Language Resources

  • 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: 1231

  • 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: 844

  • 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: 731

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

    The following is a guest post.

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

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

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

    Why You Need to Improve Comprehension

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

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

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

    Tips to Improve English Comprehension

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

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

    Learn Vocabulary

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

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

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

    Read Everyday

    Speaking of reading comprehension and developing reading skills!

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

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

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

    Watch TV Shows & Movies

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

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

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

    Listen to Podcasts

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

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

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

    Talk to Someone

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

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

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


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

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

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

    July 13, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 830

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

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

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

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

    Music is a Universal Language to Understanding

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

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

    Pronunciation is More Pronounced

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

    Singing Helps Strengthen Your Accent

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

    Research Backs it Up

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

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

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

    Singing Lessons Give You More Than Speech Class Does

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

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

    Sing Songs at a Slow Pace

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

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

    The above is a guest post contributed by Donna Maurer.

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

    July 6, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 1113

  • 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: 1274

  • Martial Arts Vocabulary in Korean: How to Talk About Taekwondo 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: 2099

  • The Best Free Language Learning Apps in 2020

    Given the current situation, many of us have more time at home and on our own. You likely have a list of tasks you’d like to catch up on at home–cleaning, organizing, finally wheedling through that stack of books you’ve always wanted to get to… or maybe to finally start learning a new language. Or to just make the time to continue learning the language you already started.

    If that’s the case, you’re in the right place.

    Best Language Learning Apps

    Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to test out a variety of language learning apps and here are the best language learning apps I’ve come across during that time.

    Memrise — learn new vocabulary and basic grammar

    Memrise started out as a vocabulary learning app exclusively, but have since expanded. You can still use Memrise for free if you’d like to learn new words, but if you’d like to try out their courses, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription.

    That said, they’re still one of the best language learning platforms out there if you like to make and study your own flashcards (I certainly do). Using this feature is free as are the community decks.

    Try Memrise.

    Drops — learn thousands of new words

    Full disclosure, I work for Drops. But I was a fan of this vocabulary learning app long before I became affiliated with the company. I originally featured them in a post on language learning activities you can do when pressed for time, and it’s the only language learning app I currently use on a daily basis.

    You get 5 minutes for free every ten hours. It’s an engaging, fun, and visually-memorable way to learn new words in a language and build a strong foundation.

    Try Drops.

    Duolingo — pick up the basics of a new language

    Duolingo is one of the most popular language learning apps out on the market today. It helps you learn new vocabulary and basic grammar, though its methods are somewhat unconventional and there’s even a Twitter channel dedicated to it.

    Try Duolingo.

    Google Translate — get translations on the fly

    Google Translate is an incredible tool, even if it’s translations still have room for improvement. I use it in a variety of ways–to get quick translations to or from a foreign language, to scan text so I can import it into LingQ (see below), to test my pronunciation using the microphone tool… The options are endless.

    Try Google Translate.

    Clozemaster — contextual language learning

    Clozemaster is an app that uses cloze, another way of saying “fill in the blank” to help you learn a new language through context. They offer a wide range of languages–including languages like Breton and Croatian!

    Try Clozemaster.

    The Best Paid Language Learning Apps You Can Try for Free

    The following language apps require paid subscriptions but offer free trials so you can test them out.

    LingQ — read and listen to your new language

    LingQ is a paid app, but you can try it out for free on a limited basis. The free trial isn’t really enough to get a good sense of how LingQ works if I’m being totally honest. But I can assure you that it’s worth upgrading your account if it works for your budget. It’s one of my favorite language learning apps out there.

    Try LingQ.

    Pimsleur — build listening comprehension and speaking skills

    Pimsleur started out as an audio course that was pretty cost-inhibitive (around $350 per level). Recently, however, they introduced a subscription model that makes using this audio course much more affordable. It’s $14.95/month (at the time of writing), but you can try it out for 7-days before making the commitment.

    Try Pimsleur.

    FluentU — use video to learn a new language

    Want to dive right into native source material in your language? FluentU uses videos on Youtube in a variety of languages to teach you new vocabulary and phrases in a language. You can try it out with a 14-day free trial. After that, it’s $20-30/month.

    Try FluentU.

    March 17, 2020 • Language Resources • Views: 1872

  • Best Gifts for Language Learners

    It’s holiday season and I’m sure your inbox has been flooded with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. How do you decide which tools are right for you with so many amazing choices?

    Here are a few of my favorite choices and some of the items on my holiday wishlist:

    Best Gifts for Language Learners This Holiday Season

    The Fluent in 3 Months Bundle

    Fluent in 3 Months is currently offering 85% off their Black Friday Collection. This includes The Fluent in 3 Months Challenge, a 90-day challenge that helps you build the confidence and skill you need to have a 15-minute conversation in your new language (ps. I’m the Head Coach!). It also includes a Travel Hacking Workshop with Benny Lewis, Conversation Countdown, and Easy Languages. And it’s just $97! The Fluent in 3 Months Challenge is normally priced at $247 so this is a killer deal.

    You can sign up for the Fluent in Months Bundle here.

    Olly Richards’ Uncovered Courses

    I recently took Olly’s German Uncovered course and was really impressed not only with the amount of content available within in the course, but the quality of the content. You’re guided from beginning to intermediate, learning tons of important vocabulary and grammar along the way. It’s currently available for French, German, Italian and Spanish and is discounted 67%.

    You can sign up for the courses here. 


    Drops is my favorite way to learn new words for many of the languages that I study (they have more than 35 languages available). You can spend just five minutes a day with the app and learn several thousand words and phrases.

    You can sign up for Drops Premium here. (Or if you’d like to get a gift for your friend, here)

    Language Learning Accelerator

    My course Language Learning Accelerator, normally priced $147 is now available for $97. It’s an in-depth course on time management and energy management in language learning. If you’ve ever felt that you don’t have the time or energy to learn a language, this course will help you discover you do, in fact, have both!

    Get Language Learning Accelerator 


    One of my favorite audio courses is put together by Pimsleur. I’ve used it for every language I’ve learned, especially because it allows me to make good use of all the time I spend commuting. They’re currently offering 50% off their audio program.

    Up to 50% OFF CDs + 25% OFF Digital with Code: BESTDEAL

    Language Learning Notebooks

    A while back, I designed these fun language learning notebooks. They make great, affordable gifts for language learners!

    Get the notebooks.  

    What about you? What’s on your holiday wishlist? Let me know in the comments below!

    November 27, 2019 • Language Resources • Views: 823


    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 Fi3M Challenge 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!

    November 27, 2019 • Language Project, Language Resources • Views: 916