• The Top 5 Tools I Use to Keep My Language Projects and Resources Organized

    When I first started studying languages on my own, I was constantly distracted by the next, new, shiny thing. I’d purchase a coursebook, start to work through it and then stumble across a web-based language learning tool. Immediately, my attention would shift and I’d dive into the new resource, abandoning the first. 

    Eventually, I’d reach the stage where the material grew challenging. I, of course, would let it intimidate me. So again, I’d set the resource aside and look for something new and fun – something that didn’t take the same effort as the resource I had been using. 

    The result?

    I’d try out a bunch of interesting and diverse resources, but I’d never make it very far with the languages that I was learning. While it was enjoyable – I do like the process of language learning – it didn’t align with my goals. I wanted to get to a decent level with the languages I was learning, so something needed to change. And fast.

    I decided to change the way that I approached language learning and I’m extremely happy with the result. I went from an unfocused language dabbler to someone with conversational abilities in several languages. Creating an organized language learning system helped me become a more productive language learner.

    How I Organize My Language Studies

    Recently, I’ve shared a bit about my efforts to minimize and better organize my language learning routine and resources. And I’ve discovered that setting up a system in advance (rather than figuring it out as I went) helped me to make better use of both my materials and routines. Being organized made me much more efficient as a language learner. 

    How do I organize my language learning materials?

    I use a combination of physical and digital resources to keep track of everything. And while what I do may vary slightly from language to language, these are the tools that I use consistently and without fail to help keep my language learning organized.


    Assessing Your Language Skills to Build a Better Learning Plan Using Those Assessments | Eurolinguiste

    This is the most important tool that I use. I keep a notebook for each language that I study. In it, I:

    • Jot down any phrases or vocabulary words that I think might be useful
    • Try out different exercises from the materials I’m working with
    • Store my scripts for conversations or videos
    • Note any questions that I have as I work through new resources

    By doing this, I not only have a single place where all of my questions and notes are stored, but I also have proof of my progress in the language. 

    If I ever feel stuck, or that I’m not making any progress, reviewing my notes is an easy way to see just how far I’ve come in the language. When you look back at your past notes, it’s easy to see how much of what you didn’t know in the past is something that you now know well.

    When I get to the end of a notebook, the first thing I do is I distill the material in it. In the past, I would copy over any words or phrases that I felt were still relevant into a new notebook. This meant that I would skip over words I was comfortable with and those that I no longer considered important. Today, I copy those words directly into Memrise where I can then focus on studying them and remembering them.


    Memrise is a web and application-based study tool. It’s where I study vocabulary and I find that it’s spaced-repetition software extremely helpful to my learning. I use both pre-generated material (Memrise has several great language courses that they created) and my own flashcard decks. The software tells me when and what I need to review, so all I need to do is use the app each day.


    Evernote is my digital notebook. If I’m out and about and don’t have a notebook with me, Evernote is where I store my language notes. It’s also where I store my ideas for blog posts here on Eurolinguiste! Using Evernote, I can create voice memos, video memos or written memos and I can even email documents to my tutors or exchange partners through the application.


    Teuxdeux is a very simple and intuitive to-do application that allows you to create and modify a daily list. It gives you a five-day view and allows to you can move items around and jump ahead to assign future tasks. In my opinion, however, the best part is that it automatically transfers unfinished tasks to the next day.

    In it, I write down what language activities I have going on – my lessons, my exchanges, what specific study task I’d like to do that day, and recurring to-do’s for study habits I’m still refining.

    Teuxdeux also gives you a panel at the bottom called “someday” for those tasks you need to complete, but you just don’t know when you’ll get around to them. Teuxdeux was free when I started using it, but they now charge either a subscription fee.


    Asana is a project management tool and it’s where I store three things:

    1. What I am currently working on // I list the resources that I am currently working with and the links (if needed) to one card on my Asana Kanban board so that I always know where I’ve left off.
    2. What I want to work on // So that I don’t spread myself across too many different resources, I save other tools I’d like to study with in a checklist on Asana.
    3. My shared Google Docs with my tutors // Many of my tutors use Google Docs for our lessons. So that I can quickly find the documents for our lessons, I store the links in Asana.

    Asana is incredibly user-friendly and I’m able to see what I’m working on at a glance. It also allows me to see which resources I’ve used (very useful for online resources which are easy to lose track of). I can also sort my languages by priority easily (just drag and drop), so whatever is most important is within easy reach.

    To Sum Up

    Having a way to stay on top of what’s next for me in language learning is important to making forward progress. It took me some time to settle on a system that works for me, and I will likely continue to refine it to work even better. Keeping all of my notes and resources organized allows me to work through them systematically. That way, I don’t keep repeating the same material over and over again with different tools. Instead, I can be more selective and better diversify my learning experience. 

    What are some different tools you use to keep organized?

    I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

    If you’ve enjoyed this post, you can check out my language learning resources page to learn more about the different tools that I use to learn languages.

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

    Tips for Language Learning | Eurolinguiste

    June 4, 2018 • Language Resources • Views: 1953

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

    This month, I’m entering the end of my Add1Challenge with Korean. It’s my second effort at learning the language and while, to be honest, it’s still one of the languages I’ve struggled with most, it’s all starting to click. 

    I’m glad I decided to come back to it.

    On to #clearthelist

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

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

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

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

    Last Month’s Highlights on Instagram

    A post shared by Shannon Kennedy (@eurolinguiste) on May 29, 2018 at 10:54am PDT

    Last Month’s Blog Highlights


    5 Days in Singapore // 18 amazing experiences for the perfect itinerary.

    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market // Things to Do In Southern California.

    Language Learning

    Japanese Verb Forms // How to conjugate verbs in Japanese.

    So We Meet Again…  // My second attempt at learning Korean & what I’m doing differently.

    Last Month’s Goals

    Continue filling the gaps in my Mandarin vocabulary I’ve noticed since Little Linguist’s arrival. // I did quite a bit of reading in Chinese this month, so I’d definitely count this as a yes.

    Read the next Language Reading Challenge book on my list. // In May, we read recipe or lesson in our target language. I worked with a recipe for onigiri in Japanese.

    Keep working through my YouTube Queue.  // Yes! I got through a surprising amount this month and my list is finally manageable.

    Continue to meet my daily goal on LingQ for Japanese and Russian. // I’ve done this (as well as with Chinese) and even started reading in Korean though I worried I wouldn’t be ready for it. 

    Add1Challenge // Yes, I’ve met my daily study goal every day but one this month.

    This Month’s Goals

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

    Read the next Language Reading Challenge book on my list. // In June, we’re reading a book on learning strategies (any learning strategy, not just language related, but it can be if you like). I’m reading a few things for this and I’ll share more about them in the Facebook group.

    Keep working through my YouTube Queue.  // I’m still aiming to get through as many lessons as possible. While I worked through more than I added this month, I did still add several Korean and Japanese lessons I would like to watch.

    Continue to meet my daily goal on LingQ for Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Russian. // Since I was able to do it last month, I hope to keep it up this month.

    Add1Challenge // I’m really pushing myself doing two languages in the challenge because it’s an intensive project (plus I’m not dropping my Japanese while I’m doing it). I’ll need to dedicate a lot of time to languages the next three months. 

    Resources I Used This Month

    A quick recap on the materials I am using.

    What I Am Using to Learn Chinese

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

    • LingQ
    • Immersion (we speak franglais at home)
    • Listening to French radio/podcasts
    • Lingoci

    What I am Using to Learn Russian:

    What I am Using to Learn Korean:

    What I am Using to Learn Spanish:

    What I am Using to Learn Italian:

    What I’m Using to Learn Japanese:

    What I’m Using for Little Linguist

    Resources That Aren’t Language Specific

    The Biggest Lesson I Am Taking Away from This Month

    That sometimes you just need to stick with it. While I didn’t succeed at Korean the first time around, coming back to it or sticking with it (even if there was a long break in-between), is working for me.

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

    Clear The List Linkup Rules:

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

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

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

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

    5. Share on social media using #ClearTheList
    An InLinkz Link-up

    Set your language learning goals as a part of the Clear the List Link Up hosted by Shannon Kennedy of Eurolinguiste and Lindsay Williams of Lindsay Does Languages #clearthelist
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    May 31, 2018 • Eurolinguiste • Views: 81

  • Learning to Read Kanji as a Chinese Speaker

    When I decided to learn Japanese, I kept hearing and reading one complaint from other Japanese learners:

    “Ugh, Kanji are so hard to learn.”

    “Just wait until you get to Kanji.”

    After learning Chinese, I wondered why Kanji was such an obstacle for so many Japanese learners. Was it because it was yet another writing system on top of Hiragana and Katakana? Was it because Kanji are harder to learn than Chinese characters as a Mandarin language learner? 

    What was it?

    Why Learning Kanji is Hard

    For me, memorizing characters wasn’t the obstacle. I had already built this habit studying Chinese. To learn to read in Chinese, you need to learn the word/pronunciation and then you need to learn to tie that word and its meaning to a character. They’re really separate. At times, it often felt like I could read in Chinese without knowing the language as long as I knew the meaning of the characters. 

    With Japanese, this process was similar. I already knew thousands of Chinese characters – at least in their simplified form – so it wasn’t much of a stretch for me to understand what the Kanji I came across meant when reading. When I tried to tie what I read to speech, however, my difficulties began.

    For the most part, Chinese characters have one or two common readings. Which means when you see a character, you usually only associate it with one or two sounds. With Japanese, however, you have to deal with both –on and -kun readings. This means that any almost every character has a minimum of two ways you can pronounce it. And it can sometimes have as many as four, five, six, eight or more. Yikes.

    It can get confusing to remember whether or not 人 is read nin, jin, hito, or to. When reading, it’s easy to think, “okay, this means ‘man'” but when speaking and referencing something that’s written, well, that’s a different story. For this reason, I often find that I ask my tutors to write everything in Hiragana during our lessons so that my speaking isn’t hindered by the fact I need to stumble through new Kanji readings.

    Particularly because, as a Chinese speaker, I already have certain pronunciations or readings associated with the characters I’m now learning through the lens of Japanese.

    Learning to Read Japanese Kanji | Eurolinguiste

    How I’m Learning Kanji

    When I decided to commit to Japanese, however, I committed to learning it to a decent level. Continuing to ignore Kanji and rely on Hiragana and Katakana won’t cut it for me in the long term, so I’ve developed a few strategies for learning Kanji in a way that makes sense for me personally.

    Here’s a break down of how I approach learning Kanji:

    I learn them as I need them.

    Thus far, I’ve found that learning Kanji on an “as needs” basis is extremely effective. I try to do a little bit of reading in Japanese each day, and doing this naturally exposes me to new Kanji. Because I use LingQ to do my reading, I can quickly mark those words and add them to my flashcards to study at the end of my reading session. This way, I only learn the Kanji I’m actually stumbling across. I find this much more manageable then learning a “what if I come across this” list of Kanji in advance.

    I don’t spend time learning all the readings.

    Again, I learn readings on an “as needs” basis. Because there are so many different readings for Kanji, I prefer to learn just those that I come across. Context makes it much easier for me to memorize the readings that I need, so I feel like it would be a waste of time to memorize several readings outside of any real-life context.

    I don’t worry too much about the stroke order.

    Whenever I write Kanji out by hand, it’s usually because it’s going into my personal notebook. No one else is going to see it, and if they do, they probably won’t notice whether or not I used the right stroke order. Most of the time, I’m typing in Japanese (at least when other people see what I’m writing), so stroke order doesn’t matter at all.

    I accept that it’s an ongoing project.

    I will never be done learning new Kanji. It’s an ongoing process that I’ll go through as I’m learning the Japanese language. There won’t ever be a point that I’ve “arrived”, where I’m done learning Kanji. Even when I know several thousand, I’ll still come across Kanji I’ve never seen before. And I accept that. 

    Learning to Read Japanese Kanji | Eurolinguiste

    Tips for Learning Kanji

    There are several different ways to go about learning Kanji, here are just a few tips to get you started.

    First, and most importantly, be patient with yourself.

    I feel as though many learners feel the need to rush learning their first 2,000 Kanji – those on the Jōyō Kanji list (常用漢字), or regular use Kanji. Unless you need to learn these Kanji for an exam like the JLPT, there’s no reason to rush this or cram learning Kanji. Instead, take your time with it and enjoy the process.

    Practice makes perfect.

    Repetition is the key to learning Kanji. But not in the traditional rote memorization sense of repetition. Instead, spaced-repetition (and exposure to the Kanji in multiple contexts) is a great way to go about it. For me, as I mentioned before, I read using LingQ. This allows me to mark the Kanji that are unfamiliar and I can then export this list to Memrise to study using spaced-repetition.

    Write by hand.

    While I write far less than I once did, I still find writing by hand to be an effective part of the learning process. I feel like I better retain what I learn by writing things out. 

    Find reading material that includes Furigana

    Furigana is this wonderful, magical reading aid available in a wide range of Japanese materials geared towards Japanese learners AND Japanese native speakers. In short, whenever a Kanji character is used, the pronunciation of that character in that particular context is written above the character in small Hiragana characters. There are comics that also include furigana.

    Find materials that support your Kanji learning.

    I’ve tried out a variety of Kanji tools and resources and here are a few of my favorites:

    Japanese Kanji and Kana from Tuttle Publishing // This is my favorite book to reference for Kanji. It includes the most common readings for each character, several vocabulary words that use each Kanji, as well as example sentences and more. I have this book within easy reach so that I can reference it whenever I have a question concerning Kanji. 

    Japanese Kanji for Beginners from Tuttle Publishing // I found this to be a great, simple introduction to Kanji and I poured through it when I started to tackle reading in the language. 

    Remembering the Kanji // This is the book that many Japanese learners swear by. 

    Memrise // Memrise is my favorite flashcard study tool and because they have a fantastic app, it’s always with me. I can study Kanji or other vocabulary anywhere, anytime.

    LingQ // For me, reading in a language is a great way for me to not only improve my vocabulary and understanding but have fun in my language. I love reading, so being able to read in my languages is very important to me. LingQ makes this easy.

    Jisho // Jisho is an online dictionary that you can use by searching the words in Japanese, romaji or even English. When you search a Kanji character, it shows you the meaning, the readings, and even offers a bit of context for each character.

    Why Should You Learn Kanji?

    You don’t need to learn Kanji to speak Japanese fluently. In fact, you can get by just fine without ever learning to read them. But… 

    Being able to read in a language, in my opinion, is an important part of knowing a language. Knowing how to read is an important step, especially after the beginning stages. Many Japanese learning resources assume that you’re learning to read as you learn to speak, so they’re produced under that assumption. If you don’t learn to read, you limit yourself to mostly audio resources which makes the language more difficult to learn.

    Plus, so much more is open to you when you are able to read. Whether it’s Japanese material such as books, films, or comics, or a menu at a local restaurant, or even getting around when visiting the country – knowing how to read is a great way to better enjoy your experiences.

    What about you?

    Are you learning Japanese? How do you tackle Kanji? 

    I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

    May 28, 2018 • Language Resources • Views: 987


    Do you want to learn Russian? Perhaps you find yourself struggling to find resources that help you start speaking.

    When I started out, I certainly did.

    Many of the tools that I found when I started learning Russian were grammar-heavy textbook style resources and they didn’t offer me a lot in terms of day-to-day conversation. Rather than learning how to say “what did you do last weekend?” I had memorized a bunch of rules involving particles or sentence structure and I was nowhere near conversing with my fellow Russian speakers.

    So I decided to put something together on my own so that I could feel more confident engaging in language exchanges.

    And today, I’d like to share it with you.

    In this post you’ll find a short selection of the 100+ conversational phrases and words in Russian I have available as part of a downloadable PDF that you can get by entering your email in the box below.

    Happy Russian language learning!

    Get your free PDF with 100+ Conversational Russian Words and Phrases

    Get the PDF

    Greetings in Russian

     как дела?How are you?
     Как вас зовут?What’s your name?
     очень хорошоvery good/well 

    Basic & Polite Phrases in Russian

     нзвините excuse me
     пожалуйста please, you’re welcome
     спасибо thanks
     да yes
     нет no

    Get the Russian Conversation Rolling

     Каковы ваши планы в эти выходные? What are your weekend plans?
     Как это? How is it?
     Как погода? How’s the weather?
     Как ваша семья? How is your family?
     Что Вы думаете об этом? What do you think about this?

    Getting a Bit of Clarification in Russian

     Я не понимаю! I don’t understand!
     Что это на русском? What is this in Russian?
     Пожалуйста дайте мне… Please give me…
     например for example
     Скажите, пожалуйста…? Tell me please…

    Words About Time in Russian

     Cегодня Today
     Завтра Tomorrow
     Вчера Yesterday
     Каждый день Every day
     Позже Later

    Exclamations & Transition Words to Take Your Russian Speaking to the Next Level

     Отлично. Great
     Нет проблем. No problem
     Это хороший вопросThat’s a good question 
    Удачи  Good luck
     Конечно. Of course

    Conversation Closers

     До скорого! See you later
     Доброй ночи Good evening
     Увидимся See you
     пока, пока Bye

    *Please note that most of the above examples use formal language, assuming that you’re getting to know the person that you’re speaking with. 

    Get your free PDF with 100+ Conversational Russian Words and Phrases

    Get the PDF
    Tips for Language Learning | Eurolinguiste

    Are you learning Russian? What are some phrases that you’ve found useful in your target language? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

    May 27, 2018 • Language Resources • Views: 1701


    With only a few hours before our flight back to California, M and I were whisked away to Lulu’s Bakery to share a three-pound cinnamon roll by my aunt and uncle. We arrived only to discover that the wait was more than an hour; it wouldn’t work. We quickly whipped out our phones, scrolling through alternative options nearby when I stumbled upon Ocho. 

    It was perfect.

    Sitting along the Riverwalk, Ocho served a Mexican fusion breakfast menu and from the photos, the ambiance looked great. Sold. 

    We all hopped back in the car and navigated our way to the parking lot shared by the restaurant and Havana, a 1914 revival hotel. 

    Ocho Restaurant in San Antonio, Texas

    After a short walk around the hotel, through a wide alleyway draped with ivy on either side, you’ll find Ocho. Situated in a glass conservatory, the restaurant offers guests a view of the Riverwalk along with their breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

    At breakfast, the restaurant was fairly quiet, so we were able to choose our table. We opted for one of the tables along the blue velvet upholstered couch that lined the back wall and were almost instantly served our coffees. 

    Between the four of us, we were able to sample a few different dishes:

    • My aunt the Steelcut Oatmeal with rum-soaked dates, local honey, toasted almost, shaved coconut and milk
    • My uncle and M the Breakfast Torta, a sandwich that doesn’t seem to be on the menu any longer
    • While I ordered the Avocado, Bacon & Queso Blanco Omelette with lemon vinaigrette salad 

    The Cuban-inspired menu, while not extensive, has a nice selection. But it’s definitely the location that makes the experience. 

    The elaborate, turquoise chandeliers make an impression, as do the chic leather couches and adorable bistro sets. Plus, it’s air-conditioned despite being “outside”, so it makes for a nice respite from the San Antonio heat.

    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste
    Ocho | Where to Eat in San Antonio, Texas | Eurolinguiste

    Ocho at Havana
    1015 Navarro St
    San Antonio, TX 78205

    What about you?

    Have you ever stumbled across an amazing dining experience in your travels? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

    May 24, 2018 • Travel • Views: 97


    After navigating my way to Wangfujing in Beijing, China, I was greeted with the bustle of hungry bodies, navigating their way through the food stalls that made up this night market. As I made my way down the street, my senses were bombarded with smells, sights, and sounds that were all new. I was hooked. 

    I enjoyed the evening sampling tasty foods and drinks, always curious about the items I didn’t try. I knew that the night market was something I’d miss upon my return to the US.

    But then I discovered the 626 Night Market and it’s smaller, newer counterpart, the OC Night Market. And while they aren’t exactly the same, they’re a close substitute. An evening browsing the stalls certainly leaves me feeling nostalgic.

    The OC Night Market

    Hosted at the Orange County Fairgrounds in the OC Night Market, a newer “taste” of it’s bigger sibling, the 626 Night Market. The vendors feature an assortment of Asian fusion cuisine, milk teas, fresh juice, and even beer. But there’s also a selection of the standard fair fare – there’s always a place for funnel cake.

    I came hungry and left more than full. I sampled everything from my long missed jianbing, Asian-style hotdogs, milk tea and ramen. Kirin served free beer slushies in a tasting cup to cool you down in the summer heat, and as we sat down to consume our findings, I chatted with exchange students from China who shared our table.

    After exploring the food vendors in the outdoor area, we made our way indoors where an assortment of craft vendors sold their wares. There was everything from paintings to stuffed animals, jewelry to trinkets. 

    It was an interesting experience but didn’t quite prepare me for the intensity, size, and crowd at the 626 Night Market.

    Learn More About the OC Night Market.

    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    The 626 Night Market 

    The 626 Night Market is enormous compared to the OC Night Market. Many of the same vendors participate in both events, but the diversity and food selection available at 626 in Arcadia is almost overwhelming. 

    We arrived early to ensure we’d find a parking spot — we left at 9pm and it took us almost an hour to get out of the parking lot! The crowds hadn’t yet arrived (they came following the sunset), so we were able to circle around through the food vendors a couple times before deciding what we wanted, hoping that we wouldn’t miss any of the best items. 

    I ordered a Vietnamese coffee while we considered our options and tried not to drink it too quickly (it was really good!).  

    My friend and I first opted for the garlic crab fries and barbecue squid. Both were delicious and left us almost too full to try anything else. We walked some more while we digested, then decided to share a waffle filled with mochi. 

    We continued to wander and discovered a couple of places that sold pandan cakes and cupcakes, so I bought a few for later – pandan is my weakness! Then headed over to the art vendors where I bought Little Linguist the most adorable toy lion.

    Learn more about the 626 Night Market.

    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    There is now also a NorCal Market for those in Northern California, but I haven’t yet made it out to compare it to the two that are closer to me here in Southern California. Between the two, I highly recommend the 626 Night Market, but both are interesting events and I’m sure they’ll continue to grow. Either way, they are certainly a summer staple for me!

    What about you?

    Do you have any night markets in your area? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

    May 17, 2018 • Culture & Cuisine, Travel • Views: 117

  • So We Meet Again… My Second Attempt to Learn Korean & What I’m Doing Different

    I recently announced that I am revising a language that I studied in the past – Korean

    My first time around with Korean was a struggle. At the time, I was between Japanese and Korean as my next language project, but when my good friend Lindsay of Lindsay Does Language expressed interest in learning Korean alongside me, I chose Korean over Japanese.

    During those six months, I struggled with almost every aspect of the language – the pronunciation, the writing system, the grammar, and nothing seemed to stick. When Lindsay told me she was ready to move on to other language projects, I decided to set Korean aside. I planned to use the time to think about what I wanted to do about Korean – tackle it again or give it up.

    Getting Re-Started with the Korean Language

    Initially, I was certain that I would end up giving up Korean. It seemed as though the language and might not have been a good fit, so I spent a year working on several other languages, including a few new ones. It gave me the chance to experience a couple of big language learning wins and remind myself that just because I wasn’t able to learn Korean, I wasn’t a bad language learner.

    A post shared by Shannon Kennedy (@eurolinguiste) on Apr 23, 2018 at 7:59am PDT

    I started trying to convince myself to let Korean go. I had already done it with German and Arabic, so doing it again shouldn’t have been hard. But there was just something about the language that led me to feel as though I should hang on to it. I couldn’t make a decision.

    Recently, I started learning Japanese – a language that is often compared to Korean in terms of difficulty. My experience with Japanese wasn’t anything like my experience with Korean. I poured over my notes from my time with Korean, trying to figure out why — and then it hit me.

    When I started seriously studying Japanese, I began taking lessons almost right away. When I studied Korean – I did all of the same things except lessons. I never really used the language with someone else. Instead, I convinced myself that my weekly meetings with my study buddy (which were in English) were enough. And while they kept me accountable and helped me find the motivation to study every day, everything that I learned was relatively meaningless because I wasn’t putting it into practice.

    So I decided to give the language a second chance and to do it “right” this time. I’d do exchanges, take lessons, and start speaking the language sooner rather than later.

    My Early Efforts at Learning Korean Weren’t For Nothing

    To be completely honest, I was worried that the first six months I spent studying Korean were a total waste. Outside of a few basic expressions – hello, thank you, and goodbye – I remembered nothing. All the vocabulary, grammar, and practice I had done disappeared the moment I stopped studying the language.

    I was convinced that everything that I had learned was gone – that I really didn’t remember any of it. 

    But when I started back up with the language, it quickly came back. Things made sense much more quickly and I often found myself thinking, “oh yeah, I remember that.” The information was still there in my head – it was just buried.

    And not only was it still there, but it also helped me to pick up new concepts and vocabulary much faster than I had in the past.

    Tackling the Korean Writing System

    When I first started studying Korean, I remember spending countless hours on Memrise trying to learn the alphabet. But no matter how often I reviewed the characters, it seemed like I couldn’t piece it all together. When I decided to start over, the first thing I returned to was that particular Memrise set. I reset my learning statistics and began studying from zero.

    Memorizing the Korean writing system was suddenly as easy as other learners always claimed it to be. Yes, I still struggle with the more complex vowel sounds (particularly those with w), but after only a few hours, I could sound out entire words and phrases in Korean even if I couldn’t understand them. 

    The Conversational Approach to Language Learning

    As I said before, using Korean is very important to me this time around. When I studied the language before, I did try to use the language whenever I went to the doctor. I thought it made sense, but looking back, I realize that it really didn’t. My doctor appointments were important and it didn’t make sense to try to use Korean in them when I needed to have important discussions with my nurse and doctor. It also didn’t make sense because what I needed to know in that particular setting wasn’t useful to me at all in any other setting.

    This time, I’m diving right in with tutors and exchange partners and I’m going to try to record more videos on Instagram – much like I did with Japanese.

    The Resources I Plan to Use to Learn Korean

    To start, I am using Memrise to pick up new vocabulary and keep the writing system in front of me. It’s my go-to resource for every language because I can customize my own decks (I add new words to my private deck after lessons) and study pre-made flashcards. I always have it with me since it’s loaded on my phone, so I can study anytime, anyplace. I’ve also found the Memrise Korean course (the course that Memrise itself makes for the language) to be extremely useful 

    From there, I plan Korean Made Simple https://amzn.to/2K76h9v as my first course book and Pimsleur as my first audio program.

    Eventually, I’ll add Assimil into the mix for both its book and its audio. On the side, I’m watching the Easy Languages Korean episodes as well as some of the KoreanClass101 video lessons. I’ve also had my first few lessons on iTalki.

    To Sum Up

    Much like with Japanese, I have a few different resources I’m interested in trying out, but as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like to work with more than 3-5 language learning resources at any given time. It gets overwhelming and I find I’m not able to make as much progress when I study. As a part of the Add1Challenge (and just for my own records), I plan to make regular videos on Instagram and Youtube– so be sure to follow me there.

    In the meantime, if you have any tips for me as a newish Korean 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!

    May 14, 2018 • Language Resources • Views: 988

  • Kariya Park | A Japanese Garden in Toronto, Canada

    One of the best parts of touring is that you have the opportunity to visit a lot of different places. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that I have enough time to explore (we fly in right before the show and jet out the morning after). But sometimes, we have a few hours or even a day or two to explore the area.

    On my last trip out to Toronto, Canada for the Smooth Jazz Awards, I had a few hours to burn. I decided to explore the area around my hotel and I stumbled across Kariya Park, a tranquil Japanese Garden tucked away in the heart of Mississauga.

    Toronto Canada | Eurolinguiste
    Toronto Canada | Eurolinguiste

    Surrounded by skyscrapers and the bustle of a busy city, Kariya is an oasis of peace. The park was opened in 1992 to celebrate Mississauga’s twin city status with Kariya, Japan. It features gingko and sweetgum trees, a zen garden, a lake, various structures, and… cherry blossoms. I got lucky, and they were in bloom while I was there, giving me a small taste of what the cherry blossom viewing experience entails.

    Toronto Canada | Eurolinguiste

    A Little Bit About Japanese Gardens

    Japanese gardens are called 日本庭園 nihon teien. Ornamentation is scarce and they are as much a practice in philosophy as aesthetic. Aged materials and plants are selected by designers to create an impression of ancient time or faraway place, and stepping into a traditional garden can often feel like stepping into a different world.

    The tradition of 日本庭園 began during the Asuka period – around 538 to 710 CE. They began as pleasure gardens for emperors and other important figures, and though these gardens went through many evolutions, it wasn’t really until the Meiji period – after many of these private gardens were abandoned – that they were restored and finally opened to the public. 

    Toronto Canada | Eurolinguiste
    Toronto Canada | Eurolinguiste

    The park was peaceful, and it was a gorgeous place to relax while I mentally prepared for my performance later that evening. There were several different paths, so I took advantage with a leisurely stroll before heading back to my hotel to get ready.

    Kariya Park is open to visitors seven days a week from 7am to 9pm. Winter access is limited. 

    May 10, 2018 • Travel • Views: 114

  • Learning Korean All Over Again: Why a Break from Your Language Learning Can Be a Good Thing

    I often feel guilty for taking breaks. I feel as though I’m not doing the right thing if I’m not being productive.

    I also hate to give things up once I’ve already invested a lot of time into them.

    With Korean I did the first – I took a long break (read: more than a year) and I was afraid I was going to end up doing the second. Give it up.

    When a Language isn’t a Good Match

    When I took on Korean, I wasn’t new to learning languages. I had gone through the process successfully a few times at that point. And I had done it with languages from completely different families – so it wasn’t because it was the first time I took on a language that was totally new. I was no stranger to new writing systems and few loan words.

    But there was something about Korean that just didn’t stick. I struggled with the writing system even though it is arguably one of the easier systems to learn. Pronunciation and grammar eluded me and new vocabulary went in one ear and out the other.

    After six months, I had enough. It was frustrating to put in a ton of work and not see the results I had come used to seeing with my language studies. I set aside my Korean studies to work on something else. I desperately needed to experience a “win”, so I worked on Spanish for three months.

    It was a good reminder that I *can* learn a language. I had the skill.

    So what was it about Korean?

    Perhaps Korean and I just weren’t well-matched?

    When a New Language Just Doesn’t Stick

    When learning a new language, it’s normal to go through periods where you feel like that material just doesn’t stay with you. No matter what you do, how much study or what kind of study, you feel lost.

    With Korean, I never had a “eureka” moment where things started to come together. I felt lost and frustrated pretty much all the time.

    Taking time away from the language ended up being exactly what I needed.

    Why a Language Break is a Good Thing

    When I hit roadblocks in my language learning, I usually work to break through them using one of two tactics:

    1. I keep pushing through
    2. I take a break

    In the past, I typically kept pushing through. I believe that breakthroughs don’t suddenly strike, but instead, they’re the result of slowly chipping away at barriers each day until all that remains is to navigate through the remains.

    At first, I tried to do this with Korean, but it didn’t seem to help. The barriers seemed insurmountable. So instead, I decided to take a break, experience a relatively quick win with Spanish, and reinvigorate both my energy and my confidence.

    A few weeks ago, I made a new commitment to Korean. I debated whether or not I’d give the language up, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I don’t particularly have any single compelling reason to learn the language, but there’s just something that draws me to it. And even though I’ve studied Spanish, Russian, Croatian, Japanese and even did an Italian refresh since Korean and I last spent time together, I still saved resources for when I’d “one day get back to it” on the side.

    Picking up Korean a second time has been far more rewarding than the first.

    When at First You Don’t Succeed

    The first time I tried to learn Korean, I felt like I wasn’t absorbing anything. Now that I’ve resumed studying the language, I’ve found that this impression wasn’t accurate.

    I don’t remember a lot in the language, but looking at the material a second time means that I have this vague familiarity with the material that gives it a little more stickiness than the first time around. That means, more stayed with me than I originally thought.

    For example, I still confuse some of the Korean vowels when reading – especially those that start with a ‘w’ – but I was able to quickly learn the other letters and start reading at a basic level almost immediately (something I didn’t feel that I succeeded at the first time around).

    I also do better at remembering vocabulary and grammar. Particularly because I now have several months of experience with Japanese. Learning Korean grammar through the lens of a Japanese “speaker” has really helped me. (As a side note, if you’re interested in learning both Japanese and Korean, I highly recommend learning Japanese first.)

    Learning Korean suddenly seems like a real possibility. That break gave me time to digest and process what I learned even though I didn’t realize it was happening.

    How Taking a Break from Korean Helped Me Learn It Better

    While the amount of time I took away from Korean was a little extreme, I honestly feel as though that time away played a big part in the results I’m experiencing today. If I hadn’t taken a break, I would have definitely burnt out and have dropped the language forever rather than for a little over a year.

    That time away allowed me to accomplish a few things:

    I was able to digest what I had learned.

    Even though I didn’t remember a lot of it, it gave me a sense of familiarity with the language so the vocabulary and grammar didn’t seem so far removed the second time around. I often found myself thinking things like, “ah yes, I do remember how to make a sentence negative” or “that’s right, I remember how to say that”.

    I was able to learn a similar language.

    In that time apart from Korean, I didn’t stop learning languages entirely. Instead, I used it to learn another language that was on my list and that was similar enough that it helped me wrap my head around parts of Korean that I struggled with the first time around. After learning Japanese, particles suddenly made more sense as did honorifics and sentence order. I’m sure my initial work with Korean also helped me with Japanese though I wasn’t really aware of it at the time. Now it’s come full circle – my Japanese is helping me take on Korean.

    I became a better language learner.

    In the last year, I feel as though I’ve truly refined how I learn languages and have built a system that works for me. I’m sure this system will continue to evolve as I grow and change as a language learner, but this has certainly helped me approach Korean in a more effective way than my past efforts.

    I’m less afraid to speak the language.

    When I first learned Korean, the only opportunity I gave myself to use it was when I’d go to the doctor (which was fairly often because I was pregnant). I’d write out a few flashcards with phrases I wanted to use, and then it was hit or miss if I could use them during my appointments. I was often too nervous or embarrassed to speak in Korean for any length of time. Today, I am much more confident speaking my languages – even if they’re ones I don’t yet know all that well. I’ve come to accept it as a part of the process. Before, I fought it.

    I feel more motivated to learn Korean.

    Towards the end of my first six months (before the break), I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and not all that motivated to continue. After having stepped away, that motivation has reappeared.

    I realized that I really do want to learn Korean.

    During my break from Korean, I spent some time really thinking about whether I not I wanted to or should learn Korean. It wouldn’t be the first time I had given up a language (I’m looking at you high school Arabic and university German), but there was just something that didn’t sit right with me whenever I tried to convince myself to let it go. Having the time to think about it (without being knee-deep in study when it’s harder to remove yourself and think about it objectively) allowed me to determine that being able to speak Korean was something that I really wanted.

    How to Make Sure That a Break is a Positive Thing for Your Language Studies

    After taking a break from Korean, I realized that there are a few things that you can do to make sure that the breaks you take remain a positive thing for your language studies. Here’s what I found:

    1. If you take a break, make a plan for how you’ll get back into your studies. If you take a break without a plan, you risk never picking your studies back up again. For me, Korean was always on my list of things that I was going to do “next”. When a new opportunity came up, it was always “Korean or this” or “Korean or that”. Eventually, I ran out of “or’s” so I forced myself to make a decision about whether or not I’d continue studying Korean. Korean was always on my calendar (even if it did get pushed back a few times), so I knew I’d have to deal with it eventually.

    2. Taking a break after an introduction to a language is a good way to dip your toes in the water before jumping all the way in. You get a feel for the temperature before completely submerging yourself.

    3. If you take a break, don’t remove yourself from the language completely. It’s okay to stop studying for a time, but try to maintain some other exposure to the language. For me, this was music.

    To Sum Up

    Taking a break from your language is not a magic answer. In fact, it can be dangerous. A break can quickly become more than just a break. And restarting a habit is so much more difficult than starting it in the first place. That said, as long as you set yourself up so that the break is really and truly a “break” and not something more than that, it can be extremely beneficial.

    To quote an article in the Atlantic, “Just as small breaks improve concentration, long breaks replenish [..] performance.” 

    You won’t learn a language without work but it does make processing what you’re learning easier. You can look at what you’re doing objectively and make a more informed decision. Plus, taking a break after a brief introduction to the language gives you time to digest completely new concepts so that when you go all in, you have a little bit of a foundation.

    What about you?

    Have you ever taken a break from a language? Did it reinvigorate your interest in the language or make you realize that it wasn’t something you really wanted?

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

    May 7, 2018 • Language Resources • Views: 386

  • 5 Days in Singapore: 18 Amazing Experiences to Do for the Perfect Itinerary

    With even just five days in Singapore, you can accomplish a lot. The excellent and convenient transportation system connects you to several key locations and makes getting around the city a breeze.

    Recently, I spent five days in Singapore and here are just a few of the things that I enjoyed on the trip.

    Things to Do at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    1. Visit the Marina Bay Sands.

    This iconic hotel always seems to be within view regardless of where you are in the city. Their decks offer an incredible glimpse of Singapore. It also hosts a shopping center, museum, spa, food court, several restaurants, clubs, and a casino.

    A post shared by Shannon Kennedy (@eurolinguiste) on Apr 4, 2018 at 3:35pm PDT

    2. Take a Safari at the Night Zoo.

    The Night Zoo is about an hour outside of the city, but you can still get to it by the metro and a bus that goes directly from the station to the zoo. The Night Safari is interesting and the animals are much more active at night than they are during the day.

    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    Things to Do at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    3. Eat chili crab.

    Singapore is famous for several dishes – and there are two you definitely can’t miss. The first is chili crab, a sweet yet spicy seafood dish that goes well with rice. The second is kaya toast, a delicious breakfast dish popular amongst both tourists and locals.

    Breakfast at Tolido's in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    4. Enjoy the local coffee culture.

    Our favorite café was Tolido’s where we indulged in truffle scrambled eggs and pandan waffles with a hearty scoop of coconut ice cream.

    Gardens by the Bay at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    5. Visit Gardens by the Bay.

    The Gardens by the Bay spans 250 acres of reclaimed land near the Marina Reservoir and serves to enhance life with added gardens and greenery around the city.

    Gardens by the Bay at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    6. Visit the Skywalk.

    A part of the Gardens by the Bay is the Skywalk. Pro tip: visit before sunset to enjoy the view during the day and at night.

    Getting a View of the City in the Singapore Flyer Ferris Wheel | Eurolinguiste

    7. Take a spin in the Singapore Flyer.

    When visiting Singapore, there are two structures that stand out – the Marina Bay Sands hotel and the Singapore Flyer. Both offer breathtaking views of the city, and both are, on their own, amazing sights. At 541 feet, the Singapore Flyer was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, until the High Roller in Las Vegas snuck in at 550 feet.

    The Original Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    8. Sip a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel.

    Drink the iconic beverage invented by a former bartender at the colonial style Raffles Hotel – the Singapore Sling. 

    Botanic Gardens in Singapore | Things to Do In & Around Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    9. Stroll through the Botanic Gardens.

    Home to more than 10,000 species, the Botanic Gardens are one of the only three gardens honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site are the Botanic Gardens in Singapore. And the’re only tropical garden with the title. 

    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    10. Explore Little India.

    Incredible food, a lively atmosphere, colorful buildings, and detailed temples – what more could you ask for.

    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    11. Enjoy the local street foods.

    Three word: delicious and diverse. The street foods offer dishes with a wide range of influences and there’s something for every palate. 

    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    12. Check out the temples.

    Singapore has a wide range of temples dotted throughout the city and each are gorgeous in their own way.

    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    13. Watch the sunset (or rise) over the water.

    Thanks to jetlag, I was up to enjoy the sunrise each morning. The colors and the scenery made for an enjoyable breakfast experience.

    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    14. Visit the Merlion.

    A symbol of Singapore, the Merlion fountain is worth a visit. You’ll see the Merlion decorated on much of the touristy souvenirs, but nothing compares to seeing the real thing.

    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    15. Visit Orchard Road.

    Orchard Road is the equivalent of the Champs-Elysées in France with one big difference. Many of the shops lining the streets aren’t just single shops, but massive malls with hundreds of stores within. If the commercial highlights of the street are overwhelming, you can skirt off into one of the side streets where you can admire the local homes and sidewalk cafés.

    Chinatown | Things to do in & around Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    16. Head into Chinatown.

    Chinatown was one of my favorite places to shop for souvenirs for those back at home (and yes, okay, I’ll admit it – myself). The district includes vendors with handmade goods, to cheap souvenirs, to delicious snacks.

    Platform 1094 | A Harry Potter Themed Restaurant in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    17. Eat like Harry Potter at Platform 1094

    Looking for a magical dining experience? Then head to Platform 1094, a Harry Potter-themed restaurant known for lighting its food and drinks on fire.

    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste
    What to Do With 5 Days in Singapore | Eurolinguiste

    18. Get Lost.

    Sometimes just wandering and letting yourself get a little lost is a great way to discover new places.

    What about you?

    Have you visited Singapore? What are some of the things you most enjoyed visiting?

    Planning to go to Singapore? What would you love to see or do?

    I’d love to hear from you in the comments

    May 3, 2018 • Travel • Views: 122