Top 5 Hot Bilingual Hollywood Stars

When I was a little girl, I wanted to become an air hostess. The sleek uniforms, beautiful make-up and obvious intelligence of those women was one of the most attractive things I'd ever seen. These ladies truly had it all. They got to travel the world and speak all these cool languages (English!), all in one of the most glamorous industries around.

Guess I was not living in a feminist world, and I was pretty naïve about the airline industry, but I did become a traveller and language lover. Role models matter! Just like Sheryl Sandberg says in her book Lean In, we need to see more of what we are aiming for in life. When influential people show us how accomplished they are in speaking other languages, it shows that more than one country matters in the world. This list of Hollywood polyglots is just a little start, but I want you to find your own role models and see how far language learning can take you. Each of the stars I am listing in this article have found work in more than one country and fame in more than one culture - so it goes to show that bilingualism is not just a "nice to have", it's actually a real source of success.

top 5 hollywood bilingual.jpg

Here are 5 smokin' hot multilingual Hollywood stars.

Mads Mikkelsen

He is oscar-nominated for the harrowing thriller The Hunt, but you might know Mads Mikkelsen from his fabulous acting in recent James Bond movie Skyfall. Mads Mikkelsen speaks Danish, Swedish, English and German - a classic combination for Scandinavian actors. He's a great symbol of international success, even if you're from a small country. And pretty hot too. Godt gået, Mads!

Annet Mahendru

Annet was nominated as a multilingual role model by Fluent reader Javier, and admired around the world for her acting in The Blacklist and The Americans. She now combines her Indian and Russian heritage while forging an acting career in the USA. Annet stands out from the crowd because she is not only bilingual but a true polyglot, speaking six languages altogether.

Daniel Brühl

I can never see enough of Daniel Brühl - this stellar actor grew up bilingually with Spanish and German. He is one of Europe's finest young actors, and most recently impressed all of us as a chilling Nazi officer, speaking flawless French in Inglourious Basterds.

Daniel Brühl in Inglourious Basterds - son Français nous a impressionné.

Audrey Hepburn

We don't have to go back 30 years in time in order to find a truly beautiful, inspiring, multilingual role models in Hollywood but of course Audrey is the queen of them all. There is this quote that I have seen about her, which sums up plenty of things I believe not only about languages, but also about feminism.

Audrey Hepburn was the granddaughter of a baron, the daughter of a Nazi sympathizer, spent her teens doing ballet to secretly raise money for the dutch resistance against the Nazis, and spent her post-film career as a goodwill ambassador of UNICEF winning the presidential medal of freedom for her efforts. And history remembers her as pretty.

Check out this video on Jennie's blog to see Audrey in action.

Jodie Foster

Hollywood star, successful director, Yale graduate and bilingual. Yes, there is a lot more than just a pretty face to Jodie Foster. You can watch her speaking her flawless French in Elysium.

Bonus Mention for Poor Matt Damon

I want this guy to have the highest credit of all - credit for trying! Matt Damon spoke quite decent French in The Monuments Men and got mocked for it throughout the whole film. Shame on you, Hollywood! We all know that speaking out does not have to be done in perfect tones, and in my eyes Damon's character deserved a lot of credit for using his language skills.

So here I want to celebrate the effort Damon made as an actor, and let's hope he aspires to more bilingualism.

PS: If you also wanted to become a flight attendant, join me in listening to one of my favourite podcasts - Betty in The Sky With A Suitcase!

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Report from Colombia: Do You Worry Whether This Country Is Safe?

The biggest danger in Colombia is…

Now things are getting interesting. You’ll remember that I’ve landed in Colombia to realise one of my life-time goals, and I've begun my South American adventure.

So here I am in Bogota, Capital of Colombia, city of 8+ million people. Of course, I remember watching the news from Bogota and Medellin back in the 80’s - bombings, kidnappings, massacres...but things have changed since then, right?

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My first impressions of Bogota would be one word - civilised. Here's why:

  • The people are surprisingly friendly and helpful for a city of such size. I met some lovely folk, although you have to be on your toes at all times. There is always someone looking to take advantage of a rich Gringo. People are also very polite, it's part of the culture not evident on the Caribbean coast for example.

  • Usually when I live in a new city, I buy a push-bike, to get around, and in Bogota I had extra incentive. They have an amazing culture for bicycles, including an extensive cycleway, and every Sunday, they close all the main arterial routes, and open them to cyclists, skaters, walkers, families etc. How civilised is that!

  • You know you usually have an image of a place in your head before you go there, and my image of Bogota, and Colombia in general was distinctly Third world. I imagined shanty towns and mud huts, which there are - but in general, Bogota is not dissimilar to an English city for example, rows and rows of 2 or 3 story brick dwellings. Just like good old Coronation Street!

Homeless on the Street

Not me silly! I’m telling you what I saw. Of course, not everything in Bogota (and the rest of Colombia) is all “Champagne, Strawberries and Cream”.  I’d never seen so many people sleeping rough on the streets, there seemed to be someone sleeping everywhere, even traffic islands and the middle of the footpath, obviously Bogota has a poverty problem. Speaking of poverty, I saw plenty of Beggars in the streets, on the buses, everywhere you look, and of every age. Having the look of a rich Gringo, I'm a favourite...Colombian beggars have no problem (or shame) asking for money - anyone, anywhere, anytime. You get used to saying no or ignoring them, but it's hard when a woman with a dirty baby is asking, but you've got to harden up, which is a bit sad really.

At night many people seem to hang out in the streets, in front of their houses and apartments, drinking, talking, partying - Colombians are very social.

One day I went to the Flea market in central Bogota, to buy a bicycle. There were people selling all sorts of old stuff on the pavement, stuff that anyone in a 'developed' country would call rubbish. I found my bike, and with the help of a friend (I'm a rich 'Gringo' remember) it cost me $40. It survived 3 months in Bogota, and 4 months in Cartagena, a faithful friend.Violence, I never saw any, but nearly all the people I spoke to had been robbed at least once, one friend of mine had been robbed at gun-point 4 times (on the bus, in the street). I was reminded constantly, of Colombia;s violent reputation. The newspapers have a habit of showing the full blood and guts stories....I’d never seen that before, not even in “The Sun”.

One incident that did concern me was one night, I started to hear explosions around different parts of the city, I wondered what was going on?....was it a terrorist attack?....Paramilitaries?....actually, I had arrived around 20 July, which is Colombian Independence Day! They were celebrating with fireworks - Colombians love fireworks, and parties accompanied with loud music (never mind the neighbours).

Sightseeing Tips in Bogota, Colombia

Bogota has some wonderful sights, like Montserrate mountain church, the Gold Museum, the Botero Art Museum, the Zipaquira Salt mine, Simon Bolivar Park and the Botanical Gardens, to name a few. There's a ton of stuff to do in Bogota, you won't get bored that's for sure.

Colombian Love affair

No, I’m not taking about a woman (that comes later), it’s something more profound.

The day I landed at Bogota's 'El Dorado' airport, I began a love affair with Colombia that exists to this day. I found my 'El Dorado', not in material wealth, but things so much more important. I came here to learn, to grow as a person, to expand my horizons, and Colombia is giving me that, and so much more. You never know, it could do the same for you.

What image did you have of Colombia? Did I change that in any way? At least I hope I made you think.

Oh, and by the way, what’s the biggest danger in Colombia? It’s not wanting to leave!

Check in next time, we’re off to the Caribbean Coast!

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There's Nothing You Cannot Learn

Hello everyone, much love from the other side of the world where I am experiencing a bit of Californian sunshine. Yesterday I got to visit the absolutely stunning Montaña de Oro State Park - do not miss this if you are ever here. I texted everyone I know saying that this is the most beautiful place on earth. Just look! I can't even tell you...ich bin verliebt!

Montaña de Oro, near Morro Bay in California

Montaña de Oro, near Morro Bay in California

You Can Do It!

But there is something else I want to share with you. It's something that one of my longest standing, most impressive students said last week in a lesson. I've not been able to hide how happy it made me to hear this from one of my students.

All he says is this:

For some reason I've got it in my head that there is nothing I can't learn.

That's the attitude I love. There is nothing you cannot learn. We are all beginners at something, and if you are reading this right now while wondering if you'll ever be really fluent in German, or French, or whatever, then take heart.

There is nothing you cannot learn. You can do things now, and some things are not possible. But learning, that's different. Learning is open to you and you must only take heart and discipline. Fluent Language is here to help you on the journey - no matter how you do your thing, just learn something.

I would love to read your comments! What did you learn today?

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Which Language Should I Learn?

Thanks for reading this article on Fluent - The Language Learning Blog. Don't forget - if you sign up to our newsletter, you will receive a free Guide to the Best Language Learning Resources!

img ©srhabay.wikispaces.com

img ©srhabay.wikispaces.com

So you have decided that you want to learn a new language. This is big. This will change your life. If you are wondering which language to learn, here is a little bit of help. Here are a few thoughts that you might find useful:

1) Ignore Thoughts of “Easy” and “Difficult”

Here are some common reasons why you might hold back from learning a difficult language:

The New Alphabet

You might know that my current language learning journey is learning Russian. But this is my 7th foreign language. Until I was 28, I never even considered learning Russian. I thought it was difficult. But then came my first business trip to Kazakhstan: A country where street signs look like this:

Kazakhstan street sign

No English! No Western script! I had to find my way around the streets, and it showed me just how quickly learning a new alphabet can be done. I had been scared of this all my life, and it turned out to be a really small problem.

The New Systems

Now, what about the fact that some languages are just naturally difficult or easy? This is partly true if you measure languages by how similar they are to English. You may find that the ideas listed in this graphic are going to work for you:

But if you have an understanding of the English grammar, you already have a basic understanding of language and you will very quickly find that your existing knowledge makes learning easier. Any langauge makes more sense once you know grammar.

The Bad Experience

Many people tell me that they are not interested in learning German or French because they had to study at school and they were bad at it. It is almost as if a bad grade in school was a message to these people, telling them that they are not allowed to try again.

If you have similar thoughts, please adjust. Language learning is not about how you did in school, or about what you found difficult when you were 13. Most adult learners now look at languages from a different point of view, and as a teacher I have often experienced that even the most basic knowledge of a language will be reactivated when you come back to it after many years. So in other words, if it was difficult at school you must not expect it to be difficult after school.

2) 1000 Speakers Is Enough

Many people decide that they want to learn a popular language spoken by many people everywhere. But did you know that even minority languages like Irish Gaelic or Maltese are spoken by over 100,000 people around the world? This means there are more people than you could speak to in a lifetime.

When you decide to learn a new language, choosing the popular language can help you find more native speakers makes it easier to find materials and fellow learners. But there are also advantages to learning the rare language. For example, native speakers will appreciate your effort so much more. Plus, rare languages can actually boost your career! My friend Mike is a native English speaker and found that his skill in Finnish helped him start his translation business in a smaller market and attract bigger clients a lot more easily. This would be a lot harder if you were working in a language spoken by millions.

3) Your Interest is The Best Guide

The first and strongest bit of advice I can give you is to choose a language that truly interests you. This matters more than the number of speakers, the career prospects, the difficulty or anything else. If you are fascinated by the desert palaces of Rajasthan in India, you should not be looking at learning Spanish!

Every expert will tell you that learning a language just gets so much better when you can make it come alive. Obviously, this means speaking in most cases. But even if a language is hardly used in modern times, you can still become extremely passionate about it. Latin learners will enjoy reading the smart (sometimes really funny) writings of Ovid, and if you are in Europe it will give you a new perspective on your own country. This can be fascinating and rewarding, and we haven’t even started to talk about how useful Latin is for learning Italian, Spanish, French, Romanian and so many more.

So, Which Language Should You Learn?

In my life, I have so far studied 7 languages. It never felt like a waste of time. Now that I am studying Russian I know that each and every one of the other 6 is making it easier for me. But the important thing was that I stuck with those languages, and I didn’t start more than one at the same time. My best advice would be to just make a decision and start learning. Stick with your language. If you become interested in a different one in the future, you have not wasted your time because language study is connected, and teaches you a new way of looking at the world.

Stop wasting your time choosing the easiest language, instead choose the most interesting one.

There is just one thing to think about when you want to learn a new language: You will learn nothing if you stay lazy. New languages are always a lot of work, and the only way to keep going is to motivate yourself all the time. This can be because of cultural reasons, but the interest in your own achievement is just as powerful. For example, I never learnt French because I wanted to move to France. But at the same time, I never gave up on French and I committed my time and effort. Now I am fluent in French, and still have never lived in France. French culture is not my passion, but being able to speak French has always been such a strong goal that I just kept going. The formula I would share with you is a bit like this:

Interest * (Commitment + Engagement) * Time = Fluency

If one of these is zero, you will not achieve fluency.

I hope this article helped you make up your mind. Which language do you dream of? What’s holding you back from studying it?

Further Reading:

The Best Japanese Movies, Anime and Games

An Article by Angel Armstead

Do you love Japanese culture as much as I do?

Since I’ve been studying Japanese the longest out of the three languages I’m studying, I want to showcase some of my favorite games, shows and movies.

I'm actually still on the hunt for my favourite Japanese novel. I currently don’t have any favorite Japanese novels as I still have problems with much of the writing system. I don’t have that problem with some of my games because they typically use kana, which I'm pretty comfortable with by now. I’m also able to easily find info to help out with games that don’t rely on just kana.

Movies

I guess I should warn anyone reading this that the types of movies I watch are not meant for children. My favorite genre is Horror and was quite happy to find Horror in Japanese.

Battle Royale

This is one of the first non-animated films that I watched. I didn’t like the movie at first at all because of my bias with The Hunger Games. I did later like it the second time around as I paid more attention to specific characters.

Battle Royale is a movie in which an entire class is selected to be a part of "Battle Royale.” In it the students are drugged up and taken to an island and basically told "kill or be killed in three days". There is no other option as collars are placed on the students' necks while drugged up. The teacher in this game can eliminate anyone he wants to because of that collar. One of the things that I found good about it was the returning character Kawada. He was in a Battle Royale before and lost someone close to him. In this one he’s in, he shows that it doesn’t have to be "kill or be killed".

One Missed Call

This is one of the movies I accidentally found due to Netflix. I sometimes look up foreign movies on Netflix so I do still get the DVDs. It’s a great way to find foreign language films and watch them in their original language. One of my biases towards this was the ringtone. I like playing piano and did like learning this (Right hand only) on piano (listen here if you dare!). Plus it’s the only movie I’ve watched where your ringtone was a real ringtone of death!

In this movie your cell would ring as normal but with a strange ring tone. The caller id would show the call coming from you. In the call you’d hear your own death and what time it will take place. Almost everyone uses a cell phone. I’m a big fan of horror so using something so commonly used is what interested me in this movie.

Premonition

Another movie I got from Netflix. My original reason for watching was to make sure that a story I was working on wasn’t exactly like this movie. Fortunately it wasn’t. Seeing the future is a liability for anyone in this movie.

Premonition starts off kind of regular. A man is driving his wife and kids and stops at a pay phone. He sees a piece of a newspaper clipping which talks about the death of his family and even shows the time. But before he can prevent it, the crash from the paper clipping happens. One of the things I liked about it was the idea of seeing the future through mediums like newspaper, radio, etc. It also showed seeing the future wasn’t entirely a good thing. Most would want to change a horrible future but changing it may be worse than allowing the future to take its course.

Games

All of these games can be played in either Japanese or English.

Eternal Sonata

This is an RPG (role playing game) about Chopin on his deathbed and the strange world and unique people in it.In this game you have the option for English subtitles with English or Japanese audio. I have switched between playing this game in Japanese and in English. That’s a good point because you can switch back and forth in the game. In some games you don’t get to switch the language once you choose it.

Pokémon X/Y

First Pokémon game that I know that allows you to pick the language that you can play in. Before this game, I would import the games to play them in Japanese. If you pick Japanese you can switch between kana and kanji. You cannot change to English or any other language once you select the language you want to play in. Unfortunately it does not have my other two target languages as an option. I’m still happy that I can play it in Japanese.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Worldwide Edition: Stairway to the Destined Duel

This was the first game I ever got that was multilingual. For language learners, the downside is you cannot choose between kana or kanji. The Japanese is written correctly so I do have problems with the kanji but I’ve gotten a lot better than when I first played it. You can change the language within the game anytime that you want, even during a duel, which is brilliant.

Anime

I don’t watch anime as much as I used to. I think once I moved on to games in Japanese and Horror movies I kind of forgot about anime. So these shows aren’t the newest.

Ah! My Goddess

This was the first anime that I watched for more than 5 minutes. This was back when I couldn’t stand anime. A boy accidentally calls a Goddess hotline and asks the Goddess to stay with him. It’s a comedy. I don’t remember how I found this anime since it wasn’t on TV. I originally got the VHS tape and didn’t have subtitles as an option. It was also my first year of Japanese class and didn’t understand most of it. I still liked what I saw.

Inuyasha

Inuyasha is an anime starring your average teenager Kagome Higurashi. Everything changes on her fifteenth birthday when she is dragged to the past and forced to continue in a life she lived in the past. There is a lot of fighting in this show with random monsters but there is also a lot of comedy in it. Even though the story is kind of serious, it still has times where it’s fun and light.

Probably the second anime that I watched and liked although it was also one I turned off originally within five minutes. I decided to give it a second chance after seeing the main villain in the show. I had taken classes a little bit longer by the time I got into this show and I watched it in English & Japanese. Though most times I still prefer the Japanese version. I like to hear a target language as much as possible.

Listen to my piano rendition of Inuyasha on YouTube.

Yu-Gi-Oh!

I'll confess something: I hated this show so much at first. A friend of mine got me into the video game so I decided to watch the show again. I wanted to learn the names of the cards. I eventually found a way to watch it in Japanese. Typically shows like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! are hard to find in thier original language, so by the time I started watching this show I could understand a lot more Japanese. Maybe that’s what helped me like it eventually - the confidence booster in showing me that I understood a lot more Japanese than even I realized.

I liked this show because of the emphasis on Ancient Egypt, pharaohs and Egyptian deities.

What's your favorite language show?

So that’s my list, but there are many more great Japanese games and books out there. What are your favorite movies, games, books or shows that you’ve watched in your target language?

New Competition from DW: Share your German Learning Methods

To everyone who is learning the coolest language of all - Deutsch! Deutsche Welle, Germany's fabulous international broadcaster has launched a competition together with DHL. They want to hear from German learners all around the world.

A little snapshot from one of my own German classes in Lancaster - we definitely need some caffeine!

A little snapshot from one of my own German classes in Lancaster - we definitely need some caffeine!

Wie lernst du Deutsch?

How do you learn German? Are you up for sharing a bit of "show and tell"? Maybe take a picture at your German class, or take a picture of your bunch of dictionaries and apps. Every learner has his/her own best method.

Here's a link to the DW news item announcing the new competition

German Learning Ideas

  • Take a photo of yourself making a German cake with your family
  • Show your city guides and mindmaps
  • Show off colour coded vocabulary learning lists
  • Take a photo of FlashSticks in your bathroom (or kitchen...etc)
  • Show where you learn best (for example, I used to sit next to the Mosel river and study...works much better than sitting at home!)

I will definitely be encouraging all of my students to enter screenshots from our online lessons, to show that German lessons are held all around the world using Skype and Facetime.

How to Enter the Competition

  1. Find your area in the list on this website so you know the deadlines for your own competition.
  2. Take a photo that shows off your learning method. The photo must be yours.
  3. Write a little description - auf Deutsch, of course!
  4. Mail your submission to bildung@dw.de

Good luck - and please post a link to your photo in the comments on this blog article so everyone can see how you learn best!

Travel Plans: Meet Up With Kerstin in America

Last year I got to meet the ever lovely Mr Randy Glover, my long term German student, in London. Come and meet me on my travels!

Last year I got to meet the ever lovely Mr Randy Glover, my long term German student, in London. Come and meet me on my travels!

One of my favourite podcasts is Betty in the Sky, whose wonderful theme song invites us to "travel the world together". So as I am putting preparations together for my own special trip, I want to invite you to join me if you can!

On Friday, I will bundle myself into an aeroplane and head over to the USA:

  • Portland OR (March 23-25),
  • California (April 1-7),
  • Chicago (April 9)
  • and Indiana (April 10-14)

are on my list.

There will be teaching from the road, personal development at a Chris Guillebeau conference, and lots of frozen yoghurt.

If you live in one of these cities and would like to hang out and speak another language with me, I would be delighted to meet up. Please email kerstin@fluentlanguage.co.uk by Friday 21 March so we can make great plans.

Where Are The Best German Restaurants?

And if you can share YOUR tips for the best international restaurants in those places, I want to hear it! Where can I get German Spätzle in San Francisco? I promise to try out everything and report back.

 

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Jamie Oliver: Secret Cantonese Speaker

Hi everyone, just a really quick blog post today to share with you the adorable Cantonese skills of a very English chef: Jamie Oliver!

Mr Oliver is preparing for World Domination. If you don't know this guy, a quick summary of Jamie Oliver would be "laid-back British chef, extremely enterprising and loves to portray himself as a geezer". Geezer is a regional word from Southern England, meaning "dude". Jamie is a dude.

Jamie is now opening a restaurant in Hong Kong, and decided to speak some Cantonese to promote it. See how he did:

Lessons to be learnt from this?

  • Your Business Should Export
  • Speaking Another Language Helps You In Business
  • Speaking Another Language Should Be Fun
  • Everyone loved that he tried, and no one minded his mistakes

Take a lesson from Jamie Oliver there, and not even a cooking one. This is a person who goes out and just tries. More, please!

I want to know what you think: Who are your favourite famous language speakers? Have you ever tried to open an Italian submarine in Hong Kong?

Travelling The World: How Ricky Made It From New Zealand To Colombia

Hey everybody, Ricky here, ready to share of my own story with you. I hope you'll find this inspiring - it's never too late to start living!

You may remember from my first post, I was telling you some of my history - how I'm from New Zealand and I live in Colombia. Now I want to tell you about how I came here to this beautiful land of Colombia.

ricky -Colombian collage 1.jpg

My story goes back about 10 years, when I turned ‘naughty Forty’. It was a time of reflection...where am I, what am I doing, where do I see myself in 10 or 20 years. Then, a few years later I found myself divorced, no kids, successful in my own business, but hungry for something else, and with very itchy feet.

How A Comic Book Sent Me to Colombia

You may have heard of, or read Tintin, the adventurous boy who travels the world with his friends and his dog helping people and being a hero. Well Tintin travelled to South America a lot, and I loved his books. The stories of his adventures with the Incas and the Aztecs really captured my imagination. So when I was thinking about what to do, my mind came to South America, the magic land of the Incas, The Aztecs, El Dorado, The Amazon...I had to come.

So I took a 6 month holiday, and booked a ticket for Colombia. I chose Colombia because it's tropical, which I love, it's central to the places I wanted to see, and because my on-line investigations had told me that it was a wonderful place (don't believe everything you read in the newspapers/see on T.V./Watch at the movies).

A Tiny Tour of South America

My first taste of South America was Santiago, Chile. I stopped over there for a few days, just to check out the city. It was nice, a little colourless, polluted and cold, but I learnt about Pablo Neruda (a Poet/Diplomat/Politician), and visited one of his houses, which was amazing.

Next I went to Lima, Peru where I spent a few more days. Lima is also a nice place, very big, lots of people, but beside the Pacific Ocean, which is beautiful. I visited some of the poorest neighbourhoods in Lima, and started to see the other side of South America - no watches, necklaces, bracelets, cameras when you go there!

Then finally I landed in Bogota, Colombia - I thought I was back in Europe, and it was peaceful (for a city of 8+ Million people), well that was my first impression anyway. It has a mild climate not too dissimilar to my home city of Wellington. I recognised many of the trees and plants too. Bogota sits at an altitude of 1500m, so the air’s a little thin, and takes a few days to get used to. That was my first experience of this kind of altitude. So here I am in Bogota, Colombia and....oops! sorry guys, I’m out of time, I’ve got to run. Don’t worry though, I’ll tell you more in my next blog post.

OK - take it easy until then, and always HAVE FUN.

Language Learning Website AudioLingua Provides Free Audio In 10 Languages

Hey guys, it's Kerstin here - your new editor at Fluent! Well, really I'm still just Kerstin from Fluent, the Language Learning Blog, but I want to take a second and celebrate our new writers. I hope you like their contributions so far!

Today I just want to share a website with you that I've recently discovered. It's called AudioLingua and offers free native speaker audio on everyday topics and in 10 languages. What an absolute gem.

You can search the tracks by language, level, gender of the speaker, age of the speaker and their length. They are all submitted by real people, so that means natural language content and relevant topics and expressions. Here's an example in German at B1 level:

Using AudioLingua As A Tutor

In my own sessions, I've used the A1 content from different examples to practice listening with students. I left them to listen to various examples a few times, and then asked:

What do you know about the speaker?

When working with a student in 1 to 1, I have the great advantage that I can figure out exactly what they understood. I repeat difficult sections as many times as necessary and focus on specific words, giving hints and explaining as we go along. This way I can try and help students to find as much of the meaning as possible.

After discussing the text, I also put in some comprehension exercises such as "Did the speaker say she lives in Berlin?" and so on.

Depending on the level you're working with, these can also be great prompts for writing homework or for asking a student to prepare a spoken response.

How to Use AudioLingua As An Independent Learner

If you haven't got a teacher or language partner on hand, the most important thing is to remember that you have time - this means no skimming and no "I get the gist".

A few suggestions:

  • Select tracks at your level on the CEFR
  • Before you listen to a track, look at the description and note the themes, try and remember words you know about this subject and say them out loud
  • Have the first listen
  • Listen again, this time pausing the track and trying to make notes
  • On your third listen, things should start coming together. Now, I'd recommend that you type up your notes in a transcript and post them to a native speaking friend, a teacher or the community on italki to check yourself

Of course there is also a great option of downloading every track, so you'll be able to use them as podcasts on the go. Repeat the input more than you think is necessary - this sounds odd, but trust me that you should begin to get bored before you have really learnt the language.

Get Involved

Any native speaker can become a language teacher with AudioLingua. You can support this great project by recording yourself as you read out a simple text in your native language, and sending it to the AudioLingua project. Please go to this page to read the manual and the submission form. For such a great resource, I hope you'll find the time to submit a recording. I know I definitely will!

Thanks for reading this article on Fluent - The Language Learning Blog. Don't forget - if you sign up to our newsletter, you will receive a free Guide to the Best Language Learning Resources!