Time for some adverbs – fluency hacks for fast-paced chat

A pocket watch with the time showing as quarter past three. Image from freeimages.com.

I’m a big fan of the speaking bingo sheet for conversation prep. I try to make use of them whenever I have an iTalki lesson, for example (as well as the time to prep one beforehand!). One of the most… Continue reading

300 Words for Functional Fluency : Miss Swanson’s Elucidating Experiment

Is the starting point for functional fluency a list of the right core words? Photo by acscom from freeImages.com

Decrepit, dusty old language learning books from bygone days are a guilty pleasure of mine. And sometimes, the most obscure, long-forgotten tomes throw up some shining treasures. Leafing through one such volume this week week, I stumbled across a fascinating… Continue reading

À la modal : how these little nuancing verbs can fix your fluency

Modal verbs can lend colour to your speech (image from freeimages.com)

I have a nerdish love of verbs. For me, it’s where it all comes together in language. They are sentence glue. Conjugate them, and you can hang the rest of the sentence from them like on the branches of a… Continue reading

Land ahoy! Islands, how they can help your language learning, and why you’re probably already using them

Islands can be language lifesavers (Freeimages.com)

Sometimes we get excited about a new big idea in language learning, only to get a pleasant surprise. It’s only something we’ve been doing all along anyway! And so it is with islands, a language technique a polyglot friend introduced… Continue reading

Conversation turbo-boosting with speaking bingo sheets

Notebook for note-taking

I’ve been having something of an iTalki renaissance lately. iTalki, if you haven’t come across it already, is a website that connects language learners with teachers all over the world for online lessons. There are few easier ways to get… Continue reading

Conversation fillers

Parrots chatting

A common frustration when you’re moving from beginner to intermediate level in a language (A1/A2 to B1/B2 using the CEFR scale) is the stilted nature of the language you produce – short, functional, clipped and often isolated sentences that make… Continue reading