How to speak more fluently by building good Conversation Habits

No matter if you are new to language learning or you're a certified multilingualist, I bet you know the conversational wall. It's that feeling where you just don’t know how to say something. It could be a missing word, and sometimes you can’t find words for what you’re even trying to say.

The wall creates that awkward moment with your conversation partner, where you just stall the whole thing. You’re running on empty, grasping around for words, and in fact you’re feeling like an idiot. How frustrating it is for an articulate adult to fail when it comes to saying stupid basic things like “I don’t like boiled potatoes” or whatever. How far you have to go!

fluency habit building

In today’s blog article, I want to introduce you to the different ways that you can handle that wall. Trust me, some of these are a lot more beneficial than others. And in fact, I would say that this is where fluent speakers are made. Knowing how to handle a conversation breaker means knowing how to keep things flowing, and it’s the only way for you to approach fluency.

What you have tried before

The following three options might all feel pretty familiar and perhaps even helpful to you if you run into one of those walls. But are they really the best way of dealing with the problem?

Hit more Books

Many people who are new to language learning feel like their only way of dealing with the wall is to give up trying to have the conversation and return to the books. The logic is that if you don’t know how to say everything, you obviously haven’t studied enough yet. But in reality, this is a sign that your learning mindset needs a breath of fresh air.

A student once told me “I’ve always been used to excelling at the things I put my mind to. Law exams, university grades, that all didn’t feel so hard to me. So why can’t I ace this language!?”. As his language coach, it’s my duty to remind him of several trap doors that he’s opening up with that kind of thinking.

Firstly, believing that first time mastery is the only way to be a good language learner is a way of closing a door to true growth in your own mind. And moreover, it’s important to recognise that language learning is not only graded by what you remember and express correctly. Creativity, flexibility and conversational confidence play a huge part in fluency and form part of the learning experience.

The key is to understand that you’re not failing when you run into a wall. You are actually succeeding at discovering your skills. Keep on exploring.

Change the topic

Changing the topic may help you save face, hide that panic and manoeuvre your conversation back onto safer ground. Overall, it’s a pretty solid option and one you can try if you are feeling particularly embarrassed. Remember that everyone loves to talk about themselves, so your sneaky way back from the conversation wall is to put the focus back on the person you are talking to. With a little bit of luck, they may even say exactly what you were thinking - and they’ll show you how to express it in your target language.

If this is a good option, why isn’t it the best one? The answer is simple. How many times are you going to change topic before you realize you still haven’t said what you need to say?

Look up words in an app or a dictionary

The part of you that considers herself a solid and obedient learner will want to do this. The part of you that wants to demonstrate that you are truly accomplished will want to do this. The easy way out of not knowing something is to look it up. Of course! And yet I urge you to consider the negative effects of looking up words every single time.

First of all, your smartphone battery isn’t going to last forever. Secondly, it’s not actually all that polite to keep your conversation partner waiting while you whip out a phone and start googling for an answer. They’re right there! They might just be dying to help you. And thirdly, you’re training your brain to know where to look, but not to remember anything that you are learning. Neither your brain nor your mind will thank you for relying on a lazier way of thinking.

So with all those kind-of-okay options ruled out, what could be the way a truly fluent learner approaches the conversation wall? From my observations in lessons and in my own language learning experiences, it comes down to a few significant shifts in attitude. Remember that Growth Mindset I’m so very fond of? Here is where you use it. Here is where you show your head who’s boss!

Here's how to be fluent in Conversation

Step 1: Walk through the Awkwardness

If you’re a perfectionist or someone who holds themselves to high standards you’re not going to like this option at all. A way through? You mean I’m telling you that you should admit when you don’t know something and sit there all awkwardly looking like an idiot? Yes. That is exactly what I am telling you to do. There are so many learning benefits from finding your way through that awkwardness. First of all, you’ll quickly realise that missing a word in foreign language conversation is a pretty common thing.

Lindsay Dow and I discussed this on the podcast recently and she referred to the British nursery rhyme We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. In the story, the brave bear hunters encounter all kinds of obstacles. Mud, snowstorms, rivers, everything is in the way. There’s no way under it. There’s no way over it. So they decide to go the only way that they can: through it! When you are facing your own linguistic obstacles, remember that you can’t go over or under. You’ve got to get through it. That awkward moment when you feel restricted and stupid because you don’t know how to say what’s on your mind? That’s normal. Just notice it’s happening, take a breath and continue to Step 2.

Ideal Step 2: Accept the Challenge

The idea of accepting a challenge sounds like this is a big thing, but I assure you that this is an attitude shift that will become your best new habit within a matter of hours. So you don’t know a word. So someone’s looking at you and waiting for you to say something and you don’t know how. So WHAT! What can you do next? How are you going to go from awkward to outspoken?

Ideal Step 3: Describe what you want to say

Okay, here is where you flex your real fluency muscles. A confident foreign language speaker is not intimidated by gaps in her vocabulary. Instead, she will embrace the learning opportunity and look for a way around the gap. The first step to take is to prepare a set of useful fillers in your target language. These filler lines should become as comfortable to you as hello and thank you. You will need them for ever and ever - trust me, I’m so fluent in English and words still fail me on a regular basis. 

Good filler expressions include the following:

  • “I don’t know how to say, but I mean a thing that…"
  • “Help me out here…how do you say…?"
  • “You know, it is a little like…"

The key component in a good filler line is that they all allow you to describe the thing you are trying to express. No matter if it’s a noun, verb or expression you are searching for, the key to fluency is in opening yourself up to learning the word from your conversation partner.

It’s absolutely essential to remember that these moments of hitting the wall are where you really show your skills in language learning. Not because you are measured by how many times you encounter the wall, but by how many times you get through it, over it or under it. This is the way that you will have confident conversations in weeks, not years.

So are you ready to start having truly fluent conversations?

Thanks for reading this article on Fluent, the Language Learning Blog. Please like this post on Facebook or share on Twitter using the Share buttons and leave me a comment below. If you are feeling stuck right now, why not subscribe to Fluent and check out our language book shop.

Podcast Episode 16: Discover languages, dialects and scripts with Lindsay Dow

In Episode 16, I'm introducing our new co-host: Lindsay Dow from Lindsay Does Languages. I’m bringing Lindsay in for more Creative Language Learning Podcast because she's just been so much fun for you to listen to. The episode is supported by Flashsticks (use code KERSTIN10 on www.flashsticks.com for a 10% discount).

podcast languages

In Episode 16, you’ll hear:

  • A discussion of the world’s many different scripts and writing systems, with Lindsay’s recent forays into Amharic and how I worked in Korea for 2 days

  • What makes a dialect different from a language, and where is the line?

  • What travelling to Europe and getting your Health Insurance card can do for your world perspectives

  • A live recording of my first ever #iglc Instagram Language Challenge video

Tips of the Week

In this episode the tables were turned and Lindsay allowed me to choose the tip of the week from three awesome creative tips she had researched. I loved it! My favourite tip ended up being tip 3, using a language in order to learn a language.

1) Open your ears and get into the exercises at listeningpractice.org

2) Learn a language with Pinterest. Both Lindsay and I love this social network and we have about how you can enhance your lessons and learning adventures with it. Here they are:

3) Learn a new language via a language that you already know

Links for Episode 16 of the Creative Language Learning Podcast

Thanks for reading this article on Fluent, the Language Learning Blog. If you are feeling able to give $1 to keep the podcast and the blog going strong, please head over to Patreon and become a supporter!

3 Useful Resources to help you improve your French (even if you last studied 10 years ago)

Mes dames et messieurs, I bet you have dreamed about the French many times. It’s the ultimate language of chatting in a streetside café or watching the sun go down over the Atlantic. But French is for more than just a fun trip, as it counts as a leading world language too.

French is the World's Most Taught Language

The French Embassy to the US delivers a fun fact about France in its list of 10 Reasons to Learn French:

French is the only language, alongside English, that is taught in every country in the world.

This means that almost all of you readers are likely to have studied French at some point in your lives. It's widely taught in Europe, in Africa and throughout Northern America. Personally, I have been learning French since I was 13, which makes it nearly 20 years now. It’s not always been easy, but throughout my journey I learnt a lot of awesome things and also realized that I can make myself understood in Belgium, Canada, Northern Africa and the Caribbean with the power of this one language. For example, the language became so much easier for me once I started explaining grammar as much as I was studying it. The French grammar can be aligned very well with that of German, my own native language. Explaining grammar became a true specialty of mine. If you check out my course Easy French Grammar for Beginners, you’ll get a glimpse of how I do it. I put the learner first and focus on outlining how things work step-by-step.

Why Study a Language on Udemy?

I often mention Udemy as a great resource for online learners on this blog, and as an instructor and student on there I do know what I am talking about. The courses on Udemy are open to a learning community of over 6 million people. In my experience, this has made for a great advantage to the learner. You get to study your language whenever you want and repeat lectures as many times as you need, but at the same time there’s a tutor available in all courses so you can ask questions and get them to add more materials.

Step 1: Review the Basics

As students join my Easy Grammar for Beginners course and progress through it, I see that many of them were using the course as a refresher. The videos allow you to rediscover older concepts that you may have learnt in school, and to reframe them if things didn't make a lot of sense first time round. This is a wonderful way of getting back into a language. You're not overwhelmed, but you get that sweet confidence of taking the second chance. I particularly enjoyed the many reviews and emails I got from the students who said that they had a little bit of confidence, but felt their French skills improved by 100% after they took these classes. Many have asked me what the next step could be, so in today's blog post I wanted to recommend three great next step resources for intermediate French learners.

Step 2: Add a Course about French tenses

Once you are confident making basic sentences about yourself, your environment and your immediate situation, I bet you'll want to grow that knowledge into something new. That's where the verb tenses come in. You’ll need tenses for sophisticated communication. In my own French grammar course, I focused on the A1 range of grammar. That only contains three tenses, but in fact there are about 11 of them to master in French. So once you have covered and understood those essential nouns, verbs and adverbs from the Easy Grammar for Beginners course, you should cast your eye over tenses.

If you like the Udemy platform then stay and try French Tenses Simplified by Scott McElroy, a fellow French teacher on the Udemy platform. Believe it or not, this one is actually his smaller course. It covers those 11 important moods and tenses you need after finishing level A1. Scott’s course would be the perfect follow-on if you are ready to move on from my French grammar explanations.

The French Tenses Simplified course is about three hours long altogether, but Scott has broken his lectures up into simple 3-6 minute videos. It features even more than just French tense explanations. He has thrown in simple vocabulary lists, a full PDF of the course contents and four downloadable Flashcard videos. So all in all, we’re talking about a nice package.

Screenshot from the course French Tenses Simplified.

Screenshot from the course French Tenses Simplified.

I tested this course on an aspect of French grammar that I’ve always found particularly difficult: the subjonctif. He approaches the topic with an awesome sense of humour right from the start. The topic is first introduced in English, with examples that demonstrate when you would use a subjunctive in French. To me, the reasons made a lot of sense here. There are clear rules saying “if this…then that” which is always something we can appreciate in language learning. The lecture could have benefited from slowing down, though. I paused it and took notes several times. Regarding the way the subjonctif is formed, Scott’s lecture was a fab refresher. I got 83% in the final quiz. Maybe you can beat me?

Instructor Quality

Right from the start, you will know that you’re in good hands with Scott’s explanations. He gives a comprehensive course overview to introduce you to French verbs and has SUCH good pronunciation.The thing that really stood out to me was the ease and friendliness in Scott’s explanations. When you take a video course, it’s always important that the instructor sounds like a nice person. You have to listen to these people for ages! Scott comes across as a friendly guy who knows his stuff right from the first second. I really liked his narration and French accent.

Beware if you’re a Beginner

If you’re a French beginner and have never come across any concept of French grammar before, then watch out. The course French Tenses Simplified goes through a few big concepts at qui[e a fast pace, so that I imagine a complete beginner would have to stop and slow it right down. For example, the course presumes that you as a learner are aware that French has three different verb groups for the regular verbs. It also skips over the fact that some verbs are irregular and introduces only three of the irregular ones.

So count yourself advised: If you are a complete beginner, start with my course Easy French Grammar for Beginners (it’s from zero) and arm yourself with a Bescherelle book before diving into the tenses.

Step 3: Analyze Content from natural French sources

In the past 2 steps, you saw options to use for getting your French grammar level up to a pretty sophisticated standard. And moving on from video courses, it is time to start working with real life content. Skip the Rosetta Stone and instructional podcasts, and start looking for simplified French sources. One of France's cultural strengths is their dedication to la bande dessinée (comics), and you'll find some awesome content in books like Astérix. I also like the TV5Monde series for French learners a lot.

The key at this stage is that you should make sure you recognise the stuff that you have learnt in the first two stages. Grammar is not abstract, it is a key to how language really works. If your goal is to speak confident and sophisticated French, then you must observe how the rules are applied in real life. That's what learning in step 3 is all about, so watch out for all those little things. Where is the speaker using an adverb? Can you spot all the -ent endings on 3 pages of comic? Challenge yourself here and enjoy playing language detective.

Do this at any Stage: Leave the Classroom, enter Life

After you have masstered the hard study and review of French grammar concepts, it's really time to break out from the classroom. If you have not done so already, start opening your eyes to natural French language content online and offline. With such a huge international community of speakers, it's incredibly easy to find a meetup of the French community. Here in Lancaster, I have practiced my French at the local language café and you can find your nearest European café at www.languagecafe.eu. The next opportunity to meet native speakers is just 3 miles away at the local university. Where is your nearest college hosting international students? If you aren't aware yet, consider contacting their student associations and meeting the French society or even the International Society. And should all those outreach options fail, there's always the language exchange option through sites like Speaky or Interpals.

For some learners, it's a confidence builder to get the grammar foundations ready before you go out.But in the grand scheme of things, I encourage you to go out and play in the real world right from day 1. You don't have to challenge yourself to do the impossible or conduct a full French conversation straight away, but I encourage you to make sure you keep an eye on the real world while you're studying the basics.

Re-Cap of the Resources in this Article

  • If you are a complete beginner in French, you'll benefit from my own online course Easy French Grammar for Beginners, which you can pick up for $19 using the code MOTIVATION.

  • More advanced learners looking for the next step should check out French Tenses Simplified by Scott McElroy. It's a fast-paced refresher course run by a positive online teacher, and contains lots of extras. For more help with the tenses and verb forms, the Bescherelle books can be invaluable. Get the course at 70% off if you use the link tiny.cc/step2french.

  • At several intervals in this process, you should work with real native content. Don't go out reading the French newspapers right away, but ease yourself in and find simplified French language resources.

  • No matter where you are at in your French study, you should also make sure that you make time to see those actual real French speakers. You can find them on each continent and everywhere around you in international hotspots like universities and meetups.

The key is to get a good balance between video or book study and real life experimentation. And of course, I wish you bonne chance with that.

Online Teaching Systems Check: Can you answer these 5 Questions?

Before you enjoy this article, please take a second to join our FREE Facebook event on 7-9 May 2015.

I am co-hosting this event with my fellow teacher Gabby Wallace, and we'll be sharing Q&As, giveaways and lectures to help you get set in your business and start teaching awesome new students.

online teaching systems check

Earlier today, I was watching my husband-to-be as he tried on his wedding suit. The very friendly tailor and I shared a little bit of smalltalk - where do you live, where are you from, that kind of stuff. And then he asked "and where will your future home together be?". I thought about it, and then I said that I would love to live in more countries and discover the world. He agreed that this sounds like a wonderful idea, and added:

"..but it's not that easy to just give up your job and go travelling, is it?"

At that moment, I realised once again what an advantage it is to be able to work online. No matter whether I teach German or I consult and help other teachers, my job is mobile. As long as there's internet and a working computer my students are able to join me. I also told him about the many amazing people I get to teach:

  • Someone who's run the Boston Marathon - three times!
  • Someone who's been to Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic - in the 70s!
  • A hot young entrepreneur admired by thousands
  • A guy who has a doctorate - in Statistics!

Online teaching is an enriching and wonderful addition to your life. It opens lots of doors. And for a language lover like you are if you read Fluent, it's even better. Travel plus income? Okay then!

Getting Started in Online Teaching

If you've read this far, I hope you're feeling an itch to get involved. I already shared my own online teaching story with you, and in today's post I have a few questions that will help you set up a profitable teaching brand a little bit quicker.

1) What is your subject and niche?

Do you speak English? Brilliant! Teaching that one will always be in demand. Most other major languages benefit from the same popularity. But beware. Why do I say you have to know your subject? Because it's not quite that easy. Languages and lessons come in many different guises and perspectives, and without a true personal brand you are standing in your own way.

The language teaching market is in a race to the bottom for unremarkable teachers. Unless you want to fight off students looking for $9/hr lessons, you have to build a clear identity. What's your teaching flavour? Who are you? What are you truly good at?

Niche is more than just "I teach English to people from Korea." It's about the exact situation your student is in, so think carefully about how you help. In the Savvy Brand Toolkit, teachers are guided through four stages of finding their strengths and ideal students before the advertising efforts can start. With this in your pocket, you'll never worry about getting lost in the crowd again.

2) How much will you charge?

Don't stand there going "oh..uh..20?" when the moment comes and someone wants to pay you to help them. This person deserves a professional response, so you owe it to yourself to be organised. Think about your pricing structure before you get going - what's your base rate, what is your best rate? What do you offer? The more confident you are in your prices and your services, the less time you waste saying "umm...".

3) Where will you find your students?

I have a secret for you: Finding online students is not that difficult if you share a genuine passion for what you do. But that does not mean you can just open your heart in your bedroom and wait for students to arrive. Instead, share your best work. Blog your heart out or create YouTube videos. After all, this is how Fluent got started!

The key to finding great students is to make it super easy for them to find you. You should build a little marketing strategy and think about how you want to talk to people. Flyering, websites, Twitter, writing, filming, Soundcloud? What's your style?

4) How will you structure your lessons?

Teaching is about so much more than just deciding which textbook page you're going to read out this week. As a 1-to-1 teacher, I pride myself on making sure that I learn more about how each of my students works best. I try to source real language content they will find relevant, and I coach them through the difficult parts. For me, the lesson structure is always something we create together. But what will you choose? Group coaching, Q&As, demonstrations, drills? It's all part of your personal brand and your style. This is why I created the Five Step Booking Process you can learn about in my new video course over on Udemy.

5) What kind of equipment have you got?

Before teaching online, know your software. Make sure your internet is fast. Decide if you do video. Decide if you use textbooks. Decide if you use headphones. Work out each detail and run a test, and continue with the methods that are most comfortable for you and for your student. For aspiring video course leaders, the software question may be even more important as you delve into online business, membership sites and plugins. Just like with pricing, allow yourself a little time to work it all out before you rush to the gold.

Resources to help you answer these questions

If you have questions about software, business practices and lesson structure, don't hesitate to join my brand new video course for a 75% discount using the code FLUENT. If you want to develop a brilliant personal brand, try my Savvy Brand Toolkit, a self-paced course taking you through step-by-step through the process of creating a true teacher brand.

And if you want to ask me which one you should choose, I'm happy to help and guide you. Send me a message and I will be happy to guide you further. Until then, good luck out there in the online teaching world!

Language Linkfest: April 2015

What what WHAT, how is another month flying by so quickly? I hope you've all had a wonderful month of April. I've loved it so far. The sun finally came out here in England, and it was about time. Right now I'm writing to you from a cool co-working event organised by my friend here in Lancaster. Join us if you're local.

In the coming month, I think I'm going to be a bit busier than usual because I am getting married!

I will do my best to keep up with the blog and podcast, and you definitely have a new episode to look forward to, but please don't worry if Fluent is a little quieter than normal. I have a bilingual life to start, after all.

Best of Fluent's blog

Best Language Articles

Edupreneur's Corner

I hope you're loving spring as much as I am.

The Best Language Podcasts when you need Inspiration

Before I moved to Lancaster I had never listened to talk radio. I moved in with my boyfriend in 2006, and slowly BBC Radio 4 became a part of my life. Talk radio stations bring shows and conversations that talk about the most important topics in our lives. A show to listen to while you wash up, a radio drama on your drive to work, a debate over coffee.

language podcasts

Of course, talk radio has moved with the times. Now you don’t have to tune in at a specific time and day anymore. The new listening trend to help you keep up to date is called podcasts. You can subscribe and listen to your favourite shows whenever you want them.

If you to learn more about how podcasts work for language learning, refer to this Fluent guide. Podcast production has opened up the floor to a new generation of people with something to say. The market for language learning podcasts is huge now, and you can mix independent shows with sophisticated leading media productions.

Get Language Learning Inspiration

It’s easy to find podcasts that help you learn a new language by demonstrating words and sentences, but did you know that there’s a new generation of shows waiting for you? These shows are not about teaching you an individual language, but instead they boost your learning skill. From productivity to learning methods, from careers to interviews with polyglots, these shows focus on making you a better language learner.

In today’s post, I’ll be listing five awesome shows that you should not miss out on. Subscribe to them in iTunes or download just one episode to try a new perspective.

The Creative Language Learning Podcast

fluent podcast

Yes, it's Fluent's own podcast and I am so proud to share it with you. For over a year, I have been creating the Creative Language Learning Podcast. This podcast brings you fun discussions with interesting guests that I selected for their inspiring stories, fun approaches and unique messages. I like to talk to teachers and learners alike, and to find out what motivates them. At the end of every show, there’s also a cool little segment called Tips of the Week, where my guest selects the best one out of three fresh learning tips.

If you want to try one episode out of my archive of 15, I’d recommend episode 5 which is one of my favourite interviews I've ever done:

Business of Language

language business

The Business of Language podcast is run by Tammy Bjelland, one of the most impressive ladies I have seen in this community. Tammy was en route to becoming a language professor when she realised that her heart was not quite in it. She went and changed her whole life by opening her own language school in Virginia. In her interviews with language business owners and professionals, Tammy wants to show so much more about the many opportunities that are open to language graduates.

If you have ever wondered what job you’re actually going to do with your languages, this podcast will inspire you. To just try out one episode, I’d recommend her very first episode where she shares her own story.

I Will Teach You a Language

iwtyal pod

Olly Richards from IWTYAL has been a guest on my own podcast previously and now you will get to hear from him every week! In Olly's podcast, listeners can leave a voicemail with their own dilemma or question. He then researches, brings in guests and answers each question in a 10 minute bitesize show.

All episodes are quick and Olly is fun to listen to, but here's my own tip:

Actual Fluency

actual pod

Guy from Denmark vows to learn 10 languages and podcasts about it - that's the premise of Actual Fluency with Chris Broholm. Chris stands out in his interview show for the incredible curiosity he brings to every conversation. I like listening to him and even working with him - check out our joint event Language Book Club.

Don't miss out the great episode 47, a solo hosted podcast from Chris where he talks about when it's all a bit more difficult than you think.

Language Mastery

Finally, there's Language Mastery, a podcast all about the routines and methods. John Fotheringham, the host of Language Mastery, has travelled the world and learnt languages in places like Taiwan, Bangladesh and ...er...Seattle. If you're into a classic "Here's how I do it" story, I recommend you listen to John's interview with Luca Lampariello in which he details what works for him and how to become a successful polyglot. His website is also full of detailed product reviews.

Bonus: The World in Words

PRI's own language podcast is a wonderful addition to this list. It's produced in great detail and covers stories of languages all around the world. The one episode you have got to listen to is this amazing one about Utah's new bilingual education drive.

I hope you've found an inspiring new podcast or two in today's list. Please comment and tell me if you tried a new episode as a result of this article. Which one did you try? What did you think of it?

Thanks for reading this article on Fluent, the Language Learning Blog. If you are feeling stuck right now, why not subscribe to Fluent and check out our language book shop.

Podcast Episode 15: From marrying a soldier to writing a German language blog, with Angelika Davey

My guest this month is Angelika Davey, owner of the blog angelikasgerman.co.uk. Angelika has been teaching German independently for many years.

angelika davey

Listen to our interview to find out more about

  • Keeping your mind agile, and whether it really matters to anyone under 50

  • The ultimate showdown: Age vs. Attitude! Which one makes you a better learner?

  • Why learning German is your best choice for business

  • What it’s like to date someone from a different country

  • A new and innovative approach that makes even the best private teacher affordable and accessible to yo

Article of the Week

Multilingual Families: Even our Dog uses 3 Languages

Tips of the Week

Angelika chose Tip 1 as her Tip of the Week.

Tip 1: Read cereal packets, clothing labels and anything you can get (see Language Surfer blog)

Tip 2: Discover foreign culture at home

Tip 3: Use Eurovision to learn your Target Language (see Koko the Polyglot)

Tips and Links from this Podcast

Don't forget to take advantage of the special $10 German Course offer!

If I’m selling to you, then I speak your language. If you’re buying from me, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen.
— Willy Brand

Links to Amazon and Udemy are affiliate links so they cost you nothing more but they support Fluent Language and this podcast. Thanks for your clicks. If you are feeling able to give $1 to keep the podcast and the blog going strong, please head over to Patreon and become a supporter!

 

How I came to Online Teaching: A TEFL-Free Story

Many people who find me and my work through Fluent often assume that I took the classic route of learning how to teach online after studying for a TEFL exam, but that's not actually true. In fact, I never set out to be an entrepreneur at all. In today's blog post, I want to share this awesome interview with me and Gabby Wallace from Laptoplanguageteacher.com.

It's an in-depth look at how I started out in language teaching, and how my independent streak actually helped me discover my own niche in this market. As you can see, I'm just as scared as you are when it comes to that niche challenge!

Here are the top 4 Lessons you can Learn from this Video

  1. If you work online, collaborating with your colleagues is the door to success
  2. When you blog, you start sharing your views and standing out in a wholly new way. It is one of the most fun experiences on the internet. If you want to learn more about how to start a language blog, check out Fluent's Quick'n'Easy Guide to Language Blogging.
  3. Your prices can send a powerful message to new students. I have spoken to so many language students who felt that they actually
  4. Bonus Lesson: That's a crazy hairband.

And of course, I also mentioned various ways of working with me in the video. The 50 Calls project is now finished, yes I actually spoke to 50 amazing people. It was so much fun!

The feedback I got from them helped me create the course Compass, which is now available to online teachers right here on Fluent as the (renamed) Savvy Brand Toolkit. I'd love for you to check it out, and don't forget to sign up for my newsletter so that I can send you discount codes and promotions when I run them.

Event Coming Up

Gabby and I are running a joint Facebook event on 7 May. It's called the Online Teaching Show and designed to help online teachers get the word out. All for free, so please come and join us by registering here on Facebook.

Upgrade Fluency Made Achievable on your iPad or Mac

If you are a regular Fluent reader, you'll already know that I have published two language learning guides so far. They're called Fluency Made Achievable and The Vocab Cookbook, and both have been for sale exclusively on Kindle this year.

fma

Well guys, it's time to break free and announce the launch of my new iBooks version of Fluency Made Achievable. Over the past weeks I decided to work on creating this special edition of the book, and it's now been approved for sale on the iBooks store.

Why is this cool?

This is not just an ebook you can't do anything with. While every language guide I write is designed to make you take action and start changing small steps in your routines, the new iBooks version delivers more of that than ever. The work on this new version included several optimisations to make it the best possible FMA you've ever seen on the iPad or Mac.

An clear, easy and very helpful read that was well worth the money for me. (Eleni Gotsis on Amazon)

The book is already very popular over on Amazon.com, with 4- and 5-star reviews all round. And here are the most important reasons to get the iBooks edition of this book if you're reading on an iPad or Mac:

  • The navigation and table of contents have been optimised so you can jump between chapters and points and find the right parts straight away. There is not a single reference to a page number, everything works as it should in an ebook.
  • It's produced for the iBooks reader, which makes it way prettier than a Kindle version.
  • The links are clickable so you can switch between reading and researching like a real 21st century book master.
  • You can now buy this in 51 different countries!
  • The book contains multimedia enhancements in the form of embedded video and brand new audio interviews.

Why can't I find this on my iPhone?

The iBooks edition of FMA contains added media enhancements and sadly this seems to mean Apple won't let you buy it on your phone. You're not missing out though, just whip out your Mac/iPad or get the classic Kindle version.

No special offers?

As you know, I run the odd promotion for my books but want to make sure I don't add to anyone's "digital junk" pile. The iBooks store will let me distribute promo codes soon, but not until I've jumped through a few tax hoops (like telling them that I don't live in Japan...in writing...in duplicate) so until then I have just made the price affordable for everyone.

Sounds awesome, how do I find iBooks please?

If you are on an iPad or Mac, simply open your app browser and type in "ibooks". You already have the iBooks store on there as it comes with your device. Then all you need to do is this:

1. Search for my name

ibooks store

2. Find Fluency Made Achievable

3. Enjoy!

Pretty! Optimized for your Mac or iPad. And ever so helpful :)

Pretty! Optimized for your Mac or iPad. And ever so helpful :)

Anything else you should know?

I'm very happy to be offering this new version of my book in iBooks, and behind the scenes you should also look out for the Fluent Box Set, which is coming back in the summer.

I have considered writing a new language learning guide or a little travel guide for German learners, so if you're excited about what I could write next why not comment here and tell me what you'd like to see? I'm curious about your suggestions.

As always, thanks so much for reading and checking in with the Fluent blog.

Kerstin

How to Fall in Love with a Language: Inspiring Stories from Learners like You

A few weeks ago, my partner and I decided to watch the oscar-nominated film Nightcrawler. You may be aware that things get a bit scary in the film, so I allowed myself a distraction from watching it. I was watching the film in English with Spanish subtitles.

And I realised two things:

  1. Spanish doesn't swear sexually but religiously (¡diablos!)
  2. I prefer Spanish to French, even though I've been learning French for 20 years and only studied Spanish from 2001 to 2003

Soon I found myself wondering if this is normal. Does every language learner have a favourite among their languages?

What is it that makes us fall in love with one language more than any of the others?

in love with language

In today's blog post, I enlisted a little help from members of the Fluent community. First of all I want to thank every reader of my newsletter who responded to my call with their own story. It's made this article something I've never had before: A crowdsourced piece of writing. Enjoy!

For some, it's Love at First Word

In the following stories, you'll hear from language learners who were just blown away by their favourite language right from day 1.

Aidan O'Rourke loves German more and more

"My favourite language is German, I much prefer it to French. I love German. I’ve loved it since I started learning it aged 15, I got an A in O and A level and went on to study it at Trinity College Dublin (with French).

German is the most amazing language, I feel it is part of me but sadly I am not a native speaker, though I aspire to that level. I love hearing German, especially on MDR radio and the Tagesschau.

I think I am more enthusiastic about German than at any time in the past! The longer I use it, the more I love it. I've learned a huge amount of German through teaching it as a private tutor over the past few years. There are many things I regret in live but one thing I don’t regret is learning German! Everybody should learn it!"

Aidan is the author of Stargirl of the Edge, a new anglo-chinese novel. You can watch him discuss language learning with me in this video.

Chimene Elessa learnt that other People don't know what she will really love most

"In my school (at age 13), we had the choice between Spanish and German as a third language -- after French (my native language) and English (my second language). When I asked what my third language should be, people advised me not to take German because it was "difficult". So I took Spanish just because people around me were learning that language.

Many years later, I subscribed to cable TV where there was one German channel. I started to watch programmes in that language and I liked it. So I decided to learn German so much so that I now tend to neglect my Spanish because I'd rather study and practice German.

Today my level in German is more advanced than my level in Spanish (which I have been studying for a longer period of time).

My explanation is that I was more motivated when I decided to learn German. Furthermore, I want to add it to the languages I use for my work as a translator.

I still like Spanish. If I take into account years of practice, it is my third language, but in fact it is the fourth if we talk about preferences."

For some, the first love stays true

For many of us, the first foreign language remains special all throughout our lives.

Chiara Grandola will always love British English best

chiara runawaydreamer

"I am Italian and I studied three languages thus far. English, French and Spanish. French is a romantic and beautiful language. I'm drawn to the melody of la langue francaise. It has such a melodic tone that even an insult can sound romantic. Well, kind of…

Spanish is extremely sensual and it can express tremendous passion. Its pronunciation is pretty straightforward and maybe that’s why I feel much more comfortable in speaking Spanish than French.

However, my not-so-secret favourite language is English. British English, to be precise. I find some words and expressions extremely elegant and peculiar, like Quintessential or Blimey! As a long-time learner, I am often amazed by the richness of English vocabulary. The British accent gets me all the time. It's music to my ears and I could listen to natives for hours. I discovered the world of foreign languages by studying English when I was a little girl, so I’ll always be eternally grateful to this amazing language."

You can read more from Chiara on her blog, Runaway Daydreamer.

Ellen Keyne Seebacher got started with her Mother's Books

"I've studied at least eight languages systematically (German, Spanish, Swedish, American Sign Language, Japanese, Latin, French, and Brazilian Portuguese) and another dozen or more casually. My best language is German, but I feel most comfortable with Spanish. I suspect it's because it was the first I was seriously exposed to; as a kid I used to tag along to my mother's Spanish classes (at the time she worked in a hospital in southern Arizona) and sit quietly in the back, then flip through her textbook when she wasn't using it!"

And sometimes it's just right

Does there have to be a reason why you love a language? Or sometimes...is it just what it is?

Israel Lai feels the Music with German

"As a Hongkonger I'm fluent in Cantonese, English and Mandarin, and have additionally studied French for quite a lot of years - technically 12 years from the moment I was first exposed to it. I find it a beautiful language, especially when I picked it up again 2 years ago, but just can't get it 'into' me for some reason. 2 years ago was when I discovered my passion for languages, and since then

I took German in university and touched upon various ones like Japanese, Dutch and Russian. Surprisingly, although I find written German ugly (no offence), I feel most 'at home' with this foreign language. It could be me being a musician, or it could be my one month in Vienna, perhaps even a particular way my tongue is built in, but while all other languages have one feature that appeal to my rational mind, German is the one foreign language that I feel like speaking the most, the one to which I feel a sense of belonging. That's why I'm so looking forward to becoming fluent!"

What's your language love story?

As I put this article together, I felt a wonderful sense of the love and motivation all these Fluent readers feel for their languages. No matter if it's German or Spanish, the language you love is always special to you. Creating this collection of real stories was extremely enjoyable and I would love it if you commented with your own story of true language love.

And just in case you've not seen Nightcrawler yet: Give it a try. It's pretty great.

Thanks for reading this article on Fluent, the Language Learning Blog. If you are feeling stuck right now, why not subscribe to Fluent and check out our language book shop.