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World Cinema Club: January Selection

It seems slightly odd to talk about January before Christmas has even graced us with its presence but, hey ho, here we are. This weekend we (finally) had our flooring down and so could begin to really move in. My language books now have a home. This is pretty much all that’s needed. But my DVDs also have a home and there’s a nice selection of foreign films waiting to be seen! Not only that but I’m waiting for a ding dong on the door right now for our new projector to be delivered – so I’ll be able to watch this film in its full screen glory! Hooray!

So for January’s World Cinema Club I opted for one of these films I’ve not yet seen…
waltz with bashir hebrew animation film dvd world cinema club january lindsay does languages
Waltz With Bashir is in Hebrew and about a part of the world I know little about so I’m looking forward to learning something new.

Have you seen Waltz With Bashir? Do you have any suggestions for future World Cinema Club films? Be sure to share them in the comments and I’ll look them out!

Europass Viral Video Competition!

I’ve been dying to share this with you! So way back in October at The Language Show Live, I spotted a flyer at the Europass stand for their Viral Video Competition. Videos? Promoting languages? With a prize?! I had to enter!

So me and Ashley headed to my grandparents house one dark evening to borrow their creepy garden to make the film in mind. We also borrowed my granddad who very kindly offered to play the role of the axe wielding maniac. Thanks granddad! The film was a lot of fun to make but unfortunately we didn’t make it to the finals. Maybe next year! Here is the film, which we called Out From The Crowd to fit with one of the four possible themes ‘Stand out from the crowd’.

I also wanted to share the videos of the lucky finalists who did make it. Well done all!
What do you think of the films? Let me know in the comments!

My Week: Leaks, Boxes, and Stromae.

Oh, hey! It’s been a while huh? Well I’ve finally moved house. After rabbiting on about it since signing our first piece of paper in April, we’re finally in and settled. Ish. Getting there. We still have no floor or internet – but they’re on the way next week. No floor I can live with but no internet has been pretty tricky for someone who relies on it for work! Wait a minute; I should probably clarify the no floor thing. We have floor – a solid slab of concrete – we just have no ‘flooring’ yet. Good job too seeing as Wednesday night we had a jet of water across the soon to be office when Ashley hit a water pipe putting up curtain poles. Oops. Thankfully our house builders came as soon as possible the next day and sorted it all for free. Hooray! Ok, now that’s cleared up let me give you a little story of my language filled week…

Who am I kidding. The majority of my language stuff is tucked up nicely in boxes that have yet to be brought over due to lack of flooring and the need to have limited stuff lying around for the flooring fitters visit. Oh, floor. That said, after a busy weekend filled with more visits to Ikea than I care to disclose and a hot chocolate filled Monday waiting for my car to be serviced, Tuesday did see a complete moving house and task free day. Ish. I did buy the jazziest toothbrush holders you’ve ever seen from Muji. But I did also get the chance to meet Chris Broholm who runs Actual Fluency. I showed him the sights of Selfridges and introduced the idea of mince pies…although I’m not sure I succeeded on that one. After a tasty Wagamama lunch with Chris, I hung around London for the afternoon playing tourist at Buckingham Palace and getting warm and wintery at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Why was I in London though? To see the unbelievably talented Stromae. Due to copyright reasons I’m not really allowed to share any photos or video with you here but I’m sure this is ok… Stromae Eventim Apollo London Concert gig live show French Belgian music lindsay does languages blog Stromae Eventim Apollo London Concert gig live show French Belgian music lindsay does languages blog

I can honestly say that I think it’s easily the best concert I’ve ever been to. I’ve never seen someone own a stage like Stromae. He just had the crowd completely mesmerized. At one point, during Carmen or Humain A L’Eau, playing consecutively, he had the entire room turning to their right, then left, and back again. Military style. It felt really strange given the concept of the song Carmen and the running theme of the warnings of following, albeit in regards to Twitter. I don’t know if this was an intentional feeling he wanted to provoke but if so it worked, and I did feel uncomfortable following the crowd and turning together. Throughout, Stromae was also really witty between songs, speaking in both English and French. That man can hold a room.

Long before that though, he provided the best opening to a gig ever with Ta Fête. Just incredible. The lights, the music, the atmosphere. Talk about making an entrance. The lights were also a real highlight throughout the concert. Stromae completely used them in every possible way to his advantage. Another highlight towards the end of the show, Alors On Danse had the best 90’s breakdown sampling, among others, Rhythm Is A Dancer and getting the whole room on their feet.

He kept up the pace all the way through with exceptions of Quand C’est and Formidable, both slower yet just as anthematic. Quand C’est, which, if I’m honest, is a track I normally skip when I listen to the album, was absolutely beautiful and moving with a spider style graphic gently bringing in and sharply withdrawing its spindly legs. I definitely won’t skip next time I’m playing the album. Formidable was performed in the expected drunken dumpee style and Stromae was even carried off at the end by one of the band for the full effect. Tous Les Mêmes and Papaoutai also followed suit and were performed in the style created for each video respectably. By which I mean, Tous Les Mêmes saw a male/female alter-ego version of Stromae, and Papaoutai saw a stiff batch-produced version of Stromae being carried onto the stage. Another bit that stood out was the second encore. After the first encore of Papaoutai and Merci playing us out, the crowd was not backing down and Stromae and his band definitely delivered with their accapella version of Tous Les Mêmes. A perfect final song to wind down the show.

And that’s pretty much the only exposure to other languages my little brain has had this week! But what amazing exposure it was. If you ever get the chance to see Stromae live, even if you don’t speak French, go. You will definitely enjoy the show. Stromae doesn’t just sing a show, he performs it.

Were you at the gig on Tuesday? Have you seen Stromae before? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments! I’d love to know what you thought!

Dangerously close to 600 Lindsay Does Languages YouTube subscribers!

So this is ridiculously exciting! A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in this video how exciting it was to see over 500 subscribers on my YouTube channel! I really enjoy making videos and since dabbling at the start because I just had some things I wanted to say, it’s become a regular part of Lindsay Does Languages. I’m really grateful that people actually want to see what I make and say really nice things about it. It means a lot. So thank you! Hugs!

However, since then, the subscriber count has gone up preeeetty quickly to almost 600 as I write this. Woo hoo! To celebrate this, I’ve put together a channel trailer, which is what gets shown to people who visit the Lindsay Does Languages YouTube channel who are unsubscribed. This means that if you are subscribed, you’d never see this video – which is why I wanted to share it with you here today.

Believe it or not, this has been one of the more difficult videos I’ve made. Partly due to having worked across 4 hard drives, 3 versions of Final Cut Pro X, and 2 computers since I began! Compiling everything was no easy task! Of course, this kind of video can’t be an epic movie shown in cinemas – no one is going to sit through that – so it has to be quick, short, and to the point. Challenge number two: cutting stuff out! I treat my videos like I treat my languages: I didn’t want to appear to favour one more than the others. However, getting a clip from every video I’ve made since April into one minute was pretty much impossible. So, instead I decided to play with the words and questions across various videos to put something together that I hope will make you laugh. I hope you enjoy it!

How many languages do you recognise at the end? Would this convince you to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you’re not already? Let me know in the comments!

World Cinema Club: November Discussion

Hello! Have you seen Let The Right One In? What did you think?
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With so much vampire stuff around lately, Twilight etc, I think it’s quite brave for a film to avoid a lot of the clichés. Of course, she’s still quite pale and there’s some blood but it didn’t have the moody green haze that I found so annoying with Twilight. It’s like, “Stop trying so hard, Twilight!”. I saw the first film, had no idea what was going on, got very bored. I didn’t feel that with Let The Right One In however. It was much more stylistic and fresh, and in no way comparable once you get past the vampire link. I also liked that it wasn’t like, BOOM, she’s a vampire, deal with it. Of course, as the audience, I think we all knew but little Oskar had his doubts to work through and I enjoyed watching and waiting for him to finally ask her. With him being bullied as well, I found myself really behind Oskar and rooting for him. This makes for some weird emotions as him and Eli become closer. On the one hand, I felt really happy for him. You can see from the start they’re adorable together, and he’s finally getting something good in his life. On the other hand, you’re screaming “Noooo, Oskar! She’s a vampire! How’s it ever going to work?!”. But mostly rooting for him!

I also loved how the film isn’t afraid of quiet. So many films, just like us in real life, are afraid of silence and think every gap needs to be filled, but sometimes, keeping things quiet makes them a lot creepier and a lot more poignant. The pool scene near the end is the perfect example of this. To start, Oskar is so vulnerable – he’s almost naked, soaking wet, and physically below the bully seeing as he’s in the pool and the bully is kneeling over him – very theatrical set up. I found myself with my eyes fixed on the action…then they kick the radio into the pool. Complete and utter concentration. You just can’t look away. And showing Eli’s arrival from under the water so all you hear is the slight ‘water coated’ audio just adds to the whole thing. Genius. If you didn’t see it or want a reminder, here it is.

If you didn’t get the chance to see Let The Right One In this month, I’d highly recommend it as it really is a beautifully crafted film, and who knows, you may even pick up some Swedish!

Did you like this form of a vampire? Could you predict what was going on? Do you find it more or a horror story or a romance? I’d love to know your thoughts on this in the comments below!

A Very Merry Multilingual Christmas

It’s December! That means Christmas joy will be filling your ears and eyes from now on and it’s more socially acceptable than it was last month. Hooray! Embrace it, guys. To get you in the mood, I’ve compiled two (yes, two!) festive 8tracks playlists. One is a multilingual mix of Christmas music from around the world including covers which might sound familiar as well as more traditional songs, and the other is a playlist of alternative versions of every well known Christmas song I could think of and lay my hands on. Go multilingual Christmas! So go buy some mulled wine before Aldi sell out, treat yourself to some Heston Blumenthal mince pies before Waitrose sell out, and enjoy my December gifts to you!

What’s your favourite Christmas song? Let me know in the comments!

My 2015 Language Scripts Challenge

This post is an unexpected one. Regardless, I’m not going to draft it and save it until I’m sure it’s ready, I’m going to be brave and throw it out there today and hopefully that will encourage me to really do it! Sometimes you just have to throw the blogging schedule out of the window. But not literally throw it out of the window. It’s November. You don’t want to let the chill in.

So yesterday I got my results back for my final French exam and my overall grade for that particular university course. Turns out I got a grade 3 pass. Grade 3?! I may as well not have turned up! I nailed the oral exam, but, as predicted it was the writing that let me down. I don’t want to rant on about it but I am of course annoyed, frustrated and just argh.

The worst thing about it is that next year I have to do the same level course in Spanish. So it’s not over. Darn you academia and the world’s desire for your piece of paper showing I can (or can’t as the case may be) do stuff.

So this got me thinking: how can I enjoy languages next year and not get swamped in the academic mush of Spanish, a language I love and don’t want to be ruined by dissertations? Now, here’s the deal, I’m really loving Japanese right now, but I get distracted. I’m a language dabbler. I just can’t help my alphabet promiscuity.

ALPHABETS. What a great starting point! That’s when it came to me – I’ll set myself an alphabet, rather than language, target for 2015. This way I can focus my efforts on the necessary Spanish whilst still getting my language fix through writing systems. A contender for the geekiest sentence ever? I think so. I’m never going to be able to learn as much new language as I want to next year with Spanish taking over my life from February to October – but a cheeky little alphabet never hurt anyone did it?

Today, I put together a list with the help of Wikipedia, Omniglot and Memrise of 30 alphabets/scripts/writing systems that I’m going to do my darnedest to learn in 2015. What’s that? You want the list? Ok, go on then.
different language scripts writing systems alphabets lindsay does languages blog
ASL (American Sign Language)
BSL (British Sign Language)
Cyrillic (Russian, Macedonian, Bulgarian etc)
Devanagari (Hindi, Nepali and others)
Gurmukhi (Punjabi)
Phonetic (IPA)

Phew. You may be thinking “But where’s my language?!” if you speak Urdu, or Bulgarian, or Lao. Well, this isn’t a definitive list. I’ve chosen languages based on a few things…

1) Is there a Memrise course for it?
2) Is it different to other scripts?
3) Is the language is current use?

So, I’m only going to focus on the Standard Arabic script that, hopefully, in the future would give me a foundation to work with if I wanted to learn Persian or Urdu for example. The same goes for Cyrillic and a couple of others. Also, I purposefully haven’t included Chinese on the list because using characters for each word means it’d take a little longer than the rest. I’m sure you can understand this.

You may also be thinking “Why the heck-a-roo are you learning Tifinagh?!”. The answer is because there’s a Memrise course for it and I’d never heard of it before! It’s that simple. After all, you never know when it might come in handy! Seriously though, this project – which I’m expecting to last all year by the way – is just for fun, blogging, and to cure my curiosity. You may have heard me say before how I love to be able to read stuff around me, even if I can’t understand what it says. Well this project is exactly that! I’m not planning on being able to write everything, just to be able to recognise the writing systems.

I will, of course, be posting regular updates and sharing lots of interesting things I find out along the way.

What are you doing with languages in 2015? I’d love to know! If you’re stuck for ideas, you’re more than welcome to join me with my Language Scripts Challenge! Do you think this is achievable? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Guest Post: 5 Reasons Why You Should Choose Arabic As Your Next Language

G’day all!

Greetings from sunny Cairo. :)

I’ve been moving around the world on and off for about 12 years now, immersing myself in new cultures and learning different languages.

It’s something I’ve always been really passionate about doing.

But you know after over a decade of travelling the world and living in some pretty exotic places through new languages, I’ve always had one place and one language nearest and dearest to my heart.

No matter where I am in the world or what language I’m currently learning, I always feel something powerful inside me pulling me back here to Egypt and the Arabic language – my first love. :)

I jetted off from Australia to Egypt when I was 18 years old for my very first overseas trip as a clueless teenager who was barely able to speak a few sentences of Arabic. I ended up staying in a tiny village in Upper Egypt where not only was I the only English speaking person there but for many of the locals I was the first foreigner that they’d ever met.

It was as tough and intimidating as first travel experiences get.

But it was the most rewarding and life-changing experience of my life.

I’ve now been on a journey with Arabic for a long time, having become part of the community in Egypt and the Egyptian community in Australia. It’s a huge part of my identity now and I’m passionate about sharing it with people as often as I can to try and inspire them to pursue the Arabic language.

So today I’d like to share a few reasons with you why you should definitely choose Arabic as your next language to learn. :)
pyramids egypt donovan nagel the mezzofanti guild guest post lindsay does languages blog

1. The Arabic alphabet is really simple to learn

The Arabic script is one of the most intimidating to look at for people who haven’t learned it but believe me it’s actually very straightforward and easy to pick up.

You can teach yourself to read Arabic script in less than a day if you want to.

There are three things that take getting used to however:

1. It’s written from right to left.

2. Most of the letters are joined together.

3. Short vowels aren’t written.

To most people it just looks like a bunch of squiggly lines all connected together but just think of it as you would think of cursive writing in English, except that it’s written in the other direction.

They’re just regular old alphabet letters which link up.

For example, here’s the word for ‘house’ in Arabic:


Three letters starting from the right. B Y T

See those little dots? That tells you what the letters are (in fact, I’d recommend new learners try just to memorize the dots before you even focus on the lines).

The first one has a single dot under it which is a B:


The second one has two dots under it which is a Y:


(this one changes shape when it’s on its own like this but the only thing that matters is the two dots under it which tells you what the letter is)

And the last one which looks like a smiley face (two dots on top) is a T:


Pretty straightforward and simple right? :)

There’s really no need to put off learning Arabic because of its script.


2. Arab people (especially Egyptians) are some of the easiest people in the world to meet and practice the language with

I’ve lived in a lot of places around the globe.

In the last couple of years alone I’ve lived and worked in The Republic of Georgia, Turkey, Ireland, Korea, Russia and Italy.

While I’ve encountered many truly wonderful people in all of those places, I’ve never seen hospitality toward strangers and friendliness comparable to what I’ve seen in Egypt.

I often say that when you live here, every time you step outside your front door you can be almost guaranteed to have some kind of an adventure and meet people who are very eager to speak Arabic with you.

Every day you come home with new friends. :)
cafe donovan nagel the mezzofanti guild guest post lindsay does languages blog
In fact so much so that it can be socially exhausting at times because you’re always surrounded by people who want to be your friend and speak to you.

If you’re someone who’s a bit socially shy and struggles to practice speaking, Egypt will be like having a set of social training wheels on. :)

In comparison, when I lived in Korea for example it was much more of a struggle to meet locals and make new friends because of the completely different social dynamic. It’s not that it’s a bad thing of course but things just work very differently making random social connections a bit more of a challenge.

Since speaking as early as possible is so important to becoming fluent in any language, you can be guaranteed that you’ll have no trouble getting started with Arabic.


3. Arabic has really easy grammar compared to a lot of languages

Compared to pretty much every European language, Arabic grammar is a piece of cake.

Like super easy.

egypt donovan nagel the mezzofanti guild guest post lindsay does languages blog
In comparison to a lot of the complicated, grammatical headaches you get studying languages like German, Russian and Greek especially (languages I’ve studied in the past), Arabic is like a big breath of fresh air.

Here are a few reasons why:

1. There’s no neuter. Everything’s either masculine or feminine.

2. No need to worry about noun cases in spoken Arabic (classical and standard Arabic use short ending vowels to indicate cases but if you’re learning to speak a local dialect then it’s not an issue).

3. In the present tense the verb ‘to be’ is omitted (e.g. ‘You are beautiful’ is just ‘You beautiful’)

4. The definite article (ال) is indeclinable which means that ‘the’ is always the same no matter what you’re talking about.

5. Roots. Just about all Arabic vocabulary is made up of root/stem consonants that you can easily memorize.

For example, there are loads of words derived from the 3 letters K T B and they’re all connected in some way to ‘writing’. The verb ‘katab’ (he wrote), ‘maktab’ (office), ‘maktaba’ (library), ‘kitab’ (book), ‘kaatib’ (writer), ‘maktoob’ (written/writing), and so on.

You can see the similarity in all those words right?

All of these words come from the same 3 letters so even if you only memorized the 3 letters K T B, you could in many cases take a really good guess at the meaning of a word since you know it has something to do with books and writing.

Once you get a grasp on how Semitic languages work, you’ll quickly realise just how basic the grammar of spoken Arabic is.

4. It’s one of the most relevant and necessary languages today

Arabic’s in the top 5 languages with the most number of speakers in the world.

There’s something like 300 million native speakers of Arabic which falls just behind English. Also, geographically it’s spoken natively from one end of Africa to the other and then right into the Asian continent.

It’s massive!

And then when you consider how many Arabic speakers have migrated around the world you start to get an idea of just how hugely important it is.

Of course, then there’s the whole current politics of the Middle East thing which is super important and as a business language, the need for Arabic has really risen with the success of the Gulf countries like UAE.

Arabic is such a relevant and important language to learn and this is only going to continue to increase over the coming years.


5. There are lots of dialects to choose from – each one as rewarding as the next

The biggest point of confusion for people wanting to learn Arabic is which Arabic to learn.

There are so many different dialects and sub-dialects, and there’s the Standard Arabic dialect used in the media, politics and literature which a lot of language product companies focus their attention on.

The problem with most language products out there for Arabic however is that they only teach Modern Standard Arabic – a dialect that no person anywhere on earth speaks as a native language.

It’s a literary language that’s taught as a second language in schools to native Arabic speakers and even though most people understand it, it’s not something that they speak natively and naturally.

If you’re interested in learning Arabic, you should pick the country that most interests you and learn that local dialect.

That’s the language of the people and if you’re planning to make friends and immerse yourself, it’s where you really should focus your energy on.

The great thing is you have so much variety to choose from!

So many different dialects – each with a very different flavour and many of them (but not all) are quite mutually intelligible. :)
pyramids donovan nagel the mezzofanti guild guest post lindsay does languages blog
Some buddies and I here in the Middle East have recently put together a website to help people learn different dialects of Arabic. It’s called and it’s the only website of its kind that exists just for spoken dialects.

If you’re interested in learning Arabic then check it out or follow me on my blog here.

Thanks Donovan!
Have you ever considered Arabic as your next language to learn? Maybe you already speak it? I’d love to read your comments below!

What The MoRun Taught Me About Language Learning.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have spotted that I did The MoRun this weekend. I’d never done anything like this before. As I was running around, I got thinking about languages, such is life, and wanted to share some of my thoughts with you today to see what you think.
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So I ran 5k. Some of you may read that and be like, “What? That’s nothing! I’m off to run 10k after reading this.” Others may read it and be like, “What? That’s mental! I don’t know if I could walk that far.” Some of you may be somewhere in the middle. My point is that I’d never ran that far in one shot before and from the start I was really conscious of pacing myself so I could. I was also really conscious of not stepping in the puddles, mud, or piles of slippy leaves. (It rained the whole time. Joy!) However, others weren’t as conscious of the murky waters and sped past me and others plastering us and my relatively shiny trainers in mud in the process.

Where is all this going? Well, this is a lot like language learning. teach yourself japanese morun milton keynes 2014 lindsay does languages blog Some of us have done it before and do it faster because we can, some of us start full force and then stop because we just can’t keep up the pace, some of us just plod along steadily. Of course, there’s a glaring difference: language learning isn’t a race. We’re not aiming to cross the finish line first. There is no finish line. You can go as quickly or as slowly as you wish, as you need to, or as you can. You can set your own finish line, or not. Don’t get me wrong, a little competition can keep you on your toes, but too much can drive you crazy. Sometimes, it’s very easy to compete with languages but when you consider how different we all are, just as how different everyone doing the MoRun was, really, the healthiest competition is with yourself.

Once people began to start walking after their initial sprint off the line, I was soon the tortoise overtaking the hares. But I didn’t want to splash them like I’d been splashed, I wanted to encourage them. To everyone I passed who was walking, I simply said, “You can do it! Keep going!” with a smile, and do you know what? Every time I said that, they ran again. It made me feel good, it made them feel good. Win win.

This taught me something else: the importance of encouragement. Sometimes, it just takes something small to give you that boost you need. Having someone run past you and give you wet feet doesn’t really motivate you, having someone run past and say a few words of encouragement does. It’s that simple. We’re all at different places in our fitness, our language skills, our lives. Everything. We should respect that and encourage each other to keep going.
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Phew, that got deep quick. I hope I managed to express what I wanted to say today effectively. If not, maybe type ‘motivational music’ into YouTube and play it as you read again. YEAH!

What parallels do you draw between language learning and other aspects of your life? I’d love to read your thoughts on this in the comments!

An Interview with Simon from Omniglot.

A couple of weeks ago I published my interview video with some of the amazing people I met at The Polyglot Conference in Novi Sad. I also spoke quite extensively to Simon, who runs the incredible website Omniglot. Simon in his own words: From a secret valley somewhere in the wilds of North Wales Simon runs a global language empire, otherwise known as Omniglot. He spends the rest of his time exploring languages, making music, singing and writing songs, reading, defying gravity and having adventures. If you’ve had the pleasure to meet Simon, you’ll know just how inspiring he is. It’s as if his website is in his brain – he knows so much about language! Most of our conversation was off camera but I did manage to catch him for a few minutes to discuss Celtic languages – something I know very little about but he knows rather a lot about. Enjoy!

Do you study Celtic languages? Have you had the pleasure of meeting Simon? Let me know in the comments!