! 

    But before we get into specific vocabulary, first, let’s learn the basics! Here are a few branches of Korean martial arts in Korean.

    Types Korean Martial Arts Vocabulary

    • Martial Arts: 무술 (musul)
    • Taekwondo: 태권도 (taekwondo), a martial arts focused on self-defense
    • Taekkyon: 택견 (taekkyon), a martial arts that involves a focus on tripping or unbalancing your opponent
    • Hapkido: 합기도 (hapkido), mostly focused on grappling with some striking

    Keywords for Korean Martial Arts

    And here are a few more key terms including, the Korean words for those who practice martial arts, the locations, etc.

    • Master Instructor: 사범님 (sabeomnim)
    • Student: 학생 (haksaeng), also 제자 (jeja) depending on the system
    • Senior Student: 선배님 (seonbaenim)
    • Dojo: 도장 (dochang)
    • Uniform: 도복 (dobok)
    • Belt: 띠 (tti)
    • Belt grades (before black belt): 급 (keup)
    • Belt grades (after black belt): 단 (dan)
    • Kiyah!: 기합 (kihap), this is yell done by martial arts practicioners when striking or kicking to help with power)

    Taekwondo Commands in Korean

    • Attention: 차렷 (charyeot)
    • Begin: 시작 (shijak)
    • Continue: 계속 (kyesok)
    • Ready: 준비 (junbi)
    • Stop: 갈려 (kalryeo)
    • Return: 바로 (baro), used when you need to return to face an instructor at the end of a form
    • Bow: 경례 (kyeongrye)

    Body Parts Used in Taekwondo in Korean

    Basic Taekwondo Technique Nouns in Korean

    • Block: 막기 (makgi)
    • Breaking: 격파 (kyeokpa)
    • Dodge: 피하기 (pihagi)
    • Forms: 품새 (pumsae)
    • Grab: 잡기 (jabgi)
    • Jump: 뛰기 (ttwigi
    • Kick: 차기 (chagi)
    • Punch: 지르기 (chireugi)
    • Push: 밀기 (milgi)
    • Sparring: 구르기 (kureugi)
    • Stance: 서기 (seogi)
    • Horse Stance: 주춤서기 (suchum seogi)
    • Strike: 치기 (chigi)
    • Thrust: 찌르기 (jjireugi)

    Basic Taekwondo Technique Verbs in Korean

    • To block: 막다 (makda)
    • To dodge: 피하다 (pihada)
    • To grab: 잡다 (jabda)
    • To jump: 뛰다 (ttwida)
    • To kick: 차다 (chada), I kick is 저는 차요 (cheoneun chayo) listen to this phrase
    • To punch: 지르다 (jireuda)
    • To push: 밀다 (milda)
    • To spar: 구르다 (kureuda)
    • To stand: 서다 (seoda)
    • To strike: 치다 (chida)
    • To thrust: 찌르다 (jjireuda)

    Directions for Taekwondo in Korean

    • Back: 뒤 (dwi)
    • Front: 앞 (ap)
    • Side: 옆 (yeop)

    Combine Directions with Techniques in Korean

    By combining the direction with certain techniques, you can get more detailed vocabulary. Here are a few examples: 

    • Back kick: 뒤차기 (dwichagi)
    • Front kick: 앞차기 (apchagi)
    • Side kick: 옆차기 (yepchagi)

    More Kicks in Korean

    • Axe Kick: 내려차기 (naeryeo chagi)
    • Crescent Kick: 반달차기 (bandal chagi)
    • Hook Kick: 후려차기 (huryeo chagi)
    • Push Kick: 밀어차기 (mileo chagi)
    • Roundhouse Kick: 돌려차기 (dolryeo chagi)
    • Front Roundhouse Kick: 앞돌려차기 (ap dolryeo chagi)
    • Back Roundhouse Kick: 뒤돌려차기 (dwi dolryeo chagi)
    • Scissor Kick: 가위차기 (kawi chagi)
    • Spinning Hook Kick: 뒤후려차기 (dwi huryeo chagi)
    • Jump Kick: 뛰어차기 (ttwieo chagi)
    • Jump Front Kick: 뛰어앞차기 (ttwieo ap chagi)
    • Jump Back Kick: 뛰어뒤차기 (ttwieo dwi chagi)

    Punches & Strikes in Korean

    To get the terms for most strikes in Korean, you combine the body part or part of the hand with the word for “strike” as in the following:

    • Arc Hand Strike:  아금손 치기 (akeumson, literally “arc hand strike”
    • Elbow Strike: 팔꿈치 치기 (palkkumchi chigi)
    • Knife Hand Strike: 손 칼 치기 (son kal chigi)
    • Palm Strike: 손바닥 치기 (sonbadak chigi
    • Back Fist: 등 주먹 (deung jumeok)

    Now it’s your turn. Practice these words and expressions, and if you’re in taekwondo, see if you recognize any of them! You can also look up instructional videos for taekwondo in Korean to test your new vocabulary. This will help you instill these terms in Korean. 

    If you’re ready to take what you’ve learned to the next level, you can combine these terms to talk about combos in taekwondo. And you’ll get to chat about one of your hobbies – martial arts – in Korean. 

    What about you? Are there any taekwondo-related words or phrases you’ve picked up in Korean? Let me know!

    And if you’d like to learn more words like this in Korean, check out Drops. A fun, engaging way to learn new Korean words in just 5 minutes a day. Don’t forget, you can now learn several hundred Korean culture-specific words–pick up new vocabulary to chat about everything from K-pop to traditional Korean culture.

    May 14, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 606

  • How to Work as a Freelance Translator

    My new album “Back Again” is out and I am so excited! There will also soon be a Croatian version of the vocal song on the album, too.

    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!

    What’s Been Going On

    As I mentioned, I spent the beginning of the month back in Budapest, so prior to the trip, I spent some time refreshing my Hungarian. Beyond that, I continued to work on Hindi and German.

    And now you’re caught up!

    Last Clear the List Goals

    Continue filling the gaps in my Mandarin vocabulary I’ve noticed since Little Linguist’s arrival. // We didn’t actually make it to any classes this week, but I did have the chance to work on Chinese on a few occasions.

    Read the next Language Reading Challenge book on my list. // In June, we’re reading a history of the region, culture, or language that we are studying. I read this.

    Keep working through my YouTube Queue.  // There’s still so much to get through!

    Add1Challenge // I continued to learn as a part of Add1 and started my Korean Add1 as well.

    This Month’s Goals

    Continue filling the gaps in my Mandarin vocabulary I’ve noticed since Little Linguist’s arrival. // A permanent item on my monthly list. 

    Read the next Language Reading Challenge book on my list. // In July, we’re reading something about a language we’re not learning.

    Keep working through my YouTube Queue.  // So much more to learn!

    Add1Challenge // I’m still wrapping up my Hindi and German Add1’s soon and starting my Korean Add1.

    Resources I Used This Month

    A quick recap of the materials I am using.

    What I Am Using to Learn Chinese

    • LingQ – my favorite tool
    • iTalki Lessons – I have weekly Chinese lessons
    • Memrise – I do 18,000 points minimum per day 
    • Drops – they have a new character tool that is fantastic

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

    What I am Using to Learn Russian:

    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:

    What I’m Using to Learn Hindi:

    What I’m Using to Learn German:

    What I’m Using for Little Linguist

    • Lots of books
    • Day-to-day interaction
    • Mommy and Me weekly classes

    Resources That Aren’t Language Specific

    The Biggest Lesson I Am Taking Away from This Month

    This month, I’m releasing my first solo album since 2012! I’ve worked on other albums and recordings under other names and as part of different groups, but this will be my first solo album since Behind Your Eyes. Working on this while keeping up my language studies was a challenge, but it taught me to really use those little waiting periods to the max.

    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

    March 13, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 582


    Over the last couple months, I’ve been learning a language in secret. I recently revealed that language was Hungarian and now, I’m excited to share more details about this language project – the how, the what, and they why.

    But first, if you’re interested in following this project along, be sure to subscribe to the Drops blog! It’s where I’m sharing all my updates.

    Getting Started with the Hungarian Language

    Just over two months ago, I decided that I wanted to learn Hungarian.


    Because I wanted to surprise my colleagues at Drops on our team trip. In November, we all met up in Budapest, Hungary and it seemed like the perfect occasion. Not only would I be in the country that speaks the language, but I’d also get to surprise the founders of Drops with their native language.

    I signed up for the Add1Challenge for motivation, keeping the details of my language a secret, saving my videos and updates for after the big reveal.

    In many ways, this project was different from anything I’ve done before. To start, it was a secret, so I was limited to how many people I could reach out to for help. Luckily, Benny Lewis over at Fluent in 3 Months completed a similar project – Hungarian in 3 Months. He and I chatted about language projects and learning Hungarian, and he offered me tips for filming the reveal in Budapest.

    Limitations Offer a Creative Environment

    One of the other things I really wanted to do with this project was change my approach. Lately, I’ve found a lot of success in the conversational approach and because of this, I’ve stuck to it for my last several projects. Getting too comfortable with a system or routine can cause learning plateaus and with a short-term project, that can be dangerous. 

    Rather than use all the resources, processes and methods I typically use when I start a new language (or refresh an old one), I did something different. 

    First, I limited myself to two resources – Drops and italki. I had originally planned to use three (a coursebook being the third), but ended up not using it. Doing this meant that I really needed to maximize my experience with the two resources I was using.

    I had to get creative.

    And that creativity not only led to several breakthroughs, but helped keep me from burning out during the time I spent studying.

    Second, I cut grammar out almost completely. During that time, I did not learn a single grammar rule. Instead, I studied tons of vocabulary and practiced the language with my tutor. In doing these two things, I learned some grammar through context without ever having to sit down and learn how to conjugate or use cases.

    Third, I took an almost month-long break in the middle of a two-month project. A few weeks before our trip to Budapest, I also had a trip to Shanghai, China for music. As a part of that trip, I needed to focus on preparing presentations in Mandarin and Japanese, so I had to step away from Hungarian until after I got back.

    Despite this break, I still successfully completed this project.

    Finally, I decided on every milestone I wanted to reach as a part of this project. There were eight in total. You can read about them more in-depth here, but here’s a quick summary:

    1. Learn 50 words in the first 3 days // This would get me access to the Drops Tough Words Dojo so that I could review challenging new material.
    2. Find a conversation partner // Having a date on the calendar would help keep me focused and on-track.
    3. Write my first script // This would help me navigate that first conversation. It included phrases and questions that I might need.
    4. Have a Hungarian lesson // I found a fantastic tutor on italki and ended up taking several lessons the week before the trip.
    5. Have an unscripted chat in Hungarian // Before I went to Hungary, I wanted to try to make my way through a conversation in Hungarian without the help of my script.
    6. Learn all the words in Drops // There were about 2,500 words in Drops while I worked on this project.
    7. Use Hungarian around Budapest // To get some practice in before the big surprise.
    8. Surprise the founders of Drops // The project conclusion!

    You can watch my project introduction video for more context:

    To Sum Up

    I plan on sharing updates for each of the milestones over on the Drops blog so you can follow along with my progress. Each post will include videos of where I’m at with the language as well as the exact steps I took to achieve each milestone.

    In the meantime, if you have any tips for me as a new Hungarian language learner or if you have any resource recommendations that you couldn’t have lived without, please let me know in the comments below.

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    Tips for Language Learning | Eurolinguiste

    November 27, 2019 • Language Resources • Views: 470

  • 5 Reasons to Speak Your New Language Even If You’re Shy

    Speaking is the best way to learn a language.

    How many times have you heard this advice? A lot, right?

    How many of you ‘know’ you should speak more but hesitate to do it for one reason or another?

    If you’re shy, like me, speaking is an enormous challenge. And more often than not, it’s all too easy to put off engaging with others in your new language. 

    But practicing your new language with other people has a huge number of benefits. Here are just a few.

    You get to hear the language how it’s really used.

    When you spend most of your time with language resources that are aimed at language learners, the language that you learn is just that – geared towards language learners. It’s usually incredibly polite, a little bit outdated, and rather limited. Real people are dynamic, they say the same things a lot of different ways, and are an amazing source of knowledge. 

    You’ll get insider tips on culture, on the colloquial language, and even non-verbal aspects of the language like body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. 

    You can evaluate your weak points and strengths. 

    When you chat with a native speaker, you’re put in an unfamiliar environment. Your skills are really tested. You get the chance to evaluate what you most need to work on and what you do best. 

    Learning with a course is kind of like functioning on a closed track when driving a car. A lot of the real challenges are removed to create a “safe” learning environment. They’re designed to help you succeed in a specific scenario, but real life doesn’t work that way. When you work with a course it’s easy to think you know much more than you do because you’re getting all the questions right and completing all the exercises. 

    When you chat with real people, you get to work on the language in a new context and you can quickly pinpoint your weak points so that you can tackle them head-on.

    You get feedback on how you’re doing. 

    Ever wonder how your level in your target language really stacks up? Native speakers can give you an honest evaluation. They can let you know about mistakes you don’t even realize you’re making. But they can also let you know what things you’re doing really well.

    They can offer you suggestions to help you correct mistakes you’re making, whether you realize you’re making them or not.

    You get to practice speaking and train your muscles.

    Speaking requires training the muscles in your mouth and throat to work together to create the sounds needed to speak your new language. The more you speak, the more you train those muscles to do what they need to do. 

    You can get to ask all the questions.

    When you’re working with a set resource like a coursebook or audio course, you have to hope that it will at some point, answer your questions. If it doesn’t, it means that you have to try to find those answers yourself elsewhere.

    Practical Steps to Get Started

    Despite knowing all the benefits of speaking with native speakers, it can still be tough to take initiative and actually do it if you’re shy. And even if you’re not.

    You feel vulnerable. As though you’re not in control. And it can be scary. 

    That’s why it’s important to look for people to practice with in the right places. You want to connect with people who understand what it takes to speak your new language with another person. With people who won’t judge you for the mistakes you make. And with people who have the patience to help you sort a new language out.

    Not sure where to find these types of exchange partners? Here are just a few ideas.

    Find a partner on an exchange platform.

    There are lots of excellent language exchange platforms where you can find native speakers to practice with. These are fellow learners who understand exactly what you’re going through. How it feels to make mistakes. What sort of effort it takes to learn a new language. And who will treat your time fairly.

    Finding people like this is possible on language exchange platforms. They are fellow learners and they understand just what you’re going through. My personal favorite language exchange platform is iTalki

    Connect with a Language BFF

    Instead of a language exchange partner, you can connect with a study buddy or language BFF. This is someone you are studying the same language as, and together, you can compare notes, practice, and share your questions. If you’re not sure where to find a study buddy, as a part of an upcoming event (read below), we’ll help you find one!

    The tips in this article are just a snapshot of the benefits of taking a small step outside your comfort zone and the places to do it if you’re shy. 

    Where to Go From Here

    I’m sharing much more in my session at the very first Women in Language Camp on Saturday, November 3rd. It’s going to be an exciting event.

    The whole event is focused on the topic of community and connection, something we noticed got great feedback from the first Women in Language event back in March 2018. So we thought, why not dedicate a whole mini event to that exact topic?

    On the day, you’ll hear from me as well as my other two co-hosts of Women in Language, Kerstin Cable of Fluent Language and Lindsay Williams of Lindsay Does Languages.

    Kerstin will be sharing her session Not the Only Linguist in the Village: How to Create Your IRL Language Squad and Lindsay will be leading her session Switch on the Community: How to Practice Your Language with People Everywhere.

    As well as the three main sessions, there’ll be the chance to ask questions and connect with other attendees in the final Campfire session and the Women in Language Facebook Group, which we’ve reopened for this event!

    Finally, if you purchase your ticket before October 30th, you’ll get paired with a Language BFF for the day. This person will be someone who studies the same language as you and who you can compare notes with as a part of the event.

    You’ll be able to secure your ticket to the main event in March too – but only during Women in Language Camp. A little heads up there.

    And the final thing I have to tell you is that the recordings of Women in Language Camp won’t be available to purchase after the event. Although if you get your ticket, you will get access to all the recordings. So even if you know you can’t make the live sessions but you still want in on the action, be sure to get your ticket now while you can.

    Ready for Camp? Get your ticket now.

    October 22, 2019 • Language Resources • Views: 421


    German and I had fallen out of love. 

    At least, that’s what I told myself after graduating university. It helped me feel better about the fact I was giving it up. Doing so gave me more time with the languages that I loved–namely, Chinese and Croatian.

    I was sure that German and I were never, ever, ever getting back together. But then, something came up with my music work, and suddenly I needed to reconnect with the language I had lost. 

    I turned to my good friend, Kerstin Cable, for help. And as it turns out, the timing couldn’t have been any better. She had just finished putting together German Uncovered with Olly Richards of I Will Teach You a Language, and that meant that I had the perfect course to help me get started.

    What is German Uncovered?

    German Uncovered is a course that uses stories to help you learn the German language. There are 20 modules that each include a story, and audio recording, a cognates video lesson, a vocabulary video lesson, a grammar video lesson, a pronunciation lesson, a speaking exercise, and a quiz to test your knowledge.

    Each of the video lessons is about 20 minutes in length, so there is a lot of material to work through. It’s presented in a way that is easy to work through, and you pick up German grammar more naturally than you would by memorizing a bunch of grammar rules.

    When you first start German Uncovered, you’re given a set of instructions on how to best use the material in the course:

    “1. Start by listening to the audiobook recording of the chapter: It’s a good idea to do this before you read the text or the translation. Focus on listening and see how much you can pick up. (You can also download this audio file at the bottom of the lesson in case you want to listen again offline).

    2. Read the text in German: After listening to the chapter, read through the text in German. It’s a good idea to do this a couple of times and listen along to the audio as you do so. Try and see how much you can figure out from the German before looking at the English translation.

    3. Watch the Cognates video lesson: Watch the cognates lesson to uncover the German of the story and understand large chunks of it easily.

    4. Check Your Comprehension: Once you’ve completed the steps above, complete the short comprehension quiz. This is a quiz which will check how much you’ve understood. Don’t worry if this is difficult. This is the very first lesson. In time, you’ll find that you can work out more and more of the story.

    5. Download the English translation: Finally, download and read through the English translation. See how much you understood and notice any words or phrases that are similar in German and English.6. Complete the other lessons and worksheets for this chapter: Work through the video lessons and worksheets for this chapter.”

    If you complete the course as instructed, it promises that you’ll attain “(B1 on the CEFR), and be a confident German speaker.”

    My Experience Using German Uncovered

    It’s been more than ten years since I last touched the German language, and I was worried about just how much I may have lost. I quit because the grammar got me down and I couldn’t push past it or find a better way to approach the language. What I had been taught to do in school was too ingrained and I couldn’t break free from grammar drills. Then I enrolled in German Uncovered.

    I just finished the introduction videos and felt so motivated to dive in and get started. The course wasn’t anything like my experience at university where I was drowning in German grammar.

    After completing just one module in the course, I was able to revive much of my lost German (and perhaps more!). I booked my first lesson with a tutor and flew through all the material, keeping the lesson almost entirely in German!

    I made mistakes, yes, but I was already making huge strides with the language.

    To demonstrate, here’s where I was at with German before I completed the first module in German Uncovered:

    And here’s where I was at shortly after the fourth module:

    Each of the lessons is taught by Kerstin, a native German speaker. This means that you get lots of insight into the language, it’s culture, and you learn the language it’s really used day-to-day.

    German Uncovered: The Good

    Kerstin is an excellent and outgoing course instructor. She keeps your attention through the lessons. Her love of the German language really shows, and it’s contagious. She does a great job keeping you motivated to continue through the modules.

    And as you continue through the modules, completing the work as suggested, you see real progress with your German. Because the course focuses on teaching you cognates and shows you how to make the most of the similarities between German and English, you progress quickly.

    German Uncovered is very logically organized and as you work through each lesson, you’re taught just the right amount of new material, building on what you learned in the previous lessons. 

    German Uncovered: What Could Be Better

    There were some issues with the audio on some of the videos, but nothing that was too distracting. For example, the volume of the pronunciation videos was lower than the other video lessons and on a couple of the videos, the audio had delay.

    Seeing an example of the speaking lessons would also be extremely helpful. The instructions for these sections are written so that you can hand your tutor or practice partner the worksheet, but seeing how this would work in practice would definitely help students feel more confident taking this step.

    In Conclusion

    Would I recommend German Uncovered? Absolutely. It helped me rebuild a foundation in German and gain confidence using the language. It offers students a way to build their listening skills, reading skills, and vocabulary and gives them everything they need to take things further with an instructor.

    If you’re still not sure if German Uncovered is right for you, you can try out the course and get a feel for Kerstin’s teaching style through German Stories, a free mini course. If you’re ready to dive in and start learning with German Uncovered, you can sign up here.

    April 2, 2019 • Language Resources • Views: 446


    Next week is the second ever Women in Language event. It’s an online conference hosted by Lindsay Williams of Lindsay Does Languages, Kerstin Cable of and yours truly. At the event, we have more than 30 incredible speakers, two panel discussions, lightning talks, live chat, and the chance to win more than $3,000 in prizes through our raffle.

    Attending an event like Women in Language is a wonderful experience–you get to listen to inspiring talks, get to know other learners around the world who share your passions, and have the opportunity to get your language learning questions answered by experts.

    But in addition to these events being fun social events and a chance to learn, they’re also a great chance to fire up your language learning and give your motivation a boost. Here are seven ways you can do just that at this year’s Women in Language:

    1. Attend a talk that you’d normally skip

    At events, there are always a few talks that may, on paper, seem like they’re not the best fit for you. Normally, I’d fully recommend skipping talks that don’t seem like they’d interest you and use that time to catch up on other tasks or chat with other attendees. But just because a talk doesn’t sound like something you’d go to doesn’t mean that you should skip it.

    For example, if someone’s giving a talk on raising bilingual children but you’re years off from having kids, there are still things you could takeaway:

    • Ideas for activities you can do when learning with someone else
    • Easy, entry-level resources that you may not have heard of
    • Time management tips

    As another example, someone may be giving a talk on a language you don’t intend to learn. Why should you attend?

    • You learn more about our world’s linguistic diversity
    • You may learn techniques that are used to approach that particular language that can be applied to yours
    • You may discover a love for a new language (even if you choose not to study it later)
    • You learn about resources that may also be available in your language

    This Women in Language event, I challenge you to attend at least one talk you’d normally skip. You never know what you may learn!

    2. Get to know some of the members of our amazing language community

    Language learning can be lonely. You spend a lot of time with your head buried in resources doing this whole thing on your own. Language events a great opportunity to meet with like-minded individuals who get you and share your love of languages. And who knows, you may find a study buddy or exchange partner at an event. At the very least, you’ll certainly make new friends.

    3. Ask questions

    At events, it’s easy to sit in the background and just observe. There’s already a lot to take in. But if you don’t ask questions, you’re missing out on a valuable chance to have any doubts or concerns you may have answered.

    You may have questions that can’t be answered by a certain speaker, but even if you ask them, there’s a good chance that someone else participating in the chat will be able to help you out. Take advantage of the fact you’ll be hanging out with learners and experts at different stages in the game than you.

    4. Apply to give a lightning talk

    Lightning talks are short 5-10 minutes talks (depending on how many applicants we have) where you can share something cool you’ve learned about your language, teaching languages, learning languages, or anything else language related.

    If you’re looking for a little extra challenge, I highly recommend applying to give a lightning talk. You have until next Wednesday (the day before the event to do so) if you’re an attendee!

    5. Participate in the Women in Language Facebook group

    Leading up to, during, and following the event, attendees are invited to participate in the Women in Language Facebook group. It’s a supportive community where you can share takeaways from the talks you attend, get to know the other attendees, share your successes and struggles in your language, and more.

    If you’re struggling with motivation, the community is a great place to get the support you need to pick things back up.

    6. Get excited about the raffle!

    When you purchase a ticket to the Women in Language event, you are immediately entered into the raffle. There are no extra steps required.

    This year we have more than $3,000 worth of prizes that will be fairly split up amongst three raffle winners. These prizes include language learning tools and resources from Drops, Fluent in 3 Months, I Will Teach You a Language, LingQ, Lindsay Does Languages,, Eurolinguiste, and more.

    Getting new language swag is a great way to boost your motivation and by buying a ticket, you’re automatically entered to win.

    7. Support another language learner

    This year we decided to do something new. In addition to giving 10% of all profits to Wikitongues to support their work with languages around the world (last year we donated to Kiva), we’re also helping fund scholarship tickets to attendees who may not be able to afford a ticket to the Women in Language event.

    After buying your ticket, you have the option to help fund another learner’s ticket by making a donation (of any amount). Any money leftover in this pool once all the scholarship tickets are redeemed will also be donated to Wikitongues.

    So there you have it. Just seven of the ways you can fire up your language learning at the Women in Language event–there are plenty more!

    If you haven’t yet got your ticket, you can sign up here.

    And if you have questions about the event, feel free to share them in the comments below. I look forward to seeing you there!

    February 25, 2019 • Language Resources • Views: 97

  • Language Learning Reading Challenge 2019

    I am excited to share the fourth annual Language Learning Reading Challenge with you.

    Starting January 2019, we’ll tackle one book per month covering a topic related to language and share our experiences as a group. Please feel free to join us. You can participate by commenting on the posts here at Eurolinguiste or by joining the group on Facebook.

    As part of the challenge, we will be read books that cover everything from culture, language learning, general learning techniques, history, and more. Plus, we’ll be reading both in our native languages and target languages.

    If you’re at a more advanced level in your target language, feel free to read any or all of the books (not just the ones indicated as target language only) in the language that you’re learning. If you’re still just getting started, that’s okay, too! You can read along in your native language, discovering more about the cultures and histories tied to the language(s) that you’re learning, opting for lower level or graded readers for books in your target language.

    Please note that you don’t have to pick just one language for this challenge. If you’re learning multiple languages, feel free to mix and match. The challenge is pretty flexible. I’ve planned it this way so you can get the most learning possible out of it over this next year.

    The Materials that make up the 2019 Language Reading Challenge

    1 January // A tutorial, recipe, or lesson in your target language (if you’re up for a bigger challenge, read an entire book on the subject)
    2. February // A book on learning strategies (any learning strategy, not just language related, but it can be about language learning if you prefer)
    3. March // A book written in your target language (this can be a translation from your native language or a book originally written in your target language)
    4. April // Read something humor-related in your language to get a sense of comedy and what’s funny in your language 
    5. May // Read an introduction to your language – if you’re an advanced learner, find an article or chapter in your coursebook that explains something that you’re struggling with in particular
    6. June // History of the region, culture, or language that you are studying
    7. July // Read something about a language you’re not learning (it can be an article, an introduction to the language, or an entire book)
    8. August // A book written by a language blogger (you can find books by bloggers such as Steve Kaufmann, Anthony MetivierKerstin Cable, Benny Lewis, Barbara Oakley, yours truly, and more)
    9. September // A book about a language, a family of languages, a writing system, or something related to linguistics
    10. October // Read a Wikipedia article in your target language
    11. November // A book written in your target language (originally, not a translation)
    12. December // Read a book about your native language

    A Few Notes Regarding the Challenge:

    The challenge doesn’t have to focus on one language, if you are studying multiple languages (or have an interest in languages you’re not studying), feel free to go for books in or about those languages.

    You are absolutely welcome to read books of any level. Graded readers, children’s books, academic books or any other genre are acceptable for the challenges that require you to read in your target language(s).

    You do not need to participate every month to be a part of this challenge. You can choose the months that align with your interests.

    If you do not complete the book you take up in any one month of the challenge, that’s okay! You can still join in the conversation and share some of what you’ve learnt from the sections of the book you were able to get through.

    Language Reading Challenge Linkup Rules:

    1. Share your post discussing the book that you’ve read this month. Submissions unrelated to the theme or links to your homepage will be deleted. You can share in the comments or use the link below to join us on Facebook.

    2. Follow the host: Shannon from Eurolinguiste.

    3. OPTIONAL: Join us on Facebook.

    January 1, 2019 • Language Resources • Views: 533

  • Black Friday Deals for Language Learners 2018

    You’ve worked hard this last year at your language studies, and what better way to celebrate your progress than by rewarding yourself with an early holiday gift? 

    By investing in your studies, you’re also preparing yourself for the new year with new resources so that you have a place to start when all of the craziness of the holiday season is through. Or, you can always get a little something for your language learning friend!

    As a part of Black Friday, I’m really excited to offer an incredible selection of discounts on my courses this year. 

    Language Learning Accelerator

    With four jobs, a toddler, a blog, and eight languages under my belt, I’ve had a lot of experience developing time management and energy management skills. I created this course to share them with you. If you ever feel too busy to learn a language, or too tired, Language Learning Accelerator has all the tools you need to work through it and finally find the time to learn your language.

    Get 50% off Language Learning Accelerator $48.50 (normally $97)

    The Courage to Speak

    In partnership with Fluent in 3 Months, I put together a course to help you build the confidence to start speaking your language and connecting with others. Each module includes a video lesson, a worksheet, and exercises that put you on the path towards becoming a confident speaker of your target language. As a part of the course, you’re also given access to Say Goodbye to Shy.

    Get 34% off The Courage to Speak 

    Get By In Croatian

    I recently launched a Croatian language course and you can get all of the bonus materials for the first season for 50% off. There will be 20 total lessons and for each you have a video lesson, the audio, bonus audio, and a PDF worksheet. 

    Get 50% off Get By In Croatian $43.50 (normally $87)

    Language Study Club with Lindsay Dow

    Lindsay and I recently launched a new monthly subscription hub and study club under the radar. It’s a fun new platform where Lindsay and I alternate each month, providing tons of tips, video lessons, and actionable advice around different themes. To start, Lindsay tackled motivation in the first month and I covered building your personal script in the second. You’ll have access to all of the archive months in with your purchase of a membership.

    Get $9 off each month of Language Study Club

    I’ve also partnered up with Fluent in 3 Months to offer you some amazing deals this year as a part of their Black Friday promotion. 

    Of course, they have an incredible package put together. In it, you can get:

    • Benny’s Bootcamp Live // A 3-month language hacking program with live video webinars every week.
    • Fi3M Premium // This is their cornerstone product and a long-term learning portal. It’s a great place to start planning your routine for the new year. Plus, they recently brought it over to Teachable, so it has a much nicer user experience. 
    • Conversation Countdown // Their 7-week email course that helps you prepare for your first conversation in your new language.
    • Why X is Easy // 6 eBooks that break down the tough language stuff (like word gender and conjugations) for German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, French and English.

    The value of all of this is over $899 but Fi3M is offering it to you at just $197.

    They’re also offering an incredible discount on several other courses. You can learn more about them here.

    As a quick recap, here are all of the links:

    Other Great Deals Across the Web

    Drops // You can get 50% a Premium subscription to Drops, my favorite vocabulary learning app. The offer expires on Monday. This offer is only available through their web payment and isn’t offered within the app itself. Get 50% a Premium Drops Subscription.

    The Ultimate Guide to German for Beginners // Get 50% off this excellent German course from The course bundle includes: The German Pronunciation and Accent Masterclass, Easy German Grammar for Beginners, and Hyper-Efficient German. $54.50 (usually $109)

    Pimsleur // Get 50% off at Pimsleur by using the code “BESTDEAL”. Pimsleur is my favourite audio course. It’s a bit on the pricey side, so this is a great offer. Get 50% off Pimsleur.

    Innovative Language // Innovative language is one of the most popular podcast series around. They’re offering 51% off their Basic, Premium AND Premium Plus subscriptions. Get 51% off: ChineseClass101, EnglishClass101FrenchPod101, GermanPod101, ItalianPod101, JapanesePod101, KoreanClass101, RussianPod101 and SpanishPod101.

    Don’t wait! Many of these deals will only be available until the end of Cyber Monday, Nov 26th, 2018.

    November 24, 2018 • Language Resources • Views: 193

  • Language Learning in 5-Minute Drops

    How one start-up is aiming to revolutionize language learning by combining augmented reality with gamification in 5-minute Drops.

    In a time when, on average, nearly everyone is too busy to invest time into intensive side projects, is there a place for language learning? Daniel Farkas and Mark Szulyovszky, of Plan B Labs, believe, without question, that there is, and they’ve developed the app to prove it.

    Rather than tasking learners with hour-long study sessions, or daily point goals, this app challenges you to learn as much as you can in a limited time.

    The Birth of a Language Hero

    It was in his final year at university and after one particularly sleepless night that Daniel Farkas had a realization that would set him upon the path to developing one of the most popular language applications. “It just struck me: nobody taught me how to learn.” This epiphany led to Farkas developing a passion for meta-learning, or as defined by theorist Donald B. Maudsley, “the process by which learners become aware of and increasingly in control of habits of perception, inquiry, learning, and growth that they have internalized.” But it wouldn’t be for several more years, after a brief career as a salesman for a luxury bike company, and a collaboration with two trivia app designing friends until he would be able to completely make the leap into a career that would allow him to fully explore his enthusiasm for meta-learning, channeling his hard-earned knowledge into an app designed for specifically for language learners.

    At the time, other language apps were becoming wildly popular, but despite their success, Daniel still felt that there was still a key element missing from the available options. “None of the big names were combing cutting-edge technology with the findings of behavioral psychology – things like habit forging, gamification, the psychology of play -, neuroscience, and direct visual association.” In his opinion, most language applications try to do too many things. They offer excessive language choices in an effort to appeal to a wider audience, and in doing so, correctness and quality suffer. In other cases, they attempt to cover too much of the language’s grammar, only scratching the surface when it comes to vocabulary – arguably the most important tool for anyone looking to really dive into a language.

    And so, in 2012, Farkas and Szulyovszky set to developing a focused alternative concentrated on the “meat” of language learning – vocabulary acquisition and the building of a rock-solid language learning habit. Kicking off with just three languages and limited features, Drops has rapidly grown in both its offerings and its subscriber base. It is now the powerhouse application behind many language enthusiasts’ consistent study habits. Recognized as one of the Top 5 Language Learning apps by Bloomberg, Drops has also been featured as one of the best educational apps in more than one hundred countries. Today, it is used by millions of learners.

    Before There Was Drops – Mnemonic Gaming and Language Learning

    Drops’ use of mnemonic association and gaming psychology to teach languages is not by accident. It all started when, back in 2012 the two Drops founders, Daniel Farkas and Mark Szulyovszky, were introduced at a party. Daniel had been working on a book about applying meta-learning techniques to learning vocabulary (meta-learning is basically using cognitive shortcuts to learning anything), and Mark–a longtime gamer–had developed a visual pattern recognition game called Thinkinvisible. Similar to the Rorschach test or the concept of Rubin’s Vase, ThinkInvisible images can be viewed in multiple ways, but in particular, they rely on the cognitive trick negative space to define the image. The lack of full contouring forces an “aha” recognition moment, which is at the root of mnemonics.

    Daniel and Mark instantly agreed that a similar mnemonic approach could be used to learn vocabulary. They set about designing and building an app they would later call LearnInvisible. Somewhere along the way, they decided this idea was more than just folly and they applied to the GameFounders–the Estonian gaming accelerator. They were accepted into GameFounders very first cohort of start-ups, received around $15K and were off to the races. They initially incorporated as PlanB Labs and soon after they launched LearnInvisible to some early fanfare, but suddenly soon realized that while people said they loved the app, they used it once or twice and then never came back.

    In a post-mortem of LearnInvisble’s failure, Daniel suggested that maybe they had strayed too far from Mark’s gaming background. They had built a great app, but it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t sticky. It wasn’t a game. So they pivoted and redesigned the entire app from scratch with a laser focus on retention. In January of 2015, they launched Drops and never looked back.

    While the Drops and Scripts apps appear simple (intentionally), their deep intersection of mnemonics and gaming comes from Daniel and Mark’s unique backgrounds, as well as the painful failure that resulted from neglecting that background the first time around. I, for one, am glad they got it right.

    Rising Above the Rest

    What makes Drops a stand out language tool? Some might tell you that it’s the simple, yet elegant design and a user-friendly interface. Others are convinced that it’s the interactivity. And then, there are those that fancy the well-thought-out vocabulary lists. For the learners for whom Drops has become a part of their daily regiment, it’s all of the above. And then some.

    Drops is a powerful resource for learners because it isn’t time intensive. By restricting users’ study sessions to five minutes, Drops guarantees that even the most occupied user can work a little learning into their routine. Of course, for more serious learners, or what Drops likes to call the ‘genius’ or ‘polyglot’, there’s the option to unlock more time and more languages, respectively, for a sensible fee.

    Currently, the app provides around 100 unique vocabulary lists each containing around twenty words for nearly thirty languages including Korean, French, Hebrew, and Chinese. And while they aim to tackle a large selection of languages, they ensure the quality of their product by hiring native speakers, professional translators, and established polyglots to double and triple check the lesson content.

    There’s a lot of thought and care that goes into creating the wordlists and you’ll find plenty of vocabulary that isn’t readily available on other platforms. Whether you’re interested in discussing business-related topics, the birth of a new baby and an introduction to your family, figuring out what you’ll need to know to get around town on an upcoming vacation, or just learn the basics, you’re covered.

    The app experience is an exciting whirlwind of swiping, matching, and competing with a timer to get through as much new material as possible. The minimalist illustrations and color changes provide a backdrop that keeps your attention on the task at hand. It’s addicting insofar as it is educational, and although it feels like you’re merely playing a game, you’re building a useful life skill.

    Drops’ functionality is, in part, based on Hungarian psychologist Mihály Csikszentmihályi’s studies of ‘flow’, that feeling you get when you’re so immersed in an activity that you lose track of time. It’s something you experience when you go out dancing, bury yourself in an excellent book, or get into the rhythm with a task at work. The execution of this element in Drops is flawless. As you compete against the timer, blazing through as much material as possible, you become hyper-focused. The message you receive when the time is up is the only indicator that you’re due to return to reality.

    The platform combines a series of exercises so that you’re doing far more than flipping over a flashcard to learn more vocabulary. You do everything from matching to fill in the blank, true or false to a Boggle-like word search as a part of its spaced-repetition based system. It seems like the only thing you don’t do is type. The variety of exercises is an effective way to give the new words you’re learning more than one context – a way to improve retention. With the swipe-based functionality, you can work through the material seamlessly and as you progress, the difficulty of the exercises progresses with you.

    A premium account also offers the opportunity to focus on tough words in its Tough Word Dojo once you study your first fifty words. Using the data collected on how many times you’ve answered questions incorrectly during the normal exercise section, the Dojo rounds up the words that you’ve struggled with most and offers you the opportunity to focus on them. This focus allows you to concentrate on your weaknesses and review a mix of vocabulary (this feature doesn’t focus on a specific theme).

    The vocabulary in Drops is very much noun-focused, but a few relevant verbs are included as a part of each lesson. You don’t learn how to conjugate them or get the chance to give them context, but it’s still a valuable resource. Particularly because it does what it does extremely well.

    For users with a free account, you’re given five minutes of study time every ten hours. It may not seem like much, but for those struggling to make language learning a part of their routine, it’s an excellent start. You get to spend that daily study with a crucial element of language learning success – vocabulary – and you get to have fun while doing it. The result? Developing a love for languages, a desire to learn more in other places and an opportunity to take things further. It’s all about building a strong foundation.

    Beautiful Interface

    Drops uses minimalist design features and detailed illustrations as a part of their functionality to help the learner eliminate the need to use their native language as much as possible. This means that rather than asking you to translate, you’re shown an image and asked to connect it directly to the language that you’re learning. This feature is one of the big characteristics that sets Drops apart from the other leading language learning apps which still, in large part, rely on translation. Using the app gives you five minutes of total immersion, though if needed, pressing and holding your finger over a word or image will give you the translation.

    Boost in Motivation

    When creating a language study habit is as easy as ‘playing‘ with vocabulary for five minutes, twice a day, feeling motivated to learn is a natural outcome. According to one user, “It’s so simple. Instead of playing Candy Crush or Tweeting during my breaks during the day, I play Drops. It’s easy, fun, and my vocabulary is expanding rapidly.” When you enjoy something, you’re more motivated to continue doing it. And Drops undoubtedly makes language learning enjoyable for many learners.

    Visual Progress Tracking

    As you progress through the vocabulary sets, you can track your advancement with a small progress bar that appears beneath the title of each vocabulary section. It’s motivating to see the bar creep towards the 100% mark and to watch all of the bars add up as you work through the various word lists.

    Audio from Native Speakers

    One of the biggest complaints when it comes to language learning apps are that they use poor quality audio or computer-generated voices. Paying voice actors who are native speakers of the language can be pricey – especially when you’re developing an app that offers a large number of languages. When it came to this feature, however, Drops spared no expense. Each of the courses includes high-quality audio recordings of every word read by a native speaker.


    For those who speak more than one language, Drops offers the ability to practice language laddering. Laddering is where you study one language through another. So, for instance, if you’re an intermediate French speaker and beginning German learner, you can learn German through French. This means that, rather than seeing the translations in English, you’ll see them in French (if you opt to turn them on).

    Flexible Settings

    For learners looking for a more personalized flashcard experience, Drops has several settings that enable you to tailor the app’s functionalities to your level and preferences. Learning Japanese but you still don’t have the writing system figured out? No problem, you can take it a step at a time starting out with the romanization turned on while using Hiragana only, then transition to no romanization and then Kana + Kanji whenever you’re ready. If you’re learning Chinese, you can modify the writing system so that it uses either simplified or traditional characters. You can also turn English translations on or off.

    Additionally, you can change the following features to get the best experience using Drops:

    • Select your learning style. The options are business, romantic, traveler or enthusiast. Changing this setting arranges the words lists so that they appear in an order most relevant to your goals. In this section, you can also select your gender so that the vocabulary you learn is tailored to you (in different languages word choice and word forms change according to gender). Most resources are targeted towards male learners, so it’s nice to see an app that tailors vocabulary to a wider audience.
    • Premium subscribers can change the session length. While free users are limited to five-minute study sessions, premium users are able to set their study sessions to five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes, or unlimited.
    • You can turn the audio on or off. Want to enjoy the dings and fanfare effects without the pronunciation? Or perhaps you just want to test your ability to read in a new writing system without hearing the word first. With Drops, you can turn the pronunciation on or off.
    • You can also turn the sound effects on or off. Perhaps the celebratory noises produced by the app are more distracting than motivating for you. If this is the case, you can mute them while still getting to hear the pronunciation.
    • You can set the phone to vibrate when you get answers right or wrong. It’s extra confirmation that you’re making connections as you study new words – especially since everything is swipe-based. But if you prefer not to use this feature, it too can be deactivated.
    • Choose your skill level. If you already know some of the language, you can choose to start at the ‘intermediate’ level. When doing this, Drops drops you into the more advanced vocabulary and automatically turns off some of the aids like ‘show English’ and ‘Romanization’. For languages like Japanese, this means it defaults to Kana + Kanji rather than Hiragana. If this seems a little too advanced for you, you can also use the default settings for a beginning learner.

    Room to Grow

    Even with its gorgeous interface and useful word lists, Drops has room for improvement. To start, there isn’t a way to monitor your consistency as a premium user. A short time back, Drops featured a table that showed your daily progress. It included how many words you learned, how many days in a row you had studied, and it was a great way to stay both accountable and motivated. The app still includes several statistics, but because one of its biggest selling points is that it helps you build a language learning habit, having some way to track that habit is important. More varied and detailed statistics on your learning would definitely add to the experience of using the app.

    For those interested in multiple languages, it’s not always clear which dashboard you’re in. Are you in the French vocabulary list or Hebrew? Without going into your settings or actually starting a lesson, you have no idea which language you’re logged into. And once you open a vocabulary list, the timer commences counting down and you start to lose precious time. With Drops, what you do during those five minutes really counts. There’s no room for error.

    Second, for the time being, you’re not given the option to create or import your own personalized word lists. While having vocabulary selected for you is a nice way to take a major task off your plate, this is a desirable feature for many language learners. When it comes to picking up a new language, learning “you-specific” vocabulary is important. In order to get the most out of your language studies, you want to spend time with the words and grammar you’re most likely to use. And the best way to ensure you do this is by curating your word lists. A feature that Drops does not yet include.

    Finally, you aren’t able to preview the words included in each vocabulary list and knowing how to mute words that aren’t relevant takes a little detective work. Again, having the power to decide which vocabulary you spend time learning is conducive to getting the most out of the hours you put in. With Drops, if you forget (or don’t realize that you need) to drop the word onto the ‘x’ when it is first introduced, it isn’t until you scroll through your learned word list that you can swipe right to “hide” or “unhide” words that you don’t really need or those you already know really well (so they don’t come up for review).

    These, of course, are features the developers are currently at work improving, along with a whole slew of recently and soon-to-be-released options. Teaching learners vocabulary on a beautifully designed and well-curated platform is only a part of what Drops offers.

    From here, they have plans to continue to make vocabulary learning even more immersive and fun through a combination of augmented reality and other features.

    Can Five Minutes of Language Study a Day Work?

    One of the biggest criticisms of Drops is that five minutes a day just isn’t enough. It’s a fair assessment. If you’re looking to go deep with a language, or to learn fairly quickly, Drops alone isn’t a complete solution. But it isn’t trying to be.

    Drops aims to do one important thing well – provide an interactive and enjoyable method for acquiring vocabulary. They are extremely successful at accomplishing this.

    There are people who would argue that you won’t get far with a vocabulary-only language learning app, but you can’t get far without a strong foundation either. Focusing on building a strong vocabulary gives you that foundation, something to build grammar rules and speaking or comprehension skills on, and a ton of confidence, too. In short, Drops is the perfect place to start when learning a language. It will not only set you up for greater successes in the future, but it will make learning a new language an enjoyable activity and thus, a habit.

    Making language learning routine aside, does the app actually help you learn the language? Short answer: yes.

    There are countless reasons why studying a language has the reputation of being boring or difficult. Traditional learning methods are often laborious and tedious, and other resources on the market promise ‘quick’ and ‘easy’ learning without delivering. Drops is an exception to the rule, offering an experience that supports quickly building a strong vocabulary in a new language in a way that is entertaining, engaging, and effective. Highly recommended.

    Drops is currently available for iOS mobile devices through the App Store as well as on Android through Google Play.

    An announcement… 

    After writing this review, I spent a lot of time trying out Drops and I loved it so much I decided to join the Drops family. I am excited to announce that I am now working with them as their Resident Polyglot. If you’d like to see how my learning with the app went, you can see how I used Drops to learn Hungarian.

    What about you?

    Have you tried Drops? What did you think? 

    I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

    September 20, 2018 • Language Resources • Views: 702