Language Resources

  • Language Learning Reading Challenge (in Partnership with Women in Language)

    The last several years, I’ve run the Language Learning Reading Challenge. Each month, we’ve read books that followed different themes or prompts, while chatting about them in the comments and Facebook group.

    This year, during Women in Language 2020, there was a lively, inspiring discussion about reading, research, and an incredible list of book recommendations came out of the conversation. And as one of the co-founders and co-organizers of Women in Language, I realized the need to adapt the Language Learning Reading Challenge into something more.

    It’s now both the WIL Book Club and the Language Learning Reading Challenge. This year, in addition to offering monthly prompts, I’ll share regular book recommendations, further reading, and so much more.

    Join the Facebook group here.

    What does the new Language Learning Reading Challenge Look Like?

    In partnership with Women in Language, the Language Learning Reading Challenge is going to have a few new features as well as carry over some of the legacy features.

    Here’s what’s happening:

    • Every month will have a theme and you can select any book you like that fits the theme to read as a part of the Language Learning Reading Challenge.
    • We’ll have a collection of recommended reading material and discussions going as a part of the Women in Language Book Club.
    • Regular read togethers hosted by community members where you can jump on a call and read with other language book lovers.
    • You’ll get to hang out and chat with a cool community on either Facebook or Goodreads (or both!).
    • And more to come!

    October 2020 Book Theme for the Language Learning Reading Challenge

    Read a book written by a female (or non-binary) author.

    Since September is just ten days away from being done, we’ll start WIL Book Club off in October (besides, I know many of you are busy catching up on and enjoying the talks at Women in Language!).

    For October, we’ll read a book by a female author. It can be in your native language, but you’ll get bonus points for reading a book in one of your target languages or for reading a book about your language written by a woman!

    Current Book Recommendations for the Women in Language Book Club

    Here is the current list of book recommendations to come out of Women in Language 2020. These will also be shared on Goodreads.

    Other Things You Should Know About the Language Learning Reading Challenge and Women in Language Book Club

    Each month, we’ll tackle one book 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.

    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.

    And that’s it! Looking forward to hearing all about what you’re reading.

    September 26, 2020 • Eurolinguiste, Language Resources • Views: 37

  • All Documented Language Learning Projects on Eurolinguiste

    Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to complete a variety of language learning projects. I aimed to sit the HSK 4 exam after a year of studying Chinese. I’ve sought to see how much Icelandic I could learn en route to the country without learning a word of the language prior. I’ve also completed several Fluent in 3 Month Challenges and have studied languages as a part of 90 Days with Drops.

    I’ve documented many of these, but before now, they weren’t easy to locate or follow. With this collection, I hope to change that.

    Now, you can find all of my documented language learning projects in one place.

    Learning Persian with Drops

    Raising My Kids In My Second Language

    My Hebrew Project

    My Hindi Language Project

    My Icelandic Project

    Learning Hungarian with Drops

    Korean for the Fi3M Challenge

    Japanese for the Fi3M Challenge

    Bonus: 100+ Conversational Words & Phrases in Japanese

    Korean Language Project with Lindsay Does Languages

    Bonus: 100+ Conversational Words & Phrases in Korean and Video

    Learning Russian

    Bonus: 100+ Conversation Words & Phrases in Russian

    Learning Mandarin Chinese to Pass the HSK 4 Exam

    Bonus: 100+ Conversational Words & Phrases in Chinese

    Italian Language Refresh

    Learning Spanish

    Croatian for the Fi3M Challenge

    Bonus: 100+ Conversational Words & Phrases in Croatian

    What about you?

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

    September 26, 2020 • Language Project, Language Resources • Views: 344

  • Join the Language Learning Community at Women in Language

    Language learning can be lonely.

    There’s a lot of work you do on your own even if you regularly meet with a language tutor or exchange partner.

    And finding other people who share your passion and enthusiasm for learning new languages? Not always easy.

    Next week, Lindsay Williams, Kerstin Cable, and I are hosting Women in Language for the third time. It’s an event we put together to champion, celebrate, and amplify women’s voices in the language field.

    It’s four days of inspiring talks, panels, chat, and this year, we’re even adding two language exchange sessions.

    And now, more than ever given our current global situation, finding places where we can reach out, connect, and learn is more important than ever.

    Get your ticket to Women in Language 2020. (Sept 17-20, 2020)

    Women in Language -- an online language learning event

    Why Women in Language

    Many online conferences call for papers. That means that those who submit papers and present at these events are people who have the confidence and experience to submit proposals. Not always, but in a significant number of cases.

    But what about those who may be intimidated by the thought of submitting a proposal? Or are afraid of being rejected? Or don’t have the means or ability to travel to an event?

    They often end up not having the opportunity to share their stories, their research or their voices at these events.

    And that’s why Lindsay, Kerstin and I created Women in Language. To provide a platform where these lesser heard voices can be heard.

    Rather than call for papers, we brainstorm throughout the year and ask for recommendations from our event attendees. We keep a running list and when we start putting Women in Language together, reach out to potential speakers.

    This means we’re able to invite speakers you wouldn’t usually hear from, putting together a program of experts, researchers, learners, educators, and enthusiasts packed with new perspectives and voices.

    This year, we have more than 30 speakers across four tracks:

    • Language Mastery
    • Dream Teams
    • Living and Working in Languages
    • All the Language Feels (psychology-related topics)

    Get your ticket to Women in Language 2020. (Sept 17-20, 2020)

    Women in Language -- an online language learning event

    Why Should You Attend Women in Language?

    1 It’s open to everyone

    The “women” in Women in Language refers to the speakers and organizers. Everyone is invited to join us at the event. Regardless of how you identify, you’re welcome at Women in Language and we’d love for you to join us for four incredible days of learning.

    And because the event is open to everyone, a lot of interesting conversations happen in the chat! It’s an exciting opportunity to connect and learn!

    2 You’ll meet amazing people

    One of the things we love about Women in Language is the community. Year after year the event Facebook group and live chats are filled with positive, uplifting, and encouraging conversations. New friendships are formed, language exchange partners are met, and new collaborations are set up.

    3 You’ll learn loads about languages

    Over the four days, we have two panels and numerous talks. Can’t make one of the talks at the time it’s happening live? No problem! When you get a ticket to Women in Language, you get access to the event indefinitely and all the talks are recorded. That means, you can always watch the talks when you’re able.

    4 There’s a chance to win language prizes

    With the purchase of your ticket to Women in Language, you’re automatically entered into a raffle, getting the chance to win one of three prize packages. This year, we have donations from LingQ, Fluent in 3 Months, Drops, and more. Each of the prizes include hundreds of dollars of language products.

    5 You can attend from anywhere in the world

    Women in Language is an online event. That means you can attend from anywhere in the world if you have internet access. You can join us from home, on the beach, or from the patio of your favorite café (just be sure you practice safe social distancing!).

    6 You can practice your languages

    During the event, we’re hosting two Speak Easy sessions. This is something Lindsay, Kerstin, and I took from something else we run together (Language League). And basically, it’s an online language exchange/meet-up. You’ll join potentially hundreds of other learners and get put into a group organized by the language you want to practice and have an hour to chat away in your languages!

    7 You can nominate speakers you want to hear from in the future

    At the end of each event, we ask attendees to nominate speakers they’d like to hear from for future Women in Language events. So if there’s a female speaker you’d love to hear from, you can let us know and there’s a good chance we’ll invite them to a future Women in Language.

    8 You get the chance to ask language experts your questions live

    At the end of each talk, we hold a Q&A session with the speaker. You’ll be able to ask questions in the chat and Lindsay, Kerstin and I will share them with our speakers. So if you have anything you’ve been itching to know or ask, Women in Language gives you the chance to do just that!

    9 You’re supporting Girl Up

    Each year, Women in Language donates 10% of profits to a charity. This year, we’re donating to Girl Up, an organization that works to improve girls’ rights and provide opportunities for girls to become future leaders.

    Ready to join us? Get your ticket to Women in Language 2020.

    The Details About Women in Language

    Tickets to Women in Language are $29 for the four day event.

    It’s happening live September 17-20, 2020.

    But if you’re unable to attend it live, you can still watch the recordings of the talks if you purchase your ticket before September 20th. When you get a ticket, you have indefinite access to the event. That means you can join us live, watch the recordings at a later time, or even do both!

    Tickets are only on sale until the last day of the event, so don’t miss out on joining us!

    Get your ticket to Women in Language 2020. (Sept 17-20, 2020)

    Have questions? Let me know in the comments!

    September 11, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 354

  • How to Learn Persian: My Persian Language Project Update

    Three weeks ago I started learning my fourteenth languages, Persian. I promised regular updates on my methods, progress, and I’ll even do my best to break down exactly what I do each and every day to learn the Persian language.

    So let’s jump right in.

    Here’s where I was at on Day 0:

    And here’s where I was at about two weeks later. (The video says Day 30 but I started the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge late and recorded my Day 30 video early).

    My Daily Language Learning Routine: What I Do Each Day to Learn Persian

    To learn Persian, there are a few things I do every day:

    My Daily Routine to Learn Persian

    Complete 6,000 points on Memrise.

    If I have words to review, I’ll do this first. Then, any leftover time I’ll spend learning new words.

    Where do these words come from? They’re primarily the vocab and phrases that come up during my lessons. But if I come across anything useful while doing other activities (listening to podcasts, watching Youtube videos, etc.), I add them to my flashcards as well.

    When do I do this? I squeeze this into the day whenever I can. Sometimes it’s while I’m a passenger in the car. Other times it’s the last thing I do before bed. Some days it’s while my kids are doing karate. And it’s even while I watch tv on occasion.

    Listen to 30 minutes of Pimsleur.

    I’m currently nearing the end of Level I of Pimsleur. I’ve needed to repeat a few lessons to make sure I fully grasp the new material. And I already have Level II ready to go.

    When do I do this? Whenever I’m in the car or on a walk. And sometimes while I’m doing chores.

    Complete 5-15 minutes in Drops.

    Drops is a good way for me to review some of the thematic vocabulary that comes up during my lessons. It’s also proven to be an engaging way to get introduced to new words I wouldn’t have come across in other contexts.

    When do I do this? The same rules apply for when I do Memrise. But I do try to do Drops when I can listen to the audio because it’s read by native speakers and helps me with my own pronunciation.

    My Weekly Routine to Learn Persian

    Have 1 Persian lesson on Preply.

    Every week I have a lesson with my Persian tutor on Preply. (Here’s the link to her profile directly.) We go over topics I’m likely to discuss in Persian with friends and she does an amazing job letting me guide the lessons but also steps in when I need a little more guidance.

    I put together a complex sentence correctly on my own which led to a discussion about how many languages I’ve studied. I couldn’t help but grab a screenshot of the interaction!

    What I Can Currently Do in Persian

    According to Preply’s CEFR scale, based on the number of lessons I’ve done, I’m slowly creeping towards an A1. This, of course, doesn’t take into consideration all of the work I’m doing outside of lessons. My self-evaluation would be that I’m a solid A1 on my way to A2.

    Currently, I can introduce myself, talk about my work, things that interest me and my family, and do some other basic things in the Persian language.

    I still don’t have a huge vocabulary, Drops says I know just over 200 words and I’ve learned all 155 words and phrases currently stored in Memrise (though I have a lot more to add).

    What My Future Plans Are to Learn Persian

    Now that I’m over the newbie hurdle in Persian, it’s time for me to start really digging in.

    Up until this point, I’ve been using romanization to get by, take notes, and figure things out. I want to start diving into coursebooks, however, so I’m due to start learning to read and write in Persian.

    I picked up a copy of Judith Meyer’s Persian Script Hacking and will be using this as my primary resource to learn to read and write.

    Once I’m comfortable with the Persian alphabet, I’ll start digging into the course books I purchased. They are:

    And once I’ve gotten through these, other coursebooks I’m interested in evaluating are:

    A Summary of My Persian Learning Strategies

    Overall, I’ve been very consistent in my Persian studies. (You can follow me on Instagram to see daily reports of my progress!)

    I also take every opportunity I can to practice the language. We have new neighbors who speak Persian and they’ve been gracious enough to let me practice with them. I also send my video recordings to a friend from karate for feedback. And I also do some grocery shopping at our local Persian market because even if I don’t practice the language with anyone there, I get to hear music in the language and look at labels in Persian.

    If you have any questions about how I’m learning Persian, please let me know! I’m happy to add more detail on any part of my learning process. Just leave me a comment below.

    September 3, 2020 • Language Project, Language Resources • Views: 468

  • 11 of the Most Inspirational Language Learning Quotes

    Learning a new language and looking for a bit of inspiration? Look no further.

    I put together this collection of my favorite quotes about learning a new language or language learning in general. Here are 11 inspiring quotes about learning a new language.

    One does not inhabit a country; one inhabits a language. That is our country, our fatherland – and no other.

    One does not inhabit a country; one inhabits a language. That is our country, our fatherland – and no other.

    Language shapes the way we think and determines what we can think about.
    BENJAMIN LEE WHARF, American Linguist

    A language has very little that is arbitrary in it, very little betokening the conscious power and action of man. It owes its origin, not to the thoughts and the will of individuals, but to an instinct actuating a whole people: it expresses what is common to them all: it has sprung out of their universal wants, and lives in their hearts. But after a while in intellectual aristocracy come forward, and frame a new language of their own. The princes and lords of thought shoot forth their winged words into regions beyond the scan of the people. They require a gold coinage, in addition to the common currency.
    JULIUS CHARLES HARE, Guesses at Truth

    The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.

    In the acquisition of languages by direct study, where time can be afforded for the purpose, it is found that several languages, belonging to the same family–as the Latin, Italian, and Spanish, for instance–can be acquired together, almost as easily and rapidly, as either of them can be acquired separately, and with far less chance of their being lost from the memory of disuse. By finding the roots in the parent tongue, and by tracing the growth from these roots outward into different tongues, as it were genealogically, it is found that they descend and spread according to certain organic laws of modification and growth.
    HORACE MANN, Thoughts

    No language is justly studied merely as an aid to other purposes. It will in fact better serve other purposes, philological or historical, when it is studied for love, for itself.
    J. R. R. TOLKIEN, “English and Welsh,” The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays

    No language is justly studied merely as an aid to other purposes. It will in fact better serve other purposes, philological or historical, when it is studied for love, for itself.

    Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.

    Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.

    Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.

    Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.

    To have another language is to possess a second soul.

    To have another language is to possess a second soul.

    One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.

    One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.

    If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.

    If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.

    What’s your favorite quote about language?

    August 17, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 682

  • How Learning a Language is Like Eating Cookies

    This month I am honoured to feature a guest post from Jarvis1000 from I Want 2 Speak Thai, a linguist fluent in Thai and English and learning Spanish. I admire Jarvis1000 greatly because he is able to excellently balance his family, a job and language learning (something I one day inspire to do as well!). All this goes without saying that in addition to his already busy schedule, he still finds time to write inspiring posts on learning languages.

    He no longer has a blog, but I really enjoyed his posts when he did!

    How Learning a Language is Like Eating Cookies

    When I was 19 years old, I did like many young men in my church and became a missionary. I spent two years of my early adult life in “AMAZING THAILAND” and came back fluent in Thai. Fast forward 10 years and I am now a 30 something married father of 4 kids. I work 40+ hours a week along with my other responsibilities as a father. On top of all that I am learning Spanish. Though there are many things I learned about language learning in Thailand, learning how to apply them to my current situation has been totally different.

    How learning language is like eating cookies | Jarvis1000

    Learning a foreign language is like eating a tim tam slam I am sure most of you know what an Oreo Cookie is. A childhood is not complete without dunking an Oreo cookie in milk every so often.

    On the other hand, you may or may not have heard of a Tim Tam. I was introduced to Tim Tams by my wife, who is from New Zealand. It’s a cookie (or a ‘biscuit’ as my wife would call it) that is made of too thin chocolate wafers with a chocolate crème filling. The entire thing is then coated in chocolate.

    When my wife introduced Tim Tams to me it wasn’t just, “here’s a Tim Tam.” She introduced them to me as a “Tim Tam Slam.”

    A Tim Tam Slam is done by first preparing a hot chocolate beverage of your choice. Then, after biting little bites on each side of the Tim Tam, you use the Tim Tam as a straw to suck up the hot chocolate into the biscuit. Once saturated, you tilt your head back and let the warm chocolate goodness fall into your mouth and enjoy. It’s one of the greatest chocolaty pass times I have ever experienced!

    What does that have to do with language learning?

    For me, learning Thai in Thailand was like having a Tim Tam Slam. When you suck up that hot chocolate, you have committed to eating that whole thing with all you have in you. You can’t go back, you NEED to eat that thing or make a horrible mess otherwise. Immersion commits you to learning the language. When you do eat it, though it might be a bit overwhelming for a moment, you eventually just sit back and embrace immersion for what it is!

    Right now, I am not learning Spanish in an immersive environment. I don’t NEED to learn Spanish. In fact, it can be difficult to find opportunities in my regular day-to-day life to use it. Learning Spanish is less like a Tim Tam Slam and more like dunking Oreo’s in Milk. No matter how much I want to learn, I will never be able to be as committed to it as if I lived or worked in an immersive environment.

    There is another way I have notice that it is like dunking Oreo’s. If I put it in and out too quickly, it’s basically pointless even dunking it. On the other hand, if I put it in too long the cookie crumbles and falls to the bottom of the milk, ruining the cookie and the milk in the processes. When I learn something, I need to do it in such away as to keep my confidence and motivation going long enough to actually get something done. At the same time, if I try to do too much I lose all confidence and motivation to do anything at all.

    So how does one do that?

    There are many things one can do, but that are a few tips and trick that I have learned on the way.

    Set a plan/system. I have created a system that I follow day in and day out. I use a combination of input and output activities as well as both structured and unstructured activities to help me. The most important thing is that you should never wonder to yourself, “What am I going to do this week?”

    Be Flexible. Nothing will ever go as you plan. Adapt. As you start getting better at certain things, you will find it is no longer useful to practice the language in one way or another. Don’t fret about it; just go with the flow and change.

    Find as many opportunities to talk out loud. Talk to the wall or your steering wheel. Don’t know how to say what you want to say yet? Do what you know and fill in the rest with your native language. Don’t know the past tense yet? Just use the present tense for now and just use a lot of context words like already or yesterday. Some will say that you will “create bad habits.” Let me ask you, have you ever known an adult who was stuck saying “pasgetti” all of their life because they didn’t know how to say it as a kid? Me neither. Just talk!

    Don’t just learn a language, live it. Learn how to say and talk about what you already do everyday. If you like Sports, then learn the Sports words you need. I mean everything, so you can listen to a play-by-play announcer and listen to commentator talk about player contracts. Don’t just learn how to say your profession, learn every detail of your profession in your language.

    Don’t worry if you can’t do all you want to do right away. Its baby steps. To paraphrase a bad joke, how do you eat a packet of Oreo cookies? One dunk at a time.

    August 16, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 762

  • 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: 889

  • 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: 1116

  • 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: 736

  • 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


    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.


    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.


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


    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: 624