Podcast Episode 41: How to Rock Language Learning for Travel

language learning travel

This episode brings you the best mindset tips for learning a language for your next trip - even if you're completely busy and scared of talking to native speakers.

In this episode you'll hear

  • Awesome listener feedback, including my top tip for what to do when people keep asking you to perform and "say something in" your target language
  • Is it rude not to know the language of the country you are visiting?
  • How I didn't do prep for my Iceland trip in the ideal way - and why a phrasebook would've been better
  • What's different when you are learning languages for travel, and not "for life"
  • What we learnt from reading the word "pizza" in lots of languages
  • What to do immediately after you return home

Where Are YOU Travelling To Next?

Let us know
1) via iTunes, you can type it in a review right here
2) on Twitter using hashtag #cllp - I'm @kerstinhammes and Lindsay is @ldlanguages

Reviews

In this show, we shared and read out some reviews. We love hearing from you guys and want you to know just how much your words are appreciated.

I don't want to keep you guys for too long with a long "housekeeping" section in our show, so if you've been feeling it's hard to listen to the feedback section, please let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Your feedback is extremely important to the show. It gives us inspiration, topics, ideas, and it makes us happy.

You can help our show by going on itunes and leaving us a review yourself - we do read them all.

Improvised Russian: Tricks From a Language Fool in Kazakhstan

I've got a guest post that took me down memory lane today, back to my old job which had me travelling to Kazakhstan on a regular basis. The country became one of my favourite travel destinations. Kazakhstan is exciting, lively, full of nomadic promise, and delightfully different from my own country.

Guest writer Marta is Polish, and recently spent a few nomadic weeks in the country. I was so excited when she agreed to tell us her story!

Off to Kazakstan!

Crossing a busy four-lane road in an unmarked place with bags of groceries for a mere £10, my mind woke up — I’m in Kazakhstan. One of these “weird” countries that I could always find on the map (being the 9th largest country in the world it’s pretty hard to miss…), but whose mention did not conjure any images in my head. Well, at least not up until one famous comedy film. Borat certainly raised awareness about the existence of this vast land, but at the same time permanently stained the popular opinion about it.

A pack of 20 cigarettes costs the same as a taxi ride here: 60p. Yes, less than a pound. (*Ed.: 60p is roughly $1 US)

Last time I was in a bar I paid around £3.50 for five beers. If those are the prices of typical “luxury” goods, imagine how cheap food here is.

Here's how I got on on the language front:

Annoying Russian

Russian is one of the languages that annoys me. As a native Polish speaker I always expected myself to just “pick up” Russian with a mild amount of effort, but, to tell you the truth, I never had motivation to put even this mild amount of effort into learning Russian.

Due to the history of the last 70 years the language is still demonised among my family members who lived during the USSR, and even among my peers. I saw no reason to study Russian. I also managed to convince myself that I was incapable of memorising the Cyrillic alphabet. Buying into my own fairytale has made it much harder for me to learn it: like a self-fulfilling prophecy, or a bad teacher who stifles students’ interest in a subject due to a lack of talent.

Surprised Kazakhs

Why am I talking about Russian though if I’m in Kazakhstan, is there not a language called Kazakh? Well… Kazakh has a status of a “state” language here and even though it’s spoken by the majority of the population (over 60%), the de-facto official language of wider communication here is Russian. This means that most Kazakhs are bilingual, especially in cities, and the 30% large Russian minority has no reason to learn Kazakh.

All road signs are bilingual and most shops or cafes have notices and menus in both Russian and Kazakh (sometimes also in English). Government employees are required to speak Kazakh and you do hear it a lot on the streets.

However, Russian remains a lingua franca and hearing a shelyeldyk (foreigner) speaking Kazakh provokes a very surprised and enthusiastic reaction, probably similar to the feeling I experience when a foreigner knows even two words of Polish.

If I had to choose whether to learn Russian or Kazakh, I would have definitely tried to learn some Kazakh during my stay. However, because my mother tongue belongs to the same language family as Russian, for survival purposes that was my chosen language of communication. Although you’ll decide for yourself to what extent you can call my speaking attempts communication.

Embracing the "Imbecile"

Your travelling fools. There is a lot of pollution and dust in Almaty

Your travelling fools. There is a lot of pollution and dust in Almaty

Originally the Kazakhs are descendants of nomadic Mongol tribes. This fitted quite nicely with the purpose of my visit to Kazakhstan which was to practice a modern nomadic lifestyle — not so much sleeping in yurts, but combining remote work with travelling.

I was planning to do what I mostly do at home, with occasional sightseeing ventures and excursions. I say all this only to provide myself with an excuse for not having learned more Kazakh or Russian while there, otherwise who would be writing for the LinguaLift blog and helping the students? I realise it’s a bit of a lousy excuse.

The point here is that even without learning anything formally I still had to communicate with people and, get things done.

In the process you will abandon timidity and that sense of shame a lot of us have when we speak a foreign language imperfectly and come across as simpletons, imbeciles or simply ignorant foreigners.

The Magic Word in Russian

A word that became my favourite and one that my Russian speaking friend teased me about was the word можно, mozhna. It means “one can”, “it is possible” which is exactly the same as Polish word można pronounced almost identically. It became my keyword and a magic spell to accomplish the impossible, like buying salads on the market or anything requiring communication really.

How To Use можно

  • Say Можно and point at things.

Very handy if you purchased a membership to a gym in Almaty (like I did) and want to ask whether you can use a piece of equipment which someone turned into a shelf for their phone.

  • Say Можно with gestures.

A door is closed and you want to get into a building? Give the guard a questioning look and make a forward motion towards the doors. You’ll be sure to find out when the answer is no.

  • Use Можно + noun.

If you were clever enough to look up a required noun before jumping straight into talking attempts (not like me then!). In comparison with option 1, this gives you endless opportunities, such as buying 300 grams of салат из моркови с чесноком for 60p.

Here is my favourite “salad lady” from the Green Bazaar.

Here is my favourite “salad lady” from the Green Bazaar.

If you realise you know nothing in the local language try to find an equivalent key word. Combined with gestures and pointing it will work wonders.

The Polish connection

Because of the degree of similarity between Polish and Russian, sometimes I forgot I didn’t actually speak the language. I don’t think I have to remind you that passive understanding and creative verbal production are two different things.

When we travelled to Kyrgyzstan for two nights (for the necessary re-entry to Kazakhstan to prolong the tourist visa) we booked a room in a guesthouse. We arrived late and the only people on the site were two elderly builders who clearly had no idea that anyone was meant to appear so late in the evening.

I opened my mouth and... no words came out.

I realised I didn’t know the word for room, book, reserved, email, message or anything that would explain the connection between the guesthouse and us two standing in their unfinished front yard!

Thankfully it wasn’t too hard for the men to figure that two foreigners with backpacks at a late hour out of the tourist season could only be looking for a room. And sure enough when they said the word комната I exclaimed да! with relief.

Polish and Russian are quite similar, but really not to the point of mutual intelligibility. Yet, I have a feeling that identifying yourself as a fellow Slav can produce a warmer attitude and potentially lower prices.

Knowing I was Polish, the instructor in my gym tried to convince me to be more chatty, a very optimistic reaction to me saying that I understood him only немного (“a little bit”).

The taxi driver in Cholpon-Ata in Kyrgyzstan having heard I was from Польша (Poland) simply started to refer to me as Польша.

*Польша, все нормально? (Everything ok, Poland?) were his last words to me when we were leaving the cab.

Mixing Languages: A Fluency Trick

Preserving endangered languages, buying locally grown vegetables — I am all for supporting anything and everything local. However, there were moments in Kazakhstan where linguistic globalisation provided me with some much-needed vocabulary.

On the way back from Kyrgyzstan we had to catch a marshrutka (mini bus) in Bishkek. We didn’t have enough som (Kyrgyz currency) left, but we figured since the bus goes to Kazakhstan the driver would also accept Kazakh tenge.

The key was to ask.

Fearlessly I approached the driver with two sets of notes in my hands and while vawing them in front of him I asked “mozhna mix?”. After a 3 second thoughtful calculation of the amounts he said slowly: mozhna. Success!

The lesson here is to figure out the words that can be present in the other person's reality. Regardless of where in the world you are, you will find some piece of shared reality with the locals.

все нормально - That's all good

Travelling opens our eyes to our own ignorance.

I confirmed that Russian and Polish are similar, I’m less shy than I thought, and that it’s possible to communicate even with a very limited amount of vocabulary if you keep your ears and mind open. It has also evoked a desire to actually master Russian (since I work at LinguaLift, I'll be trying our own course.

Maybe next time I will be less of a walking circus of pointing and gesturing. все возможно!

Do you have any stories from a Russian speaking country?

How far did you get with немного, "spaseeba" and можно yourself?

Marta Krzemińska is a language coach and blogger at LinguaLift - she's an aspiring nomad and a speaker of Toki Pona.

Podcast Episode 40: Live From The Polyglot Gathering

polyglot gathering

This episode comes with a bit of a difference, as Lindsay and I were reporting live from the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin.

We bring you reports and impressions from what's going on at the event.

There are opportunities to listen in to the fabulous language introductions. We had the opportunity to learn about all kinds of languages, from Indonesian to Greek.

It’s about people coming together and accepting each other for who they are. It’s a life philosophy, in a way. - Jordan

I also brought my microphone to several new people - hear the personal language learning stories of Tristan, Jordan and Stephen who are allEnglish native speakers learning over 5 foreign languages. It's possible!

The Polyglot Gathering is sponsored by our own podcast sponsors, so this time there's a double shout out for italki - you can get started learning languages with native speakers on there. Get started with a "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" Offer at www.fluentlanguage.co.uk/italki

Strange Items That Were Part of The "Qu'est-ce que c'est??" Game

1) Che cosa è?

That one is easy

That one is easy

2) Was ist das hier?

What the...

What the...

The Kafka referenced after I heard Lindsay's story is "Die Verwandlung" (metamorphosis).

Languages heard on this show: German, Esperanto, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Greek, English...I think that's it!

Catch up with Lindsay's video blog from the Polyglot Gathering.

How Did You Like This Episode?

The live reporting format was great fun, but of course we want to hear if it worked for you! Would you like more episodes like this in the future?

You can get in touch with us and tell us what you thought by

1) leaving us an iTunes review by visiting our itunes page and clicking "Ratings and Reviews"

2) using hashtag #cllp on Twitter (I am @kerstinhammes and Lindsay is @ldlanguages).

And once again, thanks so much to our sponsors Italki - please support our show by visiting that link today.

How To Get Germans to Speak German To You

One of the most common questions I hear from you guys is how to deal when other people refuse to practice your target language with you. I'm excited to present some awesome advice from Anja at The Germanz in Australia.

Matching this awesome topic, I've created the new guide Make Your German Sound Amazing, featuring 26 Key Phrases For Conversations with German Speakers. Just click on the little black button here to download it and use it alongside Anja's tips.

Germans and their love for English

When you get lost in Australia, the States or the UK and ask for directions, people will most likely answer in English. When you get lost in Germany, people will most likely answer in English too. 

Studies suggest that (only) 62% of the German population is actually able to hold a conversation in English and most movies and TV shows are still dubbed into German. In fact, most German customers still prefer things the German way and speaking German is still a necessity no matter where you live in Germany (with the exception of Berlin).
 
So why is it that German learners complain that Germans respond to them in English? 
 
What if I told you that you don’t just have to take it? No doubt, you can help Germans stay on track and chat away in German for ages. 

I’m German myself and I’m going to tell you about a few easy things you can do.

Why Germans Switch To English

Germans switch to English for three reasons. 

  1. Sometimes they want to help you
  2. Sometimes they want to help themselves
  3. Sometimes they just prey on the vulnerable and make you the practice tool

But most of the time, they just don’t know any better. 

1. They want to help you

Sometimes Germans simply think it’s being polite. They want to help you communicate more efficiently.

When you ask them, “How goes you? I not finds the station train”, they will most likely help you out in English without speaking a word of German. ‘Oh, that’s cool, they tried in German. They’ll probably understand better when I tell them where to go in English!’, the efficient mind will think.

Germans love speaking English, even when speaking German. Even though many Germans learn at least one foreign language in school, some of them fail to remember that only practice makes perfect.

Additionally, some seem to forget that the comprehension skills of a learner usually outweigh their speaking abilities.

The innocently English speaking German simply doesn’t get that you may understand, that it would be polite and helpful to respond in German. It’s like they buried their teenage memories somewhere in the deepness of their minds, along with that sneaky first kiss behind the school building.

Germans will think you just want to break the ice by saying a few words in German. They will return that favour and will try to make the conversation as unconditionally comfortable as possible for you. In English.

2. It's easier for them

But Germans are not always driven by lovely innocence. Some Germans are simply not patient enough: ‘It will be quicker and easier if I just tell them in English. I’m almost late already!’
If their guesstimate places your German skills below their own English proficiency, they might respond in English.

For Germans, it’s all about communicating efficiently. No overexcited small talk, no politely beating about the actual topic, no exchange of unnecessary information, but rather direct communication, cutting to the chase and getting this question answered as accurately and quickly as possible. In English.

3. Germans want to practise their English skills

Of course, let’s face it, a few Germans simply want to practise their English on you because they know how awesome it feels to finally speak in your language of choice. 

Moreover, they want to show off how good their English is to impress you (and others). They are going to take advantage of you. 

Imagine how convenient, they don’t even have to leave their country to get what they crave. Speaking English. ‘Perfect! This guy from England gets to speak German every day; doesn’t he live here in Germany?’ 

They quickly forget that a lot of others see their opportunity as well, and this poor guy from England and his German skills fall by the wayside.

Here’s what you should do, as well as what you should avoid, to keep up the conversation in German. 

How to Make Them Speak German

How can you fulfil your dreams and get those Germans to speak in German to you? Embrace these two rules that everything boils down to:
 
1. Speak no English to Germans

And

2. Make your German sound better than it is.

These two rules are the magic tricks that will lead to a happy life in Germany. 

Let’s have a look at how to put them into practice with concrete examples and workarounds.

Respond in German

To really cash in and get the Germans speak German, you want to stay away from English as much as possible.
 
Certainly, it will take some courage especially when you think your German is not good enough. But you know what? The Germans will work it out. If they don’t get what you mean, they will ask (in English or German, it doesn’t really matter). 

But if you’re asked, you’ll get a second chance to say it. You may even get some valuable feedback.
 
More importantly, when someone starts speaking English to you, just keep responding in German. 

If your German is already good enough, try to translate the English response into German and say it back to them in German. Be patient and stick to German to get them back on track, no matter what.
 
If you don’t understand, ask them what it means, in German

Once more, under no circumstances switch to English.
 
If you can’t remember the word and you really need to know it, do the following:

Describe the word in German and ask them about the correct word.

  • Was heißt nochmal das eine Pedal im Auto? -Nein, das andere. Ach, ja, das Gaspedal. - What would you call that one pedal in the car? -No, the other one. Ah yes, the gas pedal.) or

Ask them for the translation in German.

  • Wie heißt nochmal ‘dog’ auf Deutsch? - What’s the word for ‘dog’ in German again? 

Work on your pronunciation

As Germans like to switch when they think that communicating with you might not go too smoothly, how about you make your language skills less of a problem? 

If Germans think that you’re comfortable speaking in German, they are less likely to switch.
 
One way of making your German sound better than it is, is to be amazing at pronouncing things. Just practice the proper pronunciation and know how the intonation pattern of a sentence works.

Use phrases and conversation fillers

You could also use phrases and conversation fillers to make your responses sound more natural. 

The idea is again that we want to make our German sound better than it is. It’s like saying, “Keep going, nothing to see here”.
 
To keep up the flow when speaking, it’s a great idea to have handy the vocabulary you will need. But also don’t forget that natives use clichés and filler words, and they say ‘uhmm’ a lot. 
 
Here are some examples:

  • Ach wirklich/Echt? - Ah really?
  • Cool!
  • Macht nichts!/Kein Problem. - That’s alright!/No problem.
  • Hört sich gut an. - Sounds good.
  • Ach so. - Ah yea.
  • Stimmt!/Genau - I agree./Yeah, that’s right.
  • Na ja, vielleicht. - Yeah, maybe.

Compromise

Let’s face it, sometimes there’s no way that subtle hints will get them back on track. 

Please don’t take it personally, they might not even notice. The only thing that will help here is to be very clear about your goals, about genuinely wanting to learn proper German.
 
Apart from saying “Bitte nur in Deutsch”, you can decide to blitzkrieg and offer a language tandem. Your compromise could be
 
One hour speaking in German, another hour speaking in English.
 If you see them every day, you could agree to speak English from Monday to Wednesday and German from Thursday to Sunday.
 
If the two of you agree to correct each other properly and also provide alternatives for certain sentences and phrases, you could both benefit from the language tandem quite a bit.

Make (new) German friends

As your language skills progress, you’ll be able to chat away on more and more topics. You will be developing your ‘German You.’ It may be the same as — or completely different from — the English-speaking you.
 
With your ever-improving skills, making new German friends will become a lot easier.
 
If you have moved to a German-speaking country, you’ll hit the jackpot by joining a club (der Verein) in the German countryside, but clubs can be found anywhere across Germany, even in the big cities. Similarly, you want to get involved and lend a hand at the local Tatort night, the German-speaking weekly handcraft meeting or the local climbing hall.
 
Try to maintain a healthy ratio of English-speaking and only-German-speaking friends. You have a choice among about 100 million German native speakers in the European Union alone.
 
Don’t forget, the more you get to speak German, the easier it gets. Just let Germans know you’re up for a challenge. They will be up for it as well. 

Summary

In summary, please don’t get turned off by responses in English, keep learning German and remember these two fundamental rules: 

  1. Don’t speak English to Germans.
  2. Make your German sound better than it is.

On a concrete note, you could:

  • Always reply in German.
  • Ask for missing words and explanations in German.
  • Improve your pronunciation.
  • Use conversation fillers and ‘uhm’ a lot.
  • Compromise by offering language tandems.
  • Move to the German country.
  • Make (new) German speaking friends.

You’ll find more nifty tricks on learning and speaking German on my German language blog. 

Don’t forget to tell me in the comments about your favourite strategy in dealing with English speaking Germans. 

This article was written by Anja. Anja lives in Melbourne, Australia, is originally from Germany and writes about the German language and culture on her blog when she is not busy teaching German language classes. Hang out and have a chat with her on Google+ or Twitter.

When Should You Consider an Offline Language Tutor? + The Tutor Pages Reviewed

When I started out as a language tutor, the lessons I taught were face to face, right here in little Lancaster. I would walk across town or host students at my house, puzzling together language over a friendly cup of tea. It was lovely, and still one of the most comfortable learning environments I've ever worked in.

So when I was approached by British website The Tutor Pages, who asked me to review their service for hiring and finding a tutor right in your town, I was excited to bring you this perspective on studying. As a language learner reading a language blog, your first thought might not be "hell yes, IRL tutors are for me!" - I mean, we've got the world of Skype lessons and Italki open to us.

But even in a world of online learning miracles, there are a few occasions when finding a kick-ass IRL tutor could be the best thing you've ever done.

An Offline Tutor? Like..really?

Most of us associate an IRL "tutor" with after-school support for kids or teenagers, but you can actually find and hire tutors at any point in your life.

I know people who teach the Latin language to pensioners who want to follow their passion for history, and hundreds of native speakers who bring dry school materials to life.

Meeting Real People In Real Places

Being online is super convenient, but every now and then there's a huge advantage to being in the same time zone and same place.

Not only is it easier to demonstrate pronunciation and draw diagrams in a real-life meeting, but you can even take advantage of cool meeting spaces like the library or a favourite café. There are huge advantages of establishing such a Third Place, where you can be study-focused and work in peace.

Local Study Knowledge

If you're in full-time education and preparing for a specific exam, you want to find someone who can help you prepare in person. From mock examinations in person, to breathing techniques, I've found that having a local expert in the room really has the edge here.

What is The Tutor Pages?

In a nutshell, The Tutor Pages is an online directory for professional tutors who want to offer more than just conversation practice. It's UK-focused, so the easiest way to see what's available is to type in a subject and/or post code on the right hand side and off you go. You don't have to sign up and you don't have to purchase any credits.

What I Liked About The Site

First of all, I think it's great to see that the site pushes tutors to submit articles so you can see more about them and their expertise. Any professional tutor worth their salt will be super passionate about what they teach and have a lot to say. The profiles are awesome and give lots of detail about qualifications, pictures and personality of your tutor - here's an example I liked.

The variety of subjects on offer in this directory was super cool to look through. It's inspiring to see the range of what people are learning out there. I loved the sense of this website as a space where people go to improve their life.

I also liked the "Tutor Wanted" section, which is where you can post a request for lessons. If whatever is listed in the directory doesn't feel right, here's a space for you to put it in your own words.

What Wasn't Great About The Tutor Pages

It's clear that this website works hard on attracting web traffic, which means the site is keyword-focused at times. This is great because it keeps the directory alive, but it means you end up with a cluttered interface and a lot of words that no one needs. I certainly think they could clean it up a little.

The tutor search could also do with some improvement. The option of finding an online tutor is available, but I would have loved for the system to allow me more than one location option. Like, what if I want to find a tutor who lives in my area and still offers online classes?

The downside of having a directory that focuses on a wider range of skills is that languages outside the mainstream aren't represented. There's no shortage of people to hire for help with German, Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian. But I tried searching for some of the smaller languages we polyglots feel drawn to and drew a blank. You can check out their full directory here to save yourself some time.

How The Business Side Works

The Tutor Pages is only the directory, but not the middleman between you and your tutor. On the one hand, this means you won't have to pay any extra commission. On the other hand, it could be a downside if there was any dispute between you and the tutor.

The rates are certainly fair for the British market. As you know from my other posts about language tutor pricing, there are lots of factors that go into deciding what you invest in.

Who Is This For?

A language learner looking for conversation practice based on their own studies might not need the full 1:1 pro experience. But if you're too busy to set and monitor goals, or want to cut out the hassle of following grammar rabbit holes, a tutor is for you.

In short, The Tutor Pages is best for:

  • anyone in UK full-time education who wants help with what their curriculum asks
  • families or parents with kids, who want to introduce languages to their kids at an early age
  • anyone who isn't sure about Skype tuition yet or wants to get out of the house to enjoy language lessons.

What do you think about IRL tutoring?

Have you had good or bad experiences?

Let me know in the comments below, or say hi to me on Twitter.

Episode 38: The Best Tools for Language Learning in Spring/Summer 2016

Episode 38 is brought to you with friendly support from italki. Do visit their site and check out the awesome Buy 1 Get 1 Free offer to learn from native speakers today.

Kerstin and Lindsay bring you the ultimate Spring/Summer collection of language learning tools. We each nominated three things we regularly use for learning languages and discussed how to make them teach you a language.

"I'm not as good as I think I am - but that's a good thing because it motivates me to work harder." - Lindsay

And if that's not enough, we then went ahead and created our own language learning chart for you.

Listen to the show to find out our absolute top recommendation.

Here's a quick run-down of the charts:

1) Forvo

Forvo

This is the place you can go if you want to know how to pronounce a word in any language. It's even useful for finding out how to say a word (or a name) in your own language. Forvo's top pronounced words of March 2016 were Cruyff, Slaínte and Leicester.

This one is absolutely perfect for people who are curious and excited about language and how it works. In other words, language geeks like us. If you don't know it, forvo it.

2) Spotify

spotifylogo

Do you like one artist in your target language and want to explore more? Then Spotify is your best tool.

Here is our podcast's own Spotify Language Chart, created for the European Day of Languages 2015 live show.

3) Workflow and Evernote (IOS devices)

workflow

The app Workflow is a way for you to connect different apps on your IOS device to each other. Use it to save audio from anywhere on the internet and save it, so that you can access it offline no matter where you are.

We recommend Workflow for anyone who loves to tinker and build their own little systems for language learning.

Workflow also talks to the Apple watch - have you used it with the watch for flashcards or uploads? I'd love to hear your stories.

3) Snapchat

snapchat

Snapchat is a social network that allows you to use your phone's camera and create your day's story with videos and photos. Use it to practice speaking or snap new words in your target language.

This one is perfect if you're embarrassed to speak, because whatever you upload into Snapchat will disappear after 24 hours. We recommend Snapchat for younger learners, and anyone who loves using the camera on their smartphone.

4) Readlang

readlang

Readlang is an extension for your browser or an app for your mobile device, and it translates any website. With Readlang you can just tap on any word and it will translate it for you - and then you can save it for later or add to your flashcard system.

It makes language learning so much more interesting because you can look at anything that's relevant to YOUR life. We recommend this one for learners who are intermediate to advanced and want to maintain their language levels.

If you're a Welsh learner, there's a similar system built into the BBC Cymru website ("Vocab" button in the top right).

5) Google Sheets Translate

This is the best for anyone wanting to build word lists in several languages. Google Translate has now been added to Google Sheets, so what you can do is build a simple vocab list in a spreadsheet, then set all those words to auto-translate into another language.

Here's the detailed Google article explaining how to use this function.

If you have a csv file, you can even export from your favourite flashcard app and add it back in to google. It's perfect for polyglot learners who are working on several languages.

Honorary Mentions

Welsh-specific:

Everlasting Classics

italki, Memrise (Anki/Quizlet), HelloTalk

Do You Agree With Our Language Chart?

You can get in touch with us and tell us what you thought by

1) leaving us an iTunes review by visiting our itunes page and clicking "Ratings and Reviews"

2) using hashtag #cllp (or #kerstinyouold) on Twitter (I am @kerstinhammes and Lindsay is @ldlanguages).

And once again, thanks so much to our sponsors Italki - please support our show by visiting them today.

The 5 Golden Rules of Adult Language Learning

golden rules

Ever heard that you should be language learning like a child?

"Kids are like a language sponge" is a belief continued in the media. The mantra goes like this: Little kids are like a language sponge, they pick up any word and phrase you throw at them and will learn a language very easily.

And the myth goes on to claim that adults have missed the boat. They are starting way too late to ever reach any respectable level of expertise in a foreign language, and they'll definitely never sound like a native speaker.

Why? Because science.

This myth is about as widespread as it is infuriating. For examples, see the headlines on this article about babies and sound, or this inevitable product selling you on an invented cut-off age of seven years.

Adult Learners Can Learn A Foreign Language Quickly And Easily

In this article, I won't dwell on the volumes of research that have been done on human brains, language acquisition, speech therapy, ageing, and so forth. In a very tiny nutshell: Learning anything is harder when you're an adult, and the best evidence for any critical period is in the area of accent development (27 page ref to knock yourself out with at this URL).

There's a great selection of research on the topic, and for a primer check out the sources listed in Becoming Fluent: How Cognitive Science Can Help Adults Learn a Foreign Language. The book is an awesome collection of helpful information, and was a fabulous resource for me as I was writing this article.

For today, I'd ask you to forget about anything you've ever heard about the childlike brain. Open your mind, and let's explore some realistic ways of making language learning work for you - at any age.

1. Analyse and Repeat Patterns

Adults can learn languages in a deliberate way. The structure of practicing new sentences is one of these keys - analyse, understand, apply, repeat.

There is no need to cram your way through grammar books as you learn a new language. It's totally possible to speak when you haven't even touched on any grammar yet. I did it in Icelandic last week, and I have helped my own German students to do this from the start.

But the key to using grammar to your advantage is in using it to answer your questions. Next time you hear someone say a sentence in your target language, repeat it and try saying something different with the same structure. If you're talking to a native, get them to give you more examples with that structure. If you're learning by yourself, consult a grammar book or text book.

What you are doing now is learning a pattern or chunk of language (like a child), and at the same time satisfying your curiosity by discovering the rule behind it (like an adult).

2. Set Goals and Track Your Progress

Goals! Projects! Missions! Whatever you call them, they are the lifeblood of sticking with where you are at as a language learner. Since you are a busy person, being accountable for your own time is one of the best ways of feeling both accomplished and efficient.

Tracking your progress is not only a good way of structuring how you learn. It will also help you combat the dangers of motivation loss. The longer you stick with what you've already studied, the easier it will be to keep going. In other words: It's easier to break a 2-day streak than to break a 2-month streak.

Tracking can work in many different ways. It can be as simple as keeping up with habit streaks on apps (Duolingo, Memrise, or just type "habit" into any App Store). Or it can be a detailed log and review base like your personal notebook. If you'd like detailed goal-setting advice, check out Lindsay Dow's course Successful Self Study.

3. Move On From Setbacks

I like to tell my learners that even the brightest student won't remember a new word immediately, and instead needs to encounter it up to 15 times before it truly sticks. Anyone who has experienced that cold sweaty feeling of forgetting words mid-conversation Knows what a language setback feels like.

But there is no reason to give up at that point. Remember progress tracking? The small wall you are hitting today is a result of the long way that you have come so far. You would never have dreamed of that wall back at the beginning.

Moving on from setbacks is largely a challenge to your mindset. Remember that language learning is not a straightforward line. In fact, it doesn't even have an end point. You just go along the path every single day and become a little better with each step.

For a bit of positive thinking "in a bottle", my pre-made set of affirmations will be a great resource to check out. Remember that growth mindset - at any age, you're just getting started.

4. Know And Respond To Your Learning Style

It's impossible to predict your success based on superficial facts: Your age or your native language are practically useless in helping you figure out how to learn German vocabulary faster. Neither will your star sign, for that matter.

However, the more you understand your own preferences and habits, the easier it becomes for you to learn a language successfully.

Being aware of your social learning style can go a long way to helping you create a language learning routine that you'll enjoy for a long time. For example, the difference between extroverts and introverts shows in how they practice, read and speak languages.

Knowing the time of day when you're at your best, or recognising signs that you are tired and need to rest, are other important factors.

And don't forget the ongoing debate about learning styles. Even if the classic "visual-auditory-kinetic" styles are no longer supported in research, it's worth finding out how you best process new information. As Edutopia puts it:

It is critical to not classify students as being specific types of learners nor as having an innate or fixed type of intelligence.

Find a style that you enjoy, that doesn't zap your energy, and that helps you set habits. And if that means speaking comes on day 100, so be it.

On that note..

5. Build Great Habits

If you want to get a better handle about how to build winning habits, start with how you make habits stick in other areas of your life. For example, some people stay fit by scheduling regular workout times, while others need accountability and love tracking their runs online. I recommend you start digging into this with help from Episode 32 of the Creative Language Learning Podcast, in which we discussed habits, styles and tendencies based on the work of writer Gretchen Rubin.

Conclusion

So this article actually started out over three years ago, when I was first blogging about the many myths in language learning. I've always been bothered by this kid-language-sponge idea because it does nothing to help adult learners progress.

If you have the opportunity to expose your kids to other languages, go for it. They will do awesome.

But more importantly, do not ever believe that you are over the hill.

Here's how I finished my article in 2013.

Start thinking about this one from the other point of view: If little kids can do it, then anyone can.

I still believe the exact same thing.

What are your biggest problems as an adult language learner?

Leave me a comment below or get in touch - I'd love to hear more about what you think of the research behind this and the study methods I listed.

If you're feeling all fired up to get started and make progress with a new language right now, download the FREE Guide to the Best Resources in Language Learning by registering below:

Episode 37: The Secret Languages of Great Britain (with an expert from Omniglot)

Episode 37 is brought to you by italki, where you can find a language partner for any language. We tested it with rare languages like Icelandic, and it totally delivered. Get an awesome free lesson deal at italki.

languages of britain

Today's Topic: Multilingual Britain

Britain is not monolingual at all, but in fact it is teeming with languages. In this episode, we present you the real landscape of languages spoken in the British Isles.

Can you guess how many languages are indigenous to this country?

We discovered some amazing things, not lastly you'll NEVER guess what Irish and Spanish bears have in common!

You'll be surprised to find that more than 2 million people in the UK speak British languages other than English. Here is a quick summary of the bigger groups of languages spoken in the UK - not just British languages, but also the immigrant languages most popular in the UK today, for example Polish, Gujarati and Urdu.

Listen to our podcast episode to get a wonderful tour of the British languages, including:

  • What does it take to keep a minority language alive?
  • Did you know there was a Scots dictionary - and how it's influenced the English language?
  • Our pondering of the true official languages of Great Britain
  • Turns out children really are the future when it comes to reviving languages that don't have native speakers anymore, for example Cornish

Lindsay does some amazing demonstrations of the Scottish language and accent. And Kerstin says her first "goodbye" in Welsh!

Which British Languages Did You Know?

You can get in touch with us and tell us what you thought by

1) leaving us an iTunes review by visiting our itunes page and clicking "Ratings and Reviews"

2) using hashtag #cllp on Twitter (I am @kerstinhammes and Lindsay is @ldlanguages.

And once again, thanks so much to our sponsors Italki - please support our show by visiting that link today.