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

Pot pourri : my week in languages

Pot pourri

Pot-pourri is a lovely French term, usually applied to a mixture of herbs and spices, or fragranced wood chips. I’ve appropriately appropriated the French for this week’s blog post, which is a bit of a mixed bag. The past seven… Continue reading

Blinkist : one-stop knowledge shop with some language-learning gems

Blinkist offers condensed summaries of hundreds of books.

If you use any social media platform, you can’t have missed them lately; those bold and brash ads, featuring ever-so-slightly smug millennials stating “I read four books a day” and similar. Yes, Blinkist has been on a marketing offensive in recent… 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

2000 words and still not fluent? My Polish Anki experiment 🇵🇱📱

Polish words in a dictionary

Would you be impressed if I told you I know over 2000 words in Polish? What about if I told you that I still can’t actually speak Polish? As crazy as it sounds, it’s true. At least, it was true –… Continue reading

Google Sheets magic tricks for language learners

Data laser

The best language partners not only open your eyes to new words, but to new techniques. It is always the case with excellent iTalki teacher and polyglot friend Marcel Balzer, for example. Never short of fantastic tips, he recently shared a… 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

Adverbs Aware: Learn these little words to ace your speaking early on

Adverbs describe how

Hacking or bluffing is about learning efficiently. That means spending time on those elements that give you the greatest results with just a modest effort. And one great way to buff up your speech economically is to focus on using… Continue reading

Support your speaking skills with custom crib sheets

Note taking, particularly in the form of crib sheets, is a powerful way to summarise your knowledge.

If you have ever revised for exams, you are probably already familiar with the crib sheet. A condensed, one-page summary of all the major facts to remember, they have saved the academic life of many a student over the years.… Continue reading

Five sure-fire ways to warm up for language lessons

Coloured Pencils

To get the most from any lesson, a good warm up always helps. That goes as much for one-to-one iTalki sessions, as it does for classroom learning. Prime your brain correctly, and it will be in just the right place to process… Continue reading