Lindsay Does Languages

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#IGLC March Prompts

February is up! Guess what? There are now over 500 photos tagged with #IGLC on Instagram! How exciting! Thank you to everyone who’s got involved in January and February. I’ve loved seeing your photos, words, and videos and learning little snippets of languages from across the world. I hope you’ve found it useful too!

If you’re ready to join in, or just ready to carry on, then here is the prompt list for #IGLC March.
#IGLC Instagram Language Challenge word prompt list March 2015 language learning Lindsay Does Languages blogCopy this image and print it out, save it to your phone, write them on your calendar. It’ll also be in the sidebar right here on the blog if you forget throughout the month. If you’re unsure where to start then check the hashtag on Instagram for some inspiration and to see what others have been doing in February. Also, if you need a little intro to using Instagram for language learning, I wrote about that this month right here.

This month I’m focusing on Japanese again because I need something to encourage me to do a little each day. Poor old Japanese has been lagging behind in February. So by making it the focus for #IGLC this month, I’m going to be sure to write (and maybe sometimes say!) a little sentence each day using the prompt to inspire me.

What are your targets going to be this month? Which language(s) will you learn for the Instagram Language Challenge? Share in the comments and use the hashtag #IGLC over on Instagram to share your new language knowledge!

The Very First World Cinema Club Video!

Hello there! This month, I decided to take World Cinema Club to the big screen…well, YouTube. I mean, what’s more logical than a film talking about film? It just made sense.

Also, next month’s film is The Lunchbox. This film kept popping up in my life so I decided that it must be a sign. I realised when I was filming that Devanagari, the script used to write Hindi, is on my list this month for the Language Script Challenge! What a completely fantabulous coincidence! I don’t have a copy of the DVD, instead I’m going to rent it. This means I can’t take a photo of it to put right here…so I found the trailer instead.

I’m looking forward to discussing The Lunchbox with you at the end of March!
Did you watch Bad Education this month? Have you seen it before? What do you think of it? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Language Learning Review and Goals: February

It’s warm enough to walk with your coat open, you don’t have to close your curtains at 5pm, and Gonzo is awake. Spring is definitely springing. It hasn’t quite sprung yet. Getting there.
Gonzo the tortoise Lindsay Does Languages blogAnd here she is failing to get out of her temporary water bowl. Good work, Gonz. You never fail in my eyes.

So end of the month calls for a review of what has passed and a look forward at what’s to come. Let’s do this!

February Review

Pancake day golden syrup Lindsay Does Languages blogPancake Day happened. It was delicious. I gave up checking my work emails before breakfast for Lent! Did you give anything up? Anyway, onto the language review…

At least 40 more Kanji radicals

I’m writing this on the 25th February and I still have 1 level left on Memrise to get me to the 40. I’m currently at 30! This one definitely proves the benefit of goals though. If I hadn’t set myself this, I would still be still watering my kanji radicals I’d already learnt last year. You gotta keep on truckin’. Did I just write ‘keep on truckin”? How lame.

Get back to speaking

Again, I needed this goal to actually kick my bum into gear to get these booked! I did have 2 lessons though. Very fun! I took my very first Burmese lesson, which I loved, and my first Japanese lesson in…too long! I’ve also been testing out Verbling and have had a couple of Spanish sessions to help with my course. So I guess I’ve beat my goal on this one…yay!

3 new scripts

YES! I did it. Kind of. I’ve realised that the Language Script Challenge is flipping HUGE. What have I let myself in for?! I have completely done the BSL fingerspelling alphabet and almost completely done the Memrise courses for Cherokee and Burmese. I took a different tact this month and started them all at the same time, studying them continuously throughout the month. This is different to January when I looked at one at a time. I think for March I’m going to go back to one at a time. Give my brain a break.

Instagram Language Challenge

I wanted to do the Instagram Language Challenge mostly in Spanish for February. I did! there were a couple of days when my brain was fried and I spent more time on my scripts and used this as my photos for the day. Slightly lazy. I know. Shh, don’t tell anybody. I have learnt some interesting Spanish words though so I’m happy about that!

March Goals

language learning review and goals February 2015 Lindsay Does Languages blogDaffodils are everywhere. That’s a sign of March if ever I saw one. What have I got planned for March though? Let’s see…

4 new scripts

Amharic, Braille, Devanagari, Khmer. Phew. March is going to be a busy one. As I mentioned above, I’m going to devote one week to each. I’m finding I have a little time in the mornings before I start work and a little time at night before I read and evict all screens from my life for an hour. Oh, and of course, there’s more time (sometimes!) at the weekend. So I think if I give all of that time to one script per week, I should be able to get a good handle on things.

Keep going with Spanish at current rate

I’ve got into what I think is the best habit I’ve had throughout my whole degree. It’s only taken me 10 courses to get there. I used to end up with all my OU work at the weekends but now we’re getting up so early (5.30!!) I can fit in an hour each weekday morning and with a little extra study on Saturday, I get Sunday off. Hooray! I feel very much on top of things and that’s good. I want to keep up this routine with my Spanish.

¡Habla español!

I still have a little trial credit on Verbling so I’ll be using this for bursts of Spanish throughout March. My goal is to use the credit by the end of the month. When that’s done, it’s time to get back on the language exchange train, I think!

Instagram Language Challenge

This month I’m going to focus my attentions back on Japanese for the Instagram Language Challenge. I feel like it’s been slightly neglected this month so the plan is that by devoting one aspect of my learning specifically to Japanese I’ll get back on track with it. We shall see!

How has February gone for you and your language learning? What do have planned for March? Let me know in the comments!

Things I’ve Learnt About IPA So Far

Sometimes Ashley comes home and tells me about his day teaching and I lose track. Don’t get me wrong, I listen, but more often than not I’ll have to stop him every few seconds to ask him to decode the latest TLA of teacher speak. I’ll decode that one for you: TLA = Three Letter Acronym. Just to make sure we know where we’re going here today, I’ll decode the one in the title too: IPA = International Phonetic Alphabet. BTW, FYI from here on in it’ll be IPA again. It’s just so much easier to communicate in TLAs, no? I might litter them throughout this blog for fun. Look out for them like those ducks in the Usbourne books.

What I already knew

So I’ve always kind of thought it would be a useful thing to learn those funny looking letters you see next to words in the dictionary. That’s how things are pronounced, so in theory you could pronounce EVERY WORD EVER if you could read those funny looking letters. That was my limited knowledge way back when. Way back when double denim was cool thanks to B*Witched, when Furbies didn’t communicate with your phone, and when I thought reading a page of the dictionary each night was a good idea. I thought that for one night. Regardless, I was intrigued. Skip forward a few years and I knew little more about IPA to be honest. So little in fact that when I began learning (what I thought was) IPA for the Language Script Challenge, I picked the wrong Memrise course and ended up with a pretty nifty knowledge of the English Phonetic Alphabet. Not the end of the world seeing as it actually gave me a more comfortable introduction to IPA. Now I’m working my way through this course and learning lots along the way.

It’s a lot

Things I've Learnt About IPA So Far International Phonetic Alphabet example Lindsay Does Languages blog
The first thing I discovered when I found myself an image of the whole IPA after my blundering start was that the IPA is big. Seeing as its aim is to cover every sound ever that makes up words, this probably comes as no surprise. However, once you learn the fancy linguistics words that name each letter, things begin to fall into place.

Linguistics love

Thigns I've Learnt About IPA So Far International Phonetic Alphabet example Lindsay Does Languages blog Back in 2011, I did an English course as part of my degree. I did it early on to ‘get it out of the way’ before getting on with the languages, a.k.a (another TLA) the things I wanted to do. However, this course proved to be one of the most interesting things I have ever studied. I found a new love for languages as a whole rather than just individually and I also found a new love for linguistics. What has always fascinated me about language is (FYI, just my unacademic opinion here) the way in which it’s like the perfect mix of science and art. Where does language fit? More often than not on the art side. Where does linguistics fit? More often than not the science side. Clearly there’s a difference here. But if we’re going to improve the way we learn languages, we have to look to the linguistics side to get there. Hence, they go together like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong. If you enjoy the study process of languages, I’d recommend a glimpse into some user friendly linguistics books to expand your love.

More than just your bog standard vowels

Quite a few more in fact. You will have probably already noticed that in English, we don’t pronounce every vowel the same way. Say these out loud…Don’t worry, no-one’s watching.
Thigns I've Learnt About IPA So Far International Phonetic Alphabet example Lindsay Does Languages blog
Now say just the vowel sounds in each word…
Thigns I've Learnt About IPA So Far International Phonetic Alphabet example Lindsay Does Languages blog
How the heck is someone learning English supposed to know how to pronounce those words?! Here’s where IPA becomes very useful. Try saying them again…
Thigns I've Learnt About IPA So Far International Phonetic Alphabet example Lindsay Does Languages blog
Even if you have no prior knowledge of IPA, can you see (and hear) how they’re different? So many vowel sounds! Now imagine how useful it would be if you had IPA knowledge when learning another language.

Making noises I’ve never made

Thigns I've Learnt About IPA So Far International Phonetic Alphabet example Lindsay Does Languages blog Not the most attractive heading there. I should probably see a doctor. Learning where to produce all of these sounds has given me a little insight into languages I haven’t yet studied. For example, our good old friend, bilabial click, which only occurs in 3 languages IN THE WORLD. OMG. (Got another TLA in there. Sneaky work.)

Inside jokes

Totally just made up my own IPA joke there. What a hoot. As for actual funny stuff, I’ve been a fan of Linguistics Llama for a while now, but, I’ll be honest, my lack of IPA knowledge meant that some jokes went straight over my head. Whoosh. Nod and smile. However, now, I’m understanding this whole new genre of joke that I didn’t before. I’m collecting my favourites over on Pinterest, so be sure to take a look!

Can you read IPA? How did you learn it? Have you found it useful when learning other languages? Share your thoughts in the comments!

9 Reasons to Learn Croatian

I toyed with the idea of calling this post “9 Reasons to Learn Croatian. Or The Day I Learnt Not to Film During Rush Hour”. You’ll see what I mean when you watch the video.

For this video, I teamed up with the lovely Shannon, who runs the blog Eurolinguiste and very handily learns Croatian. I’ve been amazed by her multilingual videos over on Instagram for the Instagram Language Challenge and wanted to hear more about Croatian – hence this video.

Shannon provided me with 9 reasons to learn Croatian, I made them real with video and little pictures and the like, and now it’s here for you to see. So enjoy!

Are you learning Croatian? What are your thoughts on the language? Share in the comments!

Using Instagram for Language Learning

Hello! Welcome to the first post in a series of how to use social media to enhance your language learning. Pfft! Why social media? Isn’t that just where you go to see endless baby scans, engagements rings, and cat videos from people you knew once somewhere in your past? Well, yes, apparently. But we still can’t help ourselves. We spend time on social media. It’s 2015, it’s in our pockets, it’s going to happen. So we may as well make that time productive and use social media for language learning. Today, I’ll be giving you some tips on how to use Instagram for language learning.


Instagram now includes the option to upload (or record within Instagram itself) video content. There is a maximum time of just 15 seconds, which is ideal if you’re in the early stages of learning a language and want to practise a few basic lines. I’ve done this myself and found it very motivating. In fact, in October, I made a little video each day speaking Japanese and found it to be really productive. It’s a little scary at first but the benefit is that Instagram is a relatively friendly form of social media and if you ask for any tips or corrections in the description, if the right people find it, I’m sure they’ll be willing to help!

Here’s an example of this in action. Another bonus is that you get to pick the still cover image. As you can see, my speaking Japanese face is made for still cover images.


Another note about corrections. People are really helpful on Instagram! There’s been more than one occasion where I’ve posted some text, a video etc that I thought was correct, and people have helped me iron out my mistakes.

If you have a question about a grammar structure or vocabulary, it could also be worth posting a photo of the tricky bit in question and asking for help. Of course, if you’re new you may not have any followers that can help you with this just yet. Here’s where the next point comes in…

Hashtag search

When I first signed up to Instagram, I couldn’t work out how I was ever going to find anyone or how anyone was ever going to find me. It didn’t take me long to realise that the little magnifying glass is the most useful thing if you want to connect with people on Instagram. Probably not really much of a surprise there. You can type a word or a name and search for people. Pretty logical. However, if you’re after something specific, try the hashtag feature. Think about it though. If you’re Japanese, are you going to be using English hashtags? Maybe, but probably not. So perhaps try searching via hashtags in the language you’re learning. You can find out about downloading different language keyboards for your phone to make this easier here for Apple and here for Android.

Follow specific accounts

Ok, to list every single useful Instagram account here for language learning would be tricky. Firstly, which language are you learning? Secondly, I don’t want to miss anyone out! However, I’ll share a few with you that I’ve found interesting (and regular) for specific languages. I’ve gone through these recently, and I’m only listing accounts here that have posted within the past day or two.

General & Multilingual










Other languages


Follow other speakers

This is where Instagram differs from other social medias. Facebook is personal. People want to keep it private. I do too so I respect that. Twitter is too impersonal. Nobody really knows anybody else. Yet it serves its purpose. However, don’t you think Instagram fits that happy medium? The in between of not knowing people but still being happy to share with them? Instagram is the perfect place to follow 2 types of people to help with your language learning: native speakers, and other learners.

Of course, it doesn’t really need to be said; any kind of network that involved following instantly sounds like stalker paradise. I’m not saying you should stalk people. We should probably clear that up first. What I’m saying is that Instagram is a great social network to make connections on. Where to start? Way back up to number 3: hashtags. Has someone else just posted a photo of their shaky Arabic writing like you? Reach out to them. Try commenting in Arabic. Use emojis if you’re not too confident with your language skills yet. If you’re going to be spending time on Instagram then using your language skills while you’re there just makes sense.

Do the Instagram Language Challenge!

Have you joined in with the Instagram Language Challenge? It’s a fun way to get a little bit of extra language goodness into your daily life. The idea is that you use the daily prompt to think of a new word, phrase, idiom, or sentence in the language you’re learning and share it on Instagram with the hashtag #IGLC. You know what’s great about it though? It’s completely open to interpretation! There’s a couple of days saved at the end of each month to give you a chance to review your words and maybe even record a little video of you practising them if you’re feeling brave. Although I think you should totally be brave and do this bit! However, if you fancy making videos throughout the month then that’s cool too. There are no rules in this challenge. It’s not like a regular challenge, it’s a cool challenge. (Guess the film, anyone?) Here’s this month’s prompt list – it’s not too late to join in!
#IGLC Instagram Language Challenge February 2015 Lindsay Does Language blog
Do you use Instagram? How do you make it work for your languages? Share your ideas in the comments!

Linguistically Talented Actors

One of the most popular posts here on the blog is this one right here, highlighting a handful of Formula One drivers who are multilingual. I wrote that post way back in June last year, and decided it was time to shed a little light on some multilingual famous folk who don’t drive fast cars for a living. Today it’s the turn of actors. Enjoy!

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman is a bit of a machine when it comes to language learning. As well as English, she speaks conversational French, German, Spanish and Japanese, and being a native of Isreal, she speaks Hebrew too as you can see in this video.

Salma Hayek

I couldn’t find much video proof but the internet claims that Salma Hayek speaks Spanish, English, Portuguese and Arabic. Her daughter is also apparently tri-lingual!

Cillian Murphy

As well as English, Cillian Murphy can speak French and Irish!

Audrey Hepburn

Wow! I was amazed when I found out about this one! Audrey Hepburn spoke a whopping 5 languages! This video demonstrates her talent…

Penelope Cruz

We all know Penelope Cruz speaks Spanish and English, but did you know she also speaks French? AND Italian as you can see in this video.

Edward Norton

Edward Norton speaks French and Spanish. But that’s not all. He spent some time in his youth in Japan and speaks Japanese pretty well too!

Sarah Chalke

The Scrubs actress went to school speaking French and then German after school as she explains in this video. Wow!

Tom Hiddleston

This guy is impressive! He speaks French fluently, Spanish, Greek, Italian, and has a go at lots of other languages in this video!

Jodie Foster

Here is Jodie Foster speaking French. Her accent is incredible! The internet also claims that she speaks Italian, German and Spanish too.

Is there anyone else I’ve missed off the list? Let me know in the comments!

Blog en Español #3: Ritmos Mestizos

La tema esta semana fue ‘Ritmos mestizos’. Para mí, fue muy interesante; con un poco sobre el flamenco, la música cubana, y más. La extensión fue este artículo.

Cuando lo leí la primera vez, fui como “Woah, ¡necesitamos pararlo! ¡Que terrible!” Pues, escuché algunas de las canciones mencionadas y realmente, no puedo ver el problema. Claro, la violencia doméstica es una cosa mala. Eso no podría negar. Pero, ¿la letra de este tipo de canción? Hmm… Creo que es solamente los amores celosos y perdidos. No es tan peligrosa. Pensamos, por ejemplo, de lo que tenemos en ingles en la forma de Eminem (quien me encanta por cierto). “I got 99 problems but a b*tch ain’t one, she’s all 99 of them, I need a machine gun”.

Cuando yo leo eso, no me siento como “Woah, ¡necesitamos pararlo! ¡Que terrible!”. Además, no me siento como si quiera matar, o como si quiera obtener una ametralladora. Al contrario: río. No al mensaje que promueve, sino por la manera en que juega con inglés y con la letra de Jay-Z. Genio. Sin embargo, personalmente, eso es la diferencia; de lo que he visto, la letra de las canciones de las cumbrias peruanas no es exactamente tan creativa como la letra de Eminem.

Sin embargo, en mi opinión la cosa más perturbadora de las cumbrias es el contraste de la letra negativa con la música positiva. La yuxtaposición. La mejor comparación aquí, y el ejemplo más fuerte y perturbador de la yuxtaposición en inglés, para mí, es A Clockwork Orange. Sí, yo sé que ahora hablamos de las películas en vez de la música. No obstante la yuxtaposición que tenemos en esta película, y los sentimientos que provoca, son tan perturbadores.

Bueno, generalmente me gusta mucho la música española. Me encanta la mezcla de ritmos e influencias y los sentimientos que provoca (normalmente…las cumbrias tal vez son una excepción). Pues, claro que cuando digo ‘la música española’ es un término muy ambiguoso. Entonces quiero terminar este blog con algunos videos de mis canciones españoles preferidas. Tal vez no hay sorpresas… ¡Espero que disfrútelas!

¿Tienes una canción preferida en español? ¡Comparte tus comentarios!

10 Unique Valentine’s Traditions Around the World

This week, I reached out on Twitter and Facebook for your favourite foreign language love songs. I found as many as I could and put them into this little 8tracks playlist of multilingual love songs. Perfect for the language lover in your life. Yes, this can also refer to you.

Also, I made a little language love art. It’s I love you in as many Romance languages as I could fit on one page. You like?
10 unique Valentine's Traditions Around the World Valentine's Day love video Lindsay Does Languages blog romance languages i love you

Love is in the air. Seriously, what’s happened this year? Is it 50 Shades of Grey? Is it adorable puns galore? Is it something in the water? People seem to be all over Valentine’s Day this year. So, what better way to celebrate than with a little look at some unique Valentine’s traditions around the world? No better way is the answer to that question, no better way. With that in mind, enjoy this week’s video. No duct tape, rope, or whips involved. I think some other film is coming out this weekend to take care of that bit. Word on the street.

Did you enjoy the video? How do people celebrate Valentine’s Day in your country? Also, what’s your favourite Valentine’s pun? Share in the comments!

Things I’ve Learnt About Hebrew So Far

The second script I looked at for my Language Script Challenge was Hebrew. I feel like I should say ‘is’ instead of ‘was’ there because this is all still going on. I mean, does language learning ever stop? Nope-diddily-ope.

What I already knew

Before I started studying the Hebrew script, I knew very little about the language as a whole. But, I did know that it was in the same language family as Arabic, the Semitic family. But then again, English is in the same language family as German, and although there are similarities, they most definitely have their differences. I knew that Hebrew was spoken in Israel and by Jewish populations worldwide. I knew that it was one of the original languages of the Bible. And…I think that was about it. So not a lot, and I only knew most of what I knew because I’d been sent a script for 9 Reasons to Learn Hebrew last summer. So that puts my knowledge down to knowing where Hebrew was spoken, that it was revived; and that shalom and mazel tov mean hello (and peace, but I didn’t know that before!) and congratulations respectively.

Similarities with Arabic

When it comes to the scripts of both Arabic and Hebrew, some of the sounds were remarkably similar, which made it really fun to learn them alongside each other. Or really confusing. Your call. But it’s not just the sounds. Another similarity with Arabic is the lack of written vowels. There is a thing called Niqqud, which is a series of dots and lines above or beneath the letters that indicate the vowel sounds to follow the consonant they are on.
thigns I've learnt about Hebrew so far alphabet gifs Lindsay Does Languages blog
And that’s just a tiny sample of them all. However, it seems this is just used for newbie texts, children’s books, and dictionaries. I guess this would be a really nice step into progressing with learning Hebrew. Kind of like taking your stabilisers off your bike.

Softly softly

Hebrew has some letters which have a different way of being written if they appear at the end of a word. For example. This is k.
things I've learnt about Hebrew so far alphabet gifs Lindsay Does Languages blog
This friendly chap is k sofit, aka, “Hey, buddy! I’m the k you want to use if I’m the last letter of a word.”
things I've learnt about Hebrew so far alphabet gifs Lindsay Does Languages blog
This happens for 5 letters and isn’t as tricky to learn as it may sound. Also, sofit means ‘final’ or ‘end’, which is good to know.
thigns I've learnt about Hebrew so far alphabet gifs Lindsay Does Languages blog

Written vs print

One of the first things I used to get started with the Hebrew script was these videos from HebrewPod101. Something I noticed that was really interesting was the way in which there’s a different character for written Hebrew and for printed Hebrew. This was blowing my mind a little bit, so when the free videos on YouTube ended, I didn’t rush to get the rest of the alphabet in both forms. Shh, don’t tell anyone. There were some similarities, but some were quite different! For example, these guys are the same letter.
thigns I've learnt about Hebrew so far alphabet gifs Lindsay Does Languages blog
So are these two.
thigns I've learnt about Hebrew so far alphabet gifs Lindsay Does Languages blog
Crazy times, huh?

Yo Yiddish

thigns I've learnt about Hebrew so far alphabet gifs Lindsay Does Languages blog
Yay! The Hebrew script is also used to write Yiddish as well as a handful of other Jewish languages. Bonus! I’ve always found Yiddish interesting since meeting the lovely and talented Anna at last year’s Polyglot Conference, who spoke both Hebrew and Yiddish and was a bit of a language learning pro. However, it wasn’t until starting with the Hebrew script and doing a bit of research that I discovered the same script was used for both! To my shame, I know. Still, it’s always a bonus when there’s another language out there using the same writing system.

Shalom Street exists!

One of my favourite free resources for language learning is YouTube. Finding that a Hebrew version of Sesame Street exists has been amazing! Finding that said version of Sesame Street is called Shalom Street? Too cool. I watched this video almost daily in January – and it’s really catchy. If you are suffering from Blank Space on a loop in your brain, I present to you the cure, which will also teach you some language, so you know, totally worth it.

I hope you enjoyed my notes on what I’ve learnt about Hebrew so far! Do you speak Hebrew? What do you find interesting about he language? Share your thoughts in the comments!