Lindsay Does Languages

Blogging, vlogging and teaching all things language

Latest Blogs
Popular Posts

Latest Blogs


Yabla: Language Learning Through Video. (+ GIVEAWAY!)

Not so long ago in a land not so far away (at my desk) I was invited to test out Yabla. I’d very briefly come across Yabla on Twitter but never had the chance to give it a go until then. I’ve been having a little play over the last month or so and I’m a bit of a fan! So today I wanted to share with you a little insight into Yabla.

What is Yabla?

Yabla is an online foreign language video platform that provides subtitles for each video in both the target language and English. Don’t worry though – if you’re feeling keen you can choose to hide one or the other or both sets of subtitles. After each video, you’re offered a fill in the blank exercise which is ideal for checking you understood what you just watched – making Yabla more than just passive language learning and giving it the edge over watching a video on a site not made with language learners in mind. Yabla is currently available for French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Mandarin Chinese (and English, which I forgot to mention in the video – oops!). You pay your monthly subscription fee and are entitled to watch as much video content in your chosen language as your brain can handle.

What’s the good stuff?

The content is authentic, varied, and enjoyable. Also the length of the videos is manageable and non-intimidating, even for a beginner! In fact, one of Yabla’s perks is that it’s not just for beginners. It can sometimes be hard to find suitable content once you get beyond beginner level – but Yabla has the goods to keep you covered. I love that Yabla videos are ranked with difficulty ratings and give details on the accent in each video – both of which are super easy to spot on the home page. You can also choose to sort videos by difficulty rating or category to decide what you fancy watching. If there’s too much choice, just bookmark a video to watch later! Or, if you know you’ll be out somewhere exciting later, download the video to your computer, tablet, or mobile. Speaking of mobile, the apps are really handy to catch up with a bit of learning on the road. There’s also a flashcard option – if you click a word on the subtitles during video, it’ll be added to your flashcard pile. Oh yes, and useful, concise and informative weekly e-mails with great grammar tips.

Any bad stuff?

Clutching at straws here but it would be nice to be able to organise the videos by accent. Also, not all videos are available to download, which is a shame, but I’m sure this will come in time – and until then there’s more content than you could watch available to download anyway!

I’ve felt so inspired by Yabla that I’ve put together a little video to explain all…Guess what? Yabla are very kindly offering a selection of monthly subscriptions to 20 of you lovely folk who read this blog! You will get a free 1 month trial in the language of your choice! All you have to do is leave a comment saying why you’d love to try Yabla and the winners will be picked at random on November 14th 2014. The giveaway will close at 23.59GMT on November 13th 2014. Good luck!

Do you use Yabla? What do you think? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

World Cinema Club: Ponyo Discussion.

This was always going to be a fun one! Ponyo is one of my favourite films ever (up there with Mean Girls, A Clockwork Orange, and Amelie – she’s in good company) so I was really looking forward to sharing it with those of you who might not have had the delight of Ponyo in your life for October’s World Cinema Club. Ham! ponyo world cinema club foreign film japanese studio ghibli lindsay does languages blog

Had you seen any other Ghibli films before watching Ponyo?

Only snippets. I think I’d seen most of Spirited Away but I’d never watched one in full before Ponyo. After watching Ponyo, me and Ashley (who had seen some more Ghibli before) used a LoveFilm subscription to watch most of the others! Ponyo is still my favourite though!

Did you feel that it was just for children?

I would say it’s more of a family film than a children’s film. It’s definitely aimed at children but can be enjoyed by adults too – mainly because Ponyo is just too flipping cute to ignore!

Ponyo is inspired by The Little Mermaid. Could you guess this while watching the film?

Ok, embarrassing but no. I really didn’t get The Little Mermaid links until I read it..or someone told me…I forget! But still, for me, the film stands very much on its own.

Why do you think Ponyo wants to become human?

I think Ponyo wants to become human because she feels it would be a way to escape her father. But mainly because she is infinitely curious!

Is Lisa, Sosuke’s mum the craziest driver ever?

Yes. Undoubtedly. Next question!

Why do you think Sosuke likes Ponyo?

I feel that Sosuke is looking for a friend. As an only child and with his father working at sea a lot, I imagine he would get lonely and enjoy some more company from someone his age. Also…as I may have mentioned, she’s adorable. Who wouldn’t like Ponyo?

Do you have a stand out clip from the film?

A couple! I love the bit when she grows her little legs and arms and her sister Ponyos are all like “woah! we’ll help you!” and there’s light and they’re all just too cute. Also when she gets too excited to see ham. HAM!Adorable.

I hope you’ve also enjoyed Ponyo this month! Be sure to check out next month’s film, Let The Right One In, which I’ll be discussing at the end of November. In the meantime, share your thoughts on Ponyo and answer some of the questions I asked myself in the comments. I can’t wait to read what you think about it!

Memories of Polyglot Conference Novi Sad 2014

Back around May time, I discovered that there was this thing happening in Berlin for language lovers to meet up. I wanted to go. A lot.

Unfortunately, by the time I had managed to figure out flights and stuff that would make it possible and it came to registration, I was a few days too late. Noooooooo! But wait, it’s ok. A few months later, a similar event was happening in Novi Sad. Ahh yes, the Polyglot Conference. The thing that happened in Budapest last year and I saw photos of a few days after. Seriously, it happened twice. I wasn’t going to be a few days out on this one.

So on Wednesday the 8th October I headed out to Serbia for what was bound to be an exciting trip – and it didn’t disappoint!

I spent the Thursday roaming Novi Sad as a lone traveller and explored the fortress, a sleepy village suburb, and the beach. Yes! A beach on the Danube! I’ll be blogging more about the travel side of things over on Mundo Trundle very soon!

On Friday the conference started and so I headed to the Cultural Centre about 15 minutes early where I met the lovely Julien from Paris – so I was instantly speaking French! After a while crowds gathered and we headed in. It wasn’t long before I met Simon, who runs the website Omniglot. I ended up spending a lot of time with Simon over the course of the weekend – so much so that his interview is a tad longer than the others (not quite feature length though!) and so will be uploaded separately in the very near future. We enjoyed lunch together on Friday along with Julian and Gareth, a polyglot living in London. polyglot conference novi sad serbia lunch lindsay does languages blog During the first afternoon, we all took part in a guided tour of Novi Sad (in various groups – there were quite a few of us!). The thing that stood out to me the most was the Church we visited, which had no pews and was incredibly beautiful. On returning to the centre, it was time to head to the restaurant for our typical Serbian meal. A large number of us decided to walk, which took the best part of an hour but showed us another side of the city, which was cool to see. This is literally the best photo I have from Friday night. I guess that’s a sign I was enjoying myself! polyglot conference novi sad serbia lindsay does languages blog I was slightly worried about the vegetarian option knowing how meaty that region of Europe is…who am I kidding, Europe as a whole! However, the vegetarian meal was absolutely delicious and I was really impressed with it. After meeting many a polyglot, a smaller group of us decided to walk back to the centre rather than take a taxi. I’m quite the thrifty traveller, don’t you know.

Saturday was always going to be the busiest day of the Conference, as Ashley was due to arrive to help me film the video you should have seen Friday but you’ll now see very soon due to a ridiculous amount of YouTube upload fails! Garr, YouTube! Saturday didn’t disappoint and as well as plenty of lectures and interviews, we also ended up stumbling upon a football flash mob in Liberty Square! There’s a little video and blog by Ashley over on Mundo Trundle, which will explain better than I possibly could! football flash mob polyglot conference novi sad serbia lindsay does languages blog The lectures were all really interesting and are in the process of being uploaded to the Polyglot Conference YouTube channel if you’re interested. (Let me know if you’d like more info on them – I have a little notebook full of notes…not surprising as it’s a notebook).

After Saturday’s lectures, a group of us headed in search of food. Being language loving culture vultures, we were keen to try some traditional food. Luckily Anna, who was with us at the time, speaks Serbian so was able to ask a local for a recommendation. Not only did the local tell us where to go – she also showed us and walked us to the door! True Balkan friendliness. The meal was yet again delicious and the company yet again fascinating. Rather like the meal on Sunday night as well with equally awesome company! polyglot conference novi sad serbia lindsay does languages blog Of course, all good things have to come to an end. Monday was that end. Simon and Gareth very kindly offered to share a car back to Belgrade airport, which meant I had a few hours to eat, drink, and practise languages before my flight. However, as it turned out, we met another polyglot at the airport – Manuel (you can see him in the video too!). It was really great to talk more with Manuel, in particular about Sinhala and Burmese. Hearing about his experience learning Sinhala really made me want to bring my plans to learn some Burmese forward! Unbelievably, after hours of chatting, eating, and waiting, we stumbled across a Sinhala EuroTalk CDROM in the duty free shop! Manuel had quite a few Dinar left so bought the CDROM. I mean, how could he not? I’m looking forward to hearing how it is! polyglot conference novi sad serbia manuel sinhala lindsay does languages blog Since returning from Novi Sad, I’ve spoken to a few language lovers who were put off from going by the name of the event including the word ‘polyglot’. They felt slightly intimidated by the idea that they may be rejected for not speaking enough languages. This may sound crazy, but I’ll be honest, I felt the same before booking my ticket. But the loveliest thing about my experience at The Polyglot Conference was that this just wasn’t a problem at all. At no point whatsoever did I feel or witness any…competition. Everyone loved languages and they were there to share that love rather than boast. Ashley made an interesting observation as a ‘non-language guy’. He said that being there, one thing that he noticed we all had in common was that we all seemed to love people. To love talking to them, finding out about them, and sharing with them. So from an outsider’s point of view (sorry, Ash!) language folk are nice folk – no matter how many languages you speak! Go us!

Were you at The Conference? Would you like to read more from my notes about the lectures? Let me know in the comments!

Geeking Out at The Language Show Live

This weekend saw an early alarm on a Saturday morning to head down to London for this year’s Language Show Live! I think I’ve attended every year since 2010 now so it’s kind of become a thing. Every October, I enjoy a day in London and a few hours trawling The Language Show Live picking up tote bag upon tote bag, chatting to lots of cool language folk, and discovering all about the new language tools on the block. It’s fun!

I’d seen Kerstin’s event on Facebook promoting a Language Lovers’ Meet Up for after the event and so decided to attend and meet some of these online folk in person – all people no pixels. This meant that I headed to the Show itself pretty late in the afternoon – but still with enough time to make my way around!

Some highlights for me were meeting the FlashSticks team in person (finally!), discovering Clik2Speak and, both of which I’m keen to try out very soon; and geeking out at the Japan Foundation stand.

Oh yes, yesterday afternoon, I finally ventured into the tote bag…these are some of the findings… bag of language lindsay does languages blog Things that made me wish I lived in London… lindsay does languages blog Two packs of English FlashSticks I’m going to experiement with for learning the other languages on them! flashsticks english beginner and imtermediate packs lindsay does languages blog Lots of exciting new language learning initiatives… lindsay does languages blog And finally, two things that I’m ridiculously excited about! japanese viral video europass language show lindsay does languages blog Totally entering the Viral Video Competition!

I even bumped into Gareth who I’d met a week before in Novi Sad! It was so fun to see him again so soon! As 5pm came, I headed out and over to The Hand & Flower to meet Kerstin and other language lovers; namely Angelika of Angelika’s German, and J who writes Compassionate Language Learner. Blogging tucked up at your desk can get quite lonely sometimes so it’s nice to be able to put faces to the names and talk all things language and blogging with some like-minded ladies! We had a great conversation dispelling the myth of the word ‘polyglot’ before heading up to the private ‘after-Language-Show’ party hosted by Vocab Express and Linguascope among others. After more chatting over our free drinks, Gareth joined Kerstin, J, and myself – just before Kerstin left, but just in time for the language pub quiz! I have to say, we very nearly aced it with what we thought was a pretty pathetic 46 and a 1/2 until we heard 3rd place announced with 47! No way! So close yet so far. Next year…

On losing the quiz, me and J left and headed back on the Tube together before parting ways. I’ve mentioned Kerstin on the blog before, and I’ve been tweeting with Angelika for a while so I felt like I knew them slightly – albeit virtually – although it was still great to finally meet them in person! However, I’d only briefly come across J’s blog before, so it was a pleasure to meet her face to face before coming home and adding her to Bloglovin’ and feeling a sense of empathy as I read through her old posts. I definitely recommend all three bloggers as great sources of language inspiration if you haven’t already checked them out!

Were you at The Language Show? What was your favourite discovery this year? I’d love to know in the comments!

When Taylor Swift Met Japanese Music.

I almost burst with excitement. On the hunt for Japanese music to fill my ears with, I had a brainwave upon reading this post from Eurolinguiste. Why have I not yet searched for Japanese versions of English songs? Oh boy, I was in for a treat. First off, it didn’t take me long to discover this guy.How awesome is he?! Also, I think I’m a bit of a closet Taylor Swift fan. A Swifty? A Swifter? A Taylorette? I don’t know. Anyway…that’s out there now.

I had a feeling I was onto a good thing so I thought I’d put together a new 8tracks playlist. SoundCloud is connected to 8tracks so typing in ‘Japanese version’ found me a few more artists including this brilliant channel and then I headed back to YouTube and discovered Maco. Miley Cyrus in Japanese. Mind well and truly blown. Mission accomplished.Not all of these songs were avaliable on Sountcloud but I found plenty of others to keep my little ears pricked up when I’m working at my desk. Enjoy this playlist as much as I am!

Do you know of any great cover versions of well known songs in the language you’re learning? Share them in the comments!

A Little Video of The Polyglot Conference Novi Sad 2014.

There’s so much that can be said about The Polyglot Conference. So much so that I’m still gathering my thoughts and putting blog posts and interview videos together (so you can expect lots of stuff popping up over the next few weeks!). Because I’m still gathering my thoughts and deciding how best to get everything down on paper…well, screen, I decided that it would be best at this stage to start off with a little video of the conference. Cue montage!As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, this is a busy time and tomorrow I’ll be heading to The Language Show in London, as well as testing out a handful of language products at the moment. So if you weren’t in Novi Sad, don’t worry! The blog won’t become completely taken over by The Polyglot Conference. I don’t want to Novi Sad you out!

Are you heading to The Language Show this weekend? Were you in Novi Sad? If so, did you spot yourself in the video? Let me know in the comments!

World Cinema Club: November Film

Half way through October already and I haven’t watched this month’s film yet! Oh no! Still a couple of weeks to go until the discussion post. I’m hoping to get around to Ponyo this weekend – get an extra bit of Japanese practise in in the process!

I wanted to throw things open a bit. Did you have any questions about Ponyo that you’d like answered? Feel free to leave your questions in the comments and I’ll feature them in the discussion post at the end of the month!

In the meantime, get searching for November’s film choice: Let The Right One In. And I’m talking the Swedish original not the American remake. I saw this film once a long time ago and remember lots of snow and cold looking scenes – perfect for a chilly November evening! I’m really looking forward to seeing this one again. november let the right one in dvd foreign film giraffe animal book ends lindsay does languages blog Do you like the giraffes? I made them for my sister’s birthday earlier this year and decided to borrow them to prop up the DVD because they were the same colour theme. Guess you never know when blue giraffe book ends will come in handy, eh?

Have you seen Let The Right One In? What did you think? Maybe you have a suggestion for World Cinema Club? Share your thoughts in the comments!

So Much To Tell! – A Little Update

Phew. What a week – and it’s only Tuesday! I figured the best thing to do today was just to give you a little update as to what’s going on!

The Guardian

I was in The Guardian! Well, on the website – but still, so excited and proud to have been asked to participate in this. I’m constantly sharing The Guardian links on Twitter because they have a real strength for promoting language learning in my opinion so it’s unbelievable that my name is now on that website! The article is right here with lots of good advice from the likes of Ben Whately from Memrise and Gina Gotthilf from Duolingo.

Fluent Language Blogs List

I was also very chuffed to be featured on a recently published list of language learning blogs over on Fluent Language. Thanks to everyone who popped my name down. Also – be sure to bookmark the link for oodles of language inspiration from brilliant bloggers across the world.

More from Kerstin!

There’s even more exciting stuff involving yours truly over at Fluent Language: the current episode of the Creative Language Learning Podcast! Hooray! Thanks, Kerstin.

The Language Show

Are you heading to London next week for The Language Show? I’ll be showing my face on Saturday so if you’re around send me a little tweet and I’d love to see you there!

Polyglot Conference

Ahh, the Polyglot Conference! What a truly awesome experience. It was so good to meet so many inspiring and fascinating people – all with the same passion for languages. I’ve got so much footage, photos, notes, and the like to sort through and put together for the blog and YouTube. In the meantime, here is what will probably become the staple photo of the conference… polyglot conference novi sad 2014 serbia lindsay does languages blog Photo credit goes to whoever was on the balcony and took this! I took this photo from the Facebook group cover image.
Isn’t that just awesome? Bring on Berlin!

What’s going on with you all right now? Feel free to share your current language news in the comments!

The winner of the World Cinema Club giveaway for September has been decided and will be announced when/if the winner gives me permission to do so!

Almost Time for the Polyglot Conference 2014!

I’m very excited this week to be heading out to Novi Sad for the Polyglot Conference!

I fly out on Wednesday because RyanAir decided that moving my original crazy early Friday morning flight back to 1pm was a good idea. So after trying my best not to fly with Wizz Air (not because I don’t like Wizz Air, just because we always fly with them) I’m now flying with Wizz Air on Wednesday. And arriving at 11.40 at night. Argh!

I’m feeling ok about it though because Belgrade was the city to save us last Christmas so I have faith in the place! serbia belgrade beograd christmas market lindsay does languages blog I’ll be heading out to Novi Sad the following morning, hopefully by train because trains are always nice, so I’ll be spending Thursday in Novi Sad before the Conference begins on Friday.

As well as inevitably meeting lots of lovely language folk, I’m also hoping to meet lots of lovely language folk who don’t mind being interviewed as Ashley will be arriving on Saturday to film some of the event for my YouTube channel! If you’re going to Novi Sad and fancy having an on-camera chat about languages, let me know!

Ok, I think that’s it for today. Just wanted to share my excitement about this week!

Will I see you there? Let me know if you’re heading to Novi Sad in the comments – it’ll be good to have some names to put to faces!

italki October Language Challenge Pledge: Japanese

Following on from Wednesday’s post announcing my new Language Quest to learn some Japanese, I’ve been busy making my italki Pledge video for the October Language Challenge. I filmed the video yesterday after one lesson, but I had another this morning and already feel like I could say more!

That’s one reason I’ve decided to use Instagram more to track my progress with Japanese. I can upload quick daily videos from wherever I am. Also it’s surprising how much you can say in 15 seconds! Be sure to follow me on Instagram to keep track and give me some advice if you speak Japanese yourself.

Are you doing the italki October Language Challenge? Which language are you learning? Let me know in the comments!