How To Run The Show in Language Learning

Reading a language learning blog is a funny undertaking, isn't it? You can find amazing community, new ideas and reviews of products that you have not tried yet. For many people, looking at the language learning successes out there is also a real motivator: When you feel like it's never going to be a thing to really learn 20,000 words in Japanese, it's nice to see others out there who have done it.

As a language teacher, I know how you feel. My Twitter and Feedly are full on inspiration for making lessons more interesting, helping students with grammar and being a better teacher. Websites and blogs are an amazing resource and I love reading about what other teachers have tried, what works and just how they go about language teaching. It's so reassuring to know I'm using an idea that works!

Focusing on Yourself

But every now and then, I have to take a break from all the blogs. The internet is noisy, and I start reading about how it's all about immersion, how "using English in lessons is a big mistake" or "no sensible learner uses paper anymore".

It's all "have to do this" and "useless if you don't do that". And I kind of have to shout "NO!! This is my show! We're using my style!" I am a teacher who likes to get to know and forge a real partnership with my student, I want to teach relaxed, happy people. I don't want a cramped-up forced immersion and I know that this method really does not work when I try it. The atmosphere of trust and joy in my lessons disappears when I turn army general, and I feel like a failure.

Conclusion? I am much better when I run the show my way.

Does that sound familiar to you? Too many blogs telling you to watch 5 hours of TV in the foreign language every day, or to only read articles that are way too difficult? Yes, thanks internet. I don't think you need to do that. In fact, I think what you need to do is chill out.

What is something you can do that you truly enjoy without stressing out? Even if it’s something that people don't blog about, if you like it, you're way more likely to do it more.

The Core Skills Idea

For example, take my strong belief that every language learner needs to work on all four core skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing. What if you could work out a plan that addresses each weakness systematically?

First reveal of the new book cover. Do you like it?

First reveal of the new book cover. Do you like it?

The idea of my book Fluency Made Achievable is to guide you through the right kind of self-assessment without telling you what you absolutely have to do. I provide ideas, methods, showing what works and what has crystallized throughout the years as good advice from language teachers and learners. But what I never want to do is have you feel like you are failing if you are doing things your way.

The book’s sequel, The Vocab Cookbook, will then address how you remember all of the vocabulary you pick up and help you develop good systems for learning it. Again, what I do is give sensible advice. Sensible is sensational but not sensationalist.

Run the show.

If you feel demoralised, and can’t believe you’ll ever improve just because the internet says so, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. I hope two books will help you to develop skills to conquer this, but most importantly I want you to feel like you're having fun here.

For me, it's all about trying out my new words on people, looking like an idiot and sticking post-its with vocabulary all ove the house.

What are some things that you love doing in your language study?

  • “Fluency Made Achievable” and “No Forgetting – A Smart Guide To Vocabulary Learning” officially go on sale at the end of this month, but there's a Pre-Sale THIS WEEK (ahhh exciting!) which you can join by signing up here.

How Not to Learn Spanish!

Today I'm very proud to be featuring a guest post from Gareth Evans. I know Gareth as the marketing guy behind the awesome FlashSticks (which you know I don't stop enthusing about), and on discovering his language learning story I invited him to share his adventures in Argentina as a language learner. Gareth is on Twitter for FlashSticks and they’re always up for a natter on Twitter, so do say hello. And don't forget you can win them as part of the Sensational Fluent Pack until 10 August 2014.

This story is awesome - it has everything! Language, travel, adventure, classes... Gareth tells you all you ever need to know about learning Spanish. 

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How Not to Learn Spanish

I meant to become fluent in Spanish, I really did. After all, that was the whole point of the trip, wasn’t it? I definitely wasn’t running away from the tedium of the life I’d created for myself in London; it was all about learning another language properly, for the first time.

At least that’s what I told myself.

It was early 2012 and, on somewhat of a whim, which involved Googling “best places in the world to learn Spanish,” I made the decision to move to Argentina. The pictures I found and the stories I read about Buenos Aires jumped off the page. I was ready to immerse myself in Spanish. And that was going to be the way that I finally learned a foreign language to some sort of respectable standard, whatever that means.

First Steps in the Right Direction

In planning my indefinite trip, I was doing all the right things. I’d booked Spanish classes, and paid for them upfront, for 3 months, I’d found a flat share with a few fellow Spanish beginners, and a Chilean couple, and I’d signed up for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes, where all of the instruction was to be in Castellano.

All I had to do was turn up, commit to all of that and I’d be fluent by the time I left. Or at least that was the plan.

Bad Habits

I’m quite happy to admit it, in hindsight at least -- I was intimidated. After all, I was moving to a completely new city on the other side of the world, where I didn’t know anyone, and I was firmly putting myself out of my comfort zone. I like to think of myself as fairly brave when it comes to this sort of thing; I love to travel and I’ve been to about 30 countries. But I’d never quite travelled like this and it was scary.

Upon arriving at my apartment, I was greeted by two Dutch girls, who I would be sharing the apartment with; one left after a few days and I would live with the other for the duration of my stay, while the Chilean couple wouldn’t be moving in for another month or so.

On the surface, living with friendly Dutch people was great and it really helped me acclimatise to Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, however, both of them spoke about as much Spanish as I did, which was, essentially, nothing. English was, therefore, the universal language spoken in the house. And that was great for me in terms of having interesting conversations, but it hampered the speed of my Spanish acquisition significantly.

Spanish Class

I was not great at languages at school. Wait, that’s a cop out. The reality is that learning languages just didn’t interest me at school and, to make matters worse, my language teachers weren’t particularly inspiring.

Maybe it was my age, or maybe the instruction was better, but I seemed to pick up Spanish a lot easier in Buenos Aires. It wasn’t happening at warp speed like I’d hoped, but, in Spanish class, my Spanish really was coming along. It took me a while to get the knack of the grammar side of things, but I’m blessed with a more or less photographic memory, so the vocabulary side of things came reasonably easily.

On more than one occasion, my Spanish teacher told me she was impressed with my progress, especially given that my previous knowledge of Spanish consisted of things I’d picked up by watching the Flintstones, in Spanish, on my last trip to South America 10 years before.

The problem

I may have been progressing in a traditional, classroom-based sense, but what I wasn’t doing was actually speaking to people. You see, I made friends with a lot of European people from the language school I was studying at, as well as a big group of Americans. So, I either spent my time speaking English or, because pretty much all of these people were more or less fluent, I simply deferred to them in situations that arose where Spanish was a necessity.

I became lazy.

A glimmer of hope

After spending 4 months in Buenos Aires, most of my European and American friends were beginning to head home. I’d made some Argentine friends, but my gut told me it was time to move on.

So I did -- to Peru, probably my favourite country in the world.

When leaving Buenos Aires, I made the somewhat questionable decision to get the bus to Arequipa, Peru. Although those were a painful 3 days on the bus in some respects, yes I said 3 days, that trip did also completely transform the language learning journey I was on.

I spent 3 days sitting next to a Peruvian woman and was surrounded by Peruvians, being, quite overtly, the only tourist on this particular bus. After all, who else in their right mind would get a bus for 3 days out of choice?!

But I digress.

Over the next 3 days, I spoke more Spanish than I had in the previous 4 months combined. I got rid of my foreign language stage fright, mostly because necessity forced it, and I began enjoying speaking Spanish; perhaps for the first time.

The people I took that trip with were unbelievably friendly and supportive; they gave me praise when I got things right and they were helpful, correcting me when I got things wrong and explaining what I was doing wrong. And best of all, speaking English was simply not on the menu. I had to find a way to communicate.

Finally Getting It

It may have taken 3 days spent on a bus with a group of Peruvians, but I finally got it. The benefits of learning a second language finally dawned on me.

On that bus, the Peruvians I met truly appreciated my efforts to speak Spanish to them. Yes, it was clumsy at first, but, by the end of the trip, our conversations had begun to run a lot deeper than the normal pleasantries that one learns as a beginner.

We began to share stories, talk about life in England, discuss what life was like in Peru and I got a real insight into their family life. But most of all, I felt, for the first time, that I was really starting to understand that adage about seeing the world through a different lens when you learn a second language.

As the months ticked by, I returned to the UK around a year after first leaving for Buenos Aires. I don’t regret those months I spent in Argentina, but I certainly believe that leaving the city was actually the best thing I could have done. When I stood on my own two feet and pushed myself out of my language learning comfort zone, I soon found that my Spanish improved beyond belief.

I would classify myself as far from fluent; in fact, I’m not even sure what fluency really is and whether it’s actually worth worrying about. But what I can say, unequivocally, is that I’ve now fully internalised the benefits of learning a second language.

And that’s a big step for me.

From here, it’s just about finding as many opportunities as possible to continue to practice and trying to make language learning a part of my daily routine. It may be easier said than done, but I’m certainly giving it a go.

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!

My Authentic Philosophy Behind The New Fluent Guides

If you have been following my little blog for over half a year, then this picture will look familiar to you:

I wrote the little book Fluency Made Achievable in 2013, motivated by a desire to show everyone that "Language Hacking" is not the only way to succeed. Why shouldn't we ENJOY our study?

Fluency Made Achievable was published on Kindle, PDF and even came out in print, but all along I wasn't 100% confident in selling it yet. I wanted to serve you guys a lot better - and then I took the decision to work on just that.

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You guys know that I recognise the frustrations and learning obstacles you experience when trying to teach yourselves a new language, and why, all too often, people just give up. If you have previously read my first book, Fluency Made Achievable, you will know how I endeavour to show you how to overcome such obstacles, simply and effectively. 
So here's what is happening:
Fluency Made Achievable has now been edited, whilst my second book, No Forgetting– A Smart Guide to Vocabulary Learning is entirely new, and provides you with the next steps for finding, memorizing and revising new vocabulary in any language.
Don't forget that we are currently running an AMAZING giveaway in the run-up to the launch, but in the meantime, want to give you an exclusive preview about what the books offer.
Fluency Made Achievable is broken down into sections that help you develop basic learning skills and address each of your strengths and weaknesses accordingly. The system is built around the four core language skills. You are given targeted exercises, and the subsequent chapters, entitled Listening, Reading, Speaking, Writing and Expert Interviews, guide you through those learning methods and help you develop each skill so that they complement each other and become effortless.
No Forgetting takes you on the next stage of your journey, helping you to understand a little bit more about the ways in which people engage with vocabulary, and suggesting learning methods for extending and maintaining your vocabulary and grammar in your chosen language so that it becomes a natural process.

My belief in all things language learning is this:

Fluency is a commitment, a feeling of ongoing self-improvement, and the most rewarding thing you can feel. I am fluent in English and French, and never go without that sense of pride and achievement when I speak them. I am not fluent in Spanish and "LOLZ" in Russian, and still get a glowing enjoyment when I practice them.

If you follow language hacks and shortcuts, and chase 1000 words every day, you will burn yourself out and lose the joy of language learning. The journey is what matters, and you will choose the methods that work best for you.

I am so proud to be sharing both of these books with you, and cannot wait to hear your feedback. There is very exclusive pre-sale taking place from 27 July, open only to those who are on my Fluent Language newsletter. Why not come and join us to get the best offers straight to your inbox?

Are you committed to becoming fluent - or do you have a different goal in language learning? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

To read more from me about why or how self-publishing works, check out the Fluent in the Press section too.

Rise of the Female Language Blogger

So This Is The World We Live In

The other day I was reading the back of my packet of breakfast cereal (a habit I've had since I could read) and noticed that the back of it is addressed to kids. A game, some fun suggestions, some ideas for a family day. One thing was striking: There were about 3 different references to "mum" and not a single one to "dad".

As a woman who grew up in a non-feminist environment (Mama, I hope this is ok to say..) I am more than aware of the world today. Women are still expected to be quiet. We're not as visible on the salary scales, the boards of directors, in most industries and anywhere that people are expected to speak up. Being a woman when I was growing up meant cleaning, cooking and being nurturing. It did NOT mean speaking up, and it certainly didn't mean speaking other languages.

And These Are The Hands We're Given

So looking at the world of language learning, what do we see? The same situation?

Well, yes and no. Here's the accusation:

The internet is full of "polyglots", guys showing their talents and performing for their different audiences. This is great, but can take on quite the characteristics of a (excuse the expression) boys' pissing contest. We all love languages, and we don't all love a show-off. I see very few women in that space - are they welcome?

And here's the defence:

There are many amazing female linguists in the world who should be highlighted and celebrated. As Sheryl Sandberg puts it in her impressive book Lean In: We have to SEE what what want to become in this world. No women of importance means fewer women who will be of importance. Pioneers are all fine, but after the pioneeresses there will be the true followers. So let's go. I'm in great company.

Judith Meyer

It can be quite surprising actually, thinking back about the past week and realizing how little language study you’ve done, even though you may have the superficial sense of having recently worked on your languages.
— Judith Meyer,

Judith Meyer is well known in the language learning space. She holds her own in the "polyglot" world, runs GermanPod101 and has even created German learning apps. Judith's style is no-nonsense and focused on practical learning tips. She shares what works for her and lives a life dedicated to language learning.

Ruth Thao

Ruth Elisabeth Thao writes about learning Vietnamese, but as with all language learning blogs you can actually use many of her insights for learning any language at all. For example, here's good advice on improving spelling.

Before I launched my blog about Vietnamese, I did some research to see what other single-language blogs were doing. I never thought about gender at the time, but two of the three blogs I used as a model were run by women. It’s only later as I began reading general language learning blogs that I noticed that nearly all of those are run by men.

This doesn’t match up with what I see in the real world - classes I’ve attended have been fairly balanced, most of my language teachers over the years have been female and of course in towns and cities all over the world you meet both men and women who can speak one or more foreign languages.
— Ruth Thao on being a Female Language Blogger

Jennie Wagner

Our next blogger, Jennie Wagner has been going for a long time. Jennie is an American who moved out to Europe at the start of her adventure. She has actually written about the invisibility of women in the language learning space, too! And as always it's so much more eloquent than I could ever hope to be. These days, Jennie is a bit quieter and I believe she's working on a PhD in Australia. What a world traveller!

Ellen Jovin

Next up - Ellen Jovin, an energetic and dedicated self-identifying linguaphile. Ellen lives in New York, and is working on her 18th language - and here's what I love - because she wants to know her city's languages! So cool, so smart, and a prolific reviewer too. Plus, this is the best-designed language learning website I have ever seen!

Kirsten Winkler

Kirsten Winkler is not a learner of a dozen languages, but she has put her smarts to the task in the area of language blogging. Most learners will know her as the mastermind of Fair Languages and Deutsch Happen, and these days Kirsten's main work is in informing and reporting on EdTech - a true pioneer in the learning industry. I love Kirsten's independent attitude and the way she clearly follows a good story no matter where it's hiding. Find her work at Edukwest.

Jana Fadness

Adventure is something you take with you. Adventure is an attitude, a spirit, a way of approaching life. You can have great adventures as a world traveller, as a brain surgeon, as a bus driver, or as a housewife.
— Jana Fadness

Jana Fadness has one of the cutest blogs around. She shares her art and music, her love of travel, her photos and her love of languages, and regularly posts bilingual articles in English and Japanese.

Catherine Wentworth

I am not a teacher. I am not a fluent Thai speaker. In fact, I’m pretty cacca at languages. Ok, maybe cacca isn’t the word for it: I’m finding learning languages as an insomniac quite challenging. That’s more like it.
— Catherine Wentworth,

More Thai! It's such a popular language - man I need to put Thai on my list one day. Catherine Wentworth from Women Learning Thai (and some men too) runs an extremely informative and in-depth website about all things related to learning Thai and other languages too. I love her own description, which once again goes to show that a lot of people out there are keen to express how accessible language learning is.


For me personally, I write in order to represent who I am - a language learner, a language teacher, a person who is interested in the whole way people connect to each other. And yes, I'm also a woman and I will mention that whenever it's relevant! I have other interests too (this blog will reflect them more in the near future), but there's only one Kerstin out there. What I see from ladies around the internet is matter-of-fact advice paired with a lot of enthusiasm. The focus is on these things being practical, and there are many teachers out there who share their work. While women and men are both entrepreneurial in this space (which I love, and I am also participating in very happily through the Fluent Guide books), I have not seen declarations of having found the one answer, and also much fewer promises of how language can be learnt faster, harder, stronger. On the whole, could it be said that the female language bloggers out there prefer a slightly more sober, less achievement-focused style? No matter where you stand, it's obvious that we are not invisible!

Ladies, do you feel like women are represented enough on the internet? Do you think we are different from guys in how we learn languages?

Tell me and tell the world in the comments below!

The Intensive, Tough but Super Effective Method for Memorizing Vocabulary in Any Language

You guys, you and I both know that forgetfulness must be one of the most annoying elements that hold you back from learning a language. Remembering vocabulary can be difficult, especially with all those little words like prepositions and conjunctions. Personally, I am blessed with reasonable memory so I am a pretty good reviser, but as part of my research for No Forgetting - A Smart Guide to Vocabulary Learning I got to know a few new tricks! 

For example, I got to meet one of the “gurus” of learning how to memorise stuff. Anthony Metivier is a Canadian living in Berlin, and spending some quality time in his memory palaces. If you get a copy of my book, you’ll be hearing directly from him about his methods. But today, I want to share a review about his work directly, because Anthony has some pretty firm ideas about language learning that he shares in his Udemy Course “How to Learn and Memorize the Vocabulary of Any Language”.

Signing up through the course links in this article supports my site, by the way, so please do it! You will get the course at half price with the code FLUENTLANGUAGE, please do not forget to type it in.

Where Can You Learn This Method?

I like spending time on Udemy interacting with my own course crowd and discovering new ideas for what I could learn, and Anthony’s course does stand out quite a bit. Not only has it attracted over 5000 students already, but it’s also rated 5 Stars by most of the students.

Anthony’s course is huge, it’s split into 12 sections covering every possible angle of memorising vocabulary in a memory palace that you can imagine. He starts off by sharing his own story - like so many strong believers in a method they’ve discovered, he says that he actually used to be pretty bad at remembering stuff. In his words, the Magnetic Memory Method has completely changed his life. And with that in mind, it’s definitely worth checking out the course.

A full review for this course might run over thousands of words (and ain't nobody got time....well I'd just never do it!), so instead I recommend you check it out for yourselves over at Udemy. Here is my short link for you: Read on for a speedy review of the essentials - and my verdict on whether this might work.

Does it Work?

One of the core advantages of Anthony’s method is that the way he has put it together is pretty unique. The theories and the methods he works with are not hot off the press news but that’s irrelevant. They are tried and tested, and he does a great job of bringing everything together for language learners here. Do you currenly use a memory palace? Do you currently break a word into sounds and components while trying to remember it? If not, then you want to take a look at this stuff.

My own results for using word association and location have been extremely successful. You have often heard me mention sticky notes in your house, but I had never thought about using all of the different rooms together as “memory palaces”. It’s great - basically it’s taking the next step and now you mentally label your whole house (familiar places, that's the key), then move through it in your mind (though make sure you follow Lecture 7 to know what NOT to do). The real memory anchor is building mental images that you put into those memory palaces. So you build them, then you populate them, then you store and test, and then you never forget anything, like ever, again. 

It’s not easy, it’s not spontaneous, it requires both dedication and spreadsheets. You better work through those 21 worksheets, but if you are ready to commit that much effort to your Magnetic Memory Method you will succeed! It does work and it will make even the most annoying little words stick in your mind for a long long time.

How I Applied It With Russian Vocabulary

memorizing vocabulary

For what it’s worth, here’s a picture of the little doodle I made when I first looked through this course - a mental map of a house (memory palaces), and the stairs populated with words that have the ц letter in them. It’s a sort of “ts” sound, so it reminded me of “st” in stairs. Yes, this already sounds crazy but the beauty of a great memory method is actually that it only has to work for you!! So in my stair room, there’s a bird bouncing down the stairs, making the sound “peep”! Why? Because Russian for bird is “pteetsa” (птица), and now I’ve bundled together the p from peep, the meaning of the word and the reminder that the spelling has a ц in it. I won’t forget the word any time soon, that bird is flying down my staircase all over my mind right now. So as you can see, Anthony’s guidance creates crazy associations - they are colourful, fun and so very memorable.

The pacing of the course is difficult to gauge because it’s obviously self-paced through videos. I would however recommend no more than one section per week and that means you can become a memory wizard in about 3 months here! 

Value for Money

You getting soooo much time and tuition out of this course, and the benefits are extremely valuable if you only put your mind to it. Go with the exercises, complete the worksheet, and observe how Anthony’s methods really do improve your memory. For 97 dollars (and save money with the code FLUENTLANGUAGE, don't forget!!). At the current exchange rate, that’s actually a great deal.

Video Quality

The videos are focused on audio and projected words onto the screen, which is the area where I believe we have some room for improvement. I would *love* to see more of Anthony talking directly to us and demonstrating his method live as he moves around the memory palace. I would really love a few screencasts, seeing him take even better advantage of having video in this course. The audio quality is absolutely fabulous and I also really appreciate the written materials that Anthony supplies.

Instructor Quality

Anthony is a special instructor because he has that thing you do want in any teacher - full dedication to his subject. This man is living the Magnetic Memory thing, so he'll make sure it works for his students. Plus, his voice and calm delivery are very pleasant and add to the value. You may have seen my cat Abigail say hello in my own French Grammar Course on there, but Anthony is too much of a pro for that! Section 12 of this course is particularly special, as this is where he has added extra recordings to help course participants apply the method. The questions are all asked by language learners, meaning this section focuses on everything to do with memory and language learning. For example, in Lecture 50, he gives you a full walkthrough of the memory palaces that work for a Greek alphabet.

Overall Rating

The Udemy Course “How to Learn and Memorize the Vocabulary of Any Language” offers great value for money and will keep you perfecting your memory method for months to come. It's not suitable for someone looking for a quick fix, but if you're dedicated and excited about learning something new, this will be for you. Pretty good videos, calm delivery and extensive documentation mean I'm giving this a 4.5/5.


Use this link to sign up: You will get the course at half price with the code FLUENTLANGUAGE, please do not forget to type it in. 

Linguistic Sidenote

If you have ever become confused about whether to spell the word for remembering stuff as "memorize" or "memorise", you're not alone. These days, it's tough to know which one to go with. Especially with the added confusion of autocorrect on phones and spell checker when you type, I don't even really know whether I am consistent anymore. Here is the lowdown:

  • "Memorize" is the more widely popular and "official" (according to my 2002 Pons English Learners' dictionary) variant.
  • "Memorise" is a British spelling variant, and less common.

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!

Tips for the Bilingual Job Hunt from Jobcoconut

I'm excited about today's guest post for you guys. If you've listened to my podcast with Peter Rodway, you know that I am completely convinced that languages are your way into the most beautiful careers. Today we'll be hearing from the team over at Jobcoconut, a global jobs site offering amazing appointments all over Europe. These tips are about how to show off your language skills to make sure you walk into that job you want.

No TPS Reports required in YOUR amazing career, kid! (img ©office space movie)

No TPS Reports required in YOUR amazing career, kid! (img ©office space movie)

Over to the Coconuts:

So if you are based outside your home country and you are fluent in more than one language, then you’re more likely to land a top language job as HR departments and recruiters are always seeking job seekers with language skills.

In particular, if you speak a hard to source language such as the Nordic, Scandinavian or Eastern European languages then you will be in high demand, which means you can easily land yourself a well-paid job in top European cities. Language jobs across all European countries also seek Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch speakers. So the opportunity is there for all bilingual job seekers.

Studies carried out by the recruitment companies clearly show that candidates who speak two languages earn a lot more than non-bilingual speakers. Another advantage for having language skills is it can allow you to form a vital part of a company’s growth strategy. Whether it’s trying to enter new markets on a national level or expand to other countries, having a second language makes you a valuable part of any organisation.

But wait…

Are you actually bilingual?

The term “bilingual” has had a few different definitions over time, and this is one we can all agree on: Bilinguals “can communicate just as easily in one language as you can in the other”. Your language proficiency should be measured in terms of your speaking, reading, writing and listening abilities in each language.

Many people exaggerate on their CV about their level of proficiency in a language. It is important that you are entirely confortable in a business environment using both languages. There's no cheating: Bilingualism not only demands a command of the structure of the language but an understanding of the other language’s nuances such as its sense of humour.

How can you prove that you’re bilingual to an employer?

The best way to prove it is during the interview. If bilingual language skills are important the employer/recruiter will communicate to you in both languages. They will be able to tell straight away if your language skills are right for the position. This is common amongst recruiters as they require assurances they have got the person for the job.

What should you put in your CV?

If you want to promote your language skills on your CV (and you so do!), the most important thing is to be honest about your level of knowledge and comfort in both languages. This will save you and the recruiter embarrassment and time, otherwise you will have to explain why your language skills aren’t up to standard. Imagine you end up in the job and have to give a presentation or write a report to important clients. Your language skills should handle that easily.

Handle terms like “bilingual” or “fluent” or even language scales such as the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) with care. Judge your language skills in terms of your confidence in working using that language. Here is a handy framework (see below), but we encourage you to put your own stamp on it by coming up with your own self-evaluation of your language skills!

• Limited working proficiency – able to satisfy routine social demands and able to handle limited work requirements but would need help in handling complicated tasks

• Professional working proficiency – can discuss a variety of topics with ease and almost complete understanding of what others are saying

• Full professional proficiency – can participate in all manners of conversations with ease and only rarely make grammatical mistakes

• Native proficiency – native speaker/ mother tongue.

Develop Your Skills

Language skills are one of those things that employers cannot develop in 90 days, so they are excited to find you as a candidate. Or if you're looking for a total linguist job

By the way - I want to help you guys with your language careers. Soon I'll be posting an exciting summary of all my jobs on my mailing list, but before that why not participate in my 50 Calls Project to talk about languages at work?

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!

On Doing Things When Your Fear Says "DON'T"!

Hi everyone, I just have a quick announcement about my blog today. But first, let me tell you what I did this morning! I took part in the Lancaster University Charity Abseil from the highest building on campus, 13 storey Bowland Tower. I saw the advert for this a few weeks ago and got excited right away. Abseiling is cool, right? Before I knew it, I'd asked my other half to sign me up and done that before I could even think about what this really means. Well, today was the day and I can't even express what it does mean.

We got kitted out with a safety harness and helmet at the bottom, took the lift up and ascended the roof. The views are amazing up on the tower, all over the green fields around Lancaster. But I had no eyes for that, I was too busy shaking and looking for something to hold on to. You see, I'm not absolutely terrified of heights, but I'm not really comfortable either. And to hang from the side of a building by a rope, lowering myself down? No thank you! As the group of brave volunteers before me took their turns, I couldn't believe how happy they all looked. By the time the kind safety guide attached my carabiner, I was in tears. I could not believe why on earth I had ever thought this was a good idea.

img ©Catherine Pacey

img ©Catherine Pacey

Eventually You Have to Commit

They were patient and kind to me up there, they let me take my time and watch other people lean over the edge and slowly descend. My guide's words were the perfect help: "You can take a minute to gather your courage. You can take a breath. But eventually, you have to stand over the edge and lean back and just do it. It gets easier after you've committed to the drop." I can't believe how true his words were. It does get easier once you commit! I did do this somehow, by the way. There are photos of me dangling - the following one is just for you, with photo credits to Catherine Pacey.

I really did hate this adventure as much as I loved it, and I was so emotional. At the bottom I fell to the floor, shook and cried. Maybe not elegant, but hey - I overcame a fear today and I did it!

And because I'm obviously on a roll of courage now, I wanted to tell you about my sideline biz - in addition to my language coach work I also share my knowledge and experience about blogging. For those of you who are struggling with finding your writing and blogging voice, I created Fresh Content, a cool online course. The information and articles for this have been living over at - scoot over and take a look please!

What do you think? Got a question I can answer for you in the blog? I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below, or by email to

In the same line, my 50 Calls Project continues and I'm about halfway through. You can ask me anything related to language learning and teaching, and I'm particularly interested if you know an online language tutor in search of a good chat and a bit of advice about this topic. Just check over my page at

What is the scariest thing you've done recently?

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The 16 Words that Sum Up All Learning Dilemmas

As my 50 Calls Project continues and I get to talk to more amazing language learners and language teachers about all things to do with learning, I come across some of the best things people say. It really is a treat to be able to connect with so many people from all over the world. I have made some new friends in London, Macedonia, Egypt, the USA and Spain.

The following quote just had to be shared with you. It is the perfect summary of why we learn and why we find it frustrating, right?

As you learn, you notice that you have to learn more because you don't know anything.

As you learn, you notice that you have to learn more because you don't know anything.

Thank you very much to Cris Pacino for this wonderful quote.

It's important to remember that we can never be perfect, and even when you are bilingual you are still not perfect. You are not even perfect in your native language!

With this thought, I hope that you have a wonderful weekend filled with success.

Five German Things to Shout During the Football World Cup

Guys, here's something you may not know about me: I go CRAZY when the football (soccer) World or European Cup rolls round. For a German living in England, I am completely reckless in my support of die deutsche Elf  ("the German eleven" - if you don't know that a soccer/football team has 11 players, this is not your article!).

german football vocabulary

I have my team jersey on order, I may even drink beer, and I am totally ready to go and support Özil, Klose and Schweinsteiger in my local English pub. Inspired by this fun little football phrase generator from German newspaper Der Spiegel, here are five great things you can learn to shout in support of Deutschland.


Schiri stands for "Schiedsrichter" (referee) - there is of course a feminine version of this job title ("Schiedsrichterin"), but to make it easier on everyone to pronounce and holler at the screen, Schiri is the one to use.

This is one to shout out with passion whenever you hear the ref's whistle, favourably if it's an unfair decision or a foul. Don't forget to pronounce those exclamation points.

Deutschland vor, noch ein Tor

A classic chant that every German schoolkid can produce. Often you'll hear this one with a particular player's name instead of "Deutschland" - for example we could name Germany's lone striker Miroslav Klose: Miro vor, noch ein Tor!

Before you shout this one with passion though, wait until Germany's got the first goal in: noch ein translates to "another".

Das war kein Abseits!

Do you know your offside trap? Yes, me too. Every woman has had to learn this to prove her worth, in some kind of misogynist conspiracay of football fans...but I digress! Abseits (neuter) is the German word for offside, and this phrase is a great one to say with a knowing nod when you're out in the Biergarten with your friends.

Die Spieler sind schwach wie Flasche leer

Deutsch ist schwer, by now you probably know that, right? German isn't the easiest language to master, but the key thing is to get your message across. No football coach ever did a better job of this than Giovanni Trappatoni in the 90s, when he went on a beautiful rant at a Bayern Munich press conference. Die Spieler sind schwach wie Flasche leer ("the players are weak like bottles empty") might not be grammatically right, but it is the perfect reaction when you think your team really needs to kick into gear.

That above, by the way, that is the greatest example of immersion.

Das Runde muss ins Eckige

I used to have this on my favourite t-shirt many years ago and always wore it with pride. "The round thing must go into the square thing" is a classic quote from German football hero Sepp Herberger. Along with his other famous "Der Ball ist rund und das Spiel dauert 90 Minuten.", the quote represents Germany's no-nonsense approach to football. Our team isn't known for beautiful arty moves like the Brazilians - but hopefully it will get the job done!

This is it from me for today - I wish all your teams good luck in the World Cup. Let's hope Gary Lineker is right:

Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win.

And if you want to get into the mood with a German football movie, why not watch Deutschland - Ein Sommermärchen, or Das Wunder von Bern?

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!

New Podcast! X-Men, Game of Thrones, At the Gym...and Tips To Beat Stagnation

On today's podcast I'll be talking to you solo and covering a lot of ground about recent observations in language learning.

img ©HBO and Marvel

img ©HBO and Marvel

This podcast turned out quite lovely and I'm sure you'll find something in there to help you out, no matter if you're stuck or just a nerd hoping to celebrate Game of Thrones (I certainly am!).

Unhelpful Words For Language Learning

Language used to describe language learning does can almost be intimidating - "Whip yourself into shape", anyone? I'll be talking about a more personal way of finding your style, and sharingh a simple process for establishing the right style for you.

Language in Pop Culture: X-Men & Game of Thrones

What do Mystique and Danaerys Targaryen have in common? They're women who use other languages to take charge. What amazing role models!

Based on this idea, do you think the language you speak can influence your personality?

Do you take on a different personality when you speak in another language?

Psychological Barriers to Language Learning

Are you aware of any obstacles that may hinder your learning progress? If so, don’t worry: language learning doesn't have to be an abstract form of learning and it doesn't have to be restricted to your books. Let's talk about some new ways to

If you felt inspired by the podcast episode and want to tell your own story of language learning, please email to or say hello to me on Twitter or Facebook.