Party Invitation: Join us for a Creative Language Learning LIVE Episode

Language lovers, Fluent fans, Creative crew, we have a special invitation for you.

Just like last year, Lindsay and I are excited to create a live episode for the European Day of Languages. And that's not all this time. We also get to celebrate a milestone episode of the show: It's episode 50!

You guys stuck with us, listened and wrote in to 50 episodes of the show now, and we want to thank you and tell you how much we appreciate you for this. It's awesome to know that there are language geeks all over the world who enjoy our show.

You can catch the recording of our 50th episode of the Creative Language Learning Podcast on October 3, 2016 at 2pm BST.

language live party

You can join us by commenting and sending in your questions in the following ways:

  • Join the live chat at www.fluentlanguage.co.uk/livepodcast on the day
  • Get in touch on Twitter by posting your questions and thoughts to @kerstinhammes and @ldlanguages or use the Twitter hashtag #cllp
  • Leave a comment on the Fluent blog below

So put this time in your diaries: October 3rd at 2pm London time!

You can see your local time here on World Time Buddy

European Day of Languages Quiz

This year, we're building on the party theme and bringing in an awesome party staple: It's the Creative Language quiz!

Tune in and play along live as we work our way through the European language landscape with fun questions.We would love for you to join in! We’ll be asking questions, giving shoutouts and playing just a little bit of music throughout the show.

What is the European Day of Languages?

It is an annual celebration of the huge variety of languages that live in Europe. No matter if you were born in Europe or not, chances are that you’ve studied a European language at some point. On the European Day of Languages you can join thousands of language learners, teachers, translators, linguists and polyglots to celebrate languages.

We can’t wait to hear from you on the day:

October 3rd at 2pm London Time.

Peace, Words 'n Harmony (Podcast Episode 49)

Hey everyone, welcome to episode 49 of the Creative Language Learning Podcast. This one is perfect for you if you have ever wondered whether language learning is the way to change the world.

Topic: Language Learning Can Bring World Peace

Language is a beautiful caress that can make strangers melt into friends, but la gusgen is also a verbal door that can be closed in the face of outsiders. (Eddie Butler)

We went for deep stuff, and discussed the many ways that language learning can improve the world. From individual peace of mind, via tolerance in your everyday life, to changing the outlook of your country.

We found it felt wrong not to talk about moving abroad. Considering what's happening in Britain this year, the discussion turned to migration. Do people miss out when something foreign is added to the community? Our discussion might surprise you, because as always all isn't quite what it seems. And yes, we did say the B-word: Brexit.

And what about language education in schools? If we believe that language learning creates world peace, should we make everyone learn as many languages as possible?

The Power of Language

Finally, we only need to give you one word that shows something very interesting: migrant. Even when you're not learning a foreign language, the way that people and media around us use language to shape opinions affects everyone's life.

We touch on the idea that language can send signals about all of us, and make or break peace.

In our discussion, Lindsay and I got as close as you can get to saying horrible words. But not all the way there.

We hope you have a listen to find out more, and get in touch to tell us where you stand on language and world peace.

The Good, The Bad and The Struggling

Routines lapsing for the summer, looking forward to September, and permission to half-ass online courses in this week's catch-up with Lindsay and Kerstin.

What's your Good, Bad and Struggling?

We'd love to hear from you guys on this one. If you want to share what's good, bad and difficult in your languages right now, send your feedback to us. We read every one and your language news could make it to a show intro in the future.

Simply do one of the following:

1) go on Skype and leave a voice message for fluentlanguage
2) or email us at podcast@fluentlanguage.co.uk - include a voice memo from your phone if you can, so we can feature your voice on the show

Language Practice: Why You Don't Need A Native Speaker

language learning

The native speaker is often considered an absolute holy grail of language learning: They naturally know how language is used, they speak it perfectly and of course you will be immersed in your target language if you speak to one. But today, I'm writing to make you re-think your dependence!

Have you ever found one of the following problems when practicing with a native speaker:

  • It's difficult to understand regional accents
  • You ask them a question, and they respond with "it just is like this"
  • They always want to practice your language with you
  • You run out of topics after a few hours of discussing family, hobbies and weather

What if you have NO native speaker to talk to? Does that mean you will stop learning a language?

Why You Do Not Need A Native Speaker For Practice

In this blog, I'm not advocating that you avoid native level input and natural sources of your target language. They are what makes it come alive! By all means, make full use of Italki, social media and your own network to find a good language buddy, but please note the following:

You don't actually need a native speaker to practice with. This is so important to understand. You just need someone who's good enough or a little better than you. Sometimes it even helps not to have the native speaker, because a non-native speaker has learnt your target language too and can explain grammar and other problems more easily. Natives often don't even know which bits are hard for non-native speakers.

Why Practicing Online Isn't For Everyone

In addition to this point, some people just don't connect so well with the Skype or phone communication method. As an online language tutor, I work on Skype all the time, and it's a different to meeting in person - some of my students love it, some find it odd at the start. For some, I can just tell that it's not the right medium. So if you're In fact, the teenager who will practice his school French with you might actually be a better option than the French native speaker that you meet online.

Moral of the story: Make your own rules for what works for you.

What To Do About It

My advice would be to try a tutor, and that's just because:

  1. They work hard to make sure you understand, by reducing their own dialects and breaking sentences down to where you need them
  2. They will stick with you when you run out of the first 3 conversation topics with a language partner and research topics you need to talk about
  3. They won't expect you to spend any time teaching them your own language

Personally I learnt English before the internet was everywhere and still got from "pretty good" to "pretty fluent", through being taught by German natives and spending a lot of spare time listening to Pulp all the time and talking to myself. But I cannot imagine having done it without teachers. When your target language is German,

I think it's even more important that you find native speakers who understand your needs. German is that much easier to learn when you can make sense of the rules - and our spoken language is different from the grammar books. Trust yourself most of all, but if you have no native speaker around you please remember: It's not going to stop you.

How To Bring In Native-Like Practice

Of course, working without a native person to learn a language does not mean it would be wise to cut out all native-language content. When learning a language, it's important to know how it's spoken and to get a sense of the place where it's spoken.

You want to hear the sounds, the idioms, you want to know that there is a point to what you're doing here. In all learning, it's boring when it's just theory.

To get native-level practice into your studies before you go hunting for speakers all over town, try bringing in audio resources or even TV. It's easy to watch television in other languages or use cool software like Yabla.

And if you have regular access to native speakers, don't avoid them. Go out of your way to say even small things like good morning, and ask them "How do I say this in your language?" You'll soon find that every one of them is a small ambassador for their own language, just like you are for your own. And what's better than sharing?

How Soon Do You Work With Native Speakers?

Has it ever held you back that you can't find the native speaker? Or has shyness stopped you from talking to natives?

Leave your comment below to tell me more!

Benny Lewis Has a New Language Hacking Series: Here's My Review

In today's review, I'm excited to bring you guys my first impressions of Language Hacking German - A Conversation Course, the new book by Benny Lewis.

In this series, you can also get books for learning Spanish, French and Italian.

TL;DR: I'm impressed with the design, structure and method used by these books.

They're awesome, if you're anywhere between A1 and A2 pick up a copy and use it to practice. Also looks like a good potential Christmas present.

Benny has organised a great giveaway for people who pre-order one of these - scroll to the bottom of this post and find out more.

Benny.. Who Dat?

If you read language articles on the internet, you've probably come across Benny Lewis. He runs the website Fluent in 3 Months and has been blogging and learning languages for over 10 years. Benny has previously published a book with a real publisher, which is an inspiring thing for all of us language bloggers.

More importantly, he brings a more modern approach to language learning into book shops. I'm very much on board with that!

This particular series, "Language Hacking", is a collaboration with Teach Yourself, whose materials have always been language learner favourites. I've checked these courses out and used them, and they're definitely one of the best brands for self-teaching materials on anything.

"Language Hacking is a state of mind. It's about positivity and an approach that puts everything you're learning into practice immediately." - Benny Lewis

Advantages of The Language Hacking Book

My first impression was that this book is really good-looking! It's got a nice size to it, the design throughout is engaging and interesting, and it just feels very nice to hold in your hands. You can see straight away that they're trying to make #languagehacking into a thing, so the message is clear: This book is for 21st century learners.

The Structure

The structure of the book follows that of a traditional self-teaching language book, so it's not trying to overthrow everything good in the system. The design is lively and engaging, with vocab delivered in sentence structures, culture tips, conversation examples and exercises. It's a great "complete package".

What's different here is that this focuses very much on conversation as the goals and "learning outcomes". The book avoids mentioning grammar concepts in favour of setting the learner a mission with every unit. What I really liked is that each unit clearly sets out the mission as a use case, describing what kind of situation you would find yourself in when you will use what you are learning.

In each mission you learn some new stuff, and there are exercises so you can test that you learnt it correctly. The #languagehacking system adds in Benny's "Conversation Countdown" methods of building a script and sharing it immediately with a dedicated web area sponsored by italki.

The design is all about making language learning less intimidating. I hardly saw any grammar terms mentioned, with focus on descriptions like "slingshot words" instead of "subordinating conjunctions". In fact, this style combined with the mission and scripts system feels perfect for new learners, but also for experienced learners as they'll be able to breeze through this and create sentences quicker.

You're In Good Hands

The brand "Benny Lewis" is present throughout the book, and that worked really well for me. As you work your way through it, you get to feel as if someone is on the journey with you and guiding you through this course. The quotes and images of Benny were a fun addition - I'm not a fan girl, but as a structure this worked very well for me.

Each mission mentions a small #Languagehacking tip in the introduction - a great concept. As you're learning your new language, I can imagine how much these little tips will help you build more confidence and feel ready to speak quickly.

Anything Else You Need To Know?

The book doesn't solve a key problem of language learning, which is the idea of being too busy. It's written with "conversations with natives" in mind, so if you're learning languages without immediate travel plans you may feel cut off from many of the examples. The scripts system is also nice, although I would prefer to make my own -- this is because I'm experienced and relatively "fearless" as a language learner, not because the idea itself is bad.

If you're a very long-standing Fluent reader, you'll have read my thoughts on the use of the word "hacking" in the context of language learning. I'm not a fan of the name of this series, but the "language hacking" brand is what Benny Lewis has used for years.

The tiny things are exactly what makes this so good for more inexperienced language learners. They were nitpicks, really - overall this is an impressive product.

Audio Access

At first I grumbled that there is no CD with this book, but I quickly remembered that we live in the 21st century and all the audio is downloadable. So it does come with audio, and the example sentences I heard were very good and match the book scripts excellently. However, I couldn't find the examples easily on the Teach Yourself website. Let's hope they improve on this after the official book launch.

Conclusion

Overall, this is one of the most impressive versions of a language course I've seen in a while. The way that it incorporates "hacking" ideas (I'll just call them shortcuts) into a traditional self-teaching book design was fantastic.

These Language Hacking courses are an incredible addition to the bookshelves of any language learner, but particularly for those that are new to the language.

Overall, a clear 5/5 - kudos to Benny Lewis and Teach Yourself.

Take Part In The Enormous Launch Giveaway

The launch of these books is supported by a huge giveaway, where you can get your money back about 100 times over if you pre-order a Language Hacking book before it comes out.

The bonuses get better depending on how many books you order -- and these are so awesome for beginners that I'm thinking "ideal Christmas gift".

Click here to view the full set of bonuses

Things get really good when you order four courses, because the bonuses also include my own course Hyper-Efficient German, worth $17, and a total bonus value of $749 which is pretty insane.

Benny's courses are launching in the UK on 8 September, so you have to get your pre-order in before this date. Those of you who are in US/Canada have until 29 September.

Here's that link to the Launch Promotion again - well worth it in my eyes.

This giveaway is one of the best I've seen this year - if you were going to try one of the books I would encourage you to get involved and pre-order today.

You won't regret it when this cool book shows up in the post.

Do You Need a Native Speaker To Practice a Language? (Podcast Episode 48)

Hello and welcome to Episode 48 of the Creative Language Learning Podcast!

We started off our episode with some insights into what's going on with our language learning - in a new format! It's called the good, the bad and the struggling. Listen in and tell us what you think!

What's your Good, Bad and Struggling?

We'd love to hear from you guys on this one. If you want to share what's good, bad and difficult in your languages right now, send your feedback to us. We read every one and your language news could make it to a show intro in the future.

Simply do one of the following:

  • go on Skype and leave a voice message for fluentlanguage
  • email us at podcast@fluentlanguage.co.uk - include a voice memo from your phone if you can, so we can feature your voice on the show

Topic: You Do Not Need a Native Speaker For Practice

This one had a controversial statement at the heart of it, and Lindsay and I debated the merits of hunting, finding, selecting, working with and learning with native speakers.

So, do you need a native speaker to learn a language?

Or can you learn a language just as well if you don't have a native speaker to practice with?

One of us argued that native speakers are almost "fetishized" in the world of language learning -- listen in to find out which one and see where our debate ended up.

Some Of The Arguments We Made

1. A Tutor Can Be Better

Tutors tend to know what learning is like, and they see people learn all the time. They know the grammar structures, the vocabulary you're looking for, and they're ready to help you out and set you up for success. So for a language beginner, working with the tutor could be way more successful than working with any native speaker.

The native language of your tutor doesn't matter - it's all about what they can teach you, and that their personality allows you to blossom.

2. Don't Procrastinate Through Searching

If you're always looking for a native tutor to practice with, could it be that you'd hold back when practicing with non-natives? Before you start setting irrelevant standards in your language learning, it may be time to consider what is most relevant.

Waiting to find the perfect native speaker to practice with can become its own form of procrastination.

3. Find The Native At The Perfect Time

When you're feeling shaky about your speaking speed, accuracy and fluency, the native conversation can become a struggle. There's no point in getting yourself frustrated. Instead, consider working towards that natural conversation and a feeling of it being "effortless" - the native speaker can become a goal you set yourself, not something you put in your way as a hurdle.

4. It's Too Vague To Have A Vague Goal

A "15 minute conversation with a native speaker" is a goal that you may find inspiring, but it's a tough one to put into reality. Try and go about this goal more specifically by putting in milestones, things that will happen on the way to that conversation, and will pull it into sharper focus.

I can't count the amount of times I've found an advanced speaker of my target language, and then we ran out of things to say within a few hours. You need to find someone who wants to help you on the path, but also someone you have a rapport with. And once you've got that covered, it's a milestone.

The Story of Bilingual German-English Live Training

One of the worst moments I've ever experienced in German teaching was the time I tried to introduce a class of lunchtime learners to the Akkusativ case. Armed with whiteboard and sample sentences, I walked into the class, and I felt so ready and so excited to be teaching this (what I thought) awesome system in grammar.

"So when you have an object in your sentence, here's what happens..", I explained to them, with colour-coded underlining to illustrate. I thought I was doing well..until I saw everyone's face. In this classroom, at 12:45, in the middle of a busy workday, something clearly wasn't working.

That's when I realised that language teaching and language learning are not the same thing. And even worse, that what I was explaining didn't make sense to half of these people and they didn't care either.

Relevant Teaching

I came out of that class feeling absolutely defeated. I think I even cried, feeling like I'm failing myself and my students. And the experience always stuck with me and built part of the philosophy that is behind my actions now: The LEARNER is in charge of learning a language. And the learner, that's you right there reading these words.

When you're taking classes with me, you can get the solid and important explanations at your own pace in my online courses, but in live lessons I avoid explainers and I never lead with them.

Instead, the key to the Fluent Language method is relevant teaching.

For you as a German learner, that means experiencing language immersion at a good pace, making your own conclusions, and answering questions regularly. It's important to speak or write early, but it's also important that you're learning relevant and well.

Action: Bilingual Live Training

In my most recent teaching venture, I created a bilingual webinar - the first one I ever taught, and a successful one too.

Thank you so much if you were among the lovely people watching on Saturday. It was a challenge for me to teach in this way, but an incredibly rewarding experience to know that the viewers were following along, answering questions, and understanding the immersion concept.

Do you want to try it out? Catch up with the webinar today, and make sure you also download your worksheet and follow along. Click here and find all you need at the webinar live page.

German Immersion in Germany

For those of you who are ready for the next step in German, don't forget that the deadline for applying to our exclusive FLUENT GERMAN RETREAT is approaching very quickly. The event is perfect for you if you've been stuck in the books and screens, and you want to break out and speak German in the wild.

To learn more about this once-in-a-lifetime event, click here.

I do have a few places left at this stage and need to close registrations very soon, so make sure you don't miss out today.

Did you watch the webinar? Did you learn something new and use the worksheet?

Tell me how you enjoyed it in the comments below, and make sure you sign up for my newsletter to learn about the next one.

A Good Handle on the Hangul (Podcast Episode 47)

In this episode, we let you guys take us where you wanted us to go with your awesome listener messages.

Some of What We Talked About

  • Where to go when you travel to Lithuania (home of our first listener)
  • Great tips for studying Korean, like how to study the grammar and where to go next after learning Hangul script
  • Is there ever a perfect language course that is not too slow and not too fast?
  • How to set yourself little language goals
  • Great apps on your smartphone that help you learn languages (we mentioned DOZENS and you've never heard of half of these - guaranteed!)
  • How to beat procrastination when you’re supposed to be studying your languages

The Language Learner's iPhone Gallery

 

We want to thank you guys so much for sending us so much feedback (especially Paulina, Stephen and Andy) in this episode. Keep it coming, we always read your reviews and feedback and definitely want more voice messages.

Links and Resources From This Episode

Korean

Welsh

Apps

There are so many more that we mention on the show, so don’t forget to check out our home screen gallery for inspiration.

Beating Procrastination

You Can Be On The Show

Don't forget that you can submit your message to us anytime. Simply do one of the following:

  • go on Skype and leave a voice message for fluentlanguage OR
  • email us at kerstin@fluentlanguage.co.uk - include a voice memo from your phone if you can, so we can feature your voice on the show
  • leave a comment on this blog post

Make sure you mention your name and which languages you’re learning. We also value your reviews in the iTunes store of your choice - simply click here, subscribe, click review and go for it (thanks to our latest US-based reviewer for the cool review en español!).

Top 5 Photo Spots in the Mosel Valley, Germany

When you travel to a location as outstanding as the Mosel valley, it would be a shame to forget your camera. I recently headed home to spend a week preparing for the Fluent German Retreat, and on my trip I collected a few top tips to share with you.

The following sites are not to be missed and can be visited in a day or two. But wie alles an der Mosel, it pays to take your time and slow down to find a relaxed pace.

photo spots mosel

Top 5 Photo Spots in the Mosel Valley

1) Porta Nigra, Trier

Where would Trier locals be without their beloved Porta? This old Roman city gate stands proudly on the West End of Trier. It may not impress you with its beauty at the start, but this location is unmissable as the city's Wahrzeichen - our flagship building. This is where Germany's oldest city meets for coffee.

Insider Tip:

The inside of the Porta Nigra is fascinating, and during the summer you can take guided tours with a Roman centurion.

Eiscafé Calchera, just a few steps away from the Porta, is the city's finest address for Italian ice cream.

2) Straußwirtschaft im Weingut

Straußwirtschaften are the traditional German cousins of microbreweries, run in the wineries of wine country and open only a few months per year. Let yourself be spoilt with local foods and fresh wines right from the cellar. It might be true that we export all the good stuff.

You can find them in every village and know them by a bunch of ribbons, stray or branches (the Strauß) displayed on the outside the house.

3) Altstadt Bernkastel-Kues

Bernkastel-Kues is an absolute Mosel classic, visited for centuries by everyone from convalescent kings to US Army staff looking for a relaxing weekend. This town has everything you could want from a German photo spot: a castle ruin high up in the hills, a traditional market square second to none other, and a romantic bridge across the river to boot.

Bernkastel is bustling, charming, and thoroughly enjoyable for visitors at any age. It's most incredible during the Weinfest der Mittelmosel, crowned with stunning fireworks that reflect in the river on a warm September night.

4) Weinköniginnen

At most German wine, beer or shooting festivals, you are in the presence of local royalty. In the Mosel valley for example, young ladies (usually between 17 and 25) represent their villages, towns and even the whole winemaking region. This job is coveted, and can even lead to a career travelling the world to represent German wine.

And if you make it to the Fluent German Retreat, you might spot a picture of me as a fresh-faced young wine queen proudly representing Mülheim.

5) Moselschleifen

So obvious that it's nearly forgotten, the Mosel river is an absolutely breathtaking sight. Winding its way through ancient slate hills, lined by vineyards, it looks every bit as wonderful as it sounds. The Mosel valley has something beautiful on offer around every bend. Sometimes your eye will be drawn to an old castle, vines on a steep slope or a boat peacefully making its way down the river bends. The Mosel is a unique experience - drive or hike up one of the hills and you'll be spellbound.

Insider Tip:

Look out for the word Moselschleife in a guidebook, and do not let fear of a steep vineyard put you off. My favourite locations are the Brauneberg directly opposite our Retreat venue in Mülheim, the hills above Kröv and Minheim.

Where To Find Out More

This post covers just a few of the beautiful locations in the Mosel valley, and obviously there are hundreds more spots to discover. For example, I love the Josefinenhöhe in Veldenz,

This place is popular with travellers all around the world, yet undiscovered by the big tourist hordes, so prepare to discover your own private trail.

Are You Ready to Speak German?

If you want to experience these wonderful places and speak German with the people that live there, you are invited to discover the Fluent German Courses. These courses offer easy, straightforward explanations and examples to get you talking as fast as you can.