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9 Reasons to Learn Portuguese (Video!)

It feels like it’s been an absolute age since I made a 9 Reasons video. It wasn’t too long ago really. The last one was 9 Reasons to Learn Croatian with reasons by the Shannon Kennedy of Eurolinguiste back in February. Ok, maybe a little while ago!

Believe it or not, this video has been in production for a ridiculously long time. Like, since last summer. I even filmed it back in November before moving, but when I went to edit the footage months later, I was saying things like, “earlier this yeah I learnt Portuguese.” so I couldn’t use it and had to film again. Ha. For that reason, I’m really glad to finally share this with you. Enjoy 9 Reasons to Learn Portuguese! Finally!

Do you speak Portuguese? What reasons would you add? Share in the comments!

Using Facebook for Language Learning

Following on in our little series on enhancing social media to your advantage for language learning, so far about Instagram and Pinterest, today I wanted to share some ideas on using Facebook for language learning.

Change the language

Chances are most of your Facebook friends speak your native language, which instantly means that a lot of Facebook will always be presented to you in that language. If you’re lucky, you might have some international friends on there sharing statuses and the like in different languages. However, this isn’t necessarily the case for all of us, so how can you make sure you get some exposure to your target language? Change the language of your Facebook.

How do you do this? Log in, scroll down slightly keeping an eye on the right hand sidebar. When you get to the bottom (of the sidebar, not the infinity scroll of the whole page!) just past the sponsors, then it will say the language your Facebook is currently in next to ‘privacy’, ‘terms’, and all that jazz. Click the name of the language and the list of possibilities will be presented to you! Take your pick!
Using Facebook for Language Learning Lindsay Does Languages Blog

Follow famous folk

So now your generic Facebook lingo such as ‘like’ and ‘What’s on your mind?’ is in your target language, you may as well work on your feed content. Unfortunately, unless you delete all the people from your life who don’t speak your target language (little harsh, Gretch) then you can’t completely control what Facebook decides is relevant to you. You can see fewer posts from people without deleting them, or use friend lists to make sure you never miss a post from people whose stories you do want to see. There’s more info on all that stuff here.

However, to ensure you get at least a little foreign language in your feed without resorting to adding strangers, why not try following pages of bands, brands, or other people and stuff originating from countries that speak your target language? Here are a few examples to get you started…

Spanish

  • Shakira!
  • Juanes
  • Mr. Wonderful
  • French

  • Louane
  • Stromae
  • Norman Fait Des Vidéos
  • German

  • AlexiBexi
  • Marteria
  • There’s loooads of German pages on last year’s Bab.la Top 25 Facebook Pages list!
  • Join like-minded groups

    Believe it or not, there are plenty of people out there with the same interests as you. Facebook Groups make it easier to find them. I don’t want to necessarily suggest groups here – Facebook will do enough of that for you. Plus it completely depends on your languages, your level in these languages, and what you’re after.

    How do you find these groups? On your homepage, on the left sidebar, you will see your little picture, then ‘Pages’, then ‘Groups’, perhaps all with other options underneath these main headings. Click ‘Groups’…
    using Facebook for Language Learning Lindsay Does Languages BlogThen click ‘Suggested Groups’…using Facebook for Language Learning Lindsay Does Languages BlogThis is where you’ll get a few ideas to get you started. Good luck!

    Writing this has made me reevaluate my lazy Facebook habits and today I’ve liked some new German pages and changed the language of my Facebook to German to give me some more exposure before the Polyglot Gathering in a few weeks. Das ist sehr gut, ja?

    Do you use Facebook for language learning? Share your tips in the comments!

    3 Tips for Getting Back on That Horse (Whatever That Horse May Be)

    Maybe English isn’t your first language and you’re thinking, ‘Why has she started blogging about horses? I come here for languages!”. Get back on that horse is an expression in English for when you’ve perhaps stopped doing something, and it’s time to restart. Right now I need to get back on that language learning horse.

    You see, I live with a teacher, and during school holidays I also indulge in an extra hour or so in bed in the morning and an extra or hour or so marathoning Parks and Recreation at night. I like to spend time with the people I love. Sue me. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Perhaps you too have someone in your life, be it a partner, a flatmate, a sibling, who you don’t always get to spend as much time with as you wish…so when you get the chance you take it. Because what else can you do? “Sorry, my alarm woke you up and I ate breakfast without you and now I’m …shh with your cornflake crunching! I’m trying to learn the future perfect tense over here!”. Boo. Not a happy home.

    As it turns out, I’d actually quite like a happy home. So I allow myself a lighter workload (both work-work and language ‘work’ aka study) during these school holidays. This is glorious while it lasts, but makes for a difficult return to a regular work and study load sometimes. Today is that day. So it seemed appropriate to throw the blog schedule out of the window and share some tips for when you need to get back on that horse, like me. Neigh.

    Be a tortoise

    3 Tips for Getting Back on That Horse (Whatever That Horse May Be) Lindsay Does Languages Blog
    I may be biased but don’t expect your brain or your body to suddenly want to snap straight back into your old routine. I’m sure you know the story of the hare and the tortoise, right? Slow and steady wins the race. I follow this motto in a lot of aspects of my life…especially swimming. I could swim for HOURS but I never do any fancy strokes or anything that requires one of those weird energy drinks that smells like wee. Slow and steady. The same thing applies here. Be kind to yourself! Set your alarm earlier but do so gradually. If you really have to be up at 6 on day one of ‘back to reality’ then set it for 6.30 a week before and move the alarm back 5 minutes each day until you have to be up. You don’t even have to get up if you don’t want to or need to, but just getting your body used to it again will help when the time comes.

    So in terms of languages, say you do 20 minutes of Memrise each morning, skip it for a fortnight and then want to restart the habit. The best thing to do is restart with something you know you can achieve – let’s say 5 minutes – increase it daily until you’re back on form. Woop!

    Remind yourself why

    3 Tips for Getting Back on That Horse (Whatever That Horse May Be) Lindsay Does Languages Blog
    You’ll have maybe got quite comfortable with your new “routine”. How did you ever find the time for everything you did before?! You may even find yourself procrastinating with tasks that are…important perhaps, but not what you want or need to do. Ever had the sudden urge to completely spring clean your wardrobe when a deadline is looming? I have. Shh, don’t tell anyone. When this happens, I need to remind myself why it’s so important that I complete that Spanish essay, or learn those German words, or practise my Japanese writing. This comes in many forms. It could be a memory, a visual reminder, a book….lots and lots of possibilities here. Re-find your inspiration and bottle it up so you don’t lose it again!

    Then sell it as “Inspiration. Bottled.” and make your millions. I await my cheque in the mail.

    Remember your self-loathing

    3 Tips for Getting Back on That Horse (Whatever That Horse May Be) Lindsay Does Languages Blog
    We all have d’oh moments sometimes. And chances are, unless we’ve trained our brains to be superhuman, that we hate ourselves a little bit for it. Firstly, we shouldn’t hate ourselves. We’re all amazing and have different talents and skills and things to give to this planet. Secondly, STOP and try and bottle this feeling up for later. Not to reminisce as such, just to remind yourself how lousy it feels to feel lousy. And how much you don’t want to feel like that again. You see, if we know that doing something (or not doing something) makes us feel bad then we can avoid falling into this trap again.

    Let me give you a personal example. I know that I feel good when I do an hour of Spanish followed by 15 minutes of different scripts for the Language Script Challenge in the morning before I exercise. So although I can comfortably take a lighter schedule during holiday time, if I’d gone back to work mode today and not had that time my day would have been naff because I’d have this niggle in my mind all day telling me I should have studied. Shoulda woulda coulda. There’s nothing we can do to change the past but we can change the future. Focus on moving forward to the future rather than letting the past drag you back.

    In short, you will get back to where you were before, it will take a little time, but you will ace it. Now go find your horse and jump back on!

    So…this post kind of came out of nowhere but I think it’s important to be spontaneous and go with it when the inspiration is there. Thanks for letting me share. How do you cope when your routine is altered? I’d love for you to share in the comments!

    Blog en Español #8: Cine

    Ahh, el cine. Es una cosa que me gusta mucho. Es claro, ¿no? Con World Cinema Club cada mes sobre el blog, tal vez ya sabes que me gustan las películas. Pues, creo que el cine español, es decir, hispanohablante, es fantástico. Hoy voy a charlar un poco sobre algunos de mis preferidos.

    Pedro Almodóvar

    ¡Qué tópico! Sí, pero es verdad. De una vista creativa, las películas de Almodóvar son inolvidables. Con las ideas fijas de género, la sexualidad, y los colores que corre a través de todo lo que hace, es siempre una alegría a ver una de sus películas.

    Hemos visto La Mala Educación en World Cinema Club hace algunos meses ahora. Creo que esa es mi preferida. ¿Cuál es tuya?

    Luis Buñuel

    No me di cuenta de la importancia de Buñuel hasta comencé mis investigaciones por mi próximo ensayo (sobre el cine y la telenovela). Ya mencioné Un Perro Andaluz pero ahora después de más investigación, veo la relevancia y la importancia de Buñuel.

    Tengo una lista de películas de Buñuel que quiero ver ahora pero más que nada, es Viridiana. ¿La has visto? ¿Qué piensas?

    Anoche, lo he visto. La película es buena, pero la historia fuera de cartelera es increíble. Fue la primera película de Buñuel en España después de la inauguración de Franco. Este vídeo explica la historia…

    En inglés

    Una cosa muy interesante que descubrí de mis investigaciones es la cantidad de películas en inglés basadas en una película español o hecho originalmente en inglés por un director español. Lo más sorprendente para mí es ‘Vanilla Sky’, basado en ‘Abre los Ojos’ por Alejandro Amenábar.

    ¿Cuál es tu película preferida en español?

    We’re 3 years old! Survey time!

    POP! < That was a party popper. Most definitely not a party pooper. The perils of English doubling letters, eh? Lindsay Does Languages turns 3 next week (on the 16th to be precise) and every year, not only do I love to look back and go "wooooah!", but I also like to look forward and go "ooooo!". Mystic Meg style. The best way to help me to do that? By getting feedback from you about how things are going. What's working, what's not working, what do you like, what don't you like, et cetera.

    Knowing all of this stuff isn't just about being nosey. It genuinely helps me to plan better for the future, focusing my time and energy on the stuff that you want, because let's face it, if you didn't read the blog, watch the videos, or have the lessons, then Lindsay Does Languages would fizzle away and make a much sadder pop than this blog post started with. Wow, that got depressing quickly.

    So, you see, it helps. And I appreciate it. I've made it as easy as possible and integrated the survey into this blog post page so you don't even have to open a new tab. Click 'Let's do this!' below to get started.

    Thank you for taking a few minutes to complete the survey! I’m being presumptuous and assuming if you got this far down the page you did the survey. Merci! If there’s any other comments you have about what we do then please feel free to email at lindsay@doeslanguages.com or leave a comment below. Danke, gracias, ta. Here’s to the next year!

    Tuttle Making Out in Japanese Review + GIVEAWAY!

    Making Out In Japanese? But I’m in a happy relationship! We have a house and a tortoise! I don’t want (or need) to make out in Japanese!
    Tuttle Publishing Making Out in Japanese Review and Giveaway Lindsay Does Languages Blog
    This was my first reaction to the second book in the package the good people at Tuttle Publishing sent to me. I cast it aside and didn’t look again until very recently in preparation for this review. As it turns out, I’d judged a book by its cover, well, its title at least. The cover is pretty funky. There’s actually not as much lovey dovey or flirty Gerty stuff as you’d expect. (I totally made up ‘Flirty Gerty’, but I like to think she exists somewhere). In terms of whole chapters about love ‘n’ stuff, you’ve got chapter 14 ‘Love and Sex’, couldn’t be clearer on that one, and chapter 15 ‘The Other Side’ about break-ups.

    So that means that a surprising amount of this book is actually relevant to anyone who wants to make friends in Japanese, socialise casually, or just learn to speak a bit of slang, like. Cool. Cool cool cool.

    Now we’ve cleared that up, let’s start at the beginning. The introduction has one of the best starts to any language learning book ever.
    Tuttle Publishing Making Out in Japanese Review and Giveaway Lindsay Does Languages Blog
    I love this. Honest, to the point, and, most importantly, readable. This friendly tone continues throughout the book and is complimented nicely by a page of manga style cartoons at the start of each chapter. For a book about slang and ‘real’ language, I think this is a really important tone to take. I don’t want to read something that even utters the word pronoun or adverb if I’m looking for some quick, casual Japanese. Win.
    Tuttle Publishing Making Out in Japanese Review and Giveaway Lindsay Does Languages Blog
    The rest of each chapter basically works like a vocabulary list with extra explanations (maintaining the fun tone) where necessary. The vocabulary lists consist of English, Romaji, and then Kanji and Hiragana with Furigana over the Kanji, so this book is great for all levels because no one is excluded from understanding. There’s also some grey boxes scattered appropriately throughout with words linked to cultural information, such as ‘otaku’ and ‘meido kafeh’. There’s even a whole chapter with some social media chit chat.

    Pros

    This book is great if you’ll be conversing with young Japanese people or already have Japanese friends to speak with. I also love the easy to read layout and fun tone of the book. It’s definitely a must if you’ll be using Japanese primarily in casual social situations. I’d have to say the size is also an advantage, as it would fit into a bag without weighing you down.

    Cons

    Like I said right at the start of this review, the name doesn’t accurately reflect the content of this book. It needs to be made clear that I wasn’t disappointed with this but rather pleasantly satisfied that I could actually use the book myself. However, if you were looking to…how can I say this politely when children might be reading…you-know-what, then this book might not be as helpful as you’d first think. To be fair, on the back of the book, this is clarified, but if I saw this in a shop I wouldn’t get as far as picking it up to look at the blurb.

    Giveaway!

    Tuttle Publishing have given me 2 copies of this book to giveaway to you lovely people. Hooray! All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter box below. You can enter up to 10 times so it’s definitely worth a shot! 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 Thursday 23rd April 2015. The winner will be picked at random on Friday 24th April 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!

    8 Free Japanese Learning Resources

    If you read this post about how much (or how little) language learning has to cost, then you’ll no doubt be very pleased to find the follow up post here today on the blog. Yay! Today I’m going to share with you everything I’ve used to learn Japanese that is completely free. Well, some of them have the option to top up and get more but you can try all of them for free. Fancy some free Japanese learning resources? Let’s do this!

    Podcasts

    Japanese Language Learning Resources Lindsay Does Languages Blog

    JapanesePod101

    Japanese Pod 101 is brilliant! I have always loved the Pod 101 series, as you may have read in this article I wrote on The Guardian, and the Japanese series is no exception. There’s plenty of podcasts in the iTunes store that are free, but if you do feel like investing financially in your Japanese, then sign up via this link to their website and you’ll get access to so much more. I’ve been really lucky that the lovely people at Innovative Language have given me access to it all – there’ll be a review coming on the blog very soon. In the meantime, sign up today for a free 7 day trial!

    News in Slow Japanese

    These podcasts are the perfect length and the perfect speed for a newbie like me. Right now, I don’t understand a lot but it’s great exposure to the spoken language for my little ears.

    Apps

    Japanese Language Learning Resources Lindsay Does Languages Blog

    Tae Kim’s Learning Japanese

    I can’t believe this is free. It’s just too good. Imagine having every essential grammar point for Japanese learners perfectly organised on your phone AND available offline. It’s a little bit perfect, isn’t it?

    Hiragana

    This app doesn’t exactly have the most imaginative name but it’s very simple and has lasted since I downloaded it last year. Despite my phone always telling me the memory is full, this one never makes the app cull. It’s very simple, and I imagine it’s made for Japanese children learning to write, but it’s also good for non-Japanese students mastering Hiragana. Handy if you’re on the go and haven’t got any paper to practise your writing.

    Memrise

    Of course, Memrise makes an appearance as this would have to be the app I use most frequently – at least once a day – to help with vocabulary. I’m sure you know how this one works!

    Online

    Japanese Language Learning Resources Lindsay Does Languages Blog

    Tofugu

    Tofugu is one of the most beautiful websites on the web. Seriously, if it was human, people wouldn’t be able to keep their eyes off it. It’s so aesthetically pleasing that it’s a real joy to use before you even get into the amount of amazing content here. Their Ultimate Guides to Hiragana and Katakana are great. On top of that, there’s also so much more I want to try here. I’ve just signed up to the Beta of Wanikani, where you get the first two levels free, and there’s also Textfugu, which isn’t free but looks awesome.

    Yes Japan!

    Yes Japan, or Japanese From Zero, offers Course 1 for free on their website, which gives you a great intro to Japanese. Sometimes the website looks a bit glitchy on certain pages, but definitely worth a look.

    Erin

    This is another one of my favourites! I love these lessons because they are so immersive yet so thorough. You feel like you’re thrown in at the deep end then they very kindly guide you back to the shore where you’re ready to swim out again because they’ve explained everything. There’s also LOADS of classes. I’m only at class 4 but I’m working on this at a very slow pace.

    This is just a tiny handful of so much amazing free stuff out there to get you learning Japanese, but I hope you found something new here today. Be sure to share your favourites in the comments!

    Note: The link to JapanesePod101 is an affiliate link. This means that I have not been paid to put it there but I get a little bit of money if you purchase the product via the above link. This money doesn’t just go in my pocket. It helps to pay for my time spent working on this website to bring you more blogs, videos, and general languageness…such as inventing words like that one.

    Language Script Challenge: Update 3

    Hey there! Can you believe this is the third monthly update of the Language Script Challenge already? Crazy times.

    This month, the new scripts or alphabets were Devanagari, Braille, Khmer, and Amharic. Four that I knew absolutely nada about. Two were a lot easier than the other two. Can you guess which ones? I talk about this in the video below!

    But first…I spotted something over on Instagram a couple of weeks back that made me really happy. The lovely Alex has taken on his very own personalised Language Script Challenge!

    A photo posted by Aleksandar (@live_langs15) on


    I just HAD to ask him more about this. So you can put a face to the name, here’s Alex meeting Benny Lewis at a book signing in Sydney.
    Language Script Challenge March Update Lindsay Does Languages blog and video Benny Lewis and Alex

    Which languages have you studied previously?

    I’ve previously studied French, Russian, Italian and Serbian to varying degrees. I studied French in the 8th grade which I wasn’t particularly interested in and it was the only subject I failed that year. Russian followed a few years later when my friend Vuk was looking to re-acquaint himself with the language in preparation for his next overseas trip and when I saw some of his statuses on Facebook I approached him about learning the language. After that I decided to buy some Russian material and we conversed on-and off for about a year.

    It wasn’t until I met a native-speaking Serbian back in 2013 that I actually started to take my language learning seriously. I grew up with Serbian grandparents so the exposure to the language was already there but she challenged me to learn more about the language and culture they spoke of so often. I started out a bit rough (before I discovered just how big the online language learning community was and the vast amount of resources available to me) relying on my Teach Yourself: Complete Serbian and a couple of YouTubers named Charles Cather and Danny Grozdich who presented the Serbian language in a fun and entertaining way. These days I’m much more confident with my Serbian and still studying and working on improving my speaking skills before I fly over for my first trip to Serbia in June.

    As for Italian, well…Italian was an interesting choice because it was an entirely new language for me. I work with many Italians and a large portion of my customers are Italian so I couldn’t go through a day’s work without overhearing someone say ‘ciao’ or ‘bene, grazie’. Italian is a fun and easy language to learn and I liked the accent as well as the way they roll their r’s so I bought some second-hand books and memorized a few phrases.

    What inspired you to start your own Language Script Challenge?

    When I first thought of doing a language script challenge I found myself switching between multiple languages in my studies and getting distracted by new and exciting writing systems like Tibetan and Devanagari. Desperately seeking a way to reinvigorate my interest in learning languages and provide myself with some focus I thought of coming up with a schedule to learn at least one script per month but I wasn’t sure of how to go about it.

    That was when I discovered your blog post and I thought “Awesome! Someone is actually doing a Language Script Challenge!” So I set upon doing a little research on some of the scripts listed in your challenge for my own challenge using yours as a template! My Language Script Challenge for 2015 was born.

    Which scripts are on your list?

    For my first script challenge I decided to choose a number of scripts which I was already familiar with and had friends from different cultural backgrounds who were also familiar with their use. IPA is the only exception considering its use is mainly academic but it can be used as a method to de-code some of the scripts and help with my pronunciation of each character or letter in the alphabet for each script.

    My scripts:

    IPA, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Devanagari.

    What do you already know about the scripts on your list?

    Apart from the IPA and Cyrillic scripts which I’ve encountered in my previous studies I’m only a novice when it comes to the others. Japanese looks particularly tricky with three writing systems (Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji) and getting used to writing from right to left in the other Asian and Middle-Eastern scripts as opposed to most Indo-European languages.

    All of the languages featured in my challenge have histories that stretch back over a thousand years and carry distinct similarities between one another. As a student of history I’m very excited about delving into the personal histories of each writing system, how each of these systems developed changed over time.

    Do you have any plans to take the languages further?

    At this stage my language studies over the next nine months are primarily focused on Indo-European languages like Serbian and German which use both the Latin and Cyrillic scripts respectively. However, I am looking at taking modern standard Arabic and Chinese further in the future in the hope of reaching at least a conversational level in both languages.

    The world is a place of infinite possibility and learning some basic phrases in the local language is a great way to get around new surroundings in foreign countries without too much difficulty. Each language opens the door to another place, culture and way of life full of new experiences and exciting opportunities and I don’t ever plan to stop learning.

    What do you have planned in terms of resources and study methods?

    Resources

  • Websites: Wikipedia and Omniglot
  • Memrise
  • Books: Read and write X script (I’m quite fond of the Teach Yourself series)
  • Large exercise book: for repetition
  • Smaller exercise book: as a phrase-builder
  • There’s only so much you can prepare for before Murphy’s Law takes hold and life throws you a curve ball so I set myself specific goals each week and assessing where my weaknesses are rather than just an arbitrary length of time every day.

    In the past I’ve found that the best methods in learning new scripts are repetition and word association. I’ll be using my Memrise account daily, working through the textbook and matching each character or letter with a particular word as well as working on a few basic phrases from the list below.

    Yes/No

    Hello/Goodbye

    My name is ___

    I am/am from ___

    Please/Thank you

    Excuse me/Sorry

    Numbers 1-10

    Days of the week

    Who, What, where, When, Why, How

    I speak ___

    I understand ___

    Forming the negative of the verbs listed above

    Thanks, Alex! To wish him luck and follow his progress, you can follow Alex on Instagram.

    Aaaaand…here’s this week’s video! Oh, quickly, whilst we’re on the subject of videos, I want to give a huge thank you to all of you who voted for me in the WeSpeke Video Contest. We’re waiting for final confirmation but I definitely made the top 10 so have a prize coming my way soon! Thank you. You supported Lindsay Does Languages and my little blog and videos and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Ok, mushy stuff over.

    What language are you learning this month? Do you have your own Language Script Challenge going on? Share in the comments!

    Things I’ve Learnt So Far About British Sign Language

    One of the alphabets for my Language Script Challenge is British Sign Language (BSL). Another is American Sign Language (this month in fact!). I think it’s so important to recognise sign languages as languages in their own right, and for that reason, I was pretty psyched about learning the British Sign Language alphabet. Today I want to share with you some of the interesting things I’ve learnt so far.

    What I already knew

    I think it’s still the case that most UK students get the chance to do 1-2 weeks work experience in year 10 or 11 (aged 14-16). When I did it, I had no idea what I wanted to do and so opted for a nursery because…well, it was a three minute walk from my house. In the room I worked in there were 2 giant African land snails and about 15-20 children each day, one of whom was Deaf and speech impaired. Due to this, during “sing-song time” a regular song was I Can Sing A Rainbow complete with BSL signs. This was my first exposure to any sign language. It was really amazing to see the children all signing along so one child could be involved. Beautiful.

    Before looking at the BSL alphabet this year, I had also learnt my name in BSL for a YouTube video I made about a year ago(!). Other than the BSL for ‘bullsh*t’ and ‘turtle’, which I don’t even know is really the BSL for bullsh*t and turtle, that was the extent of my knowledge.
    Things Learnt So Far About BSL British Sign Language Lindsay Does Languages blog
    Is this turtle?!

    Vowels make so much sense

    5 vowels, 5 fingers. It’s pretty logical that BSL vowels would look like this:
    Things Learnt So Far About BSL British Sign Language Lindsay Does Languages blog

    You can spell any word you don’t know with the BSL alphabet

    So this is something that’s really cool – and a big difference to learning a spoken language. For example, let’s say I’m learning Russian (one day, mi amigos, one day) and my tutor is Russian and doesn’t speak English. I have no fall back of my native language, which means that if I don’t know a word in Russian I have the options of…

    a) playing manic-panic Charades in the hope I’ll describe what I want to say well enough that they will guess.
    b) using words I already know in Russian in the hope I’ll describe what I want to say well enough that they will guess.
    c) using a dictionary.

    Well, when you’re using a sign language to communicate, once you know the alphabet, if you’re ever stuck for a word, you can finger-spell it and hopefully the other party will give you the sign for that word. Of course, if you knew no signs for actual words in BSL then it would take a long time to finger-spell e.v.e.r.y. s.i.n.g.l.e. w.o.r.d. So, even though the alphabet is the biggest foot in the door ever, it’s probably best not to stop after learning the alphabet!

    Facial expressions

    Things Learnt So Far About BSL British Sign Language Lindsay Does Languages blog
    Ok, so there’s some slight exageration in the gif. What can I say? My face needed a stretch. I’ve learnt just how important facial expressions are when you’re signing. Also how important it is to look at the person signing to you, and not just at their hands. ALSO how some words are mimed with the mouth and others aren’t. I imagine this would be the tricky thing when learning BSL. My mum always came back from parent’s evenings saying that once again my P.E teachers were disappointed with my hand-eye co-ordination. And I still hit just 1 in every 17 tennis balls that come my way. When I’m playing tennis of course – people don’t just throw tennis balls at me in the street. Well, if they have I haven’t noticed. Maybe my lack of co-ordination means I’m quite good at dodging them too.

    There’s some logic!

    So, we’ve already talked about how the vowels make waaay too much sense, but there’s also some logic with the rest of the alphabet too. For example, this is ‘m':
    Things Learnt So Far About BSL British Sign Language Lindsay Does Languages blogThree little sticks when you write it, three fingers.
    And this is ‘n':
    Things Learnt So Far About BSL British Sign Language Lindsay Does Languages blogTwo little sticks when you write it, two fingers. Tah dah!

    Bonus one! Can you guess which letter this is? Let me know in the comments!
    Things Learnt So Far About BSL British Sign Language Lindsay Does Languages blog

    There’s a different learning process

    A lot of the time in my experience working in schools in the UK, children were taken out of language lessons if they had difficulties in other subjects often perceived as more important such as maths and English. I’m not disputing that if children are having difficulties with those core subjects then they need more time spent on them, but I do disagree when MFL is always seen as the first subject to be deemed suitable for this slot. “If they can’t even speak English, they don’t need to bother with French/Spanish/German” was the attitude of numerous people I’ve previously worked with in schools. And that sucks. If you’re reading this, being a language blog, then I’m sure you’ll agree that learning another language is about much more than just learning another language.

    However, I believe that learning a sign language, in this case, BSL, actually engages different people who might not “get” other languages taught in a traditional manner. There’s, obviously, a big physical element to sign language that is often missing from the standard language lesson. I think it would be great if BSL could be taught in British schools. Not only to engage these children who are often distanced through no fault of their own from learning other languages, but also to create a more understanding society willing and able to communicate with users of BSL. If you agree, then Jade Chapman has a petition right here, which you can sign to show your support. You can also follow the campaign progress on the Facebook page. Thank you.

    Have you ever considered learning a sign language? Do you already use one? Share in the comments!

    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!

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