Learning the Lingo

March 6, 2012 by 44 Comments

VocabularyWe talk about learning languages and how quickly we can do it.  We look for the best courses to get us to the best level possible at break-neck speed.  But is all this all in vain?  Is language learning at this accelerated rate a myth?

Well, you can pick up a book, read it or follow a course and learn all of the grammar, as if it were Latin in school.  Many aspects of grammar are akin to equations we learn in other subjects, like maths.  You add X to Y and you get Z.  Languages being languages though, we often love to factor in the exceptions to make things more fun.

OK, so that’s your grammar sorted…you have the skeleton of the language and you get how it works (in theory).  Practice is then needed to really fully appreciate what the machine can do to when you put it together.  Now you need to flesh things out a bit.  The flesh of a language is its vocabulary.   Learning the vocabulary and how it can be manipulated within the rules of the grammar is a different story.

One of the most common questions people ask me is: “How do you memorise the words?

Learning vocabulary requires much effort.  There are several courses and books out there to help you to do it.  They have their own tricks, secrets and methods.  It has grown into a multi-million dollar business.  From Michel Thomas to Vocabulearn, Teach Yourself and a number of other names I could list off here…they all want a piece of the pie and they all give their ideas on how to do it.

There are so many courses and so many ideas.  Who is right? 

All of them and none of them.   What works for Peter doesn’t work for Jane.   We are all unique and we remember things differently.  You need to figure first of all what helps you remember best.  How does your brain work?

What floats your boat?

Float you boat

What sort of things interest you as a learner?  Do you visualise words in your head, like you see them on a page?  Do you concentrate more on the sound and remember the sounds of a word best?  Are you someone who likes to learn similar words together or groups of topic-related vocabulary?

Answering these questions is key to figuring out what works best for you.  If you can’t answer those questions with a 100% degree of confidence, then mix and match until you figure out what works for you.

Here are some techniques I have tried:

  • Write out words on pieces of paper – you can do this with related words you look up in a dictionary (in English this would be something like:  able and ability).  You can also include entries around the word you’re looking at if they stand out to you as interesting.  I learnt the word “Ufuk” in Turkish this way! Can you see why it stood out to me? 😀
  •  Look out of topic-related words.  I used to like to learn all of the animals, birds, flowers etc. and then go on walks and spot them in the park.  Recalling these words in real situations is vital.
  • Learn songs off by heart and know what each word means.
  • Select texts that interest you, looking up unknown words.  Try learning the text.  Try translating the text into your own language and back again (as suggested in Assimil courses and by Luca).
  • Speak words you want to learn onto a sound file/video and listen to it.  Use pre-recorded examples too where possible.
  • Listen to the radio, TV, people talking and try to write down words you don’t know that you hear a lot.  Then look them up in the dictionary and try to figure out the meaning of things.  If you hear them a lot anyway, that repetition will help the word to sink in.
  • When you read anything in the language that you don’t understand, look up the meaning and write it down.  Revisit the words often and see if you can spot them elsewhere and perhaps related words too.

One thing is true for all of the techniques you can use to remember vocabulary.  You need to hear or see a word a lot to remember it and make it part of your active vocabulary (that is to say a word you can use and not just recognise and understand).  Some words will be easier than other to learn.  These words tend to be words that are cognates (with similar variations in the language(s) you already speak) or they could be words that stick out because they are funny (like my Turkish example above).

UfukIf you find you are having trouble remembering a word because it is just not memorable, you can try some memory tricks to make it work for you.  Think of a funny story connected to the sound of the word.  For example, one word for “strange” in Turkish is “tuhaf”.  If you say it out loud it sounds like “to have” in English, so I remember it by saying to myself, “It’s strange tuhaf this word for “strange” in Turkish”.

Testing yourself on vocab is a great way to see how you are getting on with it.  Rosetta Stone and many other applications have made a lot of money using these repeated tests for memorising words and phrases.  They are based on a simple quiz of words seen.  You can do this the old-fashioned way by writing down the vocab you want to learn on one side of a piece of paper (or flash card) and the translation on the other side.  Start by going through the target language and see if you can translate the word.  When you can do that, then look at the translation and see if you can translate back into the target language.  You will need to repeat this a lot to get them all in your head.

I keep forgetting words?  Why?

You’re human.  I do too.  🙂

If you remembered everything you had ever seen or heard, you’d be something to be studied.  Seriously, don’t put pressure on yourself with unrealistic expectations.  Learn what you can and keep repeating things.

It’s not your age either…

Kids are not the sponges people portray them as being.  My daughter is considered good with her languages by her teachers, but she needs to have things repeats millions of times before she remembers them! 🙂  The difference is that kids don’t give up learning their languages because they find it hard to progress.  They have to carry on (as did we) to become a fully functional adult in society.  This is down to repeating the same words and patterns over and over again and trying them out with people daily.

How many times have you heard a native say, “you know…that thingy…what’s it called? “ .  It happens to us all to a greater or lesser degree, you’re completely normal if you forget things! 🙂

I always feel more comfortable when I start using words I have studied in real conversations or in my writing.  You can challenge yourself to use certain areas of vocabulary in your own life.  This works with grammar too.  You need to come out of your comfort zone for this, but it is definitely worth it!  If you make a mistake, get a word wrong or if you are not understood – laugh!  You will have learnt how not to say it and it’s a lesson learnt for next time! 😀

How do you learn words best?  What experiences have you had in doing it?  Have you got any funny words you have confused?  Or is there a word that sticks out to you in a language like “ufuk” in Turkish does for me?

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This post was written by Richard

44 Comments

  • Ryan says:

    I feel like a common thread in many of your posts is, “Calm down!” I think that’s sound advice for many of us. Language learning is a marathon, not a 100 yard dash. Many of us get burned out after the fifth mile and give up. By allowing ourselves to be human we don’t get as discouraged and are less likely to give up. Thanks for the post Richard.

    • Jared Romey says:

      I agree Ryan. I’ve reached plateaus before when I am working just as hard as always, and yet I don’t seem to advance for a while. The best thing to do is just keep consistently practicing. I have found that these plateaus are often followed by an acceleration in the learning curve, so all of a sudden I feel significantly more comfortable with the language.

      • Christine says:

        One of the things I’ve done, rtehar than make a daily schedule or rotation, is to make a weekly checklist, and then move by inspiration during the week until most or all of the items on the list are completed. For example, a weekly checklist might include 20 minutes of Japanese kanji and vocabulary building, 30 minutes of watching a Japanese film, 30 minutes of reading Japanese literature, 20 minutes with a Spanish language news article, 30 minutes of an Egyptian Arabic dialect film, 20 minutes x 3 with Arabic news articles, and 30 minutes x 3 working on my academic reading skills in French with a dictionary. (I am actively studying Arabic at the graduate level and use French for research; the rest is for maintenance of my other languages, or at the most very gradual vocab acquisition.) But I find that smaller chunks of time, and the flexibility and variety on my checklist, are less discouraging I can always continue past the 20-30 minute mark if I have the time or inclination, I can switch to another language if I start to feel burnout, or I can add on other activities in the same language if I hit a good stride. The less of a burden I require of myself, the more likely I am to actually pursue the language practice, and I find I usually exceed my minimum requirements because I am enjoying myself.

      • Patricia says:

        안녕하세요, 루씨. may I have a question for you?루 씨는 어느 나라 사람이에요?한국어 잘 하세요^-^ 딱 한개만 고쳐드릴게요.전 한잔 차 마시면서 이번 레슨을 재미있게 들었는데요=> 전 차 한잔 마시면서.in English I’m linnstieg this lesson drinking a cup of tea a cup of tea is as you wrote 한잔의 차but in Korean we say opposite word order^^차 한잔.so ..전 차 한잔 마시면서 이번 레슨을 재미있게 들었는데요, I’ll give u another example sentence!ex) 이따가 일 끝나고 차 한잔 할래요?Do you feel like drinking a cup of tea(coffee) after work?

    • Dada says:

      I have discovered some itpromant matters through your website post. One other point I would like to convey is that there are numerous games available and which are designed especially for preschool age little ones. They include things like pattern identification, colors, wildlife, and styles. These usually focus on familiarization instead of memorization. This will keep children engaged without having a sensation like they are learning. Thanks

  • ЦМ says:

    Здраствуйте Ричард, это Чезаре от Скайпа. С всими я согласен! Я буду ждать твоего ответа. Спасибо.

  • I agree 100% with you. There’s no such thing as a secret shortcut. You need to dedicate time and put a lot of effert into learning languages.
    One thing I would highlight is also the importance of the way you study in terms of how much you focus! I don’t know how to explain this idea perfectly but I will try:
    iIt happens to me that some days I am studying in a more “passive” way and actually I’m losing a lot of time! I feel like I’m studying the way you do in school, when you have to!
    But usually, after a while, my motivation helps me to get back on the right track 🙂
    Anyway I really enjoyed the article!!! But now, back to Slovak! 😀

    Ciaoo

    D.

  • Jeff says:

    Learningslov,

    I agree. There are definitely different ways to study – being engaged and really studying vs going through the motions. I see this in my life as well. Actually focusing and really working at it are very important. Along the same lines, I sometimes find myself looking for help way too often. If I am, say, reading a book in German and I come across a word I don’t know (which is VERY frequent, and I’m reading childrens books – but that’s besides the point) then some times I will struggle to figure it out, make SURE I don’t know it, see if I can infer it, etc… however some days, when I’m lazy, I will just go straight to some dictionary or translation method. That doesn’t help nearly as much in my opinion. I do agree with Richard though – what I do is put into Anki Flashcards any word that I find interesting and don’t know. I try to do it with all words, but I’m so new and the “new vocabulary” is so plentiful right now that I would never be able to keep up with the flashcards. Plus, some words are just not going to be all that important for me for quite some time (if ever).

    I married a wonderful young lady from Mexico, and basically learned Spanish with her. I had it for several years in school, but couldn’t speak anything with her and had a VERY limited vocabulary. It’s funny how learning a language well makes you realize HOW MUCH you don’t know if other languages and just how monumental the task is, however, at the same time, it makes you realize that it can be done and it isn’t impossible! Anyway, I have Anki flashcards on my phone and whenever I hear a new word that interests me talking with her or her family or friends or whatever, I put it into my phone. In the past 6 months I’ve probably only added 150 words or so, but it’s a great way to pick up new vocab. With the political season in full swing, you learn how to say things that you wouldn’t otherwise have learned. This is the fun part in language learning, when you understand about 95% of everything you hear/read/etc and can guess at the other 5% to almost have a perfect understanding in the other language, outside of accents that throw me off. I hate that.

    That being said, Richard, how do you deal with accents? I have come to the point in my Spanish where I can understand my wife 100% perfectly without even paying attention to her, and her family/friends (from Mexico) the same way. However, we went to Europe a few weeks ago and I really had to concentrate to understand the Spanish people (from Spain) as well as some Mexican’s from northern Mexico that speak way different. Furthermore, music is incredibly hard for me to understand – which is super annoying. We just took a 7 hour car ride filled with Mexican music and on the good songs, the clear songs, I can get maybe 50%-60% of the lyrics. Is it ever possible to fully understand another languages music just by hearing it on the radio/etc? Mind you, this is in a car, driving down the road, with road noise, etc. However, it is still frustrating. If the words of the song were spoken, I would understand the vast majority (except some of the artistic type words that I have just never heard before). It doesn’t bother me to have wholes in my vocab or idiom understanding or not understand local phrases/jokes because all of that can be learned. However, it really annoys me to listen to a song and just hear “alkhl;knasdhfl;khslkdhlkhslkht” only to have my wife tell me they said “Las estrellas estan cayendo alrededor de mi” or something really easy. I just simply don’t HEAR the sounds, and/or my brain doesn’t piece them together as they are out of rhythm/cadence of normal speech as well as unclear with the musical background/etc.

    Do you do anything specific to deal with this situation? I’ve seen videos from rapping in the other language to just simply massive exposure to a million different people and accents, which is probably the best advice.

    Sorry for the long post! Thanks!

    Jeff

    • Jeff,

      I know what you mean. Accents and dialects are a part of life. There are things you can do to get used to and understand the different accents and dialects better. Though, I have to say that expecting to master and fully understand all of them in any languages with a lot of variation, like English, French, Spanish or German, is a tall order. Even some natives find certain dialects in their own language difficult to understand, if not almost impossible to fully comprehend. I am thinking of an American from California listening to someone from Glasgow or someone from Hamburg speaking to someone from Zurich. If they all speak in their own dialects without making an effort to speak in a more standard way, there will be a lot of misunderstandings. My advice is to try to get practice with people from different parts of the world over the Net if possible to widen your experience of other variations of the language. Personally I have been forunate enough to have had contact with Spanish-speakers from just about every Spanish-speaking country. That said, there will still be things I don’t understand. I don’t expect that to go away completely. As for songs, it literally is a matter of listening to them a LOT and trying to learn the lyrics. When you can sing along, you often find things are recycled in music, so you pick up on stuff more easily next time around (especially in love songs!). I know that listening to Italian music for me was key to learning some vocab I would not have usually used in everyday speech. Again though, do you catch every word of every song in English? I know I don’t always, especially if it’s not a genrew I am familiar with or if the words run into each too much. I will try to make a video/write a blog about this topic to go into more detail.

      All the best,

      Richard

      • Jeffrey says:

        Richard,

        Thanks for the great answer. You’re right on several points there – as far as understanding lyrics in English – sometimes I’m basically guessing as to what they say. I think our brains fill in for us as well with our “best guess” which explains why people can listen to the same song and hear two completely different lyrics. Anyway…

        My next question with listening… Does it do any good to listen to podcasts or other sources in the target language if you don’t understand the material real well? I am listening to the langsam gesprochene Nachrichten in German but I only can understand the main concept of a news thing, and basically only if I heard the news anyway and can just relate it to what I know about the story and infer several things. It’s much too difficult for me at this point, however is there any benefit in listening to it and trying to get as much as I can? Perhaps looking up all of the words I don’t know, getting an idea about what it says, and then listening to it several times while being able to follow along with the story in my head? People seem to think that listening to something 20 times and just drill it into your brain is a good idea, but I’m not real convinced that there is a real value to something like that if you can’t really understand the vocabulary. I’m also not sure if I should be using something to acquire vocabulary that is so “out of my league” at this point. Perhaps it makes more sense to stick to simpler texts/sources and work my way up to the langsam gesprochene Nachrichten!

        Jeff

      • Osman says:

        It could be a command, Megan pdnedes on the context! Is it a line of people that you want to move along, is it an encouragement to someone, or something different? If you can give me a context, I can give you a better translation.

      • Marina says:

        Ok, update:I can click New Term and add a term, and then it will put a numebr next to the word every time it occurs. But the problem is that the blue stuff still appears. I don’t really know what it’s thinking, but my TO DO list is still the numebr of blue highlighted (individual) characters, so to the program, I think it still takes it to mean that I haven’t learned any of the words in the text, although the program doesn’t understand what a word is.It also can’t conjugate.

  • Lara parent says:

    Hi Richard,
    I came across your name in Sunday’s NYTimes. The article was fascinating and inspiring. In high school, I studied Latin and Spanish; I lived in Spain for a short while and gained more Spanish ability; later traveled to France with my mom, learning just a few essential words and phrases; and much later, married my husband who as a first generation American, speaks fluent German. I’m not fluent in any of these languages-my Spanish is the best, and each time we go back to DE, my German improves. I LOVE all of these
    languages–really language period. I love
    mixing the languages and sometimes do when I am speaking in one and cannot find the word in that language. Great blog! It’s inspiring and insightful. I am a teacher and photographer (I went to school for both, and a few other things, and could not make up my mind;) ). As you write about your language(s) acquisition, I couldn’t help but relate it to the teaching part of my life and how I could share pieces of your post with my 4th graders and apply it to my own teaching. Thank you so much! I look forward to following your blog & I’m inspired to start up my German language tapes again! 🙂 Merci/mit vielen dank! ;)L

    • Hello L,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and read through my blog. I really appreciate it and the kind comment too! 🙂

      I am really pleased to hear that you feel inspired from waht I am putting out there. My goal is to give people realistic and useful help and advice on language learning. I am flattered that you are using my some of what I write with your students. One of my main points of interest is teaching languages to children and I have been working with my daughter on it since she was born! It’s a real journey. I would love to hear about your experiences teaching in a classroom environment. 🙂

      All the best,

      Richard

    • Macdo says:

      The quantity of top qailuty content on your incredible site has certainly made me understand the authority your site contains. Great posts and articles in every corner. Keep up the good work.

  • Austin says:

    Hello I found this article very helpful it’s given me new ideas to continue my learning of Russian. Thanks so much

    • That’s fab! Good luck with your language studies! 🙂

      All the best,

      Richard

    • Ioan says:

      For those of you who have tackled nrmeuous languages at once, how have you handled this dilemma? Poorly.Seriously, though, if you don’t need to know any of these languages, you’re best off setting your studies by inspiration than a schedule. Make sure you’ve got some music for all the languages on your MP3 and listen in spare moments. Then, make sure you’ve got a dedicated half-hour or hour a day for language. When that time comes, study whatever you feel like. With the music, you’ll have all the languages rolling around in your brain. With that, your own instinct will guide you to study where it will do the most good where you’re most enthused, thus most likely to stay focused and maybe even go over your allotted time. Some languages will get more attention for a few days, others none at all. But with the music there, you’ll start missing the ones you haven’t studied and come back to them on your own.The program I propose is neither scientific nor efficient. But if this is something you’re doing over the course of years for personal satisfaction, not months to win a contest, you’ll probably learn about the same amount in the long term but you’ll have a cheerier attitude about language time than you’d have about the fact you have to study German because it’s what’s up on the rotation. Best of all, if you notice you just don’t seem to come back to a language, you’ll know you’re ready to drop it at least until you pick it up again.I know there are people out there who are really competitive about how many languages they know well and how many they’re learning. Maybe it’s worth their while to mess with training schedules, etc. In my experience, however, I can ignore a language for as much as two or three months and after a couple hours of music and study it starts coming back. So, if you just want to be able to chat a little bit with others who speak your languages, don’t worry about day to day work to maintain language. Focus on a program that maintains the fun in language and you’ll achieve your goals over time.(I say this as someone who has tried tables, calendars, diaries and everything else in the book you can check my archives!)

  • Luqman Ranto says:

    I learn the vocabulary of a certain language I am learning from Teach Yourself Series, Lonely Planet Phrasebooks. It is very effective because they comprise day-to-day necessary words that we use daily. If I am not learning my language, for example eating in a restaurant, I would remind myself of the things around like spoon, fork, knife, plate, glass, salt, pepper and stuff in my target language. If I do not remember them, I will refer to the above-mentioned resources or to Google Translate. By doing that repeatedly, the words will definitely sink in. I also look up words that cross my mind and interest me. That way it is way faster to stay between my ears.

    I think Anki is good to remember basic vocabulary, they are around 1,500-2,000 words in a particular language, I guess. For the intermediate and advanced vocabulary, you had better read and listen a lot to increase your repertoire because it is way better to learn more advanced vocabulary through context or texts, in other words the word being learnt should be in its sentence in order for the meaning to be clear through its context and its relationship with the other surrounding words. LingQ is my recommended tool for that purpose and reading news on BBC or other only news broadcastings and magazine in various languages is also a beneficial activity to improve vocabulary.

    • Thanks for sharing your tips with us here. I am really interested to hear you mentioning the LP phrasebooks. It is something I believe Moses McCormick uses (or at least I have seen them appearing in some of his videos). I ahve a couple of them myself and I have, on occasion, used them too in the beginning stages and when I visit the country to ensure that I have the vocab that I need to get things done. They are handy when no other vocab books are available in particular languages. Flashcard systems like Anki are also quite useful to get that repetition rate up, so the words sink in too. Also quite the fan of LingQ for getting words in context. I like that you can hear the text and read along.

      All the best,

      Richard

      • Srijit says:

        If are good in English then you may learn all these languages eilasy. You are a Blogger and you are having good knowledge of English so it’s not going to be very difficult for you to learn. However, it needs to make certain plan and strategies. You make a plan according to your daily routine. If possible make month wise plan, I mean to say in January month German, in February Spanish, in March French and so on. However, you need to revise all these daily. I would suggest you one thing and that is listen of your heart and do accordingly. If you want to then contact us at babylon-idiomas.

      • Akshay says:

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      • Nibia says:

        안녕하세요이 레슨이 정말 잼미있어요 반사 능력을 시험하는거는 재미있는것 같은데 , 결과는 안 좋아요 its funny to test my reflex ablitiy ,but the result is not so goodi have another question , both 실력 and 능력 means ablitiy ,but i guess 실력 is the ablitiy you have after practicing , and능력 is the ablitiy you have naturally , is it right ? please help me out with this

    • Enes says:

      I suppose you have all the known rules’ and tips to find out word deegnr:Feminine: words ended in -te4t, -heit, -keit, -ung, -schaft. All words of foreign origin ended in -anz, -ion, -tur, -ette. Words of classic origin ending in -ie. Most nouns ending in -e, all nouns referring to females ending in -in, words ending in -ei that refer to a colective thing or thing that has a reminiscence of colectivity (eg Brauerei). Most words ending in -e. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch, but it’s a start.Neutral: diminutives -chen and -lein, nominal infinitives (eg Das Lesen), colors when used as nouns (not adjectives), most foreign words ended in -Ment. Words of classic origin ending in -o.Masculine: all words that refer to occupations ending in -ner, nouns ended in -ismus, the days of the week, months, seasons and climatological stuff (rain, snow, winds, fog) and basically all the rest, with the above exceptions and a few more that you’ll learn along the way and just know . The German language hast a majority of masculine words, so if you don’t see any clear hints on feminine or neutral, treat the word as a masculine one and hope for the best I used to be fluent (to the same extent that I am fluent in English now, nothing spectacular) and I can only say this: after a while, it just pops into your mind, even though you learn withot the rules’ mentioned above; I can’t explain why.I was given the rule that -chen was DAS and -ung, -schaft,-keit were DIE and that’s all I went along with. At the beginning you’re all over the place with deegnrs and declensions, fighting to become conversational. Then, without even realizing it, you just KNOW. Same thing with the prepositions. I don’t see myself as a fluent speaker anymore after four years without having real conversations in the language (my vocabulary is gone), but if you give me a list of written words and tell me to sort them out, I can tell even if I don’t remember what they mean- I’m not saying I’d be a 100% effective, but pretty high. That’s not a great comfort, though. It’s devastating how one loses her confidence in a language she once spoke so well.

      • Dawid says:

        For Japanese it has a major problem. It hhtilighgs things by character. That’s not right. Words span multiple characters. If I could redefine the selection range to span multiple characters I could use this, but right now I can’t. And I really want to use this!

  • stibbshoo says:

    I can pretty much agree with everything in this article, particularly the bit on repetition. Seeing a word/phrase in a phrasebook for the first time I might pass over or eye with suspicion. Perhaps only the authors might think it worth including. Yet seeing the same word/phrase in another context or medium (books, articles, internet discussion, films, speech) helps remove that suspicion, clues us in on its relevance, and encourages memorization. It acquires more meaning and variety in my memory and serves a greater purpose. This also serves to improve listening ability. Having already heard and seen a phrase used in many different mediums one can miraculously manage to understand the word/phrase even if it were slurred into a rapidly spoken sentence. If the word/phrase was entirely new to them, however, no amount of replaying the recorded audio even a thousand times over would make it recognizable or transcribable.

    I often write down a phrase that I use all the time in English, then try to translate that to the target language. Whatever pops into my head at any given moment. Phrases like “keep doing sg”, “if it weren’t for sg”, “people tend to do sg”, “I have no idea”, etc. Get a notebook, draw a vertical line right down the middle of the page with the English phrases in the right column and the target language in the left. If you’re watching a boring movie in English, write down what you hear and translate it later. I have found this to be a great way of expressing myself in a foreign language just as in English. Depending on the phrase or expression, some take 10 seconds to translate while others take 10 minutes to find the most appropriate phrase.

    Another important aspect of language learning is finding several different ways to express the same idea. That way you can pick up the many nuances of a language (a factor of becoming truly fluent). The phrases “in my opinion”, “according to me”, “I think”, “I believe” is an English example: all convey a similar thought but are clearly different expressions. It makes the experience more interesting, especially if you get tired of using the same phrase over and over again. I remember in one of Mike Campbell’s videos he presented a heavy Spanish phrasebook which does just that. Depending on the resources available for a given language, this may be more difficult to do though. There is a site called hunglish.hu which can search several different mediums (literature, subtitles, documentation, dictionary, etc), translating from/to English/Hungarian. I have been it using constantly ever since someone suggested it. Are there any other search engines like this for other languages?

  • Ais says:

    Thanks for the ideas, all. Geoff, I can now safely say that eepking a diary failed; I still like the idea of doing so, but on many days, the idea of spending 15-20 minutes tracking what I’ve done, then writing it up, just isn’t appealing. I’ve largely fallen back to doing what you recommend: grabbing language materials based solely on inspiration. Some days I’ll hit two or three of them; other days, just one.Jess, that’s an interesting idea, and it may indeed work better than having a set rotation. My problem with a rigid rotation is that it’s, well, too rigid. If Tuesday is a German and French day, Tuesdays tend to be pretty infuriating if I’m really, really wanting to work on some Russian!

  • Naren says:

    Great post with lots of ipmortnat stuff.

  • Amazing blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused .. Any recommendations? Kudos!

    • Nathan says:

      Hello, Thank you for this lesson. A sentnece building drill is very helpful and a great way to practice making sentneces. I have a question please. In the audio lesson they gave an example: The end of the month=월말 and then, This month= 이번 달에 . why did they use two different words to say: month (월/ 달)? How can I know which one to use when?Thank you for your help.

  • miracle ear says:

    I found some good info in your site and bookmarked to visit again . Thanks.

  • Hi! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the good job!

  • JakeyW says:

    Thank you so much for the advice! 😀 …I wish you had been my languages teacher for the past 5 years at school. I’m 15, and used to hate learning languages (I started with french being compulsory at secondary school and found it very challenging), I then moved onto spanish in school after 3 years hoping I would find some positives, and I have 😀
    I now learn french and spanish at school (I have a C in french at GCSE, and an A in spanish) and I’m trying to teach myself german at home, it’s so cool!!
    I’ve always been quite musically orientated and so I’m always listening to music in order to better my language skills, in fact some of the artists I’ve listened to have become my favourites, definitely a great way to learn new vocab. I also chat daily with a friend from Valencia which has really improved my spanish.
    Just thought I’d drop a comment and say thanks for the advice and inspiration amigo, so yea, thanks 😀

    • Thanks for stopping by to comment. I appreciate your kind words. Sounds like you’re doing really well with your languages already and motivated to use them! Good on you and all the very best for your continued studies! 🙂

      • Girlie says:

        손니 씨 감사합니다 ^^전 프랑스 사람이에요. 그런데 솔직히 말하면 손니 씨 설명하신 게 아직 알았지만 제 한국 친구 한명과 이야기 하며 그 명은 한마리의 벌레 같아’ 라고 말한 거 같았어요. 그래서 저는 그렇게 말 해도 되는 생각이 들었거든요.그치만 제 친구들은 평소 너무 빨리 말하지 않으려고 노력해도 불구하고 가끔씩 저절로 빨라지느라고 전 이해를 잘 안 될 수도 있죠 ^^ 한개 (마리, 잔, 등) 뭐뭐’ 라고 한다면 절대 안 맞죠 ?Even not sure I don’t made some other mistakes on this post, If I did feel free to make me know. 저는 더 많이 실수를 했으면 좀 알려 주세요.Thanks a lot for your help Sonnie. ^^

    • Samantha says:

      But you *can* change the lnaguage settings to be EITHER per character or multiple selection per term. Others have used it with Japanese and not had problems!Click the edit’ symbol for Japanese and play with the settings. If you are still having trouble, please ask in either the Fi3M or the sourceforge forum and people can help you solve the issue there

  • Frank says:

    Awesome web page and study methodology…motivational advice. I am a native Spanish speaker living in the US married to a Macedonian and over the course of learning Macedonian on and off for the past ten years, not having that level of fluency expected can be demotivating. I will keep on trying new methods but all in all repetition seems to be the key…appreciate your efforts on a very frustrating hobby:). BTW next time I see you at enrikos in MK will definitely say hello.

    • Thanks so much. I am glad you find this page useful. My Facebook page is where I have been best able to respond so far, but I am getting better at WordPress as time goes by. Another Makedonski zet then, eh? 😉 Definitely say hello to me if you see me in Eriko’s. I love that place! 🙂

  • jathonjet says:

    I was just saying what you said about learning as a kid verses learning as an adult to my friend the other day! Thanks for posting this. Many adults decide not to even bother because it’s “too late for them.” More people should read this article.

    Also, about your question about confusing words, the other day on Skype I confused the Japanese word “onaka” (stomach) for “okane” (money) and said “I don’t have (a) stomach.”

    • Thanks so much for that. I am really pleased that my words struck a chord with you enough to share them with others. Raising a multilingual child has given me great insight into the process of learning languages as a child versus as an adult. I see how hard my daughter works at her first and second languages! 😀

      • Astrit says:

        Please ask all technical quoitsens in the forum and give full details. I’d imagine it’s because you haven’t entered the dictionary URL in a way that allows the term to be a variable, but it’s too hard on Youtube to solve issues like this. Loads of help in the Fi3m forum for any question

  • Michael Shelby says:

    1. In addition to your site and my suggestions there are a lot of websites with advice and tips for practising English. I’ve explored a lot of websites with advice for practising English, and I’ve selected the most useful practical material to share with people interested in this issue. Maybe users of this site would like to share information (websites, books, articles, etc) on the most useful helpful advice and tips for practising English. Users of this site could benefit a great deal from that information.

    2. As you know the content of English learning and teaching materials matters a great deal. I’ve explored a lot of aids (websites, books, courses, software, audio and video resources) for learning and teaching various aspects of English. Many people would have difficulty choosing the most appropriate and the most inclusive aids for their purposes or needs to effectively use English. I came to a conclusion that a combination of those aids adjusted to one’s needs would help learners achieve the best results in mastering English.
    As your site also deals with helping learners with oral English communication, we could exchange information on the most practical and comprehensive aids for improving English listening comprehension, speaking and vocabulary. The aids selected by me for developing oral communication skills for all levels include thematic everyday dialogues, thematic texts for listening, reading and retelling, questions and answers on a variety of topics, talking points/tasks, and vocabulary expansion.

  • Hi, I have a favourite cartoon called The Simpsons. This was perfectly doubt into my native language, I watched and I know all the funny talks. Than I need to learn foreign language and that was English, so I buy original of serial in English and listen to words and compare with my memories. That was a great to improve my hearing a recognizing of the different words. In the end I have to talk, The Simpsons are more funny in my native language 😉

    • Jack says:

      Vocabulary must be huge, even is (i think it should be IF) you are not fnleut in a particular language, you should be able to say all body parts. this one makes me sens more than the other, at list now that i’m trying to learn french sometimes when you’re not lying :B you say things very wise and true ^^^^^^ sorry, hate censorship, but there are limitslove ya!

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