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4 Essential Questions Before Learning A Language.

One of the most language related Google searches must be “What’s the easiest language to learn?”. In fact, let’s check that….1,590,000 results. Wowza. Did I just write wowza? How very cool of me.

Now, I’ll have to be honest here and say I’m pretty sure I’ve probably searched this myself, so don’t worry, I won’t judge you if you have too. It’s not a crime. We all want stuff to be easy, but stuff being easy isn’t as clear cut as it may sound.

I’m going to go right out there to start off and say there’s no such thing as “the easiest language”. A language being easy depends on a lot of things. Here are four essential questions before learning a language.

What’s your native language?

gb union jack flag cushion lindsay does languages blog If your native language is English than Dutch will be easier than, say, Russian. However, if your native language is Polish, then Russian may be an easier option than Dutch. Swings and roundabouts. But do you want an easy ride or a challenge? What you already know, of course, determines how difficult new stuff will be to learn.

What other languages do you speak?

language learning blog big books If you already speak Spanish, then Italian will be easier than taking on Japanese. But any other languages you know will help regardless of which language you want to tackle next. Just having a basic knowledge of grammar terms and how words work will speed up the process. Again, it depends how much of a challenge you fancy.

What do you have available?

phrasebook video gif lindsay does languages blog If you pick French, Spanish or another ‘common’/’popular’ language, you will be overwhelmed by potential learning resources, making your language learning process a breeze! However, let’s say you fancy picking up Igbo or Tok Pisin. Hmm, not as many resources to work with there, making it potentially harder to learn. However, if you’re reading this thinking, “I don’t care! I really want to learn Igbo!” then do it.

Why do you want to learn?

why shoulder shrug lindsay does languages blog Probably the hardest question to answer honestly. You may have always wanted to learn that language, you may have friends who speak it, you may just really love languages. Either way, your level of devotion will seriously affect how easy a language is to learn. If you’re learning at school to pass an exam because your school has forced you to, then unless you’re a child genius you probably won’t master that language. If, on the other hand, you are teaching yourself because you love the language or have a strong reason to learn it, then chances are you’ll see results much quicker and, consequently, the language in question will be easier to learn. Hooray!

But why would you want a language to be easy anyway? Does it matter how ‘hard’ a language is? Surely that’s a matter of perception anyway. Here’s where I think the last question above becomes the most important. At risk of sounding like an attempting-to-be-inspiring library poster, if you want it, you can do it. Don’t stop reading there though! If you build it, they won’t come. Life isn’t Field of Dreams. Buying the books and having them sit on the shelf is the easy bit, picking them up and actually learning is the bit that takes more effort.

Over the summer, I’ll be posting tips and inspiration for those of us taking on new languages either during summer or in September, so if you’re ready for a new challenge then stay tuned! Oh, but first, don’t forget to ask yourself the 4 questions above. Maybe write down the answers somewhere secret and come back to them a few months down the line to see if your reason for learning is the same.

If you’re not sure which language to take on next, then why not try Portuguese? Don’t forget to enter the giveaway before the 4th August!

My First Giveaway!

I’ve been wanting to do a little giveaway on the blog for a while now and so here we are! Hooray!

Moving house is the perfect time to have a bit of a clear out so there may well be another giveaway of some of my much loved language resources in need of a better home on the blog over the next few months. Good times. Also, look! Progress! house building gif lindsay does languages blog Eek!

It only seems appropriate, what with my italki Language Challenge in Portuguese coming to a close ‘n all, to give away some lovely Portuguese stuff! teach yourself portuguese book CD giveaway lindsay does languages on grass The lucky winner will get a Teach Yourself Portuguese kit complete with 2 CDs and a book, a Collins Portuguese dictionary, and a Chambers Portuguese vocabulary book. I used these myself last summer to get to grips with enough Portuguese to take me on holiday and they are great!

Fancy it? All you have to do is leave a comment with a reason to learn Portuguese and if you win, I’ll post the goodies out to you free of charge. Who knows? Your reason may even feature in my inevitable upcoming video 9 Reasons to Learn Portuguese!

Leave a quick comment below for your chance to win! I’ll pick the winner at random on the 5th August. Good luck!

Entry closes on August 4th at 23.59GMT. One winner will be picked at random and contacted via the e-mail linked to your Disqus profile. If you wish to be contacted via a different e-mail, please state this in your comment. I will post the goods to you from the UK so if you’re international, please be patient. I will contact the winner when I have dispatched the prize and announce the winner on the blog and/or YouTube if you give consent for me to do so. Thank you.

My Next Language Quest: Beating University French

French is cool. I like it. It was my first foreign language way back when; the one that gave me my first experiences speaking another language ordering a baguette in the boulangerie on holiday and making friends at the campsite park, the one that helped to inspire me to learn more, and the one that started all this. French, I salute you.

University is not cool. I don’t like it. It is the first thing to suck the fun out of language learning; the one that asked me to write about science despite studying language, the one that helped to lose all inspiration in language, and the one that started this post. University, I don’t salute you.

Before we get into this, let me just make it clear that university has huge potential to be a great thing for many people. I get that. I respect that. I’m not asking for backlash from students here. Not only that, I’ve actually enjoyed my university studies up until this point – and I’m now on my ninth course, so that’s a lot of enjoyment.

The thing is, this year things have got stupid. I’m writing essays about science and history…in French. What?! So with a dissertation looming, I decided it’s time to kick university where it hurts and go out with a bang. Oh yes, and to put the fun back into French. Let’s ace this university French nonsense!

How am I going to do this?

Ok, so as of the end of this month, all other language learning will be over, that means that August and September will be COMPLETELY devoted to French. This is hard for me! I’m a dabbler. I can’t resist a little looksie at the various language books on my shelf. But I know I can do this. If I devote all the time I spend learning languages at the moment (and more) to French then I can ace this.

So that’s a start, but what am I going to do with this new found time? This is where lots of forward planning comes in. I have a course book that I plan to finish by mid-August, allowing for more time to spend on grammar, dissertation, and more interesting stuff from then. open university french textbook language blog writing in diary language blog I’m creating a weekly timetable fitting in my French studies around my life. This is a big one. Things have been super busy this year with work and my old routine of spending an hour on university work in the afternoon before heading out to teach has been pushed aside in order to finish work stuff. It happens. However, with summer holidays just around the corner and most of my students stopping for a summer break, I can take advantage and get back into the habit of doing something every day rather than being forced to cram everything into the weekend. 5 minute fillers language blog I’ve also made this list of “5 minute fillers” for moments when I don’t know what to do with myself but I haven’t got time to start something.
bright red tomatoes language blog At the weekend, when I will still have more study time to devote to passing this darn course, I’m going to restart the Pomodoro technique. I used to do this all the time when I had to study loads at the weekend but lately I’ve got out of the habit for whatever reason. I’m going to do this again – it works! car french radio language blog I’m being very disciplined and not recharging my MP3 player to listen to in the car. I’ve found a French radio station on the AM wave in my car and I’m sticking to it…until I go under a bridge and need to put Radio 1 on to stop my ears from being blasted by the white noise. Having said that, normally it’s trashy dance music on Radio 1 so I may as well stick with the white noise.

And, finally, I’m going to find ways to actually enjoy French again. I’m going to aim to watch a French film once a week – even if it’s an English film and I watch it with French audio. I recently inherited an iPhone so I’ll be playing with French Siri when I can’t get on Skype to talk to real people! Oh yes, and I will keep listening to Stromae and await his world domination.

Let’s do this!

What are your current language learning goals? Do you have to re-evaluate every now and then? Let me know in the comments!

italki World Cup Language Challenge: Week 7 Goal

What a challenge! You know what? I feel really proud of my commentary last weekend. A lot of people even asked me to commentate the final the next day! If you missed it, take a peek here and let me know what you think of my Portuguese!

Beforehand, however, I was genuinely a bit nervous. I’d never done a live event on YouTube before, I would never have thought to do this in my own language – never mind one I’ve been learning for a few weeks, and I’d never commentated a football match. And to make matters worse, it was Brazil vs Netherlands – both countries speaking two languages I’d been learning recently – Portuguese and Dutch! Who was I supposed to support?!

For this week’s goal, I initially said I’d opt for a video discussing how the commentary went in Portuguese, but I decided to try my hand at writing instead, something I haven’t really done much of. Please feel free to correct me in the comments! Here we go… (Psst! Click the Google Translate button in the top right hand corner and it should translate the text for you if you don’t speak Portuguese!)

Semana 7

Então, e terminado! Estou muita contenta com o meu comentário e o meu português agora. Me sinto como si posso comentar um partido de futebol, posso fazer tudo o que necessito em português. Fazer um desafio como isso e o melhor coisa que poderia tido feito porque foi um desafio verdade!

Porque escrever?

Escrever não é uma coisa que fazemos muito na vida quotidiana hoje. E quando fazemo-lo, estamos rapidamente corrigidos dos computadores e tecnologia – então, já esta importante que aprendamos a escrever?

Acho que a idioma e uma das coisas mas importantes que aprendemos na vida. Ter uma maneia em que podemos comunicar e empresarmos e imprescindível. Mas – escrever também?

Quando falamos, falamos rapidamente, normalmente sim uma oportunidade a pensar muito do que estamos a dizer. Mas, quando escrevermos, podemos parar, e pensar, e ter cuidado do que queremos expressar. Isso é o que é importante.

Fazes o italki World Cup Language Challenge?

Quase, quase! Podemos ver a linha de terminar! Espero que tenhas desfrutado o desafio e que vais a continuar com as suas idiomas depois. Eu sei que tenho aprendido muito de português e que o tenho desfrutado muito! A prossima! Mas, antes, há uma semana e media mais em que podemos fazer mas aulas si necessitamos, revisar o que necessitamos a revisar, e desfrutar a idioma antes da tentação de uma outra quando tememos o premio de ITC…

E agora que?

E difícil seguir isso! Mais, acho que vou a continuar com português depois do desafio com um pouco quando posso. Isso dito, depois de Julho, tenho que concentrar só em francês porque e “importante” que obtenha uma boa nota mais ódio estudar academicamente e não posso esperar ate que possa aprender as idiomas sim as restrições outra vez!

Just a little something to keep my Portuguese brain ticking over!

How are you getting on with the italki World Cup Language Challenge? Not long left now! Let’s do this!

Mini Mission: Back with Slovak

Sometimes good stuff happens – like getting to go on holiday and, consequently, doing another Mini Mission quicker than planned. Sometimes bad stuff happens – like getting ill on the first day of said holiday and barely being able to stand up let alone attempt to speak some lingo. Both of these things happened to me recently on our trip to Slovakia.

However, despite feeling like I’d been hit by a wrecking ball at full force (a nude Miley Cyrus free wrecking ball, I might add) I gave it my best shot from day three.
spis castle go pro language blog hitchhiking slovakia language blog Thankfully, we hired a car and so I didn’t have to hitchhike! Cue Go Pro Fun. go pro car selfie language blog hire car slovakia language blog I like the Slovak language! With a little Polish and some very fresh and basic Czech under my belt, it was a lot of fun to give Slovak a go. Although I didn’t get the chance to learn as much as I would have liked to to have a little conversation, I still managed to get enough to buy tickets and drinks, you know, the essentials! And as you can see in the video, even when my Slovak and a waitress’ English weren’t enough, we were able to get along just fine with a sprinkling of German! Proof that you never know when a language might come in handy.

Slovak food is very yummy! But meaty and bready. Be prepared to exercise on your return! Oh yes, and much to my annoyance, being a non-alcohol drinking water-loving kind of girl, beer is cheaper than water. beer lemonade language blog slovakia drinking slovakia language blog Also, due to being ill for almost half of the trip, I didn’t get as much speaking footage as I would have liked. I have attempted to make up for this with a tortoise related montage at the end of the video. You like?

And if it’s more travel posts you’re after, be sure to head over to Mundo Trundle where me and Ashley, my boyfriend, blog about our adventures!

Where are you headed this summer? Are you learning a bit of the language? Is that always part of the fun of holidays for you? Let me know in the comments!

8 Interesting Things I’ve Learnt About Dutch

My first Language Quest learning Dutch is over. Sigh. This doesn’t mean I’ll stop right there and finish learning Dutch forever. Come on, you know me better than that! What is does mean is that I’ll be focusing more on French (and Portuguese until the end of July!) before tackling another language or delving deeper into Dutch.

It’s been a fun journey and as always, I’ve learn some really surprising things along the way. This is my favourite thing about language learning – the interesting, curious, unique things about a language; the things that make you go, “Ahh!” – and so this blog post was born! Here’s my 8 interesting things about Dutch.

Bonjour!

dutch french book language blog Dutch has a surprisingly large number of French words, and not just words for gourmet cuisine as you would think but seemingly random stuff like trottoir, horloge and etage. Of course, this is the Belgian influence and it’s not as if the countries are a million miles away but I wasn’t quite expecting French to have such a selection of words that had made it into Dutch.

Say what?

cinema tickets language blog Some words have no relation whatsoever to languages you’d think. For example, bioscoop. Bioscoop means cinema. Whereas all the countries around the Netherlands have various but similar words for cinema such as kino, ciné etc, Dutch is like, “Hell no, guys! We’re going to go for a Greek hybrid of a word…oh and guess what? Then we’re going to take it to Bahasa Indonesian!”. Amazing.

No cases!

lindsay reading dutch book language blog Having a bit of Deutsch behind me, I thought that Dutch wouldn’t be too difficult in comparison to something like Japanese or Arabic for me. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn early on that it’s actually a lot easier than German! There’s no cases, no neuter gender, basically, none of the stuff that makes you squirm just a little bit when you’re speaking German! Hooray!

You slag!

lindsay shocked face language blog Ok, misleading title because slag doesn’t mean what might think. It equates to the French ‘coup’ or the English ‘hit’, ‘stroke’, ‘battle’ and quite a few others. Darn you with all your multiple words for one in another language, English! Also, if we’re going down this path, the word kont may not be what you think either. In fact, it means bottom! Best to not mix that one up.

Waterkoker.

kettle black and white language blog Ketel is an old Dutch word for a big cast iron thing that would boil water on a stove. So when electric kettles (as we call them) came along, what better way to celebrate than with a newer and perhaps more logical word, waterkoker.

Quick, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow.

snail shell language blog Dutch has two words for fast: snel and vlug. Look a little like snail and slug, right? My thoughts exactly. But, hang on, snails and slugs aren’t fast! Online Etymology Dictionary tells me that ‘snail’ comes all the way from a Proto Indo European root “sneg” meaning “to crawl or creep”. Slug has similar origins. So what is slug and snail in Dutch, a language so close to English? Slak and haas. I suppose that makes sense.

He gets the beard in his throat.

man coughing language blog Dutch has some cracking idioms. Someone’s voice breaking is no exception. Hij krijgt de baard in zijn keel – he gets the beard in his throat. Nice.

Double Dutch.

white things and dog language blog There’s a huge selection of Dutch words that you can add emphasis to by adding another (sometimes) similar word in front, creating a new word. For example, lijk = corpse and bleek = pale. So, naturally, lijkbleek = as white as a sheet! Mors + dood = morsdood. This is my favourite because it literally means “dead dead”. The English equivalent would probably be “as dead as a doornail”. I think I might try and start a new English trend by saying “doornaildead”. Catchy, no?

Have you got anything that tickles you about Dutch? Let me know in the comments!

Language Quest: Dutch – How did it go?

Well my very first Language Quest learning Dutch is over. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to head to Holland to practise my newfound knowledge but I don’t mind! In fact, the main reason I’m not writing this from a canal side cafe sipping an ice cold drink that I ordered in Dutch is also the main reason I haven’t had as much time to learn it these past three months as initially hoped – me and Ashley are buying a house!…well, a flat!

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever gone through the process of getting a mortgage but I’m sure you can imagine its a hoot, a blast and a ball. Oh yes, and it takes what feels like every waking minute to get everything scanned and photocopied and sent and paid and all that jazz.

So yeah, that happened. I haven’t wanted to say anything until now on the blog because there’s been an abundance of hold ups and its never been completely confirmed, but now it’s happening! Eek!

Anyway, how does this relate to my Dutch? Well, it has meant that my time initially set aside for Dutch has been spent signing my name and mentally correcting grammar on endless contracts and documents sent to sign my name on.

That said, I have made time for my weekly Dutch italki lessons and have enjoyed these with my great tutor. I’ve also really enjoyed learning about the language that I consider to bridge German and English. There’s been so many curiosities that I’ve decided to write a post all about it! I’m working on it at the moment and it should be ready sometime next week so be sure to follow me across the web to be the first to know when it’s up.

So without further ado, here’s my final video all about my experience learning Dutch. I decided to film in English (mostly!) so more people will know what I’m talking about. Should I do a Dutch one too? Let me know in the comments if you think so!

Just realised the thumbnail makes me look naked. I’m wearing a vest top, I swear – check the video!

And, don’t forget – this Saturday I’ll be commentating on the World Cup match for 3rd and 4th place…in PORTUGUESE! Yes, I’m crazy, I know. Be sure to bookmark the link here and check it out on Saturday from 21.00 GMT. See you there!

italki World Cup Language Challenge: Week 6 – LIVE Commentary Preparations

Eek. What am I doing, guys?! This is scary. After watching a handful of YouTube videos of Portuguese football commentary I’m hoping that Brazil and the Netherlands score a lot of goals on Saturday – that way, my commentary will consist mostly of

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!

No, I’m kidding! Although I am a little nervous, I am super excited to see how this goes. Also, Brazil vs Netherlands? As in Portuguese vs Dutch? As in the two languages I’ve been learning for the past few months? Who am I supposed to support?!

There’s a lot of words I have to learn for the live commentary to make sure that I can speak as on cue as possible and keep up with all the action. I should point out right about here that I’m not a mega football fan, so I probably won’t know any names of players and so this does have the potential to be very funny!

Check out my very jazzy preparation vocabulary notes full of useful words (I’m bound to have missed something!) and some interesting phrases I’ve picked up from the videos I’ve been watching.

portuguese live commentary vocabulary 1 portuguese live commentary vocabulary  2 Too jazzy?

Don’t forget to bookmark the link right here in preparation for Saturday at 21.00GMT. Be there or be square. Because apparently being square is a bad thing.

Are you doing the italki World Cup Language Challenge? How is it going for you? Let me know in the comments!

italki World Cup Language Challenge: Week 5 Goal

Over half way through the italki World Cup Language Challenge! When did this happen? Now, apparently.

This week I’ve been having fun with Danza Kuduro! I’ve been in my garden again because it’s far too hot to stand under lights for half an hour. Not quite a heatwave but by British standards we’re not far off. Then the camera decided to stop filming after a minute. I noticed after I’d done the whole video. Go team.

Also, I’m very pleased to announce that the Live Broadcast of my on the spot Portuguese Commentary is all set up and ready on YouTube! You can bookmark the link right here! I’ve never done anything like this before and I’m have no idea how it’s going to pan out!! I’ve opted to commentate the play off match (for 3rd and 4th place) on Saturday 12th July rather than the final on the 13th because I’m sure you’ll all want to watch that one without me chatting away in Portuguese! I also don’t know if I’ll commentate the whole match. What I’m thinking at the moment is to commentate the first half and then invite you to share your thoughts about the World Cup (and my attempt at commentary!) during half time and the second half. What do you think? Would you like a chance to join in?

It will be broadcast on my YouTube channel via Google Hangouts On Air and, who knows, if this works, we could make it a regular thing! The link is here again if you’re ready to bookmark it. 9 days to go, 3785 Portuguese football words to learn, 1 chance not to mess it up. I should write film trailers, no?

Oh, and exciting news! Despite my love for Silverstone, me and Ashley are heading off to Slovakia tomorrow (another reason I filmed in the garden – I normally edit on Friday!). This means another Mini Mission coming a lot sooner than planned and more stuff over on Mundo Trundle very soon.

Fingers crossed that week 6 of the Challenge will be just as exciting!

How is you World Cup Language Challenge going? Share your progress in the comments and let’s support each other with it!

Linguistically Talented F1 Drivers

Ahh, June! Always a great time to be British. Wimbledon, (relatively) nice weather, Glastonbury, and the build up to Silverstone.

I grew up a stone’s throw from Silverstone and was raised on my granddad and my dad watching the F1 season each year. I remember asking to fill in the wall chart and being intrigued by the different flags next to each name. What is this flag? Where are these people from? What language do they speak? Good times.

Back in 2011, I was lucky enough to bag myself tickets to Singapore Grand Prix! The fact that Shakira was playing had nothing to do with my decision to go. It was Rick Astley that made me book. I kid, but brace yourself for the coolest sentence ever…Rick Astley brushed past me but I couldn’t get a photo because I had a fresh coconut in my hand.

Anyway, enough about me. You came here to read about language, right? What does Formula 1 have to do with language? Well, I could go on and on about how the Ferrari team radio is music to my ears, or how all the non natives must have the same teacher because they all say ‘for sure’, but this post is all about linguistically talented F1 drivers. If you think these guys can do nothing but drive, think again. Many of them excel in their language talents. I’ve found some example videos of them chatting away in different languages where possible but I haven’t included their native language or English videos because, hey, they all speak English!

Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa language blog Being a native of Brazil, Massa speaks Portuguese, but also English, and Italian as you can see in the video below.

Fernando Alonso

fernando-alonso-ferrari-driver-language blog In addition to Spanish, Alonso speaks English, Italian and French. Say what?!

Nico Rosberg

Mercedes Nico Rosberg language blog Wow, wow, wow. Rosberg speaks a whopping 5 (and a half) languages! German, English, Italian, Spanish and French but despite his father being Finnish, he only speaks a little of the language, although he is learning it.

Sebastian Vettel

sebastian vettel language blog Vettel’s language abilities are often highly praised but it’s really hard to find any hard facts about him! He’s a native German and also speaks English but is rumoured to speak a number of other languages to a high level. He also prides himself in being able to swear in 30 languages, and of course, we all remember when this happened…

Michael Schumacher

michael-schumacher-language blog Schumacher recorded his lines for his guest appearance in the film Cars in 4 different languages – English, German, French and Italian.

Lewis Hamilton

lewis-hamilton_language blog Hmm…I couldn’t find a great deal about Hamilton’s linguistic flair but I did come across this…

Have I missed someone? Will you be watching the race this weekend? Let me know in the comments!

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