Great accent, shame about the rest!

Accent - sometimes you can be too good! Image by Betty Miller from FreeImages.com

How is your accent in the language you’re learning? I’m pretty pleased with mine. In fact, I think it might be a little too good. Before the eye-rolling starts, let me explain. This isn’t an embarrassing lapse in modesty and perspective.… Continue reading

Foreign language reading: books that speak to your heart

Lots of books - nice reading material!

Building fluency beyond the basics requires regular, plentiful exposure to your foreign language. And there are few easier ways to get that exposure than through reading for pleasure. As a lover of books, however, choice can pose a problem. Faced… Continue reading

Textual Time Machine: Turning to the past for motivating target language texts

Alphabet Texts

Gary Barlow and Margaret Thatcher accompanied me on my language learning this week. This surprising turn of events was thanks not to celebrity friendships and psychic messages, but rather a lucky stumble across a treasure trove of motivating target language… Continue reading

Coaching and languages: the travelling partner you need?

Language learners are used to working with others. These tend to be language specialists: teachers, conversation exchange partners or fellow students. But support in learning languages does not have to be in the target language. Not convinced? Well recently, I’ve… Continue reading

Talking to yourself: tap your inner voice to be a canny language learner

A chamber of mirrors - reflective, just like talking to yourself can be!

Talking to yourself is the first sign of madness, some say. But it’s actually the hallmark of the very canny linguist, too. Ask most experienced language learners, and they will tell you that the secret is speaking, speaking, speaking. But… Continue reading

Speaking without words: optimising your target language with non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication, such as hand gestures, are just as vital as speaking when it comes to real-life language use

Sticking to your target language isn’t always easy. But it’s a rule worth sticking to. Denying yourself the luxury of speaking your native language is vital in building up mental ingenuity and spontaneous, flexible thinking as a linguist. However, it… Continue reading

Acing preparation for a good one-to-one language lesson

Like climbing a mountain, making the most of your language lesson involves preparation!

I’ve attempted Icelandic a few times in my life. That sounds ominous, that ‘attempted’, doesn’t it? Well, the truth is that I’ve found the language a real challenge each time. I’ve usually learnt it in the lead-up to a trip,… Continue reading

Commonwealth Games 2022 : Birmingham’s Local Language Boost

The Commonwealth Games offer local linguists some amazing opportunities.

In December, you might have noticed the fanfare around my hometown, Birmingham, winning the chance to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022. The decision has generated a lot of local pride. No wonder, as all four corners of the world… Continue reading

Polyglot perfect recall: connecting your languages with Wiktionary

Exploring language family tree connections can be one of the most useful polyglot learning tools

One of the nicest things about the polyglot journey is the interconnectedness you see along the way. And finding connections is a brilliant way to make words stick. Sometimes, those connections are staring you right in the face, like the… Continue reading

Speaking tips from the emergency room

An ambulance attending an emergency; driver speaking in the window

There’s no doubt about it: speaking can be hard, especially when you’re beginning in a foreign language. You have all the usual mental juggling of remembering vocabulary and grammar. But on top of that, there’s the social pressure of performing live. In… Continue reading