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Instagram Language Challenge April Prompts!

Bonjour! There’s been a lot of people asking me about the Instagram Language Challenge this month. How it works, what to do, what language to learn etc. So I thought it best to give a little recap of all of that today before introducing you to this month’s prompt list.

What it is

The Instagram Language Challenge is something I created at the start of this year to give people a chance to learn new vocabulary daily. Before the start of a new month, I post a brand new list of words here, on Instagram, and on other social media. Normally, there’s 28 words per month. This gives you a couple of days to catch up if you miss a day or two (or three in my case!). It also gives you some time to review your new vocabulary at the end of the month via Instagram video, private study, or shouting from the rooftops. Whichever works for you.

You may also notice that sometimes the words are very general, sometimes very specific, and sometimes very vague. This is because I want it to be a fun, varied, and creative thing for you to do rather than just the same old same old. The important thing here? Think outside of the box. You don’t have to learn the daily word in your target language.

For example, if you’re learning French and the prompt is ‘blue’, you don’t have to just learn the word ‘bleu’, take a photo, and write it down. For starters, you may already know this word, it may not be useful to you, or it may be far too easy. You have complete free range here. If the prompt is ‘blue’ and your favourite mug is blue, and you don’t know the word for mug in French then make ‘mug’ your word for the day. No rules!

Ok, well, there is one rule. But even that isn’t do up your top button, be on time, or have your homework in on time. Just to include ‘#IGLC’ in the description of your image when you post it on Instagram so I can see it. Because I like to see what you’re learning. Also I’m nosey!

In summary…

  • One photo/video each day or as often as you can or want to
  • Learn a new word or phrase with each photo/video
  • Use the daily prompt for inspiration
  • Hashtag #IGLC in the description
  • Ready for April

    I’m really excited about this month’s prompt list because it’s been especially curated by the wonderful Audrey of Españolita Blog. Audrey writes about bilingual parenting on her blog and it’s really interesting – be sure to visit her site! She’s also a keen IGLC-er. You can follow her on Instagram right here. In the meantime, here is April’s prompt list for the Instagram Language Challenge, exclusively curated by Audrey.

    Instagram Language Challenge #IGLC April Prompt List Españolita Lindsay Does Languages blog

    You’ll notice something different about Audrey’s list – she’s included ‘freebie’ days! This is a great idea that she had to make the Instagram Language Challenge more open for you to fit it around your life. Which words have been bugging you but you’ve not yet looked up? Freebie days are for those words!

    Not only that but she’s opted for 30 days, which means more new words (yay!), and she’s even chosen some very specific words such as ‘grasshopper’, which I don’t think I know in any language other than English! Too specific for you? Here’s think outside the box time again! Grass? Hop? Insect? Up to you!

    Will you be joining in with the Instagram Language Challenge this month? Which language(s) will you be learning? Share in the comments!

    Blog en español #7: La Música

    La Canción Protesta

    Tema 7 fue sobre la música y una cosa que fue muy interesante para mi fue la canción protesta. La canción protesta es un tipo de música que habla de la situación política, especialmente durante los años 60 y 70, y especialmente en los países hispanohablantes. Wikipedia dice que incluye Bob Dylan y Edith Piaf a nombrar solo algunos, pero yo no había pensado de ellos en esta manera.

    Una canción en particular que me llamó la atención fue Te Recuerdo Amanda de Victor Jara, un chileno. La canción cuenta la historia de Amanda, una chica que va rápidamente a la fabrica donde trabaja su novio, Manuel. Tienen cinco minutos juntos durante su descanso antes de su regreso a la fabrica. Sin embargo, Manuel va a luchar por su país y se murió.

    Y ahora voy a practicar el subjuntivo, porque es siempre divertido, ¡¿no?!

    Si Manuel no hubiera ido a luchar por su país, habría sido con Amanda, tal vez por siempre.

    Hay más información sobre Victor Jara aquí (en inglés).

    Para estudiar

    Como ya he dicho muchas veces, me encanta utilizar la música como una manera de estudiar las lenguas. Tengo muchas listas de reproducción, ‘playlists’, sobre mi pagina de 8tracks.

    Sólo un blog corto hoy porque mañana voy a Londres a ver Shaun in the City, entonces tengo que hacer todo de un fin de semana normal en un día…¡ya me voy!

    Language Learning Review and Goals: March 2015

    March was super busy! If you’re subscribed to Little Language Mail, you’ll already know that I’ve been hard at work finalising my first online course. I’m looking forward to beginning filming this in April. There’ll be a lot of video in this course because I want it to be as interactive as possible. I’m so excited to tell you more along the way! In the meantime, be sure to bookmark the new Lindsay Does Languages Shop site and subscribe for updates as they come before the launch this autumn. Eek! That’s all I’ll reveal on that for now…!

    Moving on, let’s look back. What a sentence. As always with the language learning review and goals posts, we’ll begin with the review of my goals for the past month.

    March Review

    Language Learning Review and Goals: March 2015 Lindsay Does Languages blog
    There was a solar eclipse here in the UK. I discovered they’re remarkably hard to photograph. (yes, yes, I know you shouldn’t!) I should add that this photo makes it look a lot more dramatic than it was. In reality it was me in my sunglasses looking up, down, blinking, and looking back up again, and it was nowhere near this dark and moody.

    4 new scripts

    This month’s scripts for the Language Script Challenge were Amharic, Braille, Devanagari, Khmer. I’m writing this on the 26th and have 16 letters left on the Amharic course, 4 left on Khmer, and punctuation left on Braille. So I’m feeling that one script a week is a better focus for me than start everything at once and hope for the best. With that said, I do feel like I’ve cheated slightly with the Devanagari script as the course included English letters next to the Devanagari letters so…there’s that. But I’ve had a little intro and that’s the point of this project: to be able to visually identify and distinguish between 31 scripts, writing systems, and alphabets. Of course if I can actually solidly learn to read and write in a couple along the way then that’s a handy little bonus.

    Keep going with Spanish at current rate

    I feel like after 6 years and 10 courses with The Open University, I’ve finally nailed this self-study distance-learning thing. I’m sure it’s just confidence and joy at seeing the finish line (September!) but I’m struggling to see my life without The OU at this point. September will be weird. Although I’m sure the Japanese learner in me will thank me. Something that has really helped me to study more than the materials is my Blog en Español series here on the blog. The point is that every week I write something in Spanish based on what I’ve studied that week. At first, I was really scared about putting it out there and even considered not doing it. When you write something, on the internet or otherwise, it’s much easier for people to spot (inevitable) mistakes than when you speak. However, people have been really supportive with this, and I love the interaction with Spanish readers of this blog. So, thank you. You have helped to motivate me. Gracias.

    ¡Habla español!

    So I planned to use the Verbling credit I had and look for another language exchange. Well, I haven’t done that, but I have put the steps in motion to find a local Spanish speaking MeetUp, which is even better. I spend a lot of my day with computers and screens, which is why I think I put off looking for an online exchange in Spanish. I need some screen free time! And hopefully, I’ve found it. Watch this space.

    Instagram Language Challenge

    The last week I’ve been a total slacker when it comes to the Instagram Language Challenge. But that’s ok! The point of the #IGLC isn’t to punish yourself when you miss a day (or few), but rather for it to be there when you’re looking for some language learning inspiration in your daily life.
    Language Learning Review and Goals: March 2015 Lindsay Does Languages blogHe didn’t speak much, in any language, but I did meet Elmo this month. Along with another random Muppet. I have no clue who she is. She seemed nice.

    April Goals

    Language Learning Review and Goals: March 2015 Lindsay Does Languages blog
    I was so excited when I spotted these ‘seen-better-days’ display house numbers in a DIY shop this month. They look like Cherokee!

    4 new scripts

    There’s another 4 scripts on the list for April: Armenian, ASL (American Sign Language), Tamil, and Greek. My current routine of a little time in the morning between “Spanish hour” and exercise works really well and I do find I have just enough time on the weekend to sit and write in my little notebook. I’ll be talking more about this next week on the blog.

    Keep going with Spanish at current rate

    If you complete a goal in one month, that doesn’t mean it should necessarily be forgotten, right? Not much else I can really say about this one!

    Maintain the ‘old’ scripts

    Something that is getting harder as I progress with the Language Script Challenge is maintaining what I’ve learnt already. To do this I plan to ‘water’ all of my previous scripts on Memrise at least once a week, write a few lines or more in at least one previously looked at script each day, and get back to finding fun YouTube videos teaching the various scripts.

    Deutsch!

    Are you going to the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin? I’ll be there! So I need to get a little Deutsch back in my life beforehand to oil the rusty German cogs in my brain. As I type this, I’ve actually been listening to German radio all morning so I guess that’s a step in the right direction. I’m not sure I’ll get the chance this month for an online lesson or anything like that, but again, I’ll have a look at the local German group on MeetUp and see if I can make it.

    How has your language learning gone in March? What are your goals for April? I love reading your stories in the comments!

    World Cinema Club: The Lunchbox Review & Discussion

    It’s always weird starting these posts because it’s always the end of the month, and I always find myself saying, “Woah! What happened to [insert month here]?!”. So this month will be different, instead, I’ve started by saying how I always do that instead of actually saying it. See the difference there? Subtle.

    So onto The Lunchbox review! Have you seen it? What did you think? I have to say there’s likely to be spoilers in this post so caution before reading if you haven’t seen it yet. You have been warned.

    Characters

    I loved the character of Auntie who lived upstairs. I loved how you never see her, she’s just ever present and acts as a way for Ila to voice her feelings, well at least, selectively. I found her to be a touch of comic relief in the film.

    Speaking of comic relief, I also loved Shaikh’s character and the way he helped to soften Saajan throughout. It was a really sweet moment when he asked him to attend his wedding, especially the photo taking scene!

    Saajan telling the children not to play football outside his house near the beginning made me think instantly of Ebenezer Scrooge and this stuck with me throughout. I enjoyed watching his “transformation” in the film.

    One thing I found interesting was that there were a lot of scenes in The Lunchbox where characters were alone. Of course, for some of these moments, the letters were being read by the other person, however I found it quite intimate having so much time alone with Saajan and Ila and really liked this. Thinking about it, all the main characters were well-developed and great assets to the film.

    Language

    Oh my life! I was losing my mind over the code-switching in this film! (Code-switching is when people change languages in the same sentence, bit of speech, or conversation) I’ve never been to India, and although I knew English was widely spoken, I didn’t expect so much swapping between Hindi and English. From what I observed in The Lunchbox, it seems that speaking English to someone is almost a sign of hierarchy? For example, the children spoke to Saajan in English, his boss introduces Shaikh to him in English, and, we can presume, Saajan writes his letters in English. And, of course, I also found it really interesting getting my first real listen to Hindi!

    Plot

    I loved the plot, however, the scenes with Ila’s mother lost me slightly as they seemed duller than the rest of the film. Maybe I missed something, but I didn’t really find them necessary.

    The thing that really got me about the plot of The Lunchbox though was the ending! Eek! What happens?! Does Saajan get there in time? Does Ila leave for Bhutan? Was she planning to take her daughter? Do they go to Bhutan together? Is there some love there or just friendship? So many questions! However, as frustrating as it was, I loved the ending at the same time because it really leaves you to decide how you want things to turn out. Besides, do films always need a solid ending?

    The next film…

    Next month’s film for World Cinema Club is Ida. This is a Polish film and was the first Polish film to win the Foreign Language Film Oscar earlier this year. Not only that but the film also won the BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language. So it’s got to be worth a viewing, right? I look forward to discussing it with you at the end of April. In the meantime, here’s the trailer to get you intrigued…

    Let’s talk

    Now then, discussion time! What did you think of The Lunchbox? Did you enjoy the moments with just one character on screen? What did you think of the code-switching? And most importantly, what did you think of the ending?!

    Using Pinterest for Language Learning

    Social media now plays a bigger part in our lives than ever. With smartphones in our pockets and even on our wrists, it’s now an unescapable way to spend a few spare minutes here and there. Or to get completely lost in an undesired extended scroll. With that said, let’s beat the dull scroll and make social media time useful language learning time (tah dah!). Over the next few months I’ll be covering a few of the popular social media channels and giving some tips on how they could be used to help with your language learning. We’ve already discussed Instagram. Today, we’re talking using Pinterest for language learning.

    My Pinterest account has become a valuable source for grammar tips, vocabulary, visually pleasing infographics, and teaching ideas (as well as personal ‘secret’ boards for recipes that will never look as good as the photo and incredibly Photoshopped images of amazing places to travel to). Although, if you make any kind of cake in a mug it will taste like a gift from the Gods.

    I’ve even made a couple of things for Lindsay Does Languages in the past with Pinterest in mind. The most popular has definitely been this one. But how do I locate these things when I need them? How do I even find them in the first place?

    Searching

    With Pinterest being a haven for unachievable recipes and wanderlust, typing ‘French’ alone into the search bar may not whiled the desired results if you’re after some pretty verb tables. Expect French toast and the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, Pinterest wasn’t made with us language folk in mind so you may need to be more specific. ‘French grammar’ could bring up better results, and then, to be more specific, ‘French grammar verbs’, even better. What’s more, Pinterest has recently improved to suggest common combinations. So if you do just type in ‘French’, ‘language’ may well be a suggested addition below.

    Why not try searching these terms in the target language? For example, ‘la langue français’ instead of ‘French language’. Or search other stuff you’d also want to find on Pinterest such as hair or make up tutorials in the target language? The possibilities are endless!

    Following

    As soon as you pin something, you’ll often be shown a “you might also like” box. This can be annoying, but it can be great for finding like-minded people. Remember that heart attack cake in a mug I mentioned? Well, if you’re purely after languages, you don’t have to just follow a person, you can choose to follow individual boards of theirs. Very useful tool if you don’t want to be tempted by the likes of this.

    Collecting

    Speaking of individual boards, this is where you can decide how specific or loose you want your boards to be. For my needs, because I have an interest in a broad range of languages, I tend to have one language per board and then a couple of additional boards such as ‘Teaching Ideas’, ‘Films I Love’, and ‘Favourite Places and Spaces’. For example, here’s my English board – full of a complete mixture of interesting stuff that’s popped up or I’ve searched for to do with the English language.

    Follow Lindsay Does Languages’s board English on Pinterest.

    That said, I do also have an ‘English Verb Tense’ board where I collect simple images using different tenses to use as examples with students. If you’re studying English, this could be a useful board to follow!

    Follow Lindsay Does Languages’s board English Verb Tenses on Pinterest.

    However, depending on what you’re after, you can be as broad or narrow with these terms as you wish. A board for each verb tense or a board simply titled ‘languages’. Completely up to you!

    Using

    How you use what you end up with on your Pinterest page is completely up to you! You can print stuff, email it to yourself, copy it out, or just save it on Pinterest. Personally, I love having things there as reference. I also like to use Pinterest as a first stop when I start looking at a new language because it often gives a different approach to books and other more traditional resources.

    Do you use Pinterest? How do you make it work for your language learning? Share your ideas in the comments! Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest!

    Blog en español #6: Salvador Dalí

    ¡Hola! ¡Blog en español número 6! Muchos años antes que comencé a aprender español, ya conocí a Dalí. Es uno de los artistas del mundo que son muy conocidos, ¿no? Pero, recientemente, hice un poco de investigación sobre él por este blog y hay muchas cosas que yo no sabía de Dalí. Estas cosas son lo que voy a compartir contigo hoy.

    Destino

    ¿Sabes que Dalí hizo una película con Walt Disney? Pues, en realidad, comenzaron una película que no terminaron antes de sus muertes. Pero en 2003, La Empresa de Walt Disney lo terminó y lo lanzó. Es una película abstracta, como se imaginaría, que personalmente, creo que he visto en una exhibición en algún lugar pero no sé exactamente donde o cuando entonces es un misterio. Tal vez es mi destino…ooo, ¿ves lo que hice? Pues, aquí es la peli para que puedes verlo por tú mismo. [Revisión: ¡Recuerdo! Fue al Museo Nacional Reina Sofía en Madrid en 2013. Hay más información aquí.]

    Simbolismo

    Todos han visto los relojes derretidos, ¿no? Un poco así. Pues, es dicho que simbolizan una relación entre la teoría de Einstein sobre la relatividad del tiempo y que el tiempo no es fijado.

    Además, aparentemente, hay mucho simbolismo en los animales que Dalí muestra en sus obras. Por ejemplo, las hormigas = la muerte, los caracoles = la cabeza humano, y las langostas = el sobrante o el temor. ¿Interesante, no?

    Un Perro Andaluz

    Otra película que Dalí hizo con un amigo es Un Perro Andaluz con Luis Buñuel. En serio, hay un escena en esta película que me molesta más que nada que he visto – y te acuerdas que fue hecho en 1929. Solo es los dos primeros minutos que me molestan. Tal vez, no es apropiado por los niños. (English note: I wouldn’t advise showing this to young children). ¿Qué piensas?

    Vale, entonces, eso es solo una ojeada al mundo de Dalí a fuera de sus pinturas. Creo que fue un hombre muy artistico, creativo, y muy pionero también. Pero, ¿qué piensas tú de Dalí, especialmente de sus otras obras, como las películas? ¡Comparte tus comentarios!

    WeSpeke Video Contest: Vote For Me!

    You may have noticed last week that there was no video over on YouTube. Well, the reason for that is that this week there’s THREE videos! Yes! Three! And guess what? All of them are entered into this year’s WeSpeke Video Contest!

    WeSpeke is an online language exchange site offering practice with native speakers across the world via text, audio, or video. It’s pretty cool, and I’d definitely recommend checking WeSpeke out right here.

    In the meantime, I need your help! Their awesome competition is offering cash prizes that could really help to improve Lindsay Does Languages if I won. Why should you vote for my videos? How does this affect you? Well, high on my list right now is an iPad. Not only would this improve my face-to-face lessons (my faithful yellow laptop is slowly dying!), but it would also enable me to make films more quickly and easily on the go. For example, when I head to Berlin in May for the Polyglot Gathering, I’ll be able to upload short vlogs daily to fill you in wherever you are in the world. I think this is pretty cool and I’d love to offer this to you. So YOU can also benefit from this if I win. Everyone’s a winner!

    The theme was ‘My funny language experience’. I had plenty of stories to choose from, but three stood out to me. Here they are…

    So how can you help?

    I’m not asking for money. I don’t want you to buy an iPad for my business! That would be weird and unprofessional. I’m asking for your clicks, your votes, and your shares. Again, not money shares, social sharing!

    I have three films entered in the competition and if you could click and vote for all three, you’d be making a little Lindsay very happy! All you have to do is click on the links below, log in via Facebook or your WeSpeke account, and click ‘VOTE FOR THIS ENTRY” beneath the video. The links are set to open in new tabs.

    How to embarrass yourself in front of 30 Costa Rican children

    White & Gold vs. Blue & Black (or article vs. object)

    The difference between 6000 stone men and a few real ones

    The great thing about this contest is that you can vote for each film once per day, so be sure to bookmark the links to remind you to vote every day! Every vote counts!

    One more little request…

    Once you’ve voted, I have one more tiny request. Please share the videos across the internet, on your blogs, social media, tell people in the street…basically if you can spread the word, I will be so so grateful. I want to make this as easy as possible for you so I’ve created some custom shortlinks, which will be easier to remember. Here they are to copy, paste, and share at your leisure.

    Film 1: http://bit.ly/wespekeLDL1

    Film 2: http://bit.ly/wespekeLDL2

    Film 3: http://bit.ly/wespekeLDL3

    Let’s do this!

    And finally…

    multilingual thank you Lindsay Does Languages blog

    How Much Does it Cost to Learn a Language?

    A little Google search told me this is a well trodden topic. 685,000,000 results to be exact. Wow. You see, there is a common misconception brought about by promises on the covers of shiny language learning products that make you think you need that product to succeed. You need to spend that money to become fluent.

    Of course, this isn’t unique to language learning – this is a universal truth in all areas where there’s things to be sold and money to be made. And, do you know what? Sometimes, it is worth investing financially in something, and other times, the free stuff can be just as good – if not better. So today, I wanted to use my recent studies of Japanese to demonstrate how much I’ve really spent on learning the language so far.

    Visible stuff

    Probably one of the first things we think we need to begin learning a language. Maybe they cost upwards of £10 for the nice looking one in Waterstones, maybe even more if you go online for a bigger range. So how much have I spent on this pile of Japanese books?
    how much does it cost to learn a language? Japanese books and dictionaries prices Lindsay Does Languages blog
    Once people know your hobby, they’ll (hopefully) start cottoning on at birthdays and the like and getting you language learning related gifts, like these two dictionaries were – from different people, I should add! One person didn’t just buy me a montón of Japanese dictionaries. That would be weirdly wonderful. Or wonderfully weird. I’m undecided.

    So that leaves the other four books. All of which cost me a fortune from brand new shiny bookshops cost me next to nothing from second hand shops. And I don’t even really use them much to be honest. In fact, I’ve never even opened Japanese For Busy People 2. Mainly because I haven’t found Japanese For Busy People 1 for 50p yet. (Yet!) Partly because that’s not my level. (Yet!) I use the Oxford dictionary the most for reference and the others do get occasional look-ins.

    Another thing I use is notebooks. To be specific, these notebooks:
    how much does it cost to learn a language? Japanese Lindsay Does Languages blog
    Sometimes it’s nice to have a slightly fancy notebook. (Why are girls such suckers for stationery?) Mostly, I use cheap ones like in the photo. After all, they’re still just as papery, which is a good quality for a notebook, I would say.

    Invisible stuff

    The biggest expense is kind of hard to take a photo of: my italki lessons. Since October, I’ve had 10 60 minute lessons and 5 30 minute lessons. In total this has cost me $84, which, according to today’s exchange rate is £56.73. I could take this further as my Japanese still has lots of potential room for improvement. However, those lessons have got me to a basic conversational point where I would feel comfortable now looking for an exchange partner, which would be free.

    Total

    Let’s do some maths…58p + £2 + £2 + 50P + £1 + 18p = £6.26

    Say what?! That’s pretty bargainous, don’t you think? Getting started is normally going to be the priciest stage of learning a new language and the temptation to spend, spend, spend is just too real. I mean, if it says I’m going to speak Finnish is 6 weeks, I will won’t I? YES! I will buy you for £50, Speak Finnish in 6 Weeks. However, sometimes it’s worth remembering that the best thing you can spend on your language learning is…drumroll please…your time. As cringey as that conclusion may sound, I’m going with it. It’s out there now. Spend your time on language learning to get results, regardless of your budget. You got this.

    Over to you! How much does it cost to learn a language? What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!

    A little note about this post: A referral link has been used to link to italki. If you’re not signed up and you do so via this link, I’ll get italki credits to spend on language learning. Also, as a blogger, I’ve been lucky enough to be sent some things for free, which have helped my Japanese. I haven’t mentioned these in this post because I’m focusing on what I have personally spent from my own pocket.

    Things I’ve Learnt About Thai So Far

    Thai was the forth script I looked at as part of my Language Script Challenge. Today I want to share some interesting things I’ve learnt about the script with you.

    So. Many. Letters.

    In comparison to the scripts I’d been exposed to before, Thai is flipping HUGE. There’s a whopping 44 consonants. FORTY FOUR! Can there be that many different sounds? As I wrote the alphabet down for the first time with the letter names and sounds, I soon realised that a lot of these letters represent the same sound. Hmm.
    learn Thai alphabet gif Lindsay Does Languages blog
    But not quite. Thai is, of course, an East Asian language so we have our good friends tones to join us here. However, there are so many letters for the same English letter it seems that I had to do a little more research. This forum proved to be rather helpful. As far as I understand, not all of the letters for each sound are commonly used in words of Thai origin. 8 of the letters are used only for writing words of Pali and Sanskrit origin. I think. I’m still getting my head around this bit.

    A is for apple

    For each script, I’ve tried to find a little song version of the alphabet to help me along the way. I found one for Thai, I started listening, hmm…why are there 2 words for one letter?! Well, the Thai alphabet is learnt alongside words that use each letter. Kind of like ‘A is for apple’. My favourite is this one…
    learn Thai alphabet gif Lindsay Does Languages blog
    It sounds a little like my surname and means turtle. Easily remembered!

    Vooooowels

    By this point, I’d come to learn from Hebrew and Arabic that vowels aren’t always represented in the same way as consonants. Thai is no different. In Thai, vowels are added before, after, above, or below a consonant. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.
    learn Thai alphabet gif Lindsay Does Languages blog
    The sounds can also be looooooong or short, like these, which both have an ‘a’ sound.
    learn Thai alphabet gif Lindsay Does Languages blog
    Interesting stuff!

    Tone markers

    Once you get to grips with adding the vowels to the consonants, you can then add tone markers on top of that! Phew. The oh-my-golly-gosh-this-is-going-to-be-a-lot-of-work kind of phew. However, remember what we said about the amount of different letters for the same sound? As time has gone on, the distinction between them has been lost and so the different letters have now come to represent tone. So tone markers aren’t always used. Phew. The effortless kind of phew here.

    Reading little bits of Thai

    Lately, I got completely hooked on the BBC Three show Bangkok Airport. I know how lame anything sounds when you introduce it as a BBC Three show, but it’s surprisingly good! When they introduced a new member of staff, there’d be a little clip with their name shown in English and…Thai! Hooray! This show came out just at the time I was learning Thai so it provided a nice bit of very light beginner Thai reading, which is just how I like my TV. Also, Captain Jack.

    Do you learn Thai? What do you find most interesting about the language? Let me know in the comments!

    Tuttle Japanese Hiragana and Katakana Flashcards Review + GIVEAWAY!

    [UPDATE: The giveaway has now closed. Thank you to all who entered and congratulations to those who won!]
    A few weeks ago, the lovely people at Tuttle Publishing got in touch and sent me a little package of Japanese goodies. I already had a Pocket Japanese Dictionary that Ashley had bought for me a couple of years ago and I loved it so I was excited to see what these things had to offer. Before we get into it, let’s just talk about Tuttle. Tuttle are a publisher of books on all things Asia. With my interest in different scripts right now, their website is like an Aladdin’s cave. There’s just so much good stuff there! But what did they send me?

    Tuttle Publishing Japanese Hiragana and Katakana Flashcards Kanji Dictionary Making Out in Japanese books Lindsay Does Languages blog

    I was so excited when this arrived! The first thing I opened was the Japanese Hiragana and Katakana Flashcards set. Therefore, this will be the first reviewed product. But don’t worry if you’re interested in the others! There’ll be more reviews (and giveaways!) soon, so be sure to follow on Facebook or Twitter to keep in the loop.

    Japanese Hiragana and Katakana Flashcards

    Tuttle Publishing Japanese Hiragana and Katakana Flashcards books Lindsay Does Languages blog
    I’d never really thought about buying an individual product solely for Hiragana and Katakana. I mean, I’d done alright learning them with just Memrise and some light reading and writing. With that in mind, you can imagine my initial blasé attitude to this product. I thought I didn’t need it, I thought it was unnecessary, and I thought it didn’t need to be the same size as the Kanji kit (we’ll get to the Kanji kit in another blog post!). I was SO wrong. Like more wrong than chocolate cheese.

    The box states that the kit contains 200 flashcards, an organising ring, audio recordings, and two wall charts. For some reason my brain didn’t pick up on this, and the flashcards were all that were in my head as I opened it up for the first time. It was like opening the door to Narnia. “Ooo, a ring to put them on! Ooo, a CD! Ooo, posters!”. Tuttle really do give you everything you need to get started with Hiragana and Katakana, including a short booklet with many suggestions of how to use the flashcards, an index of the cards, and an English to Japanese mini dictionary of all of the words featured on the cards.

    “Words? But I thought it was Hiragana and Katakana we’re learning here!”

    Uh huh. Let’s look at the, in my opinion, perfectly designed cards in more detail.
    Tuttle Publishing Japanese Hiragana and Katakana Flashcards books Lindsay Does Languages blog
    Firstly, the cards use a nice blue colour for the text and diagrams. I like this because it’s just a bit brighter than plain ol’ black ‘n’ white. Secondly, each card is numbered. This is SO useful once they’re all on the ring together and you want to get back to where you started! The first side of the card has the Hiragana or Katakana in question nice and big on the left hand side, with a stroke by stroke guide to writing it underneath. The next big thing on the front of the card is the list of 6 words that use that Hiragana or Katakana. Oh, and there’s one more thing on the front of the card. (This is my favourite bit – so clever!) In the bottom right hand corner, you’ll spot a ≠ (does not equal) sign, followed by similar looking characters. THIS is the stuff I’m talking about. THIS is what was missing from my lazy Memrise/reading/writing Hiragana and Katakana learning routine. Such a simple little idea but very useful as there are so many Hiragana and Katakana that are easily confused in the early stages!
    Tuttle Publishing Japanese Hiragana and Katakana Flashcards books Lindsay Does Languages blog
    As if all of that info on the front of the card wasn’t enough, the back is just as loaded. The stand out thing for me is the image using the Hiragana or Katakana. With Chineasy being incredibly popular right now, this will be relatable for a lot of people. These images are also on the posters so there’s a nice crossover link there. There’s also a short mnemonic to help you to remember how the image associates with the Hiragana or Katakana. As well as this you have the “answers” to the 6 words given on the front of the card. Firstly written again in Hiragana or Katakana, then in Romaji, then the English translation. Handy, handy stuff!

    Once you’ve gleefully removed the paper tabs from the card piles, you can put them on the ring! The ring is big enough to fit all 200 cards on if you’re feeling brave and the join can even act as a divider between Hiragana and Katakana, or between the words you know and those you don’t (if you keep the ring upright or on a hook of course!). So then your flashcards can go with you on the plane, on the train, and in your automobile. Hooray!

    But don’t set off just yet! Be sure to put the CD in your car, or burn it to your MP3 player or phone. Every single word written on the cards is pronounced slowly and clearly on the CD, in clearly labelled tracks for each card. Brilliant! And then of course, when you get home, your posters will be gracing your wall to keep the learning up. The same images that are on the cards can be found on the posters. I also love that the posters contain both the basic Hiragana and Katakana but also the additional characters – another lazy pitfall from my previous learning methods. Tuttle Publishing Japanese Hiragana and Katakana Flashcards books Lindsay Does Languages blog

    The cons

    So if you haven’t guessed it by now, I think this kit really is worth the money. It’s so thorough and gives you all the tools you need as an independent learner to ace Hiragana and Katakana. However, I always like to be fair and give a couple of negatives. Or at least try to. It would be nice if the posters were in colour, or even the cards. But as I mentioned, I love the simplicity of the blue on the cards, and the posters using the same blue does work, so I get it. The only other negative I could possibly think of (and I’m clutching at straws here!) is that perhaps the cards could be a tiny bit thicker. But they are nicely glossed and feel like they would last well. So again, trying to be even, end up being rather positive!

    The pros

    The Tuttle Hiragana and Katakana Flashcards set is lovely. Clean, simple, well explained in the accompanying booklet, just a joy to use. I feel like with a lot of language products, especially in the flashcard genre, it’s very much aimed at children. Or it’s trying not to aim at children and so aims it far too….not even high, just dull. And the thing is, I don’t want dull and I don’t want children’s products. Tuttle have found the perfect happy medium. It feels mature, respectable and honest, which is also something else rare with language products, or any product for that matter. It’s very easy for a company to promote their product as “100% guaranteed weight loss” or “Spanish in 30 days” or “if you buy this record your life will be better”, but without input from the customer, that ain’t gonna happen. Tuttle gives you 5 pages of great strategies for using their product to get you those results. The method that stands out to me? “Try to find the most comfortable way to use the cards for you”.

    And now for the giveaway!

    Tuttle have very kindly agreed to give away two copies of Japanese Hiragana and Katakana Flashcards – so you’re in with double the chance. Not only that but I’m now using Rafflecopter for giveaways, which means you have more chances to win. A blog comment below is worth 5 entries AND unlocks the chance for 5 more entries into the draw! The giveaway is only open for 2 weeks so you’ll have to be quick! Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Giveaway rules

    This giveaway is open to UK and international residents. Entrants must be over 18 years of age. Entrants are entitled to ten entries per person if all entry options are used. Entrants must log in via Rafflecopter and answer the question in the widget in the Disqus comments below – this is the ONLY mandatory task. Entrants can gain extra entries in the draw by tweeting a link to the giveaway, following Lindsay Does Languages on Twitter, or visiting the Lindsay Does Languages Facebook page. Entry closes at 00.00 on Tuesday 24th March 2015. The winner will be picked at random on Wednesday 25th March 2015 and contacted via the email given on your Rafflecopter account. If I cannot contact you this way, then I may attempt to contact you via Facebook in alignment with these rules. If I cannot make contact with you, I will have to offer the prize to another entrant and pick another winner at random. The winner will be announced on the blog and/or social media. The prize will be dispatched from Tuttle Publishing. There is no sponsorship or affiliate link to this giveaway or in this blog post. Tuttle Publishing have been kind enough to send me some of their products in exchange for blog reviews and giveaways. Thank you!

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